What does a fit body look like? I bet a pretty specific image just popped into your head. Women’s Running Magazine just blew every ones minds when they put plus-size model Erika Jean Schenk on their August 2015 cover. Yep – a plus-size model on a running magazine. it’s widely believed that Women’s Running Magazine and Erika Jean Schenk are the first to cast in these roles. Fitness and the necessity of a ‘fit body’ get priority on magazine covers. Most of these bodies are the ones we see so often in media that they no longer registers as problematic. However, as newly discovered by the editor-in-chief of Women’s Running, when readers see someone who looks like them on the cover the response will be overwhelmingly positive and you’ll sell lots of magazines.
In my own regular gym I see more people who look like me than any other body type. We’re the fit but also fat exercisers. Exercise has a lot of assumptions to it – if someone mentions joining a gym we often automatically assume they have weight-loss goals. While that may be the case, it’s not the gospel – for many, including myself, we exercise because it’s something that makes us feel good, or it’s a coping method to manage stress or anxiety. I don’t exercise because I’m punishing my body for not looking a certain way – although that’s often what’s expected of me. I can dead-lift and squat, but my body doesn’t match the expectation of the gym. Even before settling on a gym I test drove a few to see if I’d like the atmosphere, uncovering that a good way to freak out personal trainers is when you don’t list weight-loss as a goal. They pried hard to find out why I didn’t want to ‘just tone a bit,’ and were shocked when all I wanted to do was slam a medicine ball on the ground to work out some anxiety.
Lining the gyms walls and change rooms are pictures of sculpted bodies – the kind those of us in the room should apparently be striving to achieve. This is a triggering amount of ‘thinspiratin’ if you ask me, which brings me to the next pile of crap affecting those who work out simply because they like it: The triggering amount of content that exercise and healthy eating guides possess. I once went searching for a smoothie recipe on Pinterest, only because I wanted a smoothie at the time, but quickly realized that something as simple as a smoothie search was going to be loaded with triggering flat stomach and fat flush garbage. However, thanks to a brilliant friend, something I’d been longing for came to my attention just weeks ago – a Tumblr without triggering exercise content called Movespo. This is possibly the best place to go when looking for exercise related content sans body shaming. It’s even helpful if you’re looking for a place to see exercise content for persons with physical limitations (asthma, shin splints, joint pain) or exercise anxiety.
The decision to exercise is a personal one with many reasons for the individual. Expectations of having the media-portrayed-fit-body are triggering and incorrect to say the least. As demonstrated from Women’s Running Magazine, there are fit bodies that are also plus size, and from the response their August 2015 cover was met with we can rest assured that there are a lot of runners out there who have a similar bodies to the cover model. So if it’s your jam, exercise without feeling the need to look a certain way. Every single body is different and beautiful and worthy. Everyone’s differences mean that their bodies will respond to training differently, and there is no such thing as a body that’s wrong.