"Overweight" fitness pros

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
"Overweight" fitness pros
7
Fri, 07-04-2003 - 4:46pm
I was reading the thread below about overweight instructors so I thought I'd bring it up as a topic. A couple of years ago, a woman sued Jazzercise for firing her as an instructor (this was in San Francisco, I think) because she was overweight. They said it didn't fit a healthy image. She always had a full class. She won, Jazzercise apologized because they said she was fit. Does the size of an instructor matter to you? How about a personal trainer? If someone did not "fit the part" would you still go to him/her as a trainer? I've heard people say they would not because they don't want to look like that person.

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I've had two really overweight step instructors. Both had great classes that were packed and they were in good shape, just heavy. One ran a marathon, the other was super active--mountain biking entire weekends. Their weight made no difference. I have had instructors who had amazing bodies, but couldn't teach and they weren't motivating. I've also had instructors who looked great and were super motivating. I'll admit that I'll look at them and think if I work as hard, I'll be as fit.

Most of you know I've thought of doing something fitness related. When I mentioned it to my mom, her response was, "Well, you don't have the right body type." Ugh, it's always a confidence builder talking to my mother.






iVillage Member
Registered: 06-13-2003
Fri, 07-04-2003 - 8:53pm
the most popular instructor at my gym recently lost a LOT of weight (over 50 lbs) She admitted that she had terrible eating habits, and she actually started doing her own classes - she only used to cue before, although she definitely could keep up. Her classes are always packed and I admit that I was a little put off the first time I took her class (it was my first time at the gym and I thought all fitness instructors had amazing bodies) but this woman definitely knows what she's doing, and I think people find it motivating that she has the same body problems as everyone else.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 07-05-2003 - 12:57pm
I have mixed feelings on this. Both of the female trainers at our gym and the other aerobics only instructors (I think there are 5 other females) are in incredible shape. They are what you think of when someone says fitness pro. They are all professional, sleek and sometimes frustrating to be around because of it.

When I started considering personal trainer certification the thing that stopped me was that I don't think I can or should do it until I look like one of them. Who wants to learn from an overweight person? Heck, there have been multiple studies in the UK and US that indicate that the general population think that fat people are stupid. The fact that they "can't take care of themselves" is a legitimate reason in their minds to not afford them credibility, even if they are an expert. You should have heard the terrible things that a handful (8ish) of women in my abnormal psych class said that they thought about fat people. I did finally step into the ensuing fray to point out that I haven't eaten at McDonald's in three years only to be called a liar by some woman who swears if we all stayed out of McDonald's we wouldn't be so "disgusting". Cruel? Closed minded? Yeah, without a doubt. I'd feel safe in applying ignorant and bigoted. But, these events and conversations come to mind and lead me to believe that I would never be given credit for what I knew if I did get certified before getting smaller.

As much as I apply that standard to myself, meaning I won't become a trainer while overweight; I give anyone working out and bettering themselves credit, even if they weigh more than me. I'll take feedback and advice from anyone. I sift what is said against what I know about the body's physiology and what I know about diet and exercise and apply my standard rules of living to it. IF it passes those tests I'll use it. If not, it isn't because of how the person looked or acted, it was because it didn't fit my philosophy. I've thrown out diet advice from Regina because it doesn't fit my lifestyle. Regina has the perfect little hard body and I respect her, it just didn't pass my standards for living. I've however used a ton of advice gained at L3L, from other participants.

You see the split here? It might be the underlying problem I have of holding myself to a higher standard. But, intellectually I think that an overweight or formerly overweight person might be the PERFECT answer for the exercise phobic. Who better to model healthy living. There is no "yeah, well of course you can do it, you have the perfect body" excuse to fall back on.

I don't know... I'll stop rambling here. But, you've given me food for thought.

~K~

Jean, don't listen to your mother. Truth be known she is jealous of your bravery and ability to step outside the cultural boundaries that have shackled her for her entire life. She is reacting with her heart, not her mind. All mothers do that and it hurts us, but knowing that will take the sting out some.

