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5 ways to challenge male stereotypes and coach men through change.

5 ways to challenge male stereotypes and coach men through change.

Numerous men wrestle with meals, consuming, and physique picture… however don’t speak about it. Are cultural or particular person beliefs about “being a man” to blame? On this article we discover how “acting like a man” can maintain men again. Plus we provide 5 ways to challenge male stereotypes and coach men through change.


As a bit that explores gender, this content material could also be delicate for some. With that stated, we consider it’s necessary to look at how conventional male stereotypes can negatively affect men’s experiences with meals, health, and physique picture. In fact, there’s no such factor as a “stereotypical male” as a result of men have such a large spectrum of experiences. On the similar time, we’re satisfied that the identical rules of compassion, acceptance, and authenticity are helpful throughout your complete spectrum of “maleness” and “masculinity”.



Perhaps you acknowledge this shopper.

He got here to you as a result of his physician warned him about his blood strain. Or his partner urged him to examine his persistent digestive points. Or his buddies have been razzing him about his additional “insulation”.

He’s a pleasant dude, however he’s a bit… tense. You possibly can see it in his hiked-up shoulders and clenched jaw. He all the time greets you with a handshake, however avoids direct eye contact. He doesn’t smile lots.

He briefly talked about that work has been loopy for him recently, and that he’s going through some “family stuff” too.

You observed he’s struggling. However he doesn’t appear to be he needs to “talk”.

Your conversations have a tendency to be emotionally flat. Your questions on his food regimen, his train, his sleep, his stress, are met with a poker face and one-word solutions. However you marvel:

Is that this actually the entire story?

Speaking about our lives might be messy, complicated, and private.

This can be very true for men.

Ugh, vulnerability.

Honestly, being weak is tough for everybody, not simply guys. Many ladies really feel they want to handle hectic lives filled with careers, caregiving, and retaining all of it collectively. They’re not supposed to present their untidy elements, both.

However men are notably susceptible to being stigmatized for being, properly, gentle.


Nuh-uh. Be a person.

Speak about your emotions??!

Present me the exit door.

Admit your weaknesses??!

Over my lifeless physique.

Nevertheless, so as to transfer previous our struggles, we’d like to acknowledge ache factors, discover what’s not working, and typically, (squirm) ask for assist. (After which we’d like to be prepared to fail. Over and over once more.)

All of that includes getting extremely weak and clear.


For a lot of guys, previous gender concepts die onerous.

Consider all of the male position fashions you’ll be able to.

What number of of them are you able to think about hashing out their emotions about their physique, or their fears about turning into frail and previous?

What number of of them are you able to see humbly asking for assist, or admitting that a lot of their life isn’t working anymore?

What number of of them are you able to image crying?

(And no, not the “crying” of the championship winner as he sings his nationwide anthem, and one stray tear drips down his clenched, sq. jaw.)

A lot of guys consider that being a “good man” means “keeping it in”.

For those who’re a man, take into consideration the variety of occasions you’ve heard variations of the next phrases in your personal life.

  • “Be a man.”
  • “Man up.”
  • “Men don’t cry.”
  • “Grow a pair.”
  • “You ____ like a girl.”

Should you’re a coach or coach, you may even have used these phrases as “motivators” or “light-hearted jabs”.

Though they’re typically spoken casually, they penetrate our cultural consciousness and prime our expectations of what “appropriate” male conduct is.

Additional, these messages might discourage some men from being weak and speaking about necessary issues of their lives.

And so, these messages perpetuate the next sorts of beliefs:

  • Men aren’t supposed to burden others with their issues. They’re supposed to determine it out on their very own.
  • Men aren’t supposed to open up to others, particularly not different men.
  • Men aren’t supposed to ask for assist, instructions, or present indicators of weak spot.

In consequence, even once they have quite a bit happening beneath the floor, many men will struggle to sustain appearances.

“Everything’s fine”, they are saying. Even when it’s not.

We’re additionally taught that sure issues and options are “gendered”.

