Poll: Should Skinny People Be Banned from the Gym?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/28/2012 6:00 AM   :  252 comments   :  23,525 Views

See More: fitness, in the news, gym,
Having joined a gym recently just for the fitness classes (which I am still enjoying), I was appalled when I came across an article talking about a gym in Canada saying that they don't allow skinny people to join their gym. While I can understand where the founder of that gym is coming from in regards to creating a friendlier atmosphere for those that are overweight, I believe that there are plenty of people that have feelings like they are not adequate enough to be in the gym, including "skinny" people.  

This particular gym only allows plus–sized women to join, which is great if that works for the people that become members of that gym and if it gives them the confidence and motivation to work out, then that is fantastic! However, the gym that I go to has members of all shapes and sizes, both male and female, and I have yet to experience anything other than encouragement from the owners, trainers and other gym members. Now, I know that is not the case at all gyms, which is also why I previously blogged about me being a bit nervous about taking workout classes. I find that I get motivation from others in my fitness classes, no matter their size. I would hate to lose any of those members due to them being a different size than me, which is why the idea of banning people of a certain size seems a bit crazy to me. Besides, just because someone is skinny, it doesn't mean they are healthy and the last time I checked, fitness and health comes in all shapes and sizes.

So tell me, what do you think about banning skinny people from the gym? If you are overweight, would not having skinny people working out in your gym make you feel more comfortable and motivated to work out?

Should skinny people be banned from the gym?

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  • 252
    I'm a 61 year old grandma that is close to my goal weight. I like family classes. In that corner are the folks that properly could teach the class, in that corner are the new mothers, some brand new mothers some there because they have a 3 year old tag along. In that corner are the tweens, they put their own spin on everything, but having a blast. in the 4th corner are the ones that need low impact, smaller range of motion or some other modification. we are all there, you pick where you fell in. The instructor sometimes turns the class over to someone else and makes her rounds, joining in with each group along the way, because we all belong there.

    When I was well over 200 pounds I could go to this new gyn, now that I'm close to my goal weight, I have to say goodbye to all the folks that motivated me and join a strange gym? What about passing on what I learned, what about showing people what they can do. - 3/16/2015   7:38:04 AM
  • 251
    I'm very confused with the message sent here : the motto for the last couple of months (years ?) has been "Let's show all different types of women" but what I understand from such decisions is "Let's show plus-sized woman". I'm afraid that that "skinny-shaming" is not healthier than the "fat-shaming" movement. If we want to see ALL types of women, we'll have to see skinny women, since THEY are REAL women, as much as plus-sized women - 3/9/2015   6:40:28 PM
    I think if someone wants to set up a gym for women of a certain weight, it's ok. They also banned men and no one was upset. At my gym, I've noticed that most people seem to segregate themselves. The older women are in the pool class. The young guys play basketball. Most times I'm the only women on the weight machines. They also have classes for seniors, and beginners and more advanced. - 3/6/2015   5:06:05 PM
    Banning skinny people from a gym? Heck no! Punishing someone for their body type is wrong in any fashion. It is practically body-shaming in its true form! Especially, if some are there not to stay skinny, but to work on building lean muscle in order to stay at a healthy weight. This was the case for my sister. She has always been very tiny and unless she ate a mountain of food, she would drop weight to a scary degree. The doctor said build up your body or I will have to put you on thyroid medication. She went and strength trained, built up her muscle mass, and now her body is regulated. Now, I'm a curvy woman, I mean really curvy. It never once bothered me that fit/skinny girls go to the same gym as me. However, if a gym catches anyone (curvy or thin) body-shaming others then by all means ban them. As for gender only gyms, that is a whole different issue. In two small phrases: cat calling and sexual harassment. - 12/23/2014   1:45:23 PM
  • 248
    How do you think "skinny" people stay that way? Anyone can be a jerk at the gym regardless of size. The point is that you're all there for the same purpose, to get healthy! - 11/15/2014   6:15:50 PM
  • 247
    With all body types at the gym it can be motivating for each body type. When I went to the gym and saw people in shape working out it motivated me to stay on track. Some would offer encouragement and tips for working out. When I was in better shape and I saw someone getting in better shape, I encouraged and complimented them. It's not a contest, it helps when we help each other. - 9/13/2014   10:54:59 AM
    It's bad enough that GoodLife Fitness in Canada has tons of locations "for women only" - basically banning men from the gym so women can "feel safe" or whatever. It's equally ridiculous to ban skinny people from the gym. However, there are always other options but the bottom line is discrimination. - 9/9/2014   7:07:48 AM
  • 245
    Skinny people allowed, but ban the gorillas that chuff and grunt and throw the weights to the floor! - 8/25/2014   9:59:56 PM
  • 244
    Good lord, where to start...for starters, banning thin people from exercising encourages the notion that exercise is just a chore that must be done in order to lose weight. People of all sizes may have various reasons for wanting to exercise, ranging from just liking how it feels, competing in a sport, weight loss, weight maintenance, and socializing. Rather than banning people of certain weights or sizes, gyms must make a point to foster an atmosphere of acceptance of all body sizes. From my experience as a personal trainer (a 240-pound trainer), the trainers carry a lot of the responsibility for how welcoming a gym may be to certain populations. - 8/25/2014   4:40:50 PM
  • 243
    What happens when the "obese" members lose weight? Do they get kicked out?''

