• Robyn Pashby, Ph.D.

Training the trainers: weight bias works out in the gym, too.

Recently, my friends and colleagues Michelle O'Brien MA, LGPC, Kelly Donahue, PhD, NTC, and I have had the exciting opportunity to develop and implement a continuing education course for personal trainers. Our first stop was our local Crunch Gym, located in Friendship Heights, MD. Crunch is a great gym, where the hashtag #nojudgment is a guiding principle.

We led a group of both new and seasoned fitness professionals through a carefully constructed program designed to explore how unintentional weight bias and stigma is alive and well in fitness facilities. We explored how such bias is a risk factor for exercise avoidance and how it can contribute to and further exacerbate the already internalized weight bias and stigma that so many people with obesity live with every day. We discussed how even well-meaning gyms are fertile ground for stigma and bias to thrive. Examples like the lack of plus-size promotional clothing and the sales-person's assumption that weight loss is a goal of a new gym member with obesity are unintentional, yet real examples of weight bias.

Furthermore, we discussed the biology of weight and obesity, the psychology of health behavior change, and taught specific strategies in both verbal and non-verbal cues for helping the fitness staff get closer to the #nojudgment atmosphere they strive to provide. We are so grateful to the Crunch Fitness Director, Jobei-Wan Gazhette, for his openness and support of this program. If you'd like to learn more about our program or if you have experienced weight bias at a gym and you'd like to talk more about it, reach out. We'd be happy to talk to you.

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