What the Future of Fitness Really Looks Like

peanutcalorie

Rising Star
Dec 22, 2019
111
685
New York City
"Fitness is already a practice of the privileged; it requires time, money, and access that many people don’t have. Fat people have to jump those hurdles and more just to get to the gym. And when they do, they’re often met with judgment, discrimination, and calorie lectures they didn’t ask for. The problem keeping fat people out of the gym is not their fatness. The problem is fatphobia." :eyeroll:

Thought I'd present these two articles posted on the news site, Self.com, a supposed source of endless health and wellness advice. I'm not sure how any fat person can read this and believe it was written with their best interests in mind. I just think the people involved are happy to make money by spreading the message that "it's okay to give up if you feel judged!" I can't imagine successfully applying that attitude to anything else in life.

The god-awful cover for this article really is the cherry on top:

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Here are the links to the articles, as their full text in case anybody can't access them:

One of my favorite things about working out is the feeling of freedom it can give you. If you’re a runner or a bicyclist, this can manifest in rather literal ways—the open road before you, the tiny spot behind you marking how far you’ve traveled. But it’s not just about the physicality of being free. A good run, a solid lifting session, or a sweaty HIIT workout can change your perspective, opening up your mind to the possibilities not only of what your body is capable of, but the world around you as well.

All that being said, for many, the world of fitness can be far more limiting than freeing. In gyms, on social media, and in other fitness-dedicated spaces, the focus on what our bodies look like can make it hard for those with bodies that don’t conform to narrowly defined norms to feel like they belong. For far too long, people with larger bodies have been met with limitations, judgment, and intimidation in spaces designed to help us all reach our potentials.

That’s why I’m so excited to introduce our first editorial package of 2022, the Future of Fitness Issue. In this digital issue’s articles and essays, when we say future we’re not talking about the latest fitness trackers or streaming workout equipment. We’re talking about the people who are changing the landscape of an industry that has, for too long, excluded many. Over the past few years, thanks to the body positivity movement as well as other thoughtful explorations that have challenged complacent ideas about weight and size, we’ve seen an important shift in how we discuss larger bodies. But fitness spaces can be a final frontier in a particular strain of body discrimination, where anti-fat bias and weight-related stigma are entrenched in our collective understanding of what it means to be “fit.” It’s time to break free from this limited view. The future of fitness is about making space for everyone to feel welcome. So in this package, we’re celebrating the people who are helping get us there.

For the digital issue we partnered with activist, yogi, and all-around fearless fitness personality Jessamyn Stanley, who is our January cover star. Stanley has been a champion of yoga for all for years, and I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time. Stanley and photographer Beth Garrabrant do an incredible job illustrating the issue’s feature article, journalist and author Kelsey Miller’s The Relentless Reality of Anti-Fatness in Fitness. It’s an excellently researched backstory on just how deeply our fitness ideals are rooted in anti-fatness. You can also catch Stanley as one of our inaugural 2022 SELF Future of Fitness Advisory Board members; for this year’s class, we chose 10 trainers and experts who are working hard to end anti-fat stigma in the fitness world in order to make gyms, clubs, and the overall world of wellness much more welcoming to all. And Stanley, one of our regular SELF columnists, has also written some great advice on the practical ways trainers, gym owners, and other fitness professionals can practice meaningful fat allyship in her piece 6 Ways Fitness Instructors Can Check Their Anti-Fat Bias.

We also have a batch of really helpful service pieces if you’re someone wondering how to navigate fitness spaces in a larger body. They include How to Find a Gym That’s Size-Friendly; How to Respond to Anti-Fat ‘Encouragement’ When You’re Working Out; How to Feel Confident Starting at the Gym, According to 12 Larger-Bodied Exercisers; and ultramarathoner (and SELF Future of Fitness Advisory Board member) Mirna Valerio’s useful gear roundup, 12 Pieces of Running Gear That Can Make Running in a Larger Body More Comfortable, among other great pieces. And definitely check out SELF’s very own Sarah Yalowitz¸s moving essay on how taking up surfing helped her embrace her body’s innate athleticism after a lifetime internalizing societal messaging that had her doubting herself. You can check out the full lineup here.