    And define "skinny". I am skinnier than the person next to me but I have pounds to lose. Could someone like me now exercise at that gym?

    *Edit: I also find it encouraging to exercise alongside people who I would like to have similar fitness levels to, both in weight and abilities. - 8/25/2014   3:15:10 PM
    I'm totally with CLEO27-what defines a person as "Skinny"? Would overweight people stop just short of being skinny just so they could continue to use the gym? - 8/25/2014   2:58:10 AM
  • 241
    That's the dumbest thing I've read in ages, and there's a lot of excruciatingly dumb stuff afoot out there at the moment.

    That said, if someone started up a gym that banned chatting, giggling, machine-hogging, and smart phones, I'd join it. - 8/18/2014   9:02:07 AM
  • 240
    What a horrible thought. I've been big for a while now and when I would hit the gym there would be tons of thinner ppl there. Does it bother me? Heck no. I'm there for myself, not to watch others or judge. - 8/1/2014   5:56:19 PM
  • 239
    No. Exercise is for all. We should be helping each other not ostracizing for any reason. - 8/1/2014   5:09:24 PM
  • 238
    There is one girl who works out at my gym who is quite obviously anorexic. She works out like a fiend every day, but does not have a healthy body. I would be OK with banning this type of "Skinny" on the grounds that the gym is to promote healthy fitness not provide a place for one to abuse their body. My gym otherwise has a great mix of people looking to lose weight (where I started) and fit people looking to maintain and improve their fitness (where I'm getting to). - 8/1/2014   3:22:05 PM
  • 237
    Yeah, and a skinny only gym would have everyone in an outrage. How does discrimination create any concept of "friendly?" It just encourages more body hate, and body shaming. What happens when these people lose weight? They get kicked out, and lose the support system, and friends who helped them get that far?
    It doesn't matter if your thin, or thick, naturally, or by choice, everyone benefits from regular exercise. Some people can't gain, but still want to be healthy. You don't need to be overweight to workout, you can workout to maintain, you can workout to keep your heart healthy, you can workout to build muscle, and so on. This gym's message, my my eyes, is "gyms are a place for overweight people to lose weight, and that's it."
    Another important point is, if you can't handle seeing people thinner than you, how do you even live? You see people with different bodies than yours literally everywhere! Do you never go online? Do you order food and have it delivered to your house, so you don't have to go to the grocery store? Do you buy clothing online online, ad only from stores without models or mannequins? Seriously, you'd have to be a hermit to never see another body.

    Also all this says is "yes, you should be ashamed of your body. yes, seeing thinner people should feel threatening to you. yes, you should only stick with 'your kind' of people, because no one else can possibly accept you." It's enforcing an extremely negative self image, and encouraging the idea that skinny people, and overweight people are too different to ever get along, be friends, understand each other, love each other, respect each other, and so on.