For example, culturally talking, particularly for straight guys, it’s not historically “manly” to:

  • Wrestle with consuming habits*
  • Have a posh emotional relationship with meals*
  • Fear about how your physique seems to be*
  • Be restricted by ache, accidents, persistent sickness or incapacity

* These subjects are particularly susceptible to gender-bias. Virtually all supplies about disordered consuming and physique picture are by and for ladies.

In fact, every individual has a special relationship to gender norms.

Some individuals stick intently to their tradition’s script for what it means to be male or feminine.

Some individuals take pleasure in actively opposing and smashing cultural gender guidelines.

Some individuals do no matter they like, and are solely barely conscious that gender is a factor within the first place.

But regardless of particular person variations, to a point:

Gender norms and expectations form many elements of our lives.

This consists of issues like:

  • Our behaviors, mannerisms, and language
  • The roles we select to play (comparable to “provider father” or “supermom”)
  • How we’re in sure environments (comparable to gyms), and
  • How we relate to others (like our pals, associate, coach, co-workers, physician,  and so on.)

Getting in form is gendered.

Free weight areas in gyms are nonetheless principally full of men grunting and flexing.

Yoga and Zumba courses are nonetheless principally full of girls.

Coaches might anticipate that men need to bulk up, and that ladies need to slim down. Dietary supplements aimed toward guys have names like Berserker or Excessive One thing-or-other that sound extra like Bond villains than vitamin merchandise.

Amongst Precision Vitamin Teaching shoppers*, a lot of guys don’t search assist till they’re in dire hassle — after a serious damage, well being scare, or different disaster that leaves them little selection however to begin making modifications.

* Even PN Teaching curiosity is gendered as we see a 2:1 ratio of men:ladies on our teaching presale lists and that very same ratio persists at registration.

What we eat is gendered too.

Who do you think about gobbling down steak, beer, wings, and chili-cheese fries?

Who do you think about delicately choosing at kale, yogurt, smoothies, and fruit?

In North American tradition, we’ve specific concepts round which meals are historically masculine and that are female.

For instance, there’s a “Hungry Man” dinner, in each common and XXL measurement… however there’s no “Man Watching His Waistline” or “Hungry Woman” dinner.

How and why we eat can also be gendered.

A current research from the Cornell Meals and Model Lab discovered that men eat up to 30% extra meals once they’re in social conditions. The identical research discovered that ladies eat barely much less meals when round others.

Culturally, consuming rather a lot is usually a part of conventional heterosexual masculinity.

This works for guys who need to achieve weight, however not a lot for guys who need to lose fats and/or make more healthy decisions.

In accordance to Kevin Kniffin, one of many Cornell research’s authors:

“Even if men aren’t thinking about it, eating more than a friend tends to be understood as a demonstration of virility and strength.”

Eat an epic portion lot of steak and potatoes?

You da man!

Go for a salad as an alternative of fries and depart half your burger untouched?

Bro, what?!

Plus, men are socialized to ignore ache and discomfort.

Abdomen cramps and heartburn?

Throw down some antacids and stroll it off.

Selecting meals consciously, checking in with urge for food, noticing emotions and — ugh — partaking in “self care”, is seen as one thing solely ladies do.

Many men can really feel that these habits are “unmanly”.

They may not say it that means. As an alternative, they could say they’re “too busy”. Or they “don’t have time”. Or, “Listen, my boss is on my case right now and I really can’t deal with this health crap.”

In fact, men nonetheless have emotions, even when these emotions aren’t culturally accepted.

Simply because it’s not thought-about culturally OK to really feel, assume, or do sure issues, it doesn’t imply that stuff doesn’t occur.

  • Men might really feel insecure once they stand in entrance of a mirror, poking at their love handles, or critically inspecting their pecs.
  • Men might examine themselves to health journal cowl fashions, and really feel insufficient and ugly.
  • Men might have goals of feeling assured in a swimsuit.
  • Men, after a disturbing day at work, may need to lie on the sofa and eat a pint of peanut butter swirl.
  • Men might have emotions of uncertainty, overwhelm, disgrace, and grief, that they wrestle to deal with.

However men, notably heterosexual guys who’ve extra conventional gender beliefs, may additionally really feel that this stuff aren’t “supposed” to occur or be felt.

Drawback is:

To vary our outsides, we’d like to face our insides.

