Body Exchange, a Canadian gym located in the heart of Vancouver, prides itself on being plus-size friendly as a work out sanctuary for those who are considered overweight. But the owner of the gym went as far as instating a ban on skinny people at the gym to preserve that environment.
Founder and CEO Louise Green told TheProvince.com last week that because Body Exchange is a safe haven for overweight gym enthusiasts, the gym has a strict policy which only allows plus-size women to join the fitness center.
Many of our clients have not had successful fitness pasts so I can see the anxiety before we get started and I can see the relief and happiness after we finish, Green told The Province. People are often too fearful to become active. There wasn't a model that offered camaraderie.
Green said potential clients looking to join Body Exchange are screened over the phone, and people who are not considered plus-size by health standards are not invited to join the gym.
The presence of that person in our program will bring down morale, Green said.
Body Exchange was conceived by Green, who is also a certified personal trainer, and first opened in 2008 in North Vancouver. Since, the gym has expanded with locations in Vancouver, Burnaby and Maple Ridge, which just opened on Tuesday.
But Body Exchange isn't the only fitness center which caters exclusively to plus-sized individuals. According to the New York Daily News, similar gym settings exist, like Buddha Body Yoga in New York City and Downsize Fitness, which has branches in Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas.
Jason Burns, who manages the Chicago Downsize Fitness, however, said the gym never instates a ban on those not considered overweight.
We make it known that our specialty is working with people who have at least 50 pounds to lose, Burn told the Daily News. Most people who come here, come here for that reason.
Similarly, Michael Hayes of Buddha Body Yoga doesn't turn away thin people either, but envisions the yoga studio as a place free of judgment.
My whole life, I have always wished there was a place for other big people, Hayes told the Daily News, So I created one.