Poll: Should Skinny People Be Banned from the Gym?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/28/2012 6:00 AM   :  263 comments   :  27,975 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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  • 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
    Isn't the whole point in going to the gym to become more fit, which would equal skinnier? I mean if you ban skinny people you are basically saying once you are healthy get out! I think it's dumb. - 7/7/2012   9:09:22 AM
  • 201
    There a so many gyms that cater to women, skinny people, men, so why the big deal about catering to the plus size population.This is just one way to meet the needs of a very specific group and helps them to be successful in their weight loss journey and if it works for them then that's great.If you are on the skinny side ofcourse you are not going to understand the intimidation of a plus size person when they are at a regular gym. Given the fact that these gyms are opening up in a variety of places, there is clearly a demand. The thinner people still have tons of options as far as finding a gym, it's not like every gym banned skinny people. I wish them much success. I think we should stop focusing on the negative side of that article "Skinny people banned from gym" and focus on the positive side "Gym opens up and focuses on the needs of plus size people for long term success".
    - 7/7/2012   9:05:00 AM
  • 200
    There's a gym in California that did the same thing. I think it's ridiculous, to be honest. After all, we're there for the same purpose: to exercise and continue on our journey of health and fitness. Most of the time, I'm so focused on my workout that I don't really think about what others around me are thinking, because I'm there to take care of ME, not to impress anyone else. - 7/5/2012   2:04:59 PM
  • 199
    I can see a benefit - there a lot of gyms that cater to women only, and nobody freaks out about that. Like the article said, there are a lot of bigger people who are very intimidated by the thought of going to a regular gym. This is just one way to meet the needs of a very specific group and if it helps them to be successful in their weight loss journey, who are we to judge? Given the fact that these gyms are opening up in a variety of places, there is clearly a demand. The thinner people still have TONS of options as far as finding a gym, it's not like EVERY gym banned them. - 7/5/2012   1:54:38 PM
  • 198
    OK, so.....once I meet my goal, I have to quit?! REALLY?!! OMG, that is sooo very stupid, any way you look at it!! - 7/5/2012   1:45:46 PM
  • 197
    The thought process behind this is part of what makes us all struggle with healthy habits--the idea that 'skinny' people don't need to work out is ridiculous. To the contrary, everyone should be exercising regularly, regardless if they are over-, under- or healthy-weight. When I see someone who is in better shape, it is motivation to keep working, and I understand that they may not have always been in great shape. - 7/5/2012   11:40:34 AM
    Personally, I find the thin women at my gym inspiring. Each one is a reminder of the goal I'm working toward- a healthy, attractive & slender body. - 7/5/2012   4:36:42 AM
  • 195
    I am going to use this opportunity to talk about my gym experience.

    I am a fat woman - a very fat woman. Like many fat women, I was uncomfortable with the notion of walking into a gym and being stared at by all the "beautiful people". But, I had to do something because whatever I was doing on my own wasn't working!

    I emailed the manager of my local gym (three blocks from my home) and just came out and asked, "I am an older fat lady with a bad knee and COPD. Is there anything you can do with me?"

    She hooked me up with one of her trainers who had experience with working with people who had "challenges". (this initial appointment is included in the membership fee)

    I met with the trainer and continued to come into the gym 6 days a week, in the mornings. Instead of people gawking at me, I have found people to be extremely supportive and encouraging. After about a month, one man came up to me and said, "I remember when you first came in! You are doing great! Keep up the good work!"

    Since I come in at the same time every day, I associate with basically the same people every day and we have a kind of camaraderie.

