Gyms Now Banning Skinny People Because They Make Fat People Feel Bad

Posted on July 1, 2012


California (Candice Leigh Helfand – CBS) – A new fitness trend appears to be sweeping the nation – one that expressly excludes those on the more slender side of the scale.

Multiple reports have surfaced recently about gyms that cater exclusively to zaftig clients looking to lose weight in a place free of potential judgment from other, smaller patrons.

Though some all-inclusive gyms have attempted in the past to create a safe haven for anyone interested in exercising – for example, Planet Fitness, a national chain of gyms with a “judgment-free” motto and mentality – some creators of obese-only gyms feel it’s not enough.

Fitness facilities throughout the United States and Canada are adopting the obese-only idea in the hopes of removing intimidation from the exercise equation.

One such business is Downsize Fitness, with locations in Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas. They are self-described as a gym “developed specifically with chronically overweight and obese individuals in mind.”

Chris Gowens, co-founder of Downsize Fitness, told CBS Sacramento that he formerly served as the personal trainer of the gym’s other founder, and the two talked extensively about his former client’s apprehension to go to a public gym.

“Most people can’t afford a personal trainer … and never feel comfortable going to the gym,” he said. “The idea [for Downsize Fitness] was borne out of that. We thought it would be a good idea to open a gym tailored to overweight people, to create an environment that’s more welcoming and less intimidating.”

Other gyms with the same idea include Body Exchange in Vancouver, Square One in Omaha, Neb., and Buddha Body Yoga in New York City.

Shawn Arent, an associate professor for the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at Rutgers University, told CBS Sacramento that any program with the potential to motivate obese people to pursue a healthier lifestyle is a program worthy of a chance.

“Anything that gets people moving is a good idea at this point, considering what we’re dealing with in terms of an obesity epidemic,” he said, adding that those put off by the notion of judgmental work-out companions are not alone. “The barrier people are talking about here is social physique anxiety, or nervousness about what others observe and perceive about a person in a certain environment.”

Read more: