Being Body Positive, and the Fitness Industry


Being Body Positive, and the Fitness Industry

The shape and size of your body does not necessarily indicate how healthy you are. There are way more factors that contribute to a person’s health, many of which aren’t even visible to the naked eye. The more we learn about the human body and health, the more we realize our previous assumptions are erroneous.

 Unfortunately for my fellow Fitness businesses this presents a big problem. You see the Fitness Industry has been built, and is founded on the idea that a lean physique is not only desirable due to its aesthetic appeal, but also because it’s literally a matter of life or death. But it’s not, and the sooner we come to terms with that the sooner we can move forward. 

So, am I telling you that being overweight or obese is healthy? No, I’m not, what I’m saying is that it’s not necessarily unhealthy. Just as having 10% body fat isn’t necessarily healthy. Your health is measured by so many other factors. Your physical strength, resting heart rate, HRV, stress endurance, respiratory rate, mental health, hormonal balance, blood sugar levels, your genetic make-up, how well you sleep, and the list goes on. Not one of those metrics listed are related to being overweight or not.

Recently Cosmopolitan magazine published a cover story about body positivity. Oh my God, the reaction from some of my Fitness peers on the internet! It shamed me to see how awful the response was! I get that some of those individuals were very successful in losing weight and they definitely feel an improvement in their health, and no one is trying to take that away from them. At the same time, there are people who are just predisposed to being bigger or rounder, and for them that’s actually healthier. The amount of mental and physical stress getting skinny causes them, does more damage than it does good. 

One of the images that got so much social media trolling.

Stop! I’m not making excuses. I’m not. It’s possible that an overweight person could improve their stress resilience, maybe through exercise or some other means, and with time get themselves to a slimmer waistline, and maybe they’d be better for it. Then again, maybe not. I’ll bet you knew someone or of someone who appeared perfectly healthy and yet they died or were hospitalized from an aneurysm or heart attack or stroke or cancer. You see, we’re told that health and appearance are mutually exclusive. They’re not, and the sooner we come to terms with that the better. 

So what am I proposing is the better way? Why should people exercise or go to gyms if not to lose weight? For your health, duh. Not to get skinny, but to feel better, be able to do more things easily, be happier, and be generally harder to kill. Harder to kill by disease, accidents, life, or anything really. Get stronger, improve your mobility, and become more resilient. This is exactly the approach at our gym, Iron Monkey Strength. We focus on learning how to lift well, improving functional mobility, and getting stronger. Funny things happen as people stop worrying about their weight and start getting stronger. Want to know what it is? They begin to get leaner. Maybe not lighter, but slimmer. They begin to feel good, and notice that life isn’t as hard as it used to be. They start enjoying activities again. They laugh more, and they don’t get sick as often. It’s true, we’ve seen it, and the coolest thing is they love coming in and doing the work. Why? Because the results go deeper than just some imposed ideal. The results directly impact their quality of life. That’s the opportunity we have as fitness businesses and as an industry. Right now, we can make the shift from a business built on vanity, to a business built on improving health and wellness. All we have to do is change our approach and our narrative. Like Pavel Tsatsouline says, “It’s simple, but not easy.”