Later on this month, look for our free, live webinar on what fitness professionals can do to make their spaces more size-inclusive, in partnership with the American Council on Exercise and featuring SELF Future of Fitness Advisory Board members Chrissy King, C.P.T.; Louise Green, C.P.T.; and Christy Greenleaf, Ph.D., alongside ACE trainer Tasha Edwards. It’s free and open to all (and if you’re an ACE-accredited trainer, you can even earn continuing education credits for attending!). The live webinar is on January 19 at 11 am PT/2 pm ET; you can sign up here.

And last but not least, look out for our revamped 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards (previously our Sports Bras and Leggings Awards) at the end of the month, where we evaluated hundreds of sports bras, leggings, sweatpants, jackets, and more to find you the very best in workout gear. New this year, we eliminated products from brands that haven’t displayed a true commitment to size inclusivity, meaning all of our winning products are from companies that carry some or all of their inventory in at least a size 20 or above. It’s not enough, but it’s a start, and the fact that we still had many excellent products to test just shows you how far the industry has come in a short time. The future of fitness is indeed looking bright.

Check out the entire Future of Fitness package here.

Supplementing Article:
In 2016, Sarah Jaffe joined a gym in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jaffe, then 32, was a longtime endurance athlete who’d just returned from a seven-day cycling event, biking 550 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Needless to say, her fitness regime was well-established—but at that point, a little boring. So when the gym offered her a free session with one of their trainers (as many do with new members), she accepted. It would be a great chance to amplify her routine with a pro. She filled out an intake form, detailing her fitness history and goals, then discussed it at length with the trainer. She was focused on strength and mobility, she explained, and was eager to incorporate some new workouts into her endurance training.



“Great!” the trainer replied. “So do you know what a calorie is?”

Well, yes, Jaffe said, confused. She had to be very specific about caloric and nutritional intake when cycling 80 miles per day. During that endurance ride. That she’d just done. “Okay!” the trainer said, though something still seemed off. The trainer took Jaffe to the weights (finally), and handed her a two-pound dumbbell.

Jaffe laughed as she recounted the story to me—and it is almost comical, imagining this seasoned athlete staring down at a two-pound dumbbell while a trainer tries to “teach” her what a bicep curl is. The session continued as such, Jaffe recalls, with her asking about functional exercises and the trainer instead demonstrating a squat. “I kept having to reiterate, ‘I know what these things are. I want you to give me something new, so I don’t get bored.’” Though she’d been very clear on her goals, the trainer seemed to have another one in mind:


“You do know that you need to eat fewer calories than you burn,” she said, “in order to lose weight.”


“What makes you think I want to lose weight?” Jaffe asked. “I didn’t put that on my intake form.” The trainer said she’d assumed as much because of Jaffe’s “curvier” physique. One last time, Jaffe—who was then a size 16—explained that she was there to support her endurance training. It was literally there, in writing.

The trainer seemed flummoxed. “So you did those things you wrote on your form?”

Though bizarre, Jaffe’s experience is hardly novel. Of the dozens of people I spoke with for this story, few could identify one specific incident of anti-fat bias in a fitness space that stood out more than others—because incidents like this are the rule, not the exception. As Jaffe herself points out, she’s on the smaller end of the plus-size spectrum: “I definitely have some privilege there in even feeling comfortable advocating for myself,” she says. “If I, as a size 16, am getting that treatment, I don’t even want to think about how she’s treating the rest of her clients.”

In truth, many trainers have never had a client larger than Jaffe. Lots of fat folks (especially those who’ve been classified with the damning label of “severe” or “morbid” obesity), simply don’t go to gyms or exercise classes—even those who very much want to. The widespread consensus on fat people is that they are lazy, ignorant gluttons who simply will not get off the couch and get on the treadmill. The lesser-known reality is that treadmills typically have weight limits between 200 and 300 pounds (as do many bikes, stair-climbers, and other common gym types of equipment). Then there’s the dearth of activewear, the majority of which is not produced in plus sizes (Nike, for example, started adding plus items in 2017). Fitness is already a practice of the privileged; it requires time, money, and access that many people don’t have. Fat people have to jump those hurdles and more just to get to the gym. And when they do, they’re often met with judgment, discrimination, and calorie lectures they didn’t ask for. The problem keeping fat people out of the gym is not their fatness. The problem is fatphobia.
 
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lune

Rising Star
Feb 4, 2022
87
460
Canada
"The relentless reality of anti-fatness in fitness"

Truly the most relentless quest is that of the "health at any size" movement. I miss when the words fat & healthy were only used together as an oxymoron.

