Fitness studios catering to plus-size clientele are a hot trend this year — from Body Exchange in Calgary, a fitness company catering exclusively to plus-size members, to yoga classes targeted at women with fuller figures to “nonjudgmental” fitness studios like Toronto’s FitZonePLUS. And all I can say is, it’s about time. Here’s why:
1. Catering only to hyper-thin bodies neglects a huge percentage of the population
Over a quarter of Canadian women are “overweight,” according to Statistics Canada. People working in the fitness industry are finally learning that it doesn’t pay to treat hyper-thin bodies as the norm. It’s time to embrace plus size fitness and topple stereotypes.
2. Plus-size bodies shouldn’t be underestimated
Social media is full of plenty of plus-size yogis and fitness enthusiasts who defy expectations. And who are we to assume someone isn’t healthy based on a number on the scale? The body mass index is notoriously unreliable and outdated as a tool to determine health. It’s best to tune in to how you feel instead — and women like body positive yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley look like they’re feeling pretty damn good.
3. “Gymtimidation” is a real thing
If you’ve gotten out of the habit of going to the gym, working out next to a bunch of muscly people slurping down protein shakes and showing off their eight-packs in the mirror isn’t the most fun.
Mary Jung, an assistant professor at UBC Okanagan’s Health and Exercise Psychology Lab, tells CBC that when it comes to getting motivated to go to the gym, confidence is key: “What keeps people continuing to exercise is feeling confident and owning their identity as an exerciser,” she said. Fitness studios that aim to build confidence in plus-size clients have tapped into this fact.
4. Focusing on “burning fat” sucks the joy out of working out
Nothing ruins your endorphin high more than somebody shouting obnoxiously about “blasting those saddlebags” and “torching those love handles.” I mean, come on… Getting through an intense spin class without puking is hard enough without having someone point out your flaws. It’s high time fitness instructors focused more on the positive aspects of working out, like gaining strength and increasing flexibility.
5. Everyone deserves to feel good
There are clear links between working up a sweat doing physical activity and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. And everyone deserves those benefits — So here’s to making gymtimidation a thing of the past.