8 People Share Their Best Tips for Navigating the Fitness World in a Larger Body

8 People Share Their Best Tips for Navigating the Fitness World in a Larger Body

by Sue Jones
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However, I’ve had a lot of success with forming my own bike community and leading group rides on my own. I realized that there were a lot of other folks who felt left out—either because of their size, gender identity, or other reason—who were also looking for a welcoming community.

That said, no matter how much I change my attitude or how much our culture shifts the narrative toward accepting fat people, bicycling is inherently a sport with physical barriers. You need a bike and clothing. While some brands have definitely gotten better at making extended sizes, there is still a definite lack of clothing choices for larger riders, which inhibits and excludes a lot of riders.” —Marley Blonsky

5. Remember, the unwelcoming spaces are the problem—not you.

“I’ve been fat for most of my life and have dealt with bullying from elementary school through adulthood. At 23, two women at my gym would consistently work out next to me and tell others it made them feel better about themselves because at least they weren’t sweating as much as me. It got to the point where I eventually stopped going to the gym.

But the exclusion has also been subtle. The first time I walked into a yoga studio, I was asked if I was waiting for someone. The message was that I wasn’t the type of person who attended classes there. On top of the weight stigma I experience, being non-binary, I’m often misgendered in gyms, which immediately puts me on edge and makes me feel unwelcome.

It helps to remember those spaces are the problem, not me. People who are secure and happy with themselves don’t go out of their way to exclude others. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt, and you shouldn’t be angry—but don’t internalize it, because it isn’t your weight to bear.

Realizing this changed the way I interact with the world. It isn’t my job to impress or meet others’ expectations, but to do what is safe and comfortable for me. I don’t have to push myself into a pretzel during class to prove that I can belong there, I belong there because I am practicing ahimsa (to do no harm) and satya (truthfulness) in my yoga. If that isn’t enough for the teacher, that isn’t on me. This has allowed me to deepen my practice and find peace with where my mind and body are at.” —Shannon Kaneshige

6. Conquer a big (non-weight loss) goal.

“For most of my life, my exercise goals revolved around weight loss. Running and kayaking were just a couple of the things I was putting off until I lost weight. I know many people won’t even come to the gym until they lose weight. I get it. It’s hard to feel welcome in a space when you don’t see anyone who looks like you.

And on the rare occasion that you do? You may end up hearing them being talked about behind their back. I remember being in a boxing gym when, in the middle of class, a trainer yelled at another member, asking where her ‘fat daughter’ was. Although it wasn’t directed at me, I felt so uncomfortable. It felt like he was saying, ‘Hey, you fat person, you shouldn’t be here,’ and I wondered if that was how he referred to me behind my back. I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up because I was afraid of making him angry.

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