Blog- 6 commons assumptions about plus-size women and fitness
|Sportive Plus Blog|
Thursday, October 25th 2018- by Louise Green
6 Common Assumptions About Plus-Size Women and Fitness (and why they are wrong).
Louise Green, trainer, author, advocate, athlete
Louise Green is a global plus-size fitness coach, fitness activist and author changing the narrative and idealistic standards of our fitness culture.
Her fitness career began in 2008 when she opened the first plus-size fitness franchise, Body Exchange.
As an influential change-maker, Louise has helped thousands of plus-size women find their inner-athlete and love their bodies. Through speaking, writing and coaching women online she has lead the charge in creating a more inclusive fitness culture across the globe.
Smashing the barriers of mainstream fitness, Louise is the first plus-size athlete to be featured in elite publications such as: Triathlete Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, Canadian Running and Runner’s World UK.
Louise is the Author of Big Fit Girl and a Columnist at SELF Magazine.
You would like to know her better?
I’ve been a trainer and coach to plus-size women for over a decade. Although 67 percent of American women are considered plus size, there seems to be a lack of representation in our fitness culture. They're missing from ads and magazine covers and from the general narrative of what it means to be fit, healthy and strong. This lack of representation causes many people to make undue assumptions and creates an unwanted bias in our society.
Much of the time we only see the plus-size woman as before picture in weight loss ads, which creates a tone of rejection and lack of celebration.
Our societal message surrounding larger bodies needs to change. After coaching thousands of plus-size women in the gym, I am here to tear down the assumptions that we’ve commonly come to believe as facts about the larger woman. The truth is, many plus-size women are healthy, fit, and killing it at the gym. If you've ever doubted it (or been doubted), read on.
Assumption #1: Plus-size women at the gym are there to lose weight.
Our societal message hammers us with the praise of thin bodies coupled with overwhelming diet culture. It’s no wonder when we see a plus-size woman at the gym we immediately assume that she is trying to lose weight. While that may be her goal, there’s also a growing population of women who have abandoned diet culture and who are more focused on strength and fitness. It’s a major misconception that all plus-size women are unhappy with their bodies and are on a mission to be thin.
Assumption #2: Plus-size women are newcomers at the gym.
There is an assumption—one I’ve encountered many times—that larger-bodied women are newcomers to the gym. Many people believe the myth that avid gym goers must be lean and possess the A-typical fitness body found in magazines, but that’s not always the case. It’s time to widen our scope and narrative around what it means to be healthy and fit. There are plenty of plus-size women kicking ass in fitness who are gym veterans. Fitness comes with great diversity, and a fit body can be any size.
Assumption #3: Plus-size women at the gym need unsolicited encouragement.
This is a tough one because many people, plus-size or otherwise, feel intimidated by gym culture, so encouragement is nice. But many times, I’ve been the subject of encouragement that felt singled out and disingenuous based on my body size. Our culture needs to move away from the anomaly mindset when we see big bodies working out. Although intentions are often in the right place, I recommend treating all bodies equally and only offering the same encouragement you would extend to a thinner gym goer.
Assumption #4: A plus-size woman at the gym definitely can’t be the trainer.
Consider me a human myth-buster! Yes, plus-size women can be in fitness leadership! It’s just not the case that trainers are only young, lean, and ripped. Every “body” can pursue their dreams of becoming a fitness professional. I’ve had many people seem surprised when I tell them I’m a personal trainer, I am more than often met with confusion. I won’t proclaim that navigating the fitness industry as a plus-size woman has been easy, but it can be done. As the scope of our health and fitness narrative expands, women of all shapes and sizes are stepping into fitness roles and leading the pack.
Assumption #5: Plus-size women at the gym are unhealthy or lazy.
Plus-size women have been living under the assumption that they are unhealthy and lazy for many years. More often than not, this a result of our society’s conditioning from media, advertising and many medical professionals bias. It’s true, some plus-size women have health conditions, but so do some thinner women. We are quick to equate thin with healthy and assume larger bodies must be unhealthy. But it doesn't work that way. Quite simply, you can’t tell a person’s health by looking at their exterior appearance.
Assumption #6: Plus-size women at the gym are inexperienced and need help.
Hopefully by now we know that many plus-size women at the gym are well versed in exercise. Some are long-time gym goers, some even work at the gym and lead others. It’s true also, that some are brand new to exercise and may need assistance (as is sometimes the case with thin gym goers). We can’t know a woman’s gym experience based on her size and we need to stop assuming that she is brand new!
In general, we need to celebrate all bodies as capable, valuable and worthy. The more we see size diversity at the gym, the less likely people will be surprised when a woman of size saddles up to the squat rack and lifts like a champion. Remember that, every time you step into a gym, you are changing fitness culture by representing size diversity in fitness.
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