Overweight-Only Gym Is 'Exclusive' in All the Wrong Ways

woman working outThe Biggest Loser is back, and I'm sure there were more than a handful of Americans watching last night, wishing that they had somewhere like The Biggest Loser Campus to work out. And not just because it comes complete with amazing celeb trainers like Jillian Michaels. No, there's definitely something to be said for being able to work out around people facing the same challenges. Not to mention that when you're overweight or obese, going to a gym filled with perfectly fit, gorgeous people can be intimidating and just a downright drag.

Those are a couple of reasons why entrepreneur Francis Wisnewski founded Downsize Fitness, a gym catering to exclusively to people who are 50 pounds or more overweight. The goal of the chain -- which has locations in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Dallas currently -- is to help members "feel comfortable" while exercising. 


For example, there are no mirrors inside and the windows are fogged. Equipment is designed for heavier people. Sounds smart, I guess, in theory, but something about this rubs me the wrong way.

Believe me, when I first started working out with my trainer only a couple of months ago, I didn't want to be anywhere near a mirror. But then I realized that having them there is motivating. I wanted to be able to do kettlebell squats without cringing. And being around people of all different shapes and sizes is a benefit too. I want to be able to run like that super-fit chick I saw sprinting while I was on the elliptical a few weeks ago. I want to be able to do walking lunges like another in-shape member I spied the other day.

This "overweight-only gym" also raises other questions I'd love to know more about ... Like, what do you once you're less than 50 pounds overweight? What about when you hit your "goal weight"? Are you booted out of the gym? Banished to go work out at the "skinny gym"? I mean, come on!

While I understand what Downsize was founded for, I feel like they may have done better to open a gym where the atmosphere simply fosters inclusion, and everyone's encouraged to be less judgmental. Where there are people are all ages and levels of fitness.

But hey, if Downsize is helping people who wouldn't be working out otherwise actually get to a gym, there's something to be said for that.

How do you feel about this gym concept?

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