    As far as not letting thin folks in the gym, well....that's nonsense! Environment is everything! If I decide that I want to be an artist, then I should surround myself with artistic people; if I want to build muscular strength and endurance, then I should associate with people who exercise! Simple! - 7/5/2012   12:36:43 AM
  • 194
    Some are there to maintain their weight and if not then it's their money and their decision. It's a free country. The benefits of exercise is great and recommended for good optimal health. I always hear physicians stress exercising. I guess the intensity could be a factor also... - 7/4/2012   11:08:24 PM
  • CLEO27
    That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Not all skinny people are healthy. Not only that, if you start at the gym as a plus size person and then reach your goal weight and become skinny, do they kick you out then? It's really dumb. I'd like to know the name of the club so it can be boycotted by skinny people. - 7/4/2012   9:07:46 PM
  • 192
    I can't imagine banning anyone from the gym. I think there is another way to encourage larger folks to participate. Pictures of regular people of all shapes, sizes, and ages would be great. Mirrors at the treadmill that only go up ankle high or so might be an idea too. I understand their goal, but I think they could have gone about it a better way. - 7/4/2012   2:10:28 PM
    How do we think that some of the "skinny" people got thin? I hope that I am considered one of those slender people one day and continue to use the gym! - 7/4/2012   9:55:30 AM
    This is extremly unfair! Skinny people have the right to go to the gym for their health, for making friends, for learing new things and so on. I work out because my muscles need to work, and because it makes me feel better about everything else. It has nothing to do with shape and size, but with health and good mood. - 7/4/2012   9:14:08 AM
  • 189
    That's far from the only gym that has done it. I personally don't care what the people around me look like as long as everyone is working towards the same common goal. I don't actually like any gyms that cater to only a specific demographic - 7/4/2012   8:18:28 AM
  • 188
    Equal rights...it is not about size it is about health! - 7/4/2012   7:46:41 AM
  • 187
    I don't understand why anyone thinks skinny people should be banned from the gym. It's just silly. Everyone deserves to work out wherever it pleases them to work out. - 7/4/2012   2:13:43 AM
    I would like to think that if I work hard enough to get to be skinny, I shouldn't be punished for reaching my goal. - 7/3/2012   7:40:28 PM
  • 185
    Skinny people can be unhealthy too. It shouldn't matter what a person weighs as long as they respect each other. This is a ridiculous question.

    - 7/3/2012   7:02:54 PM
  • 184
    I don't really care if I am working out around skinny people or not, but I dont' see the big deal in one gym banning "skinny" people. If someone is skinny then there are so many different gym option around nowadays that they should be able to find a different one to go to. There are gyms that are just for women and gyms that are just for men. If it is the only gym in that city then I could see it being an issue, but in most areas there are mulitple choices. If someone is overweight and they don't want to work out around people that make them nervous then they should have a "safe" place to workout. - 7/3/2012   5:37:30 PM
  • P5741209
    Working out isn't about fat or skinny - it is about fit and healthy. That gym is sending the wrong message to its clients by preventing "skinny" people from joining. - 7/3/2012   4:58:52 PM
  • 182
    that is so ridiculous.... just because someone is skinny doesn't mean they are healthy, what really what is skinny?? and where would they draw the line?? so if someone is size 0 does that mean someone who is healthy in size 11 would also be too skinny?? Everyone is on the same page at the gym working out and being healthy. That would mean all the huge muscle guys would be banned too, and how do you think they get that way??? - 7/3/2012   12:54:38 PM
  • 181
    I would never belong or attend a gym that discriminated in any way shape or form.
    The reason those shinny people are at the gym is to stay in shape.
    For all anyone knows they might have been fat at some time.
    What if a gym said no fat or obese people welcome. There would be a law suit.
    Crazy decision on that gyms part.
    I like to see people in better shape than me. I get inspired. Many times I find that they have been at it a lot longer and they point that out and encourage me to keep going . - 7/3/2012   12:28:06 PM
    I imagine the reason they stay skinny is because they work out! When we all reach our goals, we will still be going to the gym as well! - 7/3/2012   12:00:26 PM
  • 179
    I am in the obese category (for now!), and joined a gym recently. I usually went in mid-morning, and most of the people that were there were body-builders and thin, fit college -age girls. I just put on my shorts and tank top (clothes I would NEVER wear anywhere else!) and went anyway. I never received any looks or comments that made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, everyone there was encouraging and friendly. And I saw them as inspiration. Sometimes I wanted to tell some of the girls, "You are so wise to be taking care of yourself now and not letting what's happened to me happen to you. Keep up the good work!" I know some people are uncomfortable exercising around others who are in better shape, and I do understand it. It is so sad to see the comments from people who were stared at and had negative comments made about their weight. It makes me happy that I joined a gym where people were not like that. I'm not really against the idea of a weight-segregated gym, but for me, it would be counter-productive. - 7/3/2012   11:22:33 AM
  • 178
    even skinny people can be unhealthy and fat on the inside... why take the opportunity away to be able to go to the gym? And what if you've become skinny by going to that gym, are you going to get kicked out? - 7/3/2012   10:22:10 AM
  • 177
    Wow, this is the most asinine idea I've heard in a long time. When I go to the gym, one of my goals is to become more "skinny"... so why would I want to stay away from people who could serve as fitness role models?! Besides, everything I've read on the subject shows that we tend to look like the people we spend time with... in that case, isn't it a good idea to spend your gym time with people who look the way you want to look? The gym's not a beauty contest, kids. If you think it is, you've got other major problems to deal with besides your weight.

