Thank the self love gods: Our qualms with the divide between gym culture and body positive culture are starting to be put to rest. Well, at least in Portland, Oregon they are. And we have HEALTH CLUB — the first body positive barbell gym of its kind, which is opening soon and available to help fund now on its Indiegogo support page — to thank for that.
When I first started working out regularly last year, I agonized over whether I was going to be able to stay body positive at the gym. After all, if my aim was to improve my health and fitness, how would my mental health cope with any weight loss (or no weight loss) after spending so much time teaching myself to love my body just as it is? If my body were to shrink due to this decision, would that mean I made the choice for non-body positive reasons?
Looking back, it's quite sad that I had to over-think going to the gym this much. But then again, I over-think everything. Of course, going to the gym can be body positive, and I was being ignorant by equating my health with my weight. Today, however, all I want to do is move to Portland so that I can exercise surrounded by people with the same ideologies of healthy living and body positivity that I maintain.
The new gym's philosophy centers around body positivity and community, celebrating all types of bodies and believing "every single person's body deserves to be celebrated and nourished," according to worker and owner Shanti Herzog in a press release.
HEALTH CLUB understands how our bodies and identities affect our experiences of working out, thus keeping fitness and weight loss/gain separate entities. Rather, the folks behind the gym want to cultivate a safe space where people can explore healthy living without any negativity in a way that's personally tailored to their needs.
The new gym will place focus on barbell work, under the premise that lifting weights can be beneficial and body positive in a number of ways, according to the press release.
Firstly, Shanti Herzog noted that this practice can improve balance and coordination by strengthening muscles, bones, and joints. Secondly it will help lower the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic problems. Finally — and as with most exercise — weight lifting is a means to staying positive, sleeping better, and responding more adaptively to stress.
The gym won't just focus on exercise, though. It plans on helping members with healthy eating and will also have a store of size inclusive activewear, self help books, and numerous healthy snacks. This gym is all about providing an all-around safe space for exercise and healthy living without the body shaming that is often present in these communities.
After all, being fit should have nothing to do with being skinny.
Images: Courtesy Health Club