Four Tips for Being a Size-Friendly Fitness Professional
As fitness professionals, we are all passionate about the idea that physical activity is for everyone, but sometimes we work in environments that are less than welcoming to people with larger bodies.
Fortunately, we are also well-placed to make a positive difference. Here are a few ideas you can put into practice:
- As a trainer, consider the unique bio-mechanics, body size and shape of each individual person and ensure that any prescribed exercises are modified to allow for large breasts and bellies where appropriate. If you’re not sure what’s comfortable or possible for a particular client, ask them about how their body moves best and most comfortably, and to let you know if something feels uncomfortable.
- Don’t make assumptions about larger clients. Assess their health and fitness as you would any other client – don’t automatically assume that they’re unfit or unhealthy, and certainly don’t assume that they want to lose weight unless they specifically say that they do – their goals might be to improve their flexibility or to run a marathon or just to get stronger. Really listen to what it is that they are wanting out of their training experience.
- Be mindful of your language – if you refer to fat as “unsightly” etc, what are you saying about people people who have a higher body fat percentage? Are you helping to create a welcoming and inclusive environment? Do your best to use your language carefully and positively to create an atmosphere of body respect.
- Be an advocate for people of all shapes and sizes – ask your gym to provide armless chairs that can fit larger bodies in the reception area, keep extra large blood pressure cuffs for health screenings and include a diversity of body shapes and sizes in their media images.
Shelley Lask is the owner of Body Positive Health & Fitness. Body Positive Health & Fitness offers personal training and group fitness classes with a body positive, Health at Every Size® Approach.
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