I Love Working Out with Bodies Like Mine

All my life, I’ve navigated through the world with a plus-size body. The remarks people have made about my body used to shock: comments about my round belly or the food I ate, or the question of whether I ever thought to take part in any physical activity.

The comments made me angry at first, but, if I can be honest, each one coated me in sadness and somehow made me feel as if I wasn’t doing enough.

At the time, the thought of spending any considerable amount of time in a gym seemed terrifying. For so long, the way the fitness industry approached bodies like mine was filled with toxic notions, worshipping thinness and making health into some kind of moral virtue.

So for those of us with different abilities and sizes, finding a safe and supportive environment free of judgment and expectation can be a life-changing experience.

We have to be skeptical and ask: Who do they represent and how?

Gyms, for a long time, have been unsafe spaces

Many people seem to forget that all bodies are different and all bodies have different needs. Although I wanted to be physically active, the idea of working out made me incredibly self-conscious.

The last time I hired a trainer at my local gym, I explicitly told her I wasn’t interested in diet talk or weight loss. I explained that I wanted help with staying active, since my day-to-day schedule was quite busy. I figured she could help me with a regular routine, including guiding my form and technique in the gym.

When we’d been working together for weeks, I started to look forward to our appointments. The wall I’d built up inside myself about gyms being unsafe slowly started to crumble. The relationship I’d developed with her was becoming, shockingly, enjoyable.

Then, as I approached the weights area, ready to start our first set, my trainer casually blurted out, “I just don’t understand why you keep coming here if you’re not trying to lose weight.”

I was shocked. Horrified and disgusted.

For so long, I’d heard other trainers at this gym make questionable comments about other people’s bodies, and I’d chosen to ignore it. But what came out of my trainer’s mouth that day crossed a boundary.

It did not inform my overall health and well-being. It was straight-up body-shaming, and I canceled my membership immediately.