Sometimes, I just laugh and shake my head when something gets labeled ‘controversial’. This is one of those times.
I personally don’t consider this controversial. I think it’s bloody fabulous. But researching the gym has brought up so much negativity, that I’m happy to throw in a positive voice (overall, I think the response is fairly ‘thumbs up’).
Downsize Fitness is a gym that only accepts members who are overweight - significantly overweight. The criteria for becoming a member is that you have 50 or more pounds to lose. When clients reach their goal, they ‘graduate’ from the gym. The idea is to create a non-intimidating environment where members can focus less on feeling judged and more on their workouts. Even the windows are permanently fogged up so that passers by cannot watch people get their sweat on.
See? FABULOUS, right?
The “controversy” apparently comes from the fact that leaner gym goers believe the policy to be discriminatory (I’m sharing this post via Fit Sugar and their Facebook page is filled with comments both for and against the idea). Many claim that overweight people should just ‘get over it’, ‘suck it up’ and all that jazz. They claim that motivation and laziness are the real reasons people don’t go to the gym: not intimidation.
And the media, in all it’s controversy for nothing glory, seem to have some negative point of view in almost every article I’ve read (if not in the article, then the notorious comment section). Instead of celebrating Downsize Fitness as a place where overweight newbies can feel comfortable, they’re focused on the fact that ‘Skinny People Are Not Allowed’.
Every day, I get messages from those of you struggling to start. A common theme is that many of you feel too insecure to walk into a gym where people seem more fit, seem to know how to use the equipment, and whose goals are very, VERY different that your own. Gyms have evolved from being a place where people go to get back on track, to a place where people go to bust their butts, work on their abs, and get in ridiculous shape. It can be very intimidating as a newbie, especially an overweight newbie, to take those first few steps. Currently, very FEW gyms cater to overcoming intimidation.
It’s true that sometimes you just need a push, and that many insecurities are overcome with exposure. And yes, motivation has something to do with it. But heading to a gym, when you feel less than stellar about your body and not as confident as the other gym goers isn’t exactly motivating, is it? In an ideal world, we could all get over our own bullshizz and work out in any environment. But that’s not the world we live in.
This would hardly be the first gym to cater to a specific group of exercisers: there are women only gyms, studios for yogis & runners, and groups entirely focused on seniors and children. There’s also NO shortage of regular gyms for leaner people to go to. Regular gyms, as great as they are, have one BIG problem that they can’t address: the one’s who need the most help have to feel comfortable walking in the door in order to benefit from their facility.
Overall, I think that this idea is wonderful, and it targets the VERY group that needs support the MOST. True health advocates should embrace the concept, and stop the nit picking. There are enough gyms out there that target the general public, and there’s room for everyone to get fit and healthy.
Currently, facilities are open in Chicago & Las Vegas.
What do you think? Controversy unfounded? Good idea, bad idea?