SAN DIEGO -- One of the biggest challenges for someone embarking on the journey toward physical fitness is connecting with a trainer that understands their needs. Men often feel that a female trainer won’t fully understand the physiology of the male body, and the same can be said about women in their reluctance to work under the guidance of someone with an XY chromosome make up.
What’s most amazing about Chris Bruce, however, is that she unequivocally “gets” both.
Why? Because the statuesque blonde bombshell spent the first 40 years of her life as a man.
“When I lived in Dallas, one of my marketing tools was a campaign which asked ‘Is it a woman? Is it a man? No - it’s Chris’,” she said, pointing out that she went from a 230-pound male body builder to a 180-pound female. “If I can do that, I can do anything for you. The body adapts. It will change, but you have to stay focused doing it. I’ve proven it can be done.”While her clients come in all sizes, shapes and gender identities, Chris has found that in some instances, members of the transgender community -- namely, the female-to-male transgender community -- have sought out her assistance in not only shaping their bodies, but growing acclimated to them as well.
“There was a particular female-to-male transgender client I was working with, and one day I looked at him and said I hope this doesn’t offend you but you run like a girl,” Chris said, laughing. “So then we began talking about things like form, body movement and other things he could do to give off a more masculine appearance.”
Although she is admittedly happier than she’s ever been, Chris admits her transition and ultimately, her journey to self-discovery, were not easy. The first step in the process involved coming to terms with not feeling at home in the body she was born into.
“I worked in sales for most of my adult life, and during my last sales job I traveled the whole country -- and I’d dress in women’s clothes while I was away for business,” Chris said. “At first I questioned whether it was a sexual fetish, but after a while I realized it wasn’t sexual, that it was me projecting what I wanted and who I was.”
Chris, then married with kids, got divorced in 2007. But she didn’t officially come out as a transgender female until 2009.
“I came out to my mom during Christmas of 2009 and quit my job in the corporate world in April 2010 after I’d had some surgeries,” she said. “I told my kids in May or June, and later that summer I decided it was time to merge my old life and my new life.”
In merging the old with the new, she decided to take her former passion in working as a personal trainer on the side and turn it into a full-time career. Although the job comes with a differing pay scale, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m happy with my life now,” Chris said. “I love getting up in the morning. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Part of following that happiness came in following her heart to San Diego.
“I came to visit San Diego not that long ago and fell in love,” she said. “The community is different out here than the community in Dallas. People are more accepting, and I felt that it was a better match for me, both professionally and personally.”
In Dallas, she relayed, there were several instances where she spoke with gym owners over the phone about contracting with them to use their facility to train her clients. Although things always seemed to go well over the phone, things did not always go so smoothly when they met her in person.
“There was one gym in particular that was very excited until they realized I’m transgendered,” she said. “The owner said I just wasn’t going to be a good fit, and I know it’s because I wasn’t what they expected when we talked on the phone.”
At the current time, Chris isn’t working out of a set facility; she’s mostly running one-on-one training sessions in Balboa Park and Trolley Barn Park. She hopes to set up boot camp locations at each in the near future.
Eventually, her goal is to open her own gym along the University Avenue business corridor, with a gym on the ground floor and personal living space on the second.
Whether you’re in need of a little toning up or a full body makeover, Chris has proven to be an expert in her field. In addition to helping fine-tune your workout, she’ll also be able to help you better understand your nutritional needs in order to maximize your results.
MARGIE M. PALMER - SPECIAL TO SDGLN March 18th, 2011