As anybody with a gym ID mouldering in their wallet, purse or glove compartment can tell you, there are a lot of obstacles to going to the gym regularly. There’s just not enough time in the day. Gyms are just too expensive. There’s that Real Housewives marathon on Bravo. And then there’s one of the hardest reasons to admit: what if your gym just has too many skinny, healthy people in it?
For some gymgoers, a plethora of thin, peppy gym rats can prove to be too big of an obstacle to overcome. That’s why Body Exchange, a Vancouver-based gym, has made a bold business move and banned skinny people from their establishments in the hopes of fostering a friendly work-out environment for a primarily plus-size clientele.
Body Exchange founder and CEO Louise Green told TheProvince.com last week that she considers her gym is a “safe haven” for overweight clients. The fitness center has a strict policy of only allowing plus-size women to join. “Many of our clients have not had successful fitness pasts so I can see the anxiety before we get started and I can see the relief and happiness after we finish,” Green told The Province. “People are often too fearful to become active. There wasn’t a model that offered camaraderie.”
Body Exchange isn’t the only gym to launch a weight-based policy. According to the New York Daily News, similar rules exist at gyms like Buddha Body Yoga in New York City and Downsize Fitness, which has branches in Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas. Marty Wolff, a former competitor on the reality show The Biggest Loser, owns and operates Square One in Omaha, Nebraska which caters to people who aim to lose 50 pounds or more. “Clients want a place where they can get fit without feeling like they’re being stared at or criticized,” he told the Daily News. “My whole life, I have always wished there was a place for other big people. So I created one.”