    So I say, ban people who show up smelling like B.O. before they even get started. Ban people who leave a mess behind, sweating all over the machine and not wiping it down afterward. Ban people who drop heavy weights on the floor. Ban people who wear the equivalent of a string bikini to do their workout. Ban people who do all of 6 reps and then spend 3 minutes sitting at the machine other people want to use, all because they're "recovering". Leave the skinnies alone. - 7/3/2012   10:18:50 AM
  • 176
    It makes me wonder, will this gym kick out a member that succeeds in losing weight and is now "skinny?" I think a better plan perhaps would be a somewhat "segregated" gym, with the "at risk" people on one side and the "normal-sized" people on the other. After all, skinny people still need exercise for their health (not to mention weight maintenance)! - 7/3/2012   9:40:16 AM
  • 175
    I personally wouldn't go to a gym that banned "skinny" people, but I can totally understand women who are overweight and don't feel comfortable working out on a treadmill next to a woman with 4% body fat, or next to a man with an 8-pack. It's intimidating and those women may not work out at all if they didn't feel comfortable in that environment. This may be the opportunity for those women to get out there and get healthy. And THAT is what I vote yes to.

    Besides, it's not as if that is the only gym available. There are other gyms in the same neighborhood or town, I can almost guarantee, that allow people of all shapes and sizes. It's no different than a shop that only sells plus-size clothing. - 7/3/2012   9:10:17 AM
  • UMMM613
    who is to judge what "skinny" is anyway? people tell me all the time that i'm skinny and i totally disagree. i wish people would say- hey, you are normal sized, because that's what i feel i am. no, "skinny" people should not be banned. - 7/3/2012   8:03:38 AM
  • 173
    I once taught group exercise at a University in the Midwest and although people loved my classes, I was given a negative on my review because I chose to wear just a sports bra (normal type) and athletic shorts when I taught. I normally wore this because of how hot I got when working out. They said because I was so in shape my body might be perceived at intimidating to class members.

    I felt offended and discriminated against and said so. Nowhere did they have a dress code that I was in violation of. Others wore similar, yet because of my body type (thin, fit) I was given a negative on my review. I would think it would be motivating to see the instructor of your class in good shape.

    Reading this takes me back to that time and irritates me. I agree with the other commenter as well, if someone did the opposite and opened a gym that obese people were no allowed we'd just see how quickly a lawsuit would be filed.

