Trainer Morit Summers believes every woman can reach her fitness goals, regardless of shape, size, or weight. It's that approach that has earned her clients like Ashley Graham and Danielle Brooks. But to become the embodiment of self-confidence and body love that she is today, Summers has gone through quite a few struggles of her own.
"When I was young, I was always the fat kid," Summers tells Shape. "I always hated gym class and sports because they made me feel embarrassed."
But Summers always valued her health. "I asked my parents to help me join the New York Sports Club when I was 14," she says.
With her parents' support, Summers started working with a personal trainer. Just a few sessions in, she developed a real love for the gym. "I just became really passionate about it," Summers says. "Eventually I started working out on my own and when it came time to go to college, I knew I wanted to study something that was health and fitness focused."
Summers completed her schooling in exercise science and kinesiology with the dream of becoming a personal trainer someday—which is exactly what she did. She landed her first job working at Equinox in Brooklyn, NY, and she couldn't have been more excited.
But at the time, Summers didn't fit the personal trainer mold. "There just weren't many people in the industry who looked like me," Summers says. "Even though I was fit and strong, I was never 'thin.' There wasn't even a uniform available in my size at the time."
Even though Summers had the credentials and skills to make for a good personal trainer, her coworkers focused on her looks. "I was called fat multiple times," she says. "My manager even offered to train me and 'get me to where I needed to be.' I remember him asking me how I was supposed to train my clients if this is the way I looked." (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
Summers went on to become the number-one trainer at her Equinox location and held that title for several years, but she still doubted herself. "I put myself down for years and never felt good enough because I didn't look the part."
Something clicked four years ago. "I didn't want to spend the rest of my life looking at the scale and getting frustrated with the numbers staying the same," she says. "I wanted to get stronger and learn to love my body the way it was."
I want to talk about this face... this is the face of someone who just accomplished something she didn’t think possible, the face of someone who realized possibility, someone who just realized her hard work is paying off. I am so proud of this woman. I point this out, because it’s moments like this that make me love my job even more than I already do. It is my passion to help people find this feeling, because this is the feeling that leads to a healthier lifestyle. -You are capable -You can do what you set your mind to -You are awesome! #spartanrace #spartanwomen #innerstrength #mentaltoughness #personaltrainer #lovewhatyoudo @jdgibney
Shortly after her light-bulb moment, Summers joined CrossFit Brooklyn, which helped change her perception of what fitness is really about. (Related: Yogi Jessamyn Stanley Gets Real About Trying CrossFit for the First Time)
"I started taking classes and powerlifting, and eventually, I began competing," Summers says. "I realized that setting strength goals was a way better way to live my life." (Related: Kelsey Wells Shares What It Really Means to Feel Empowered By Fitness)
Summers still experiences her share of body-shaming on social media but doesn't let any of the negativity get to her. "People have something to say about my appearance all the time, but if someone comes at me saying I can't do something, I'm always always going to do it," she says. "Just tell me I can't, because I promise you I can."
Just keep trying! - - - I have dreams about rocking out pull ups. The truth is that for years I have been in the gym lifting heavy weights and working on my pull ups, and well it’s just not easy. But isn’t that the reason I keep going back? I could give up, I could say this is to hard and give up on my goal of doing many pull ups. Instead I keep showing up and I keep trying, and I keep on! Nothing that is worth it comes easy, that just not how life works. So push past why feels hard, the reward may not be around the corner but at some point you will see all of your hard work come to fruition - - - #personaltrainingstudio #personaltrainerbrooklyn #curvyfit #fitness #pullups #strongwomen #fitness #workout #justtry #keeponkeepinon #tbt @jocelynboldphotography T-shirt @thirteenfitapparel
Her mindset changed on a personal level, but Summers' approach to training her clients transformed as well. "I didn't want them to see fitness as just a way to lose weight. It's so much more than that. Most people wouldn't think that a 225-pound girl can do a pull-up, but I can. I hope that empowers women of all sizes to know that there's nothing they can't do."
Summers is taking her career to another level by opening her first brick-and-mortar training facility dubbed Form Fitness. It will be a space that's "dedicated to movement and strength for all," and will teach people not to be afraid to tap their full potential.
"Gyms should be a place where people can do something good for their bodies without feeling like they're being judged," Summers says. "That's what Form Fitness is all about. I want people to know that it is possible for a woman who is a size 18 to own a gym and be good at what she does. Fitness doesn't look a certain way."