When I was younger, I used to cry to my mom before ballet class (yes, I took ballet) because my butt stuck out of my tutu. She would say to me “one day you’ll like that butt!” and those words would replay through my mind as my 6-year-old self tried to gracefully replicate the moves my teacher did and I tried not to stare at the back side of my leotard poking out a little more than all the other girls' did.

I was in high school when the whole thigh gap thing seemed to take shape. At first I was kind of like “hey, why don’t I have one of those?” Growing up with an athletic, muscular bottom half, I never even knew they existed. I would stare at myself in the mirror and try to squat low enough so that I could see some light shine through and so my quads didn’t touch. It wasn’t until I became more comfortable in my own skin that I realized not having a thigh gap was where it’s actually at! I didn’t have a thigh gap because my body wasn’t built that way. My body was built to be strong and resilient, my legs were muscular for a reason, and a thigh gap wasn’t (and never will be) in my cards.

Women are empowering in general, but there’s nothing more empowering than seeing a woman be comfortable in her own skin. With a society that looks up to people like the Kardashian’s as idols and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as Prime Time Television, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what’s “perfect” and what’s not, so as women we must always remind each other that we are our own person for a reason. Instead of comparing, compliment. Rather than compete, encourage. Repeat, reuse, pay it forward, and grow with it!

Fast forward 21 years and I couldn’t be more proud of that same behind the little girl in the tutu used to cry about. Bigger and more powerful, I can gladly say it’s my best asset (pun intended). I’m proud of the fact that it helps me squat double my body weight. I’m proud of the way it looks in a pair of jeans even if it is a struggle and a half to find a pair that fits correctly, I’m even proud of the cellulite it’s accumulated in the past few years! Above all though, I’m the most proud of the fact that it’s unique to the way my body was created and continues to be day in and day out.

You already know Vanessa from her heart-pumping Sweata Weatha classes - but you can also find her teaching Riding High and (B) High Speed throughout the week. She combines her passion for teaching with motivational support for her clients in all of her classes. Be sure to get your butt into one of Vanessa's classes to see what she's all about!

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