    I CAN understand the other point of view, however I think a workout area for those that do not feel comfortable would be appropriate rather than banning certain people based on the way they look from the entire gym. - 7/3/2012   8:02:48 AM
  • 172
    I know quite a few skinny people who were once fat. So not only no but hell no!!!! thoughs people were are insperation to me. I can ignore the gym rats. but If all I saw was people my size I would think what's the point?. besides having the "skinny" folks complement you on your dedacation is a real ego boost! - 7/3/2012   7:41:55 AM
  • 171
    At first glance this seems completely ludicrous but on reflection I can see a lot of media spin going on. Banning skinny people from a gym sounds a lot more offensive than opening a specialised gym tailored to obese clients. The former I have a problem with, the latter, not so much. I can see why larger people with less gym savvy might be attracted to a private space where they can workout amongst similarly challenged people without the fear, real or perceived, of being judged by the "gym junkies". In a private business the owner should have the right to choose to offer a service to a niche market if that is what he wants to do. If ALL gyms were allowed to have the same policy that would be segregation and completely unacceptable. I don't see that happening any time soon because regular gym goers are the bread and butter of these places. - 7/3/2012   6:16:46 AM
  • 170
    banning (whatever) people out of a place = segregation - discrimination - stripping people off their human rights - fascism

    To the people who voted "yes" and the owner of that gym, I say, welcome back to the PAST! - 7/3/2012   5:47:31 AM
    That just seems nuts to me. The comments that it's the same as woman only gyms is off too-- if you are a woman, working out will not change that!

    Also, comments from people who say that they are discouraged by seeing people who are "obviously anorexic" are disconcerting too; I am SEVERELY underweight-- I'm sure I look anorexic-- I have cancer. And a genetic condition that means I will probably get more cancers in the future. Working out 30+ minutes a day could make the difference between life and death for me. Should I be banned for being too thin? I'm certainly not "healthy" or even in good shape. I am weak and would probably struggle as much as most of those overweight people.
    I don't actually go to the gym though-- between the germs and people staring at me, I'm happier running, biking, or using my Wii. - 7/3/2012   3:29:40 AM
    I can't believe that a gym that is encouraging fitness would discriminate against anyone who wants to be more fit. Since "Skinny," is subjective, how is anyone to be determined to be too thin. I hope that one day with hard work, I will be skinny and to not be allowed in the gym would be ridiculous! Without continued exercise, I would not continue to be skinny. - 7/2/2012   8:36:58 PM
  • 167
    This is so timely. I went to a gym on vacation and a young woman there was obviously anorexic - I could see all her ribs, collar bone and hip bones. I was stunned and didn't know what if anything to say. It was very sad. - 7/2/2012   6:14:54 PM
    I voted no. While I think there's definitely market space for gyms that primarily cater to overweight/obese people, just as there is market space for gyms that exclusively cater to women, there is no basis for banning skinny people from gyms overall. Personally, I would not patronize a gym that excluded people on the basis of weight, size, or fitness level. - 7/2/2012   2:50:40 PM
  • 165
    The help that they give may be for people who are "at-risk". Those kind of people require much more attention. If one is morbidly obese and needs special support then it is important that he/she gets it. The problem is that obesity is becoming so widespread in the U.S. About 1/4 people are obese. Now, that it is so common, these groups, gyms, etc. are becoming a little less formal. It is to comfort people without the grand, unpleasant shock that usually comes along with the reality of the issue facing so many. Being around people facing the same difficulty brings a sense of comfort to some. I'm not defending the gym because depending on the nature of the group, they can very well be non-purposely imposing discrimination to those who are slender and this cannot be justified. Please give it some thought. - 7/2/2012   10:24:17 AM
  • 164
    I voted No.-- but I also believe that business owners should have the right to exclude people, b/c of freedom. I think it's very selfish to exclude people. Skinny people are looked down up and have all kinds of hatred/comments thrown at them. Skinny people need to be healthy too. Skinny does NOT equate to being healthy and fit. It's genetics. I'm skinny b/c my dad is skinny. For my1st 30 years, I ate like a pig trying to gain weight, b/c I was teased as a kid, and the last one picked for teams in gym class. I have osteoporosis and need the gym. To others, I still look "skinny", but I am not fit or strong. I voted No, but Yes is OK too. I guess I would feel more comfortable in an all skinny gym. But that's just not OK. Accept everyone, everyone. The GYM is not just for "loosing weight", it's for getting fit and EVERYONE needs that. - 7/2/2012   8:42:51 AM

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