    The fact that anyone supports a message like that blows my -explicative- mind! - 8/1/2014   1:13:21 PM
  • 236
    I actually feel like that initial "getting over it" is an important part of changing your life. Yes, there will always be people with better bodies then you. You can accept it and continue on improving yourself, or you can give up and go home. And in reality, no one really pays any attention to anyone else in the gym. And on the rare chance that someone does notice you, they will have completely forgotten about you as soon as they leave. - 8/1/2014   12:31:12 PM
  • 235
    If anything maybe they have a "beginners" area for overweight people only that is secluded from the rest so that those that ARE uncomfortable can feel more secure. I don't agree at all with banning skinny people from the gym. Running next to someone in better shape than me on the treadmill gives me motivation to keep going! And I hope that sometimes I motivate others as well! - 8/1/2014   9:38:17 AM
  • 234
    There are two questions here, 1 should they be allowed to ban fit people and to that my answer is absolutely. It is there business and if they want to try to build a business on a very niche clientele that is their choice. Now on the question of whether it is a good idea or not, I really don't think so. Currently we treat overweight people as sort of an untouchable class and it seems to be OK to treat overweight people badly. The answer to that is not to turn it around and treat fit people badly. Let us all mix together and we will make friends with some and not with others and let it go in a natural way. - 8/1/2014   8:51:56 AM
  • 233
    So then, if you work hard, loose weight and become thin, you get banned from your gym? Then I wouldn't want to go there in the first place! I would feel I was being kicked out for being successful! - 8/1/2014   4:07:02 AM
  • 232
    I think it is perfectly ok to have a space reserved for obese women with body issues to work out. We live in a fat shaming society. I have worked out in gyms and they can be hostile and unfriendly places for fat people. Having a safe place where these women can overcome their fears and work towards getting healthy is great and shouldn't be condemned. They are obviously women who would never go to a regular gym or even work out because of fat shaming. There are plenty of other gyms out there that cater to a variety of people, including the thin, so I don't see what the big deal is. I have more of an issue with gyms who allow obviously anorexic women to work out for hours on end. Working out on a treadmill next to a woman weighing less than 80lbs is frightening. - 7/27/2014   1:28:42 PM
  • 231
    That is so wrong so the skinny people have gained weight to workout!?!?!?!? They need the workouts to stay in shape and I agree with CHANGE4FUTURE about banning fat people from fast food places. - 7/27/2014   3:54:09 AM
  • 230
    Very unfortunate wording.
    I believe they might have meant well, but this doesn't sound good.
    If they want to encourage overweight people to come to the gym, they could offer special classes designed specially for overweight people. - 7/18/2014   1:41:51 PM
    That's not fair to ban skinny people from a gym...it'll only be fair, when it's fair to ban overweight people from fast food restaurants - 7/1/2014   11:32:49 PM
  • 228
    So does that mean when the person becomes "skinny" (and by who's definition?!?) that she will be kicked out of the gym?? - 7/1/2014   3:39:56 PM
  • 227
    A private business should be able to do this. That said, I do think it's a little sad if you join the gym as a plus sized person and then have to quit and find a different gym if you stick with it and become a smaller size. - 7/1/2014   9:02:45 AM
    I don't go to gyms for a few reasons and one of them is constantly feeling like I have to already be fit to join a gym or try a yoga or zumba class. I'm shy and insecure, not just about my weight either, and the idea of seeing mostly fit people around me just gets my anxiety revved up.

