Gyms target bigger clients; some ban skinny ones - FOX 32 News Chicago

Gyms target bigger clients; some ban skinny ones

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It's hard for people to stay motivated and keep going to the gym, and it's especially hard for people who are on the bigger side. That's why a gym chain in Canada is focusing specifically on them.

"Body Exchange Fitness and Adventure" takes only clients who are plus-sized women. If you're a gal who's skinny -- you'll be turned away. The trainer who started body exchange said many women are scared or intimidated by other gyms. And she said hers provides a key ingredient: camaraderie.

Gyms for bigger people are a growing part of the fitness market. "Downsize Fitness" in Chicago opened last October near downtown and works with people trying to lose 50 pounds or more.  It helps with nutrition as well.

The place is run by Jason Burns, a former NFL running back.  Talk to his clients, and you'll see how powerful this concept is; Chris Almaguer lives on the Southwest Side and he's been riding the train for an hour to get here. Since he joined six months ago, he's lost 90 pounds.
"It's a comfortable place," Almaguer said. "It feels great. I feel like I don't have to be hiding any more."

"With that comfort comes the ability to train hard, so I've seen some of the most focused people," Burns said. "It's life-changing."
And here's an irony: Heavy folks may have more in common with thin people than they think. At another Chicago gym, Hi-Fi Fitness, the owner told us that just about everyone at any gym has insecurities.

"A lot of what happens in a gym is very visual," said Gregg Shipp. "It's very psychological. You're putting yourself out there to be compared in a very vulnerable position."

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