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Classes For Overweight Students Only: Cool or Not?

Fitness Classes For Overweight Students Only: Cool or Not?

For some people, stepping into a new fitness facility can induce a hyper-self-conscious feeling that's reminiscent of the first day at a new school. While this affects people of all shapes and sizes, heavier individuals may struggle with this more than others, as suggested by the growing popularity of yoga classes for overweight students over the last 10 years.

The New York Times highlighted classes with names like Buddha Body Yoga, Yoga For Round Bodies, and MegaYoga. Besides body-image issues, yoga classes geared toward heavier students have the advantage of teaching modified poses when they would otherwise be nearly impossible, allowing people to experience yoga when they might otherwise miss out.

Usually, anything that gets people moving is an ace in my book, but this topic has me torn. Classes for overweight students might seem as harmless as women-only gyms, but this feels more like an issue of acceptance. Fitness classes aren't limited to students who are already fit, and this could be viewed as segregation, suggesting the presence of heavier individuals isn't welcome in other classes. What do you think — are the classes cool or not?


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qiqi qiqi 8 years
I like the idea of overweight classes. I would join them. There are tons of moves that I can't do that someone who is 120 lbs can.
pink-pirate pink-pirate 8 years
If there is demand for it then I think gyms should have it. At my current gym no one looks at anyone else and it's great, but at my former gym there were guys and girls who literally were checking everyone out. It was like a meet market. Personally I felt uncomfortable being compared to skinny chicks in sports bras and makeup, although I'm only about 5 lbs overweight. I can't imagine working out at that place had I been a lot heavier. Additionally I think people need to consider that re: women's only classes, there are women with religious beliefs regarding wearing small/tight clothing in front of men. Various Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups have restrictions on this. Those women deserve to be physically fit too.
hillamaria hillamaria 8 years
This can easily split people in half, some think it's an awesome idea and others complain about the fat being treated ina different way than "normal" people. It would still benefit obese people more if they had their own class, because it could be custom made to them. Obese people cannot move the same way as more slimmer, and therefore it would be amazing if they had exercise class to fit their needs.
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
If handled sensitively, then I think it's fantastic. Anything to get people more comfortable with working out. Getting started is the toughest part!
livetolove livetolove 8 years
I'm with it because a lot of my overweight friends are afraid to go to the gym because they're afraid to be made fun of.. which is dumb because they just want to be healthy! if an overweight person felt more comfortable working out with others with the same body then why not?
CestLaVie CestLaVie 8 years
My take on it is a class of all overweight people would seem a lot less intimidating to someone that wants to go but is worried about being around a lot of tiny, skinny people in spandex.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
overweight people and obese are very different. i think this is about obese, like the gilr in the picture. i'm overweight but gym don't intimidate me at all and I can surely do pretty much all yoga poses without any problems. it's obese people who can't bend down because their bellies won't allow.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
very cool. but sometimes those fit people motivate us more. at least they motivate me in the class. if everyone in my classes were as lazy and unfit as me - there'd be no progress.
tsp tsp 8 years
i think because of the need to modify yoga poses this is a good idea. i am in no way a master yogi, but i will admit to getting frustrated when the flow of my class is interrupted because my instructor stops to show modifications to people because of injuries or pregnancy. although i suppose just a very beginning level, or a mat yoga class would accomplish the same goal. it just means people recognizing their abilities a choosing the right class. major props to anyone trying to do something about their fitness...whether it's a weight loss issue or just getting in shape.
TammyO TammyO 8 years
I don't know. When I first started at my gym I was 200 plus lbs and I worked out for myself not impress others around me and no one else really intimitdated me cause I just didn't care what anyone thought. We all come in various shapes and sizes and we are ALL at the gym and trying to get in shape, doesn't matter which stage of being in shape our bodies are in. I don't think I would have appreciated a fat yoga class cause that just seems to call attention to "hey look at US!! We are FAT and SCARED of working out with the rest of you skinny fools!!!" Now I'm in shape and lost tons of weight and I never look at someone who is overweight at my gym trying to work out and think "why are you here?? You're just going to go eat a bunch when you get home" So what? At least they are trying to work out.
telane telane 8 years
I think that is awesome!
jessy777 jessy777 8 years