    If the gym owner wants to have their business cater to a specific clientele then I'm fine with that - it's their business after all. There's women-only spas and the like out there so why not have a gym that is for the overweight and obese population? Considering the stats on it, they aren't cutting their potential client base that much and would draw in the people who feel uncomfortable in the typical gym environment. Heck, they could require a body comp analysis before sign-up so the 'skinny fat' people would be allowed in too, but the larger people would know that the person is more like them than the ones who normally frequent gyms and thus not feel insecure. If you want to cover 'weight maintenance', just offer blocks of time and certain classes for those people - think of pools and their schedules. - 6/22/2014   4:59:33 PM
  • 225
    Whuut?! They're banning "skinny people" from they gyms? LOL!!!! Good luck with that. I think we're all in the same boat here and I like to people watch. I love watching people at the gym who are very cut and developed work out! That way, I feel like I learn something from them. I talk to everybody at the gym now. Where I never used to before. But, I will ask whoever questions about their training or a particular piece of gym equipment. I hope they don't do that at my gym; or else I would boycott the establishment. That's just me. I love people. - 5/17/2014   1:02:33 AM
  • 224
    Sounds like a really dumb idea to me. Research consistently shows that the more you interact with overweight people, the more likely you are to keep gaining weight. I like being around thin, fit people as a source of inspiration. There are two young couples in my neighborhood who are Marathoners and many times when I am tempted to play on the computer instead of getting my evening walk, I'll see them running past my window, and it gets my sorry butt out there moving. - 5/16/2014   2:39:46 PM
  • 223
    I have not read all the comments, but I notice that most people are upset with the "Plus size" part of the "Plus size women."

    Nobody seems to mention that men are also banned. - 5/16/2014   10:40:43 AM
  • 222
    This #!@# society is becoming ENTIRELY TOO "ban-crazy"! Enough already! Before you know it there'll be NOTHING to do or NOPLACE to go because EVERYONE will effectively be *BANNED* for some stupid reason or other! Common sense, people.......pleeeeeeease! :( - 2/28/2014   4:55:29 AM
  • 221
    If you own a business, you should have the right to ban a group of people as customers; however, I think that it is crazy to turn away customers. I have no problem showing people my fat, it makes me work out harder; however, if I feel that business is hurting someone physically or emotionally, I WOULD go somewhere else.

    If you feel uncomfortable working out because you are fat, wouldn't it feel just as bad going to a "fat people gym" as going to a "regular gym"? Also, I would rather go to a regular gym where I get lots of advice from fit people without having to deal with a trainer. - 2/12/2014   10:11:46 AM
    Hmm - according to their own website the gym caters "exclusively to plus size women". I've got mixed feelings about that. On one hand I think it's great to have a safe environment for women who need more support to get into fitness, on the other hand I don't believe just because somebody is skinny, means they don't have any problems or insecurities. I'm working out at a women's gym with women of all sizes and have yet to witness any rudeness or staring towards anybody. I hope the people who had bad experiences at their gym have let the owners know about this. I can't imagine any business would appreciate customers being driven away. - 2/8/2014   11:23:13 PM
  • 219
    This is only one Gym in one country, cant the skinny people just go to another one? I understand gyms can be intimidating for people of all shapes and sizes (myself included) but what is wrong with one gym choosing to create a comfortable environment for plus size exercisers? There are a lot of gyms that only have skinny people in them, maybe they don't have a sign saying no plus sizes but seeing all skinny people inside is enough to put of a lot of larger ladies off joining. So yea I think its a good idea, provided its only the occasional specialist gym. - 2/8/2014   5:47:55 AM
  • 218
    I think the article is missing a few important points. I read about this gym long before the articles about it came out, the the founders specifically discuss the fact that they DON'T ban ANYONE from joining. The problem is that they market their facility and services to and for plus-size women. I have not seen anything directly from them that specifically says "skinny" people aren't allowed. One of the founders mentioned on her blog that she was thrilled when it seemed like the local community and news were interested in her facility - until she discovered how they framed the articles they were writing. I think the main problem here is the media. They blow things out of proportion and frame them in such a way that people feel the need to take sides when it's not even necessary. This isn't about skinny people against overweight people. The founders were simply trying to create an environment where they could cater to plus-size women to help them feel more comfortable about their weight loss journeys. One of the founders even took the time to describe what made her become a personal trainer and all of the hardships she's gone through from other the professionals in the fitness community who seem to think that she is too fat to motivate others to lose weight.

