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The Importance of Size Sensitivity

In 2009–2010, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and almost 17% of youth were obese (Ogden et al. 2012). Clearly, this group has the potential to become a significant clientele for fitness professionals. However, for many fuller-figured individuals, the idea of going to a fitness facility is overwhelming.

Business owners attempting to entice overweight clients should hold size-sensitivity training for their entire staff, says weight management expert Rochelle Rice. Indeed, size-friendly facilities are often a good fit for fitness professionals who have experienced significant weight loss first hand. “But there are also trainers, no matter the size, who have the compassion, knowledge and expertise to work with the fuller body,” Rice adds.

On this topic, formerly obese gym owner Marty Wolff adds some cautionary advice: “If you are a fitness professional, you may have lost up to 30 pounds at one point in your life. But if you have never been morbidly obese, please keep in mind that to your client, your experience is completely different from that of someone who may need to lose hundreds of pounds. you can share your story with your client, but acknowledge you don’t know the struggles he or she may be experiencing and [tell the client that you] look forward to learning more from [him or her].”

Practical Strategies for Overweight Clients

Louise Green, founder and CEO of the plus-size-only boot camp company Body exchange, offers the following tips for designing exercise plans for larger clients:

  • Avoid moves that require getting down onto and up from the floor until you are sure trainees can do these moves.
  • Avoid exercises or stretches in the prone position or on the knees.
  • Avoid excessive squatting; stick to single-joint exercises to start.
  • Avoid body weight exercises whenever possible, as they can be very difficult.

To view the full artice which ran in the July-August 2014 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal click here.

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