|Of course, there are "special" classes |
for "plus sized" people..but why do
we need fitness segregation? Why
can't we integrate everyone into
one class? As a fitness leader, I
know it can be done...but is there
a motivation to do it?
Through my own research and professional experience, I have met many overweight / obese individuals who avoided the gym, recreation center, and pool because of their belief that one must be fit to attend a fitness center. Pretty sad, eh? I mean, I know where this belief comes from, I have witnessed it first hand. Let me paint the picture for you as I recall my experiences as a personal trainer working with a woman who was clinically obese (approximately 400 - 450 pounds). The sweetest person you will ever meet told me story after story of her life as an obese woman....and it wasn't pretty. In fact, it had me in tears almost every time. The saddest part of it all was her complacency and ability to build a wall thick enough to "protect" her from the meanness (if that's a word) of strangers.
|As a spin instructor for over 14 years, I |
never saw a person this size take part
in a class. Would you? The seat is the
size of a pea.
In fact, after I began working with obese clientele (my favorite clientele in the world I might add) I realized that the fitness center is constructed for the fit. The machines were built for a certain body size (with little tiny bums), they were spaced apart to accommodate for a certain body size (little tiny hips), the posters and charts detailing how to stretch were only for those without extra body fat getting in the way (even a quadriceps stretch was impossible for someone with larger thighs). The clothes sold at the gym were only for sizes fit and fitter, and finally, the people exercising were predominately experienced exercisers who wore the usual form fitting clothing (not to mention those who would growl at anyone who didn't follow the protocol of the gym - like wiping down the equipment or resting between sets - that would scare any novice away). The entire make-up and culture of a fitness center caters to the fit. Interestingly, in the states, a brilliant woman had the idea of creating a gym that catered to larger people......they went into receivership shortly after.
|This picture makes me sad. Although|
the message is balance related, it
represents the power and expertise
lies in the hands of the thin. It
just makes me uncomfortable.
|You go girlfriend!|
To conclude, I do believe that people in the health and fitness professions have good hearts and are doing what they do for the love of good health and fitness (but still, the image of a cheerleader comes to mind). Unfortunately, our tactics do nothing to motivate those who would benefit the most from the services we offer. It is time to drop the judgement and "just say no" to mean-spirited people when we witness their behaviour in the street (or in the grocery store) so we may truly support everyone in their quest for a healthier life....cause let's face it, we all want to feel good (and look good) and we all want to be treated with respect (a friendly smile and "hello" is always good too).
|This scares many people let alone the|
obese person (wearing a tissue) walking
barefoot towards it being followed by
a guy in a white coat carrying a clip-
board and a pen...
So there ya go, my post for today. I don't think I will ever forget my client as long as I live and always wonder what happened to her. For those of you reading this, who have experienced this type of judgement first hand, or the frustration of trying to find something to wear that is attractive and comfortable (when all you have to choose from is some shapeless sack designed by people who obviously never lived a day in a larger frame - I mean come on....capped sleeves?????) or who felt a twinge of guilt or embarrassment buying ice cream at the store, I'm sorry. I'm sorry we (the collective we) can't see past the body composition.
That's all I got.