In PN Teaching, shoppers study to work on their “inner game” (ideas, emotions, and automated behaviors) to allow them to change their habits and our bodies.

(Even in our Degree 1 and Degree 2 Certifications for professionals, PN exhibits college students how to handle that inside change course of as they evolve as a coach).

This implies, sooner or later alongside the journey, whether or not coach or coachee, individuals have to face [cue dramatic music]… their emotions.

To vary, you will have to consider various things.

As a well being and health skilled, you may begin with sensible issues: what meals to eat, what number of reps, what number of hours of sleep, and so forth. However ultimately you’ll want to speak about much less surface-level issues, like beliefs.

For a lot of, unhealthy beliefs about meals, train, and their our bodies are main limiting elements in the direction of progress. This may embrace gender-biased beliefs like: “Men don’t eat salad” or “Women shouldn’t have big muscles”.

These beliefs may sound trivial, however they affect an individual’s conduct in highly effective ways. If a person holds beliefs about meals or his physique, you possibly can guess these beliefs are displaying up in his life, shaping his behaviors and his outcomes.

Typically, beliefs have been round for a very long time, and could also be strengthened by an individual’s setting or relationships. Once they turn out to be conscious of the beliefs that form them, they may not like what they see. They is perhaps immature, prejudiced, and unforgiving.

Subsequently, exposing our beliefs might be uncomfortable. However…

We frequently want to really feel uncomfortable so as to change.

Teaching might help ease this discomfort.

When shoppers or sufferers are on this (typically mandatory and unavoidable) “awkward phase” of change, a coach may help them:

  • determine underlying beliefs and assumptions about “being a man”;
  • be artistic and provide you with totally different, extra useful beliefs;
  • affirm and reinforce new beliefs;
  • be a wholesome position mannequin of somebody who rebels towards dangerous gender stereotypes; and
  • determine further sources of help, whether or not it’s a partner, a trusted pal, or the providers of one other certified skilled, like a therapist or medical physician, if wanted.

Having a task mannequin or a non-judgemental witness throughout this uncomfortable part may help an individual really feel much less alone and extra able to change.

How to coach men to change.

So, what does it truly appear to be to coach a person?

And the way can we form the teaching expertise into one thing that goes past grunts and surface-level stuff, to one thing that’s significant and transformational?

1. Put your self within the shopper’s footwear.

Let’s use a hypothetical male shopper, Gary. Thanks to a current life disaster and an aching again, Gary has determined that it’s time to change. He’s simply signed up to do a session with you.

Gary arrives on the health club… and is immediately reminded of why he hasn’t labored out since school.

The place smells like the within of a hockey bag. The music is loud. An element-man, part-gorilla sporting a “CRUSH IT” t-shirt stares him down earlier than ripping 400 lbs off the ground and dropping it with a smash. Clearly his again doesn’t harm.

Everybody on the fitness center appears to reside right here. Why are these individuals even understanding? Gary wonders. They’re not fats and previous like me.

His blood strain goes up, and he’s barely made it previous the entrance desk.

Then he meets you.

2. Use teaching expertise to assist put shoppers comfortable.

On this state of affairs, there’s lots you are able to do to make this course of extra snug for Gary, subsequently making it extra possible he’ll ultimately belief you, open up, and discover change with you.

You possibly can assist by:

  • making a protected, welcoming environment;
  • constructing rapport instantly;
  • recognizing and empathizing together with your shopper’s discomfort (if it’s there);
  • normalizing the truth that individuals are typically nervous, insecure, and/or intimidated once they begin something new.

So, you come out to the fitness center flooring to greet him. You shake his hand politely, and introduce your self. You’re heat and welcoming.

You information him to your quiet workplace. You’ll be able to sense his nervousness. You smile and lean ahead, to let him know you’re giving him your full consideration.

“Thanks for coming in right now, Gary. I’m glad you’re right here.

“From what I’ve been advised, sounds such as you haven’t actually been to a fitness center earlier than.

“I know it can be pretty intimidating. When I first started coming I remember feeling self-conscious. Do you feel that way at all?”

Gary is stunned. The coach is… like him?

“Well, yeah. This is all new. I definitely feel… out of place.”

