For Parker Price, working out is about so much more than just getting swole; it’s an integral part of his transition. After falling into a depression fueled by longstanding body issues, Price began training at Ultimate Performance Fitness in Los Angeles, throwing himself into an intense, physically demanding 12-week transformation program. Speaking to Men’s Health, Price explained how working on his fitness has given him the confidence he lacked, and how getting ripped has helped him finally feel like the kind of man he always wanted to be.
When I first started transitioning, I expected it to be a lot easier than it was to put on muscle. I thought I’d just start taking T and it’d be like boom, but it definitely wasn’t. There was a really hard point where I was starting to physically change in my appearance, but I was kind of ‘middle of the road.’ In that intermediate period, I felt horrible. I was so depressed; I thought I looked awful, I’d gone through a bad breakup, and I didn’t have family support or a huge friend network. Like a lot of LGBTQ+ people who struggle with their mental health, I just found myself in this really dark place.
I got to a point where I thought I was never going to be where I wanted to be, questioning whether life was even worth living. And I thought, man, if I’m going to be in this much pain, why not be in actual pain. I figured if nothing else the endorphins might make me feel better, but also, I wanted to channel that pain into something physical.
What motivated me was seeing high profile trans guys like Laith Ashley and Aydian Dowling, who shared their workouts and proved that it was possible to get the kind of physique I’d always envied. So I just said, I’m really going to invest in myself, and I signed up for the 12-week transformation program at Ultimate Performance Fitness.
I am 100 percent about the body positivity movement: Truly, if you’re happy and healthy and you’re content with how you look, you shouldn’t change a damn thing. For me, I just wasn’t, and working out helped me overcome my own depression and self-isolation. It forced me to be uncomfortable, like when I had to ask somebody at the gym to spot me.
When I first met with my trainer Derek, he asked me about my goals. I said something about wanting to get shredded, but he kept asking why I wanted to do this until we got to the root of it, which was that I wanted to take up more space, have confidence, and feel like I belonged. I’d never been very confident in my body before. And Derek said: ‘Right, that there, that’s what’s going to keep you motivated when you think you can’t carry on.’ And there were definitely physically moments where I thought I couldn’t do another rep, and Derek would be there to give me that extra motivation and bring it back to my ‘why.’
And I really needed that motivation, because when I first started out, I could barely do one pullup. Literally. I was like some dying praying mantis or something, it was so pathetic! I told Derek that I really wanted to be able to bust out some pullups like a boss, so he started me on some overhead pulldowns. Once I was able to get the equivalent of my body weight on that, we went back to the pullups and at that point I was able to do a solid five.
I’d be training with Derek three times a week, so on my off days and at weekends, I’d practice on my own. If I only managed five one week, I’d go home and try to get to six. The goal was to get to three sets of twelve. I think the point I started to see results was when I was able to get to three sets of nine, and I could see my obliques coming out a bit. By the time I got to the end of the program, not only could I do the three sets of twelve, but I had a weighted belt around my waist. I was like, woah, this is awesome, everyone in the gym is looking at me!
My fitness and my transition are very much tied together, and they’re a process that is still going on, but this transformation has given me a ton more confidence in myself and made me a lot happier. I’ve become able to enjoy my body, and feel proud to be able to take off my shirt. I was always self-conscious about my scars from my top surgery, and building out my chest played a big part in me getting over that. I’m feeling more confident, so I’m acting more confident. I’m smiling more, and I’m standing taller.
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