In order to make progress toward intuitive eating and intuitive movement, we must let go of our traditional reasons for exercising, such as weight loss, and embrace novel ones, such as enhanced mental and emotional well-being or reduced stress.
But what if your fitness instructor or personal trainer makes fat-shaming remarks like “burning off all those calories?” We must have reasoned that, since diets weren’t helping us shed pounds, perhaps raising our voices might. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
That said, finding a trainer, gym, or online fitness class that welcomes people of all sizes can greatly boost your body positivity journey.
What Is Size-Friendly Fitness?
The stereotypical fitness trainer is someone who yells at their clients, “Step it up!” or “Work harder!” or “Burn more calories!” Others People even tell us to make up for the food we ate the night before by working harder or even putting us in competitive situations where we are compared to others.
Fitness in a group setting is difficult for anyone, but it can be downright miserable for people whose bodies don’t conform to societal or cultural norms. There’s a fine line between being irritated by the rhetoric and judgment and being severely harmed and triggered by it. Perhaps some find inspiration in such a call to action, but the vast majority probably won’t.
Many fitness instructors have good intentions and want to help their clients, but they may be unaware of the mounting evidence that suggests encouraging members to lose weight on purpose, or using objective measures of success, is counterproductive and unethical.
As a result, it’s important to find gyms and trainers who don’t stress the importance of body manipulation or extreme dieting. Size-friendly fitness is an alternative to conventional gyms.
All people, regardless of their size, shape, colour, ability, gender, etc., should have access to fitness programs that emphasize community or engagement. Exercise in these settings or with these trainers ought to be welcoming, with an emphasis on what feels good for each individual, how to strengthen (not “tone”), and recognition of the influence on mental health. We all know that exercise has many positive effects on our bodies, and one of them is weight loss.
What Sets Size-Friendly Fitness Apart from Regular Fitness?
a) The Goals
Often, people turn to conventional fitness programs to slim down, alter their physique, or burn fat. Size-inclusive fitness, on the other hand, aims for more subjective outcomes. Aims that are more accommodating to smaller frame sizes could be things like:
- Better flexibility
- Better sleep
- Decreased stress
- Improved mood
- Improved stamina
- Increasing strength
b) The Motivation
Exercise motivation based on guilt or external pressure is fleeting at best. Internal or intrinsic motivation is the driver for both size-friendly fitness and intuitive movement. We now have a much looser standard for what constitutes healthful. A morning stroll is one example of a healthy form of movement that can help clear the mind. As an alternative, you might take the stairs instead of the elevator to the office. The key difference is that this behaviour is inspired by a concern for one’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being rather than guilt.
c) The Focus
We’ve gone over this a lot, but if a gym or trainer is pushing weight loss, that’s a big red flag that they aren’t welcoming to people of all sizes. No matter a person’s starting point, size-accepting fitness will always prioritize activities that make them happy. Activities that bring you happiness will benefit your health over time.
An Important Pointer Regarding Size-Friendly Fitness
The term “size-friendly” (also known as “body positive” in some fitness communities) was originally coined by members of the fat-acceptance movement, but it has since been appropriated by those who celebrate smaller bodies. In fact, this was never meant to be the goal of the original social justice movement. Even if a fitness expert or influencer promotes body positivity, that doesn’t mean they support or endorse people of all sizes.
What to keep an eye out for: people with socially acceptable bodies who, in one breath, talk about body love and acceptance, and in the next, talk about their intentional weight loss attempts after having a baby, about restricting their diet in some way, or talking about an exercise routine to tone up.
It is important to do our homework before committing to a gym or trainer that claims to be size-friendly because we cannot always assume that they are not still influenced by diet culture. Good thing we have already begun that research on your behalf. Continue reading for a rundown of accessible fitness profiles and virtual and brick-and-mortar gyms for people of all shapes, sizes, and weights.
How to Find a Size-Friendly Personal Trainer and Facility
Walking into a venue that perpetuates old, diet-culture messaging can be unpleasant as we learn to trust our bodies for what they can do, loosen our control over food, and begin to exercise more joyfully. This suggests you might want to try something new when it comes to your exercise routines, such as a different gym or trainer.
Some of you may enjoy going on walks, bike rides, or hikes; others of you may use movement as part of your daily commute to work or while doing chores around the house and yard.
And if you feel the need to get back into a more structured gym or fitness centre, consider the following:
Influencers in the fitness industry on Instagram come in different shapes, sizes, abilities, races, and sexes. Many of them host fitness classes, either in-person or online, or provide tremendous motivation. Here is a long list of Instagram users who promote body positivity or are accepting of users of all sizes. Hashtags like #bodypositivemovement, #intuitivemovement, and #bopofitness are also worth following.
For those who are interested in adapting their lifestyles to better fit HAES principles, there are some fantastic online communities to turn to for encouragement on Facebook. Use the search bar to look through the archives for questions already asked or to find recommendations for fitness classes that are suitable for those with HAES. Superfit Heroes is an awesome team.
Health At Every Size (HAES) Community Page
If you use the search bar on their website, you can locate many local professionals who share your commitment to the HAES. To find a local fitness expert, select the “Fitness Professional/Personal Trainer” option. Connect with the people around you even if you can’t find any trainers or facilities. They might have some suggestions for venues in your area.
Once a potential location has been found, further research can be conducted via the organization’s website or via phone. Be wary of establishments that claim to be size-friendly or “body positive” yet still emphasize weight loss or display “before and after” pictures of customers. Pick a spot depending on how much you want to hear about diet culture.
Picking the Right Fitness Community
Finding the right personal trainer is essential for achieving your fitness goals. It is important to do your research and ask questions to ensure that you find a size-friendly trainer who is knowledgeable, experienced and comfortable addressing size-related issues. You should also look for a trainer who is patient, supportive and non-judgmental.
Additionally, look for a trainer who offers a variety of exercise options and will create a customized workout plan based on your health history and lifestyle. By following these tips, you will be able to find the right size-friendly personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals.
If you are looking for a well-trusted health program that includes a 6-week fitness challenge, look no further than our expertise here at Kalev Fitness Solution. We have kinesiologists, cardio specialists, crosstraining specialists, fitness class specialists, Bootcamp specialists, nutrition experts, and weight-training experts on staff to help you reach your personal best both physically and mentally. Call us today to book your first weekly fitness challenge with us.