Well Being

Downsize Fitness Gym Says No Skinny People Allowed: Right Or Wrong?

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Screen Shot 2013-01-08 at 10.40.22 AMTo get away from all of us annoying thin and fit people, Downsize Fitness has a strict requirement to join: You must be 50 pounds or more overweight. No skinny people allowed. To them, it's perfectly reasonable–thin people supposedly judge fat people. But to me, it just sounds like reverse discrimination–along with an unhealthy dose of fat-shaming.

I get the concept: Some overweight people say they are not comfortable at “normal” gyms with all the mirrors, hard-bodies, spandex and perceived judgment. So the idea that a gym would cater to that seems reasonable. Except that it's not.

Downsize Fitness, located in Dallas and Chicago, requires that all members be at least 50 pounds overweight in order to join. They also don't allow any mirrors in the gym and have fogged all windows to prevent people from looking at themselves and each other. It's like they are assuming that just because someone is overweight that they feel bad about themselves and shouldn't be distracted by seeing themselves or being seen by others. That, to me, is fat-shaming.

Chicago entrepreneur Francis Wisnewski told Fox News that he started the gym because “I've been overweight my whole life, and I was embarrassed to go to the gym myself.”

And other members concur. “It's frustrating because sometimes you don't feel like you fit in,” one woman explained to Today about regular gyms. “Sometimes you feel like people are looking at you. This place is different here because you get the support; you don't just get the workout.”

But this concept of banning skinny people is not new. Last year, we reported on another gym in Canada that does the same thing. Why? Because apparently thin people “bring down the morale” in that gym.

While it's great that people (of any size) can find a space to work out where they feel comfortable, is it right to go so far as to ban skinny people and assume that we are all a bunch of judgmental jerks? I, for one, don't pay attention to anyone else at the gym. I don't really care what size someone is, what they're wearing or what kind of workout they are doing. I'm there for me, and me only.

It's kind of sad that these gyms assume that overweight people feel ashamed about themselves and need to be separated. Ultimately, this is only continuing to fuel the body image wars by saying that we can't all be in one space together, supporting each other no matter what.

Tell us what you think. Are gyms for overweight only clients right or wrong?

Photo: video.today.msnbc.msn.com