Meet Kelly Taphouse
I am so excited to introduce you to Kelly Taphouse – an incredible advocate for women’s fitness. Although she lives and works in Toronto, her message needs to be heard around the world.
What seems like a life time ago, I met Kelly at a fitness competition in Toronto in 2006. We were in the same category, showcasing our tired, over-trained physiques. We both had success on stage but struggled outside of the spotlight. Little did we know where it would lead us.
The fitness industry embraced Kelly but she soon found herself disillusioned with the unrealistic expectations of what she “should” look like. This lead to disordered body image, caloric restrictions, fluctuating weight and excessive training.
Kelly is now doing amazing, important work, promoting healthy living, positive body image, true strength and wellness for women.
She is an incredible role model and has created a safe place for women to be themselves and to learn a new way of feeling worthy, beautiful and strong!
Let’s meet Kelly
BYCfitness: Can you tell us a bit about yourself.
Kelly: I was born and raised in Toronto 🙂 I am an extremely proud mama to my 5 year old son Parker and currently 8 months pregnant with my daughter! Outside of coaching and running MOVE fitness club, I have a love for fashion and all things creative!
BYCfitness: Why did you start working out? What was that experience like?
Kelly: My “fitness” journey started 20 years ago when I joined a gym, because that is what the masses were doing. I was on the elliptical when a male trainer approached me, asked how it was going and commented that I would look amazing if I lost a few pounds and gained some muscle. I will NEVER forget that day because that was the day that changed my life, and changed me.
I hired that trainer and worked out three times a week and with weights I started to see my body transform. I actually loved it and looked forward to my time in the gym. The unexpected bonus was that I was all of a sudden getting a lot of attention on my external appearance. My body had NEVER been praised like this, it was addictive and like any other addiction, I wanted more and it was fueling the addiction.
I never actually noticed that with all of my hard work, I was getting stronger. No one, including my trainer, seemed to take notice how strong I had become, or that fact that I could do a pull up, a freaking pull up!! All of that seemed insignificant because the focus was on how my muscles “looked” and not how strong or healthy I felt. Yet I continued to feed the addiction and the world of fitness became, for me, all about what showed up on the exterior and nothing more.
I began weighing myself daily for validation. I was addicted to the feedback I was getting from that square piece of metal on my bathroom floor. It had so much power and would ultimately determine my mood for the day and week ahead and gave me the feedback of whether I was successful or not. What it didn’t tell me was how good I felt in my clothes or how much newly found energy I had and how absolutely great movement made me feel. I had become so strong and none of that mattered and if that isn’t toxic and unhealthy, I don’t know what is.
BYCfitness: Then you chose to compete. Can you tell us a bit about what led you there and how it impacted you?
Kelly: I started to train for fitness competitions with the urging of a trainer. It was grueling and felt impossible most days. I was put on an extremely strict diet, 1200 calories a day and my workout plan included 6 days in the gym, 2x a day. I started obsessing about food, secretly binging and purging on cookies or cake and then feeling so much guilt and shame. I would often write to my trainer in distress about falling off the plan and was instructed to add an extra cardio session to make up for it, even if it meant a third workout for the day. I officially had an eating disorder and hated fitness.
I hated every minute of my workouts. I was exhausted over trained and starving most of the time. I developed horrible insomnia and lost my period, but I looked “so good”, so it was all OK.
I went on to repeat this cycle for 6 more years.
BYCfitness: What finally motivated you to stop training and dieting this way?
Kelly: I modelled in fitness magazines and continued to destroy my body, my mind and ultimately my relationship with fitness. My weight rebounded by nearly 20 lbs after each competition and my self-hate grew stronger and stronger each time. I was full on in the binge/purge cycle and used exercise as my punishment.
During this entire time, in my fitness community, I didn’t have one single source of positive influence to help me see how destructive and damaging this was. I was feeding a billion dollar industry exactly what they needed. There weren’t any of the fiercely dedicated body positive advocates I surround myself with today who would have kicked my ass and helped me see how toxic these habits and behaviors were. I did, however, have one very special soul, who was part of my personal life and provided that one constant voice, which for a long time I fought to listen to. My incredible husband literally helped me turn this ship of insanity around. He cared so deeply about my well-being and was relentlessly committed to helping me regain control. He’s literally my world and was the reason I was able to find the strength and courage to rebuild myself.
BYCfitness: Not only did you rebuild yourself, but you have created an amazing space for women in Toronto called MOVE. Tell us more about this.
Kelly: MOVE was inspired by my struggles in the fitness space and my longing to be a part of community that was empowering and lifted women up as opposed to tearing them down. As a new mom (at the time) I was discouraged by the lack of good fitness options with childcare. So I decided to finally pursue my dream of opening my own studio. My vision, mission and mindset were finally all coming together.
We are a women only space with women ranging from 25 to 65. Lots of moms, lots of professionals, lots of creatives, really, women of all backgrounds!
BYCfitness: You have some great tag lines: “Let us be your next serious relationship” & “Fall in love with fitness for all the right reasons”. How are these part of your vision and guiding principles?
Kelly: At MOVE we believe that fitness isn’t a crash course or a quick fix, it’s a life long relationship. That’s why we don’t run rapid transformation programs or promise superficial results in 8 weeks, etc. These are the types of things that cause disordered relationships with fitness, food and the body. We also will never weigh our clients or measure them, rather we track pounds lifted and fitness firsts. When you weigh or measure your client you tell them they are just bodies and the most important part of their time with you is their external appearance. We want women to feel empowered and love their bodies for all they are capable of.
BYCfitness: You have come a long way in this journey. Where do you see your role in the future of women’s fitness?
Kelly: Today I only feel gratitude for the unconventional, less than ideal journey I took to get where I am because it made me so much smarter, and humble and gave me the focus I needed to create the space we have at MOVE. A space that is actively and passionately here to be a part of the change and to create a movement of warriors dedicated to changing the fitness space for women, changing the internal question from “how do I look” to “how do I feel?” In our opinion, far more important.
BYCfitness: Where do you see women’s fitness in the future?
Kelly: My wish is that the current trend of women becoming strong, snowballs into a movement; simultaneously while the media keeps working towards redefining and broadening the way it defines beauty!
A note from Lynne at BYCfitness: Kelly is doing very, very important work for women and fitness. Please follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Check out the MOVE website: http://www.movefitnessclub.com/
If you enjoyed what you read and feel inspired by Kelly’s story and work, please drop her line and let her know. Most importantly, share her message.