~Kiervin~

Co-author of:  MONSTER'S INK HORROR ANTHOLOGY By Cyber-Pulp Press

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sat, 07-05-2003 - 8:29pm
I kind of had the same feeling about being a trainer. People have asked me if I considered being an instructor or a trainer and I always said, I'll think about it when I lose 5-10 pounds. It's against what I think about appearance, but I don't want others to think...well, she doesn't look great, why should I listen to her? I think it does give people incentive to see others who look like they want, kind of like when that woman told Gymgirl that she gave her motivation. At the same time, I get incentive from people who work hard, not those who look "ideal." If I see someone working enthusiastically, I get motivated. So, I know what you mean about society's views. I recently saw a show about people who were overweight. They followed a couple of women w/ hidden cameras and I couldn't get over the comments people would say to them. It was incredibly rude. I've read about overweight women who have started health clubs for overweight people. I think it's a great idea because some people are intimidated by other health clubs and don't want to deal with rude comments. They emphasize working out for health, not to get thin. Now, I'm starting to ramble...lol.

Oh, with my mom, she thinks unless you're tall (and stick thin), no one wants to listen to you. Well, no matter how hard I work out, I'll never be tall! She did compliment me last week at how healthy I am and how well I take care of myself. Given that I put on weight so easily, she's impressed that I've managed to stay my size, through all these years, after having kids from watching what I eat and working out so much. I told her it wasn't always easy, but I do it because it's important.






iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 07-05-2003 - 8:41pm
As an avid Jazzerciser of 12 classes a week---here is my take.

I want my instructors to look like something I can achieve. I don't want to achieve being thin and unfit--that does nothing for me and is very unappealing. I want to be at a very healthy weight and super fit.

The San Francisco woman who sued Jazzercise, Jennifer Portnick, was reported to be 5'8" and 240 lbs and a size 20. Would she movitivate me? Seeing those stats, no she wouldn't. Would her class be fun? I'd have to attend one to know. She reportedly had the backing of many Jazzercise students who wanted to take classes from her. She also had some instructors rallying behind her. She's reportedly started her own classes and they're popular.

This topic had been at the center of another board I post at..some said that they were very overweight and would feel much more comfortable taking classes from an overweight instructor. So everyone has a very different opinion on the subject!

Again--when I say healthy weight I'm not stressing thin--I'm stressing healthy.

Deb



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 07-05-2003 - 8:47pm
I've been constantly asked by students to be an instructor, even when I was heavy. My instructor has asked me to consider teaching. They like my style, attitude, and energy. I would have never thought about pursuing it when I was heavy though--I wasn't where I wanted to be to motivate people. Now--I have no extra time for class prep and if I did it, it doesn't pay much, and I don't want to be on a schedule.

I have no problems with someone 5-10 lbs overweight instructing, heck I can gain 7 lbs during my period LOL. Go for it! You must be very close to your goal.

Deb




Edited 7/5/2003 8:48:39 PM ET by debra_wa

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sun, 07-06-2003 - 8:55pm
I've heard people say that, too. I never thought about it until I heard about the Jazzercise case. That's when I started thinking that I have had instructors who were overweight. I don't know what size they were but they were probably about as large as the Jazzercise instructor. I think Soleil brought this up once about how much an instructor should embody an ideal health, like if an instructor smoked. The instructors I had had top notch choreography and were in great shape, no problem doing the class and their other activities, but they didn't fit a healthy image. I do also get motivated from instructors who I think look really fit. As you said, not just thin, but toned and muscular.





iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sun, 07-06-2003 - 9:11pm
I go back and forth on it. I don't want to spend the time and money and find out I'm terrible. I just talked to the aerobics director at my old gym and she suggested I try teaching to a friend and practice so I might do that. I don't really have a goal to lose that 5-10 pounds. I've spent so much time worrying about it when I was younger and decided that I'm healthy and that's what counts. I'm not going to get back into a size 2 w/out being neurotic about what I eat and I don't need that at this point in my life!:-)