You reassure him, and level out what a brave step that is.

“That’s utterly comprehensible. It’s not straightforward to be outdoors your aspect.

“So actually, kudos to you for coming in the present day.

“Hopefully by the time we finish up you’ll feel a bit more comfortable.”

Gary visibly un-clenches. Smiles a bit.

That is gonna be OK, he thinks. I can do that.

three. Permit the method of showing what’s inside to take time.

Men typically gained’t drop their emotional limitations and open up about their relationship with meals, consuming, train, or physique picture instantly.

You may need to spend a very long time getting to know and perceive your shopper earlier than they really feel snug sufficient to inform you what’s happening inside.

As an example, you quickly study that Gary grabs beers and wings together with his buds each night time. When you instantly begin lecturing him about liver well being and sodium ranges, you may miss the prospect to perceive what’s actually happening.

Nevertheless, a number of weeks of constructing belief and rapport, you may give you the chance to inquire just a little, “Gary, this wings night thing… do you just really love barbecue sauce that much, or is there something else this habit gives you?”

Gary tells you he doesn’t care about beer or salty snacks. The actual cause for his behavior is that he’s keeping off the super unhappiness he’s felt since splitting from his associate, and his bros are retaining him from going cuckoo.

He wasn’t prepared to dive in immediately. Nevertheless, now that you understand why he’s hooked up to the nightly ritual, you could have a greater shot at serving to him change it.

A brand new means to coach: Compassion, vulnerability, and lively listening.

Displaying compassion, being weak, and listening actively and respectfully are good teaching rules for shoppers of any gender.

However these teaching behaviors could also be particularly necessary for male shoppers/sufferers, who’re much less possible to get them from different individuals of their lives, particularly different men.

“Soft skills” aren’t historically related to men.

Stereotypically, dudes are supposed to reject all this mushy stuff.

Emotions are for wimps.

Speaking about emotions… even worse.

Conventional Manly Coach Hardass gained’t empathize with you about portion management (as a result of he all the time eats an additional serving to of steak, then eats the silverware.)

Hell will freeze over earlier than he shares a time he felt insecure within the health club.

Should you’re in ache, he’ll hand you the surgical tape and inform you to wrap up and get again in there. “Try harder.” “Stop bitching.”

Nevertheless, qualities like compassion, vulnerability, and good listening want to be a part of a wholesome, long-term teaching relationship.

When coaches enhance, shoppers are extra possible to change.

Elite degree compassion and vulnerability from a coach can:

  • assist shoppers really feel extra braveness when making an attempt new or uncomfortable issues,
  • make shoppers extra prepared to persist within the face of obstacles,
  • encourage shoppers to speak about painful or delicate subjects, and
  • assist shoppers be extra resilient, extra in a position to bounce again from setbacks.

These qualities are central to the teaching course of — for all shoppers. However for some male shoppers particularly, who won’t be used to such a interplay, such teaching qualities could make a huge effect.

It might be the distinction between an “okay” teaching expertise, and a life-changing one.

What to do subsequent:
Some ideas from Precision Vitamin

When you’re a man making an attempt to get somewhat more healthy:

1. Have actual conversations with different men.

Speak about topics which might be troublesome, delicate or uncomfortable.

Keep away from getting caught within the “bro talk” trifecta of climate, visitors, or sports activities. Department out and speak about significant stuff like household, objectives, and (gulp) struggles.

Don’t produce other guys to speak to? This can be a good alternative to get a coach.

In case you do produce other guys to speak to, this can be a good alternative to study extra about them as individuals.

2. Join over meals differently.

Invite a male pal (or potential associate) over for a wholesome dinner.

Cooking and consuming collectively is a good way to construct a friendship or relationship, and might be much more nutritious than going out to a bar for wings and beer.

PN’s co-founder Phil Caravaggio (left), PN’s videographer, Alex Cimino (middle), and Dr. JB take pleasure in an espresso at a café in Montalcino, Italy.

three. Re-think what it means to “be a man”.

For those who discover your concepts about “being a man” are kinda inflexible, discover that.

(In the event that they’re extra open and versatile, discover that too. Simply discover no matter you assume and consider about “being a man”, and be interested by how which may present up in your daily-life decisions.)

