Let’s face it: Most people exercise with the hope it will help them lose weight, prevent weight gain or otherwise control the size and shape of their body. Sure, being healthy and feeling fit may also be goals, but the main motivator is often weight.
I once had a client tell me she took an intense fitness boot camp class for six weeks and didn’t lose any weight, so she didn’t see any point in exercising. Another client told me that once she learned that science says exercise does little for weight loss (which is true), she decided there was no reason to try to fit walking into her busy schedule.
That’s unfortunate, because there are so many reasons to move our bodies that have nothing to do with weight loss. For example, a study published last month concluded that physical activity promotes health more effectively than weight loss — with the added benefit of reducing the health risks associated with yo-yo dieting.
The persistent coupling of exercise to the idea of weight loss has also created a narrow view of what exercising bodies look like. If you’re not in a thin body, but you only see thin bodies in fitness books and magazines, in ads for gyms and yoga studios, and embodied in personal trainers and class instructors, what does this suggest? It suggests that exercise will make you thin, too — which can kill motivation when it doesn’t — or that your body has no business being in the gym or yoga studio.
One woman working to offer a more inclusive view of fitness is certified personal trainer Morit Summers, co-owner of Form Fitness, a gym in Brooklyn, New York, and author of the new book, “Big & Bold: Strength Training for the Plus-Size Woman.” The book is both serious and supportive, with clear, detailed instructions on how to perform movements safely and effectively, plus advice for how to lift in a way that fits your life and helps you reach your strength goals. While the book provides beginner-through-advanced starter workouts, Summers encourages listening to your body and modifying movements as needed. For such a meticulous and thoughtful book, its origins were … unplanned.
“I was asked if I wanted to write the book by the publishing company [Human Kinetics]. I was like, ‘Whoa, what?’ Because that was never something on my bucket