Fitness: Gyms should accommodate people of all sizes, not just one-size-fits-all people

Promoting body diversity starts at the top, with gym managers and owners setting the tone.

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In a society that increasingly promotes inclusivity and body positivity, gyms are late adopters.

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Long associated with weight-centric ideals that promote achieving the “perfect body,” most gyms fail to create a welcoming atmosphere for people of all shapes and sizes.

A strong connection to weight loss, lean, muscular bodies and tight clothing make gyms the type of place overweight people feel out of place. This sentiment is particularly prevalent among women, who are more deeply affected by weight stigma. But the benefits of exercise are not limited to individuals of a certain body type. Fitness is also not calculated with a tape measure or scale.

Each individual may have the same health and fitness goals as anyone else who buys a gym membership, despite the association of exercise with being thin. Yet researchers found that these athletes feel negatively judged, scrutinized, and compared to others during exercise. Gyms are so unwelcoming to those who wear plus size clothing that they often choose to work out in the privacy of their own home or forego regular exercise altogether.

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What can gyms do to discourage weight stigma and attract a more diverse clientele? George Cunningham and Andrew Pickett of the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University created a series of conditions designed to transform gyms into inclusive spaces for the body. But it’s not just the gym’s management to set the tone. Gym members are key to making all athletes feel welcome.

Find a gym where your exercise goals are celebrated and the community supports you. Stepping into the gym should feel like home, not a cause for social anxiety, exercise being a source of pleasure and fulfillment.

Use the following checklist to find an inclusive installation.

Culture of inclusion

American psychologist Bernardo Ferdman defines inclusion as fully connecting with, engaging and using people, regardless of their differences. This means individuals feel valued and comfortable in their uniqueness and make accommodations without being asked. Gyms with a zero-tolerance policy for actions or words that run counter to inclusion efforts and employ staff dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all athletes are examples. of gymnasiums worthy of your dues.

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Authentic Leadership

Promoting body diversity starts at the top, with gym managers and owners setting the tone by enforcing and modeling the kind of interactions that take place in their gym. It’s also important that staff reflect the kind of diversity that gym owners claim to value. Hiring instructors, trainers and support staff of varying sizes makes it easier for all members to integrate. Representation is important.

Adaptation of physical spaces

Ensuring there is a selection of appropriate and comfortable equipment for all bodies makes working out more enjoyable. Weight-inclusive practices include stationary bikes with wider seats and treadmills designed to withstand heavier walkers and runners. Locker rooms with privacy to change into gym clothes and fewer mirrors are welcome for anyone struggling with body image issues.

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Inclusive language

Language is a powerful tool when it comes to feeling included, which is why it’s important to establish a vocabulary that accepts all shapes and sizes. More than just discarding words like “fat” or “overweight,” inclusive language means not assuming that tall people aren’t fit, don’t exercise, or can only tolerate certain types of body fat. ‘coaching. Setting ambitious and attainable goals is the cornerstone to becoming fitter and healthier, no matter your size or shape. From bootcamp to yoga, plus-size athletes should leave a workout feeling stronger, fitter, more energized and accomplished.

Sense of community

All gym members deserve to feel like they belong, which can be difficult when walking into a gym where few people are the same size. Staff that go out of their way to ease that anxiety by chatting, smiling, and introducing new members to users with similar interests can help ease the embarrassment of feeling different. A sense of belonging has been proven to increase commitment to exercise, which is good for more than just exercisers. A gym with a welcoming community is a gym with healthy results.

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Focus on health, not size

It’s time to end the association between gyms, exercise and weight loss. Tying success in the gym to the number of pounds lost is an outdated concept, especially since we know that exercise alone is not a particularly effective weight loss tool. Focusing on results such as improved strength, endurance and mobility rather than weight loss ensures success for all.

It’s also important for gym staff to reconsider the type of images used to promote their business, which typically feature slim and fit people. Promotional tools should better reflect our wider communities, with people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and skin colors, as well as promoting the achievement of a variety of exercise-related goals, including better health physical and mental well-being.

  1. Don't be afraid to experiment with different sources of caffeine.

    Fitness: start your workout with a cup of coffee

  2. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk has myriad mental and physical health benefits.

    Fitness: Take the first step towards establishing a healthy habit

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