Discover for those who’re placing a variety of strain on your self, or making poor decisions since you’re afraid to look weak, or ask for assist.

Keep away from phrases like “man up”, “be a man”, “real men don’t _____”.

These are highly effective phrases that pressure men into hyper-masculine behaviors, and forestall them from getting the help they want.

four. Be courageous… actually courageous.

It’s not courageous to cover or maintain doing the identical previous factor, particularly if that’s a behavior for you.

What’s truly courageous?

Reaching out to others.

Doing one thing totally different.

Asking for assist.

Admitting you don’t know — or can’t repair — all the things your self.

Be courageous. Outline your gender id — and your path in the direction of progress, health, and well being — for your self.

5. Follow self-compassion.

The normal tradition of heterosexual masculinity teaches men they need to be in management always, and in the event that they’re not, they’ve failed or they’re weak.

It’s OK to wrestle with change.

With well being, health, and vitamin, that wrestle could be notably troublesome.

Deal with your self like your good mentor, pal, or coach would deal with you.

Like: “I’ve got your back, man.”

For those who’re a coach with male shoppers:

1. Spend time constructing rapport.

Many male shoppers, particularly older or extra conventional ones who’ve discovered some fairly particular gender norms, might not speak about deeper stuff instantly.

Permit this course of to be a bit of uncomfortable — for you too! Revealing deep stuff is perhaps uncomfortable in your shopper, and sitting together with your shopper’s discomfort may really feel somewhat itchy for you. That’s okay.

Put in time constructing belief, connecting, and making a basis of help.

2. Be a task mannequin.

Break some macho stereotypes and mannequin somewhat vulnerability. One thing so simple as “Yeah, I’ve felt insecure about my body too” may be massively highly effective.

In fact, don’t puke your worldly troubles, or ask shoppers to endure 10 minutes of your self-flagellation.

Simply “go there” briefly with a fast human anecdote, sufficient for him to perceive that different individuals really feel what he feels, and that he’s regular.

You can even level your shopper to different examples of dudes breaking down stereotypes – whether or not it’s a gaggle of buff celebs speaking brazenly about their physique picture struggles, or the man at your health club who wears a “CRUSH IT” t-shirt — but in addition volunteers with the aged.

three. Take into consideration the way you body your directions.

Some male shoppers will really feel extra snug in the event you use guy-specific language.

As an example, many guys reply higher to issues like “projects” than “exploration”, and might want the idea of “thinking” to “feeling”, as in, “What goes through your mind when you have trouble slowing down your eating?”

Notice: You don’t have to stay in Stereotype Land (“Bro!” “Dude!” “Arm punch!”). In truth, should you serve a shopper inhabitants with a variety of male-identified gender expression and sexuality, that is perhaps the fallacious strategy.

Think about what language and concepts are related to every shopper, and converse to them as distinctive individuals.

four. Encourage sluggish change.

Perhaps your male shopper has thrown out gender norms years in the past and is prepared to rap about emotional consuming on Day 1.


Or… perhaps you’re working with a Vietnam Warfare vet who believes it is best to solely speak about emotions once they describe a flesh wound.

The second man will in all probability require a slower, extra gradual strategy to change. That’s OK.

Decelerate, begin with smaller, extra superficial modifications, get to know him progressively, and maintain providing that sort, compassionate vibe.

5. Keep in mind: Shoppers are entire, complicated people.

Human beings are difficult and distinctive. They’ve many wealthy tales. Gender is only one dimension of many.

Don’t stereotype or scale back individuals to a single issue, however do discover how specific social norms and scripts may form your shoppers’ perception methods.

Need to coach people, no matter their gender, with extra sensitivity, consciousness, and competency?

All shoppers are distinctive — every have their very own histories, beliefs, and habits.

As a coach you don’t have to know first-hand what it’s like to be another person. However compassion, lively listening, and consciousness of gender norms / stereotypes will help you higher perceive, join with, and assist the individuals you serve.

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For those who’re prepared to take the subsequent step in turning into a world-class coach, we’re prepared to share our information and allow you to grasp the artwork of teaching.


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