It is a great idea if it will help people get moving. As for me, I didn't care what people thought of me when I was heavy and started working out. I was there for a purpose and I had a great experience at my gym. Not everyone has the courage to workout in room full of people when they are overweight so I think this can be a good idea. Also, just because someone is thin doesn't mean they are more healthy. At 280 lbs I could do an entire cardio class at full throttle while the thinner, "healthier" women had to take several breaks because they were winded. Internal health is what is important and mine has always been good, even when I was heavier. I lost weight so that I wouldn't end up doing damage to my health and I am happy I look good now too. I hate "fit" people who criticize those who are trying to get there. If everyone considers fat people gross and unhealthy why act like a d*bag when they are doing something about it. Pisses me off!!!
margokhal margokhal 8 years
I totally could use something like this, though I'd probably be embarrassed at first that I even NEEDED to go to a class for overweight people. It's true, overweight people get very intimidated working out around fit/thinner people. I know I've felt the stares in gyms and other workout facilities, and it just brings out all sorts of insecurities and judgements. And I know for a FACT they're happening, I've heard fit people talk around me while we were working out about them ["oh, you know why SHE'S here...trying to lose weight. Very sad, she can't even do 5 pushups!" and "God, I'm so glad my belly doesn't jiggle like his...I wonder how he does it!" and "Watch, she'll go to Mickey D's after this and get a bunch of fries...they just don't LEARN!"] So a class of overweight people might help tremendously. It's more of a "we're all in this together" and lessens the feeling of isolation, feeling like you're the ONLY severely overweight person trying to get healthier.
jessicaeden jessicaeden 8 years
I think a lot of overweight people are intimidated/embarrassed to work out in front of very fit people, even though they have no reason to feel embarrassed. So if an overweight-only class could make them less embarrassed, I'm all for it!! :)
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I don't see it as segregation but rather that people are given a choice. I don't see it any differently than having classes separated from beginner to advanced, etc. levels. Of course, I'm not speaking from an overweight person's perspective, so they might feel differently. Personally, I'd like to be in a class where I felt comfortable and these classes seem to encourage more overweight people (only those who regularly feel self-conscious about their appearance to others) to participate if they otherwise wouldn't have.
brookrene brookrene 8 years
I think it's a great idea, even on the days i'm a bit bloated (and i'm fairly thin) I don't want to head to the gym for fear of being scrutinized for not being thin enough.
wickedlanie wickedlanie 8 years
This is a good idea, if approached correctly. I might have tried these kinds of classes if they'd been offered. When I got started at the gym (at 240lbs) I was a little embarrassed that I couldn't go nearly as fast as others, but I quickly got over it. I took a beginner's yoga class this past semester, was the heaviest person in there and was absolutely terrified I wouldn't be able to perform well. Some poses required modification and my instructor was more than happy to help. And I could do things that some of the skinny minis couldn't do. If you find a class that works, exclusively overweight or not, go with it. :)
wren1 wren1 8 years
I think it's great.
robinashley robinashley 8 years
I've heard of overweight people going to the gym late at night because going when everyone else is there is intimidating. I'm in shape and my first time to the gym was intimidating, I couldn't imagine being overweight and comfortable working out around others. I think this is a great idea!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I thought that this was why Curves was seems like it's always been geared more toward overweight women that didn't want to work out in front of men. They don't necessarily say that thin women can't join, but my mom's Curves gym consisted of mainly overweight women. I don't totally agree with having classes only for overweight people because there are some overweight people that are better at things than thin people. Like my aunt's yoga class...I went to it once and everyone was way better than I was. The instructor was actually overweight and she was so flexible that it was crazy! Maybe "beginner" and "advanced" is a better way to sort people out.
maybeimnot maybeimnot 8 years
As someone who's joined a pretty trendy gym and is overweight (but working on it- hard!!)... I'm not sure how I feel about it. Part of the problem is that just cause I'm 250lbs doesn't mean I can't keep up with a 120lb girl, so 'beginner' doesn't necessarily cut it. I take boot camp classes, yoga, pilates, and zumba with the smallest of them, and beginner's yoga bores me to tears. And it's inspiring (in a good way!) to be able to keep going with the group even if I am the biggest in the room. At the same time, the wear and tear on my wrists and knees for lots of pushups or jumping is HARD, and I'd love to see a class where that is adapted. I do my own modifications and about 75% of the instructors are great about modifications, but at the same time it gets boring doing less complex/more repetitive things while others are jumping, etc. Bottom line-- If you have good instructors, you don't need separate classes. Most of mine will show the move full out and then say 'or this is the modification'. This is about safety for everyone from disabilities to pregnant to overweight.
Renee3327 Renee3327 8 years
I have known a lot of overweight people who have been intimidated to join a gym or take classes because they don't want to be embarassed by not being as fit as other people in the class. I think classes like this are a good solution for people who feel intimidated and if it gets them on the road to being fit, more power to them. If they feel uncomfortable about taking the class then they probably won't take it anyway.
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