Have you heard of the health at every size movement? Health at Every Size (HAES) is a movement that claims to “support people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).” Proponents aim to improve the standard of living for people who are overweight or obese by promoting healthy lifestyles and anti-discrimination efforts.
This has recently been coming up a lot in my daily conversations and life, and especially today with a more recently disturbing conversation. A lovely friend and past client of mine is currently in training to become a personal trainer. After working out with me and learning to love the process she wanted to help people herself, which is AMAZING. What’s not amazing is the attitude she was subjected to in class. While taking the first course you need to become a trainer, fitness instructor, or ANYONE in the fitness industry (ie: all of us in the industry have been through it) she was immediately horrified that the instructor put a photo of an average size women up on the screen – and said that the “world is turning in mutants, and gross”. He didn’t blur out the women’s face or anything. Then the whole class (about 25-30 people) all said chimed in, “gross and ewww”. The instructor PUBLICLY FAT SHAMED a completely random women while knowing nothing about her health history.
This absolutely sickens me to my core. I thought that the world was turning a corner in the health and fitness movement, but when I hear something like this I feel like absolutely nothing has changed. This instructor is teaching all future fitness instructors, personal trainers and fitness professionals to ridicule and fat shame anyone that is struggling with their weight. How horrifying is that??
As fitness professionals we should be absolutely following and supporting the health at every size movement. Size has basically zero indication of a persons overall health. I for one was a whole lot UNHEALTHIER when I was thinner. Did you know that on average “overweight” people live longer than “normal weight” people? And that no study has ever shown that weight loss prolongs life? And that biology dictates that most people will gain back the weight even if they stick to their diet and exercise. Fat isn’t the problem- dieting is the problem. We need to kick diets to the curb and stop shaming different bodies. The fact that 67% of women are “plus sized” (another term that we should do away with.. how about normal sized?) and are shamed for it is mind boggling to me. No body should be shamed- fat, thin or otherwise.
Why do we constantly put “thinness” on a pedestal and try constantly to change ourselves? Society has created this belief that thinness = happiness but it is simply UNTRUE. Happiness comes from doing what you love, making connections with people, loving your body (regardless of size). Imagine what a better place the world would be if we started to respect all different body types in the media?
I feel sad that my friend has now quit this course due to the attitude in it and has put her dream of helping other women on the side. We need more body positive role models, especially in the fitness industry! S0 lets start encouraging trainers to get their facts straight- your clients don’t need to lose weight, they don’t need to go on a diet and they don’t need to look like you. They need to find happiness and confidence within themselves. I hope that I help my clients feel more confident, strong, and happy in daily life by realizing how much you can do- not like they need to lose weight to “succeed”. I don’t even care if you never work out, and eat whatever the heck you want. Are you HAPPY? Energized? Living your best life? Sleeping well? Connected with those around you? Loving yourself? Free of injuries / aches and pains? That’s what I want everyone around me to find. Exercise because you love your body; not because you hate it!