Portnick puts a national face to Plus Size Fitness ...
Congratulations to the MANY people who helped pass the San Francisco "Fat and Short Law"!
Check out these links to read about this wonderful story.
First a team of activists succeeded in having an ordinance passed in
San Francisco that prevents discrimination based on body size . Then
Jennifer Portnick used the power of that legal standard to effect the
entire fitness industry, starting by identifying the illegal size prejudice
of the Jazzercise company:
to ACTION ... YOU can change the world!
Yes, YOU can effect your world. Usually I talk about changing
your world from the inside out. Today I want to remind you that you
CAN change the world by taking ACTIONS. There are many things you can
do. Here are a few:
Call and write your local fitness facilities. ASK that they
provide plus size fitness. There may be a fitness instructor right
in your area trying to convince the owner of your local fitness facility
to hire him or her. Your calls, letters, and emails may help a plus
size instructor to get hired.
Attend plus size classes in your area and financially support
fitness facilities that provide this service that you value. Bring
a friend with you and you will help your friend and the cause of
for all sizes.
Regularly and repeatedly write and call TV and radio stations that
air fitness spots. Tell them you want fitness information
for plus size people! (Especially
if you live in Philadelphia, please click here and contact NBC 10 because
I am trying to get them to include plus size fitness tips in the "Wednesday Workout")
Click here to email to Collage
Video and ask them to include plus size workout videos in their
catalogue. Tell them you want fitness without body criticism or body
loathing! You can help pave the way for plus size fitness with size-acceptance.
Buy plus size fitness videos. When you buy plus size fitness,
you help companies that make these videos to continue to make more
and better plus size fitness videos. Check out the many videos available
imagine if you and every plus size friend you have
and put your money behind
the need for plus size fitness?
Yes, YOU can be part of this revolution.
You just need to let your voice be heard!
experience with Jazzercise (22 years ago)
(an excerpt from Don't
I am angry. I am angry at an idea that causes pain. An idea persists
only if people and organizations perpetuate it. So, right now, I
angry at the fitness industry for promoting the "ideal" body as evidence
of health and good character. I remember an experience in the early
1980's that left me face to face with this harmful myth.
We all piled into the station wagon wearing our brightly colored leotards.
We were on our way to audition for the position of aerobics instructors
for Jazzercise. As we rode down the highway, I thought of the first
time I was preparing to go on stage in a leotard. That was the first
time I had dieted. That was also the beginning of an all-consuming eating
disorder that lasted thirteen years. It took years of hard work, but
I recovered from bulimia and body loathing. Here I was again in my leotard,
at my natural weight, 127 lbs. I was free from dieting, bingeing, laxatives,
diuretics, and vomiting.
I felt good. My hard-earned feeling of fitness and confidence was shaken
as I trained for this audition. I began to feel uncomfortable about
the focus on body size in the training environment. As the day of the
audition unfolded, I could not believe what happened. Let me introduce
you to the women on this journey with me. One of the trainees was recovering
from anorexia nervosa. After a life-threatening low weight of seventy
pounds, Cleo was back up to ninety-five pounds. She confided that she
still felt fat. However, she was determined to win over this killer
disease. Bridget, who was also a trainee, was a very shy person. She
had developed her teaching style in harmony with her shyness, not in
spite of it.
So, there were three of us, Cleo, Bridget, and me. After a tension-filled
ride we arrived and the audition began. The evaluator watched and took
notes as we performed. Then one by one, she met privately with each
of us. I went first. As I returned to the group after the meeting, I
applied my smile. Each trainee left and returned smiling and silent.
It was not until the ride home that Bridget (the shy one) announced
excitedly that she was accepted as a trainee instructor.
Bridget was told she would have to work hard these next three months
if she wanted to be ready to become a full instructor. The evaluator
did give her some advice: "Go to as many classes as you can, and stand
near Kelly. Watch her, and try to move like her." Cleo (95 pounds) was
not accepted. She had asked what she could do to improve. She was told:
"Look at Kelly. She is not as tall as you are, but her movements are
bigger. She has energy with control. Watch her, then work with yourself
in a mirror." Cleo and Bridget talked excitedly as they began to schedule
classes. "Which classes can we attend, so that we can prepare together
to be full instructors?" they asked me. None. I would not be preparing,
because I was not accepted.
The evaluator was direct when we met. After my performance, before
I could even sit down she said, "There is only one reason that I am
not accepting you." Yes? Yes? "You are too fat." But...but, how were
my execution, my enthusiasm, and my teaching style? Her answer, "Great!
On those points I would accept you on the spot."
Questions raced through my mind. Yes, there was some important
information that I wanted from her. Other than my body size, what
did she think
I needed to change? She replied, "You don't need to change a thing about
your performance or your teaching. What you should do is this. Stand
naked in front of a mirror. I know that this is hard." (She did not
know how hard I had struggled and that I like the way I look in the
mirror.) "Now," she continued, "look at those bumps of fat that shouldn't
be there. Then as you sit down to eat, remember those bumps, and eat
I know only moments passed before I spoke. It seemed longer. On this
day I was not going to be the victim of this evaluator's size prejudice.
I had no interest in working for a company that supports these views.
I thought of the other women who are about to talk to this evaluator.
I had to say something. I needed to tell her about some of the harm
she could do if she gives this well-meaning and dangerous advice to
I took a deep breath to calm myself. I told her that I could not
believe life has given me another chance at the same scene. But here
listening to exactly the same advice that was the foundation of my
eating disorder. She listened as I continued. I told her that I had
been the victim of the "really look at yourself critically" method of
weight loss. When I looked in the mirror and cultivated a disgust for
my "problem areas", I began to have a distorted mental image of myself.
I could not see my whole self in the mirror. I only saw parts of myself,
a hip, a belly, a thigh. I was growing farther and farther away from
the natural feeling of eating from hunger. I was developing a response
to my distorted view in my mirror. Then I would eat, or vomit, accordingly.
So please, I told her, do not give this pathological advice to
anyone else. The most common result of this "critical look in the mirror" is
to distort a person's body image. A more serious result is that you
would be contributing to the epidemic of anorexia and bulimia in
This dance exercise company, and most other fitness companies,
promote the myth that anyone can have a lean body if they exercise
only lean instructors reinforces this idea that only lean bodies are
fit and that only thin bodies are healthy. An army of lean instructors
has a message to the average person. "If you do not look like us, then
you have not tried hard enough." What if, no matter how hard a person
tries, it will never be enough to battle his/her own body's natural
size? What are the consequences of trying? There is considerable evidence
that this weight loss and weight gain cycle is the cause of many health
problems usually associated with fatness. My fitness photo in 2000
I believe that fit people are
supposed to come in
all shapes and sizes.
Everyone, of any size, has the right and responsibility to work toward
fitness. Fitness is the result of a healthy lifestyle. When a person
works out regularly and effectively, they may still remain fat. Fitness
has nothing to do with fatness. That is why I opened my own exercise
studio shortly after this audition. My studio financed my advanced fitness
certification and my graduate degree in education.
You can help to end size discrimination by
asking for full-figured instructors at your health clubs and gyms. You
can demand classes for people of all sizes that focus on improving fitness
and healthy eating, rather than promoting thinness. You have the power
to help by seeking out and supporting businesses that provide service,
without discrimination, to people of ALL sizes.