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Overweight Only Gym – Too Exclusive or Just Right?

Prejudiced or supportive environment?

To join Downsize Fitness, it takes more than a monthly payment and gym shoes. You have to be 50 pounds or more overweight.

An exclusive health club catering to the overweight, the chain’s goal is to provide a comfortable environment. Not only are there no mirrors, but even the windows are fogged to prevent outsiders from looking in.

Founder Francis Wisnewski even provides equipment designed for heavier people and hires fitness trainers that are also still in the process of losing weight.

Wisnewski started the gym because he grew up overweight and too embarrassed to go to the gym.

The Chicago-resident opened his first location in his hometown and Las Vegas in 2011. In 2012, a location in Dallas, Texas was opened.

According to its website, Downsize Fitness is modeled after the TV show “The Biggest Loser.” In order to create the ultimate support system, members always work with a coach.

Every time they come to the gym, members work with a trainer. The trainer takes them through their workout and monitors their diet. When a member first enrolls, they receive a customized nutritional program

While some may argue that such a restriction is prejudiced against those who aren’t 50 pounds overweight, Wisnewski’s only intentions were to lessen body expectations. Many members of Downsize Fitness particularly like the fact that the trainers aren’t in “perfect” shape.

According to the Washington Post, personal trainer at the Dallas location, Krisanne Hale, says that the fact that she is still trying to lose weight helps members relate.

Cafemom blogger, Maressa Brown, doesn’t agree with the concept. Quoted by Examiner, she says, “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.”

On her blog, Brown also questions the rules. “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?’”

She also argues that having a mirror actually boosts motivation.

Whose side are you taking? Is Downsize Fitness the answer for the overweight or are there too many exclusions to foster real success?


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