Also laughing at the fact that they've dressed the woman on the cover in a leotard and tights without even attempting to make the set look like a dance studio.
 
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peanutcalorie

Rising Star
Dec 22, 2019
111
685
New York City
"The relentless reality of anti-fatness in fitness"

Truly the most relentless quest is that of the "health at any size" movement. I miss when the words fat & healthy were only used together as an oxymoron.

Also laughing at the fact that they've dressed the woman on the cover in a leotard and tights without even attempting to make the set look like a dance studio.
Amen and haha I know. They put her in a leotard and try to sell the idea that this woman is active. Meanwhile, she literally looks seconds away from calling it a day after one stretch and taking a nap right on the mat in this picture:

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(Not gonna lie, the mental image of "fat people jumping hurdles" was the first thing that had me laughing lol.)
 
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Vera

Rookie
Jan 10, 2022
14
46
California
"Fitness is already a practice of the privileged; it requires time, money, and access that many people don’t have. Fat people have to jump those hurdles and more just to get to the gym. And when they do, they’re often met with judgment, discrimination, and calorie lectures they didn’t ask for. The problem keeping fat people out of the gym is not their fatness. The problem is fatphobia." :eyeroll:
I honestly can't comprehend why people think working out requires money and access. If you're reading that shitshow of an article, you have internet access, which means you have Youtube. If you have Youtube, you have, quite literally, millions of equipment-free workouts to choose from. If you don't have space, there's workouts that can be done on a bed.

Time is the only one I can agree with, but even then, are you really telling me you can't find the time for a 10 minute workout? No one is forcing you to spend hours on the treadmill every day.

If people really wanted to work out, they would. There's so many free resources out there, it's not exactly hard to get started. The gym definitely helps and can take you so much further than home workouts, but if someone was really were passionate about fitness, I assume they'd do the best with what they have instead of giving up entirely.

And last but not least, look out for our revamped 2022 SELF Certified Activewear Awards (previously our Sports Bras and Leggings Awards) at the end of the month, where we evaluated hundreds of sports bras, leggings, sweatpants, jackets, and more to find you the very best in workout gear. New this year, we eliminated products from brands that haven’t displayed a true commitment to size inclusivity, meaning all of our winning products are from companies that carry some or all of their inventory in at least a size 20 or above.
You can literally work out in a t-shirt and sweatpants. No one needs fancy workout gear to get fit.
 
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Mar 2, 2022
7
28
north carolina
God, I can't roll my eyes any harder. Listen, I'm a broke & busy bitch with work, school, and raising a high-maintenance puppy and yet somehow I manage to work out every day. Guess what's free? Going on a run or a hike. Thousands of YouTube workouts if you have access to the internet, which these women clearly do. I 100% believe everyone has 20 minutes a day to exercise, even if it's jumping jacks or situps in your office on lunch break.
Are these women really too lazy to even come up with better excuses?
 
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carlina25

Rookie
Mar 8, 2022
16
78
Berlin
I honestly can't comprehend why people think working out requires money and access. If you're reading that shitshow of an article, you have internet access, which means you have Youtube. If you have Youtube, you have, quite literally, millions of equipment-free workouts to choose from. If you don't have space, there's workouts that can be done on a bed.

Time is the only one I can agree with, but even then, are you really telling me you can't find the time for a 10 minute workout? No one is forcing you to spend hours on the treadmill every day.

If people really wanted to work out, they would. There's so many free resources out there, it's not exactly hard to get started. The gym definitely helps and can take you so much further than home workouts, but if someone was really were passionate about fitness, I assume they'd do the best with what they have instead of giving up entirely.
THIS!!! Couldn’t agree with you more. It has literally never been easier to work out and stay in shape. The internet has seriously removed almost all barriers to getting informed about health and fitness, providing you with workout videos and recommendations and making it accessible to all socioeconomic groups.

I also don’t really agree with the time constraint. Like, people are not busier or have less time than they had 20 or even 50 years ago? I would even argue that with working from home and the internet and technology taking over so many of our time consuming tasks people should have more time than ever before, but maybe I am being harsh lol.

And anyways why are they relating all of these people exclusively to fat people? Finding a gym and going there or going on YouTube is less of a struggle for me because I am skinny? :rolleyes: