Let’s face it, it’s hard enough getting psyched up to do a gym session; you’ve been through a long day and want nothing more than a hot meal and a warm bed. Or probably you have to wrestle with miles of traffic just to get there. There could be a dozen domestic emergencies screaming for that one hour you’ll ‘waste’ trying to work up a sweat.
This is why some gyms in America have opted to take the step of refusing smaller size folks entry to their establishments so as to avoid discouraging ‘plus size’ clientele further. This is pursuant to the trend of fitness centres barring obsessive body builders from training with them in order to give casual fitness seekers more peace of mind.
While the media have seized upon these trends to fan a public furore, there is no one law that forbids the filtering of gym clients by owners should they choose to serve only a certain niche.
Does working out with skinny people lower self-esteem?
So does it actually work? Or is the idea that excluding more toned people from the gym improving the performance of their more weighty counterparts merely a misguided notion? Well, according to one client of a gym catering solely to overweight women, it’s true that they not only get intimidated by the sight of trim men and women in the gym, they also get a judgmental vibe from them. The people behind these so-called ‘plus-friendly’ establishments insist that their aim is to ramp up the self esteem of their clients by letting them train with people of similar body types.
They do this in the hope of effacing the self-consciousness that comes when the plus size clientele see slimmer people thus encouraging them to stick at their routines. It has been observed that a number of overweight folk joining gyms have tried to start regimes and ended up failing severally due to a dented self-esteem. The extent to which this actually does happen is yet to be empirically proven, but there is a definite connection.
Is it all in the mind?
Or is it simply that the overweight gym goers are being insecure and paranoid? Are they really being stared at or being criticized as much as they imagine? A number of overweight folk with some gym experience stress that it’s not only the staring or the whispering and giggling they face; even the patronizing gestures can cause them to lose heart and beat a retreat from all things fitness. Others say it’s just the fact that the majority of gym goers are skinnier than them that puts them off.
The owner of a fitness centre in Union Square targeted at plus-size customers says he ‘was tired of being the biggest person in the classroom’. However, others say that all these are mental barriers that can be overcome by realizing that one needs to focus on their own fitness and forget about what those around them think or do. In fact, some overweight folk purposely seek to work out next to fitter, more athletic exercisers in order to give themselves something to aspire to. This is what I would do. What about you?