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Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Gyms Be Allowed to Ban Skinny People?

Written on June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm , by

Should gyms be allowed to ban fit people? (Photo by Jay Sullivan)

We’ve heard about the latest trends in the fitness world: bachelorette workout parties, obstacle mud runs and CrossFit, among others. But a new craze has popped up and we’re not quite sure how to feel about it: skinny people being banned from certain gyms.

Yes, you heard that right. More gyms are catering to plus-sized people and screening applicants before allowing entry. When do you get turned away? If your weight or BMI doesn’t qualify as “plus-sized.”

On one hand, this tactic makes sense because it creates a safe space for heavier people to work out without being worried about the super-fit person next to them judging their every move. Let’s admit it: many turn treadmill running into a competition with the person next to them. Some call that motivation, but others might feel like the constant sideways glances are discouraging.

But on the other hand, is this fair to those who have worked hard to maintain their fitness? Should they feel the sting of rejection from an establishment just because they’re already at a healthy body weight and want to work to stay that way? We think banning them from the gym may be a little harsh, and a happy medium may be reached if it’s instead marketed in a way that makes it clear that the fitness center caters toward those who struggle with their weight.

Finally, it begs the question of what happens to those who sign up for the gym membership initially overweight, but then drop the weight (hooray!). Do they lose their membership? This, again, may be unfair because a gym environment can foster relationships and friendships between members, and ripping them away from that after reaching a successful milestone may put their journey in jeopardy.

Now tell us: What do you think? Should gyms be allowed to ban skinny people?

  • midalah

    No, I don’t think gyms should be allowed to ban skinny people. As you bring up in your article, what about those who have lost the weight and are now “skinny”? Why should they be banned for what they are now and also be expected to maintain their new healthy status.

    Not to mention, a naturally skinny person doesn’t mean that said person is healthy or in shape. They, too, need gyms to do that. Banning them simply because of how thin they are isn’t fair.

  • Cristyyxoxo

    Those gyms will just lose business and people with a healthy BMI can put their money elsewhere. I think if anything it’s a bad decision on the part of the business.

  • Tetyana

    If all the good looking people gone and not allowed to the gym – what is the inspiration for the people in bad shape? If everybody around them looks alike – that is a norm then and no reason to change. That gym is going to look like Walmart – tons of fat people wondering around.  

  • Robin

    I think the concept makes sense, making overweight people feel more comfortable in their quest for fitness HOWEVER, I think the way it is presented ^up there^ is bad. Perhaps have a two different locations or different areas and people can choose to use them if they wish(you’ve heard of women’s sections, haven’t you?). I don’t think “banning skinny people” is really the right way to go about it..

  • Kconkel

    Gyms would never be allowed to ban overweight people so why should they be able to ban skinny people. And, we all know that just because you are skinny does not mean you are in shape!!!!

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  • Anna

    At our gym in my hometown, there is a special section designated for women who do not feel comfortable exercising in front of everyone in the main area. I think it is a great idea and encourages people who may have avoided the gym because of discomfort to continue with their fitness goals. More gyms should adapt this set-up and create a better environment for all members, in shape or not.

  • Angie

    What would happen if an overweight person joins and then is successful and becomes what the gym considers a “skinny” person? Are they forced to find a new gym? The motivation to become skinny would now pitted against the inconvenience of finding a new gym.

  • http://www.runsoncake.com/ Kelly Runs on Cake

    Uh, seriously? I’m pretty sure people don’t go to the gym to be inspired by the other bodies there. And “fit” bodies don’t have any sort of responsibility to be in a gym to serve as “inspiration” either.

  • http://www.runsoncake.com/ Kelly Runs on Cake

    I belonged to a gym that had this sort of setup as well. Usually I went into the main area just because the smaller “ladies only” section had all the crappiest, oldest equipment, unfortunately. But it *was* nice to have a more private area to go to if you needed – whether you were self conscious about how you looked, or just wanted to get away from potential creepers.

  • http://www.runsoncake.com/ Kelly Runs on Cake

    I think it would make more sense to just use their marketing to portray a certain image/engage a certain type of client to create a niche market. But I don’t think it’s *wrong* to just outright ban certain people if they want to. I mean, it’s not like the gym is a library or a bus station. It’s not performing a public service. It’s a business, and people who are banned can go to a million other gyms. 

  • Zinkfam

    Boo Hoo! Another nanny situation. If a business owner wants to cater to just overweight people, why not? Got to another one for skinny people. Why do we have to constantly keep wanting to dictate? Start your own gym for skinnies.

  • Joysu

    I would be more inclined to go to a gym that caters to plus-sized people only.  I am intimidated by the “skinny” people.  They do not motivate me.

  • Mark

    Degradation based on body weight? I think that dies a disservice to everyone, regardless of fitness level. If a business wants to cater to those who are overweight, offer incentives to attract and keep them coming: trainers, classes on exercise and nutrition, free membership for a month when goals or milestones are reached, buddy up with ‘successes’…that will keep them coming back and that’s better business.

  • Jenniferclasstime

    Banning people who are fit from a gym is ridiculous.  Period.
     

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4WKQPUJHFURUIGPZQSCBINF7VU camille

    Skinny doesn’t mean fit nor healthy weight nor good looking. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

  • Chelsea

    Okay, to be fair, putting this as “banning skinny people” is a bit ridiculous. It’s catering a gym to overweight people to encourage them to work out. If you bill your gym as a place for overweight people, you’re probably not going to have to turn many people away; people know where they fit in. I don’t think it’s a big deal.
    However, that still leaves people like me in a place where I am intimidated by the gym–I am certainly not overweight, but I’m far from being in shape in terms of physical fitness. The treadmill at my gym is still a scary place for me. Oh well. There’s no way to please everybody.

  • RowerGuy

    I stumbled on this site doing a search about air conditioning for some reason and I am guessing this article is satire.   Very clever.  If it is not, it makes no sense whatsoever.   How do you think people get fit in the first place?   They exercise.   As another poster pointed out, skinny does not equal fit anyway.   Imagine you are overweight, find a gym, lose weight and get banned from your gym.  Now what?

    This article is genius.

  • RowerGuy

    Here’s an idea:   Let’s ban fit people from even being seen on the streets exercising or even simply existing beause it might make somebody who is less fit feel bad about him or herself.

    The reason I started lifting weights in the first place is because I was skinny and wanted some lean muscle mass.   I was skinny, but I wasn’t fit. 

  • mark

    Iam skinny my self and your a dumb fucking idiot!!!!! This is not about us but helping fat people reach their goalsso they can feel and be healthier to!!!

  • Mark

    I think we made people out of shape feel like this, we would Jon on them in school, even while on the street walking. I see it all the time, I even see children Jon on them because of how cartoons and their parents would talk about them. People need to change, Iam a skinny man married to a sexy fat women. She haves the most prettiest legs and butt ever.

  • taarah

    That’s ridiculous, if there were gyms trying to ban fat people there would be a huge uproar about discrimination