6 myths about plus size women and their fitness

6 myths about plus size women and of their fitness (and why it's wrong!).

Louise Green, Coach, Author, Activist and Athlete

Louise Green is a world-class fitness trainer, activist and author, changing the narrative and idealistic norms of our fitness culture.

Her fitness career began in 2008 when she opened the first plus size fitness franchise, Body Exchange.

As an influential changemaker, Louise has helped thousands of plus size women find their inner athlete and love their bodies. By speaking, writing and coaching women online, she led the charge in creating a more inclusive fitness movement across the world.

Breaking the barriers of traditional fitness, Louise is the first plus size athlete to be featured in prestigious publications such as Triathlete Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, Canadian Running and Runner's World UK.

Louise is the author of Big Fit Girl and a SELF Columnist.

Most of the time, the plus size woman is only portrayed in weight loss ads (the front photo), which creates a tone of rejection and a lack of celebration of women.

Our societal message about plus sizes needs to change. After training thousands of plus size women in the gym, I'm here to bust the myths. The truth is, a lot of plus size women are healthy, physically fit, and thriving in the gym. If you've ever doubted (or been doubted), read on.

Myth #1: Plus size women who go to the gym are there to lose weight.

Society hammers us with praise for lean bodies and dieting multitudes. It's no wonder that when we see a plus size woman at the gym, we immediately assume she's trying to lose weight. While that may be her focus, there is also a growing population of women who have given up on diets and are more focused on strength and fitness. It is a completely misconception that all plus size women are unhappy with their bodies and are on a mission to be skinny.

Myth #2: Plus-size women are new to the gym.

There is a presumption - one that I have often encountered - that plus size women are newcomers to the gym. Many people believe in the myth that gym goers have to be lean and have the typical magazine fitness body, but that's not always the case. It's time to broaden our horizons and better understand what it means to be healthy and fit. There are plenty of plus size women who get high in the gym and are true veterans. Fitness comes with great diversity, and a fit body can be any size.

Myth #3: Plus-size women need (unsolicited) encouragement at the gym.

This is a tough question because a lot of people, plus size or otherwise, feel intimidated by sports culture, so it's good to have some encouragement. But on several occasions, I was the object of encouragements which seemed to me singular and misleading according to the size of my body. Our culture needs to move away from the anomaly mentality when we see larger sizes training. While the intentions are often laudable, I recommend treating all bodies the same: offering the same encouragement you would give to someone who is working out and has a leaner body.

Myth #4: A plus size woman can't be a trainer

Consider me a human myth! Yes, plus size women can be a leader in the fitness world! Not all trainers are young, lean and muscular. Anyone can pursue their dreams of becoming a fitness professional. Many people seem surprised when I tell them that I am a personal trainer, they are often confused. I'm not saying being in the fitness industry as a plus size woman was easy, but it can be done. As the scope of our health and fitness discourse expands, women of all shapes and sizes are stepping into fitness-related roles and leading the pack.

Myth #5: Plus-size women at the gym aren't healthy or lazy

Plus size women have long been believed to be unhealthy and lazy. More often than not, it is the result of our society's conditioning to the media, advertising and the many health professionals. It's true, some plus size women have health issues, but so do some slimmer women. We quickly equate thin and healthy and assume that larger body sizes must be unhealthy. But it doesn't work like that. Quite simply, you cannot tell about a person's health by looking at their outward appearance.

Myth #6: Plus size women at the gym are inexperienced and need help.

We know now, that plus size women at the gym know the exercises well. Some are longtime gym goers, some even work at the gym and run others. It's also true that some are new to exercise and may need some help (as is sometimes the case with skinny gym goers). We can't know the woman's experience in a gym because of her size and we need to stop assuming she's a beginner!

In general, we should celebrate all bodies as capable, valuable, and worthy. The more size diversity we see in the gym, the less surprised people will be that a plus size woman lifts weights like a champ. Remember that every time you walk into a gym, you are changing the culture of fitness by representing size diversity in form.