Lauren Boggi's fitness days started on the sidelines—as a Division 1A cheerleader at the University of South Carolina—rather than in the studio. She tore her rotator cuff, ending her cheer career. Her two options were: 1) surgery or 2) rehab through Pilates. She chose to skip surgery and go the rehab route, and from there, she was hooked.
Post-college, she became a Pilates instructor and entered the professional fitness world, later creating Lithe and the Cardio-Cheer-Sculpting Method, a fitness program that steals moves from her cheer days to serve up a full-body workout without the human pyramids and pom-poms. (Try some of her cheer-sculpting moves here or this plank variation that will really challenge your core.)
Even though she'd created a successful, in-demand workout program, Boggi said there was still so much focus on her body rather than on the product itself. And while you might see body-shaming as a thing that exclusively happens inside your own head or to celebrities on social media, it's just as ruthless to be a fitness pro. (Related: Here's how to stop body-shaming the woman in the mirror.)
"I started to hear things about, 'gosh, she's so short,' or 'she's so bulky' or, 'her legs!'" says Boggi. "I'm not ripped or jacked and I never will be." But in the fitness world, that's what a lot of people expect to see from the person running their workout.
But Boggi stuck to her guns and stayed true to herself—and even started noticing that her "realness" resonated with women in a way that wouldn't happen if she had the stereotypically "perfect" trainer body. That's why she's teamed up with Reebok as a part of their #PerfectNever movement: a powerful rejection of perfection that superstars like Ronda Rousey, Aly Raisman, and Gigi Hadid have gotten on board with.
In the end, Boggi says she thinks women connect with her more because they can see themselves in her—she's not intimidating or unreachable. And because she encourages them to find their "why"—the driving reason behind why they get up and out of bed each morning. Because, in the end, the answer probably isn't going to be "perfect abs."
"I feel like with fitness, to stick with something, people need to connect with their heart," she says. "I wanted to show them it's not about your body. It goes so much deeper than that. And if you can get to those deeper levels, you'll love your body even more."
Watch the video to hear her powerful stance on perfection and why she loves her body just the way it is.