    The fact of the matter is, while some gyms are welcoming to all types of people there are many that aren't. Some members and even trainers who are exceptionally fit constantly stare or make comments about other members that are overweight. I have experienced this myself, I even had a trainer at a Gold's Gym here tell me that I must not care about my health and that the only way I'd be able to successfully lose weight was with the help of a trainer. Um, yeah...I left that gym and didn't look back. My journey is my own. I don't interfere with others and really didn't appreciate when I was stared at, mocked or ridiculed because I weighed more than others there and couldn't display exact form for certain exercises or weight-lifting because I needed modified moves. I have since confined my exercise mostly to my home and walks around the neighborhood. I just feel that I can't even enjoy being at a gym until I'm within a normal weight range so I won't attract too much attention.

    I'm sure many of these ladies - and even the founders with all they've gone through - feel the same way. Not to mention someone else brought up a good point. It's not the only gym in town. Most gyms tend to cater to those who are more fit anyway, so why not simply choose a different gym if you feel some type of way about not being allowed at this one because you're skinny? There are plenty for you to choose from and most of them cater to skinnier or more fit people anyway. And say what you want, but I've been a member of multiple gyms and most aren't as welcoming or supportive of those who are overweight. So suck it up. Those of you who feel you fall into the skinny category...nearly everything out here caters to those in "normal" weight ranges. Gyms, clothing stores, most companies' marketing etc. all do it. I don't hear anyone complain about stores that sell only plus-size clothes, and to be honest there aren't many of them (I really only know of Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart and maybe the Zulily website). If you don't get upset about clothing stores that cater to plus sizes, why get so upset about a gym that does the same? - 2/5/2014   1:36:49 PM
  • TNELLY37
    Is it similar to Curves? Curves is an American gym franchise catering to women only, but it doesn't specify whether it is banned for skinny people or not. I want to join Curves, but I am unemployed. I have to wait until I have a steady job. I do want to lose over 100 lbs, closer to 200 lbs actually. I'm plus sized, yet my fiance is skinny. I have to deal with some insecurities. Sometimes, I wonder if people see my fiance with me and they think, "What is he doing with this heifer?" He doesn't pressure me to lose weight. He doesn't threaten to leave me if I don't lose weight, or for a thin woman that looks like a model. I don't think thin people should get banned from the gym; as long as they are there with the sole purpose of working out. If they are using the gym as an elite social club, flirting with the hot guys and making fun of fat people, then yes, then the gym isn't appropriate for that kind of behavior. - 4/19/2013   8:44:34 PM
    First of all, it's in a big city. Vancouver, BC Canada. There are plenty of other gyms there that the "skinnies" can use. I've never been big but I avoid gyms because I compare myself to others, so I can understand the logic behind it. "maybe fatties want to exercize with their own" is probably what was going through the head of the owner. Now, from a business perspective, I wonder how they have done financially...were they on the right track?
    From what I've seen, everyBODY at the gym freaks a lot of people out. Hospitals keep patients with simular illnesses on the same wards, so if the jackass financing this idea (is it much different than fat camp?), as a fellow Canuk I say why not! Give it a shot, but expect a backlash. - 12/23/2012   4:54:39 PM
    I'm skinny. Now, why should I be banned from a gym? Am I not allowed to be fit, just because I happen to have inherited my Dad's skinny gene? That seems hardly fair. I probably also inherited my Mom's heart-attack gene, and both my Mom and Dad's Diabetes-II gene. So tell me again: Why should I not be allowed to be fit? - 11/21/2012   11:32:27 AM
  • 214
    No bc it's discrimination/it's a free country! However,I have seen obviously unhealthy too skinny people in there(anorexic),&ive seen overly bodybuilders who are injuring themselves, and I think ppl go too much or stay too long, so just like food, everything in moderation! - 7/12/2012   1:46:48 AM
  • 213
    Personally, if I felt up to going to a gym (and I'm not, I'm just too self-conscious), I would look first at gyms that cater to obese people or gyms that very clearly assert that they support a diverse population in terms of age, weight, and fitness level. Most don't. I've had some really bad gym experiences and some OK ones; it depends so much not only on the management and the gym's philosophy but also on the membership of the particular gym. The people who run gyms catering to obese people are not saying that "skinny" people do not need to work out. They are trying to extend access to fitness activities to a population that often times is overtly or implicitly excluded. I would not mind going elsewhere once my weight loss goals were met; it would feel like a graduation. I'd also be pleased to transfer to a different gym run by the same management, if one were available. I've read a number of articles reacting to this phenomenon and most of them use the word "ban" in a sensational way. This is not about a ban, it's about increasing choices. - 7/11/2012   2:09:50 PM
  • 212
    This is ridiculous...so when you finally reach your weight loss goal, it's so long, see you later, come back when you are overweight? This gym is counter-productive, as it is giving people the idea that once you reach a certain weight, maintaining your level of fitness is no longer necessary. - 7/11/2012   11:23:05 AM
    Too skinny people need to work out and have muscle tone and endurance.
    skinny does not equal health or attractiveness.
    I have noticed in the past though, that the thin cute women get all the trainer's attention. Human nature I guess. - 7/9/2012   1:17:56 PM
  • 210
    While I would not join such a gym due to my own personal preferences, I do not see a difference between gyms that cater to obese people and gyms that cater to women. They both seek to create an atmosphere of comfort for a specific group. There are ladies who prefer not to work out with guys for whatever reason. Apparently, there are larger people who prefer to not work out with people half their size. The machines/equipment at this gym may even be larger to accommodate the gym's clientele. I'm thinking larger seats on bicycles and wider treadmills, etc.There are all types of gyms with specialties. I hope this one encourages more people to workout. - 7/9/2012   11:05:32 AM
  • 209
    Stupid question. Not all "skinny" people are healthy and not all over weight people are unhealthy. Healthy people are healthy. :)
    So lets strive to be "healthy" people. - 7/8/2012   11:03:15 PM
  • 208
    No, I understand their reason but it is not right. I have been in the obese category and have joined gyms that I felt out of place until I found Planet Fitness. They don't ban anyone but ban rude comments, clunking, etc. I have never felt out of place there from when I was over 300 lbs to my now 153.

    What happens when these currently overweight gym members lose weight? Do they have to give up their membership? - 7/8/2012   8:54:07 AM
  • 207
    I voted "NO"

    My oldest son is 17 years old, 6'3", and just now weighs 145 pounds. He is skinny and wears a size 30" x 32" jean. Even wearing skinny/super skinny jeans he needs a belt. lol He wants to join the Marines and I signed the papers for him back in May. Their minimum weight for his height is 140 pounds. When he went to MEPS and to take the ASVAB his weight was 140.6 lbs... he barely made it. Since then he has been working out and using protein shakes and that is how he is finally up to 145. Oh and in case anyone wants to know, he made a 91 on his ASVAB. - 7/7/2012   10:19:23 PM
  • 206
    This is one of the stupidest questions I have ever seen in my life, and I cant believe sp is even entertaining it. Although, I have to wonder if there would be such a clamour if a gym banned fat people. - 7/7/2012   8:58:39 PM
    I love going to my gym even 'tho I'm in the obese category. Everyone there is really supportive....even the muscle guys. Sometimes they wink at me which is pretty cute considering how much older I am than they are. I was really wrong to think that only a bunch of egotistical idiots went to gyms. Some of the thin people are trying to gain weight because they are very ill. Some of the obese folks are fighting diabetes and must have other health concerns of their own. Some are missing arms, legs, you name it; but they are making the most of what they do have. We are all there to support one another, and locking out a particular size, shape of person would take away from the whole experience. The gym is just like life; we're ALL in it together. (I luv SparkPeople, by the way. What a great tool. Thank you EVERYONE!!!!! Susan - 7/7/2012   6:29:12 PM
  • 204
    Going to the gym is how they stay skinny. - 7/7/2012   3:57:18 PM
    First of all -- skinny would have to be defined!! And, what if you were not "skinny" when you started at the gym, but have now taken care of yourself, exercised, and have learned how to eat healthy--you get penalized and get your gym membership revoked??? OMG -- this is as ridicules as banning soft drinks. What in the world are they thinking????? - 7/7/2012   2:05:30 PM

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