So what’s a Body Positive Gym all about anyways?
Check out a recent interview with Sarah Taylor — creator of Fitness By Sarah Taylor — and Kelly Cutrara of Global News Radio last week.
Listen to the Audio HERE
Kelly: Toronto just got to a gym for plus sized women and we read a little bit more into the story, the gym is fitness by Sarah Taylor and I think everyone who walks into a gym to try and change their life, whether it be the goal of losing weight, the goal of getting fit, the goal of just changing your habits, it can be very intimidating. For people that are plus size even more so a lot of them don’t know what to do and they may just get in, spend the day and never return again. I want to talk to Sarah Taylor about how she’s changing fitness for plus size people in the city. Welcome to the show. Sarah, good to have you on.
Sarah: Thank you so much for having me.
Kelly: It’s good to have you here. You are a plus size model and a personal trainer. You were crowned Miss Plus Canada in 2014 and you now have two of these fitness by Sarah Taylors in the city of Toronto. But tell us a little bit about your philosophy and how it differs from other gyms.
Sarah: Oh, for sure. So first of all, thank you again so much for having me. I’m a little bit different, I’m not just focused on fitness, so I work with women on their confidence and self-love. It doesn’t matter how much weight you want to lose, if that’s your focus and you don’t fix who you are, you’re still the same person. So for me, my philosophy is take the focus off weight loss, work on learning to love who you are, build your confidence and strength which means body, mind, and soul. So that means learning to love ourselves, which can include activities like affirmations and being mindful to actually moving our bodies and feeling better and making our measuring stick, feeling good about ourselves rather than having to conform to what society says we’re supposed to look like.
Kelly: So is that judgment, you know, when you’re a plus size and you walk into a gym, is that judgment largely in your head that you feel that people are looking at you thinking, come on, give it up?
Sarah: I think it’s a bit of both. I’ve been plus sized most of my life and I was intimidated going into a gym thinking everyone was looking at me and there are some opinions that people have about plus size people and that they can’t be fit. And so there is a bit of that and what society says, but there’s also — now I can walk into a gym as a plus size woman and I’m confident as anything and it doesn’t bother me whatever anybody else thinks. And I can work out in any gym and teach other women to do the same thing whether it’s in my gym or not.
Kelly: Why is the gym just for women? Because there’s a lot of plus sized men that I’m sure will deal with this as well.
Sarah: Yes. So, first I do want to clarify that my gym is not just for plus sized women, it is for women in general, just because, women of all shapes and sizes are self-conscious, so dealing with women in every area. I have a personal story where I actually came from an abusive relationship and was divorced before 30. And so a lot of the things that I talk about come from that place and being super vulnerable, as a woman it can often be really — you can feel even more insecure when there’s men around. So it’s about making women feel completely safe and that’s where I have experienced as a woman myself and I can foster that vulnerability and that safety for women as they walk through my doors so they feel confident in the space and know that they’re in a place that they’re valued and to work towards their goals and feel safe to do so.
Kelly: If you don’t work on that confidence, in your opinion, are you sunk before you even begin?
Sarah: Yes, in my opinion, I mean, when I was 21, I decided I was going to quote unquote get skinny and lost 80 pounds in six months by working out three hours a day, six days a week and threw up after every workout. Got to my lowest weight I ever was, I hated who I was. I’m still not confident. And around that time is when I met my now ex-husband and ended up in an abusive situation where he was controlling, unfaithful, emotionally and sexually abusive and I ended up in a worse spot than I was. So it really is addressing that self-love piece that will help you live a successful life, body, mind and soul.
Kelly: Okay. So do you have counselors within your gym as well that can talk you through it or how do you do this?
Sarah: So I walked within personally through some of the things that I’ve done. I’ve kind of stay grounded at the 12 pillars of self-love and confidence and there’s things I’ve personally walked through which are the other things that I give in conjunction with membership to the gym. So we focus on three class, for example, during our stretching time, we have a time of reflection where I often pose a question, and women have the opportunity to share in a safe space together about what they think about that question. So for today’s question was on gratitude, so that’s something you’re thankful for today. So being a little bit more mindful in that area and then I do workshops with women and teaching them how to get to a place of self-love and confidence based on the things that I’ve learned and have personally walked through.
Kelly: How many people do you have coming to your gyms?
Sarah Between both locations, about 40 to 50 people so far. Again, we just opened up the Toronto location three weeks ago.
Kelly: And where’s that?
Sarah: We are located on Bloor Street, 693, Bloor street, West and its right across from Christie stations that super accessible right off the TTC line.
Kelly: Yes, that’s my old stomping grounds. So you have great group classes, like really interesting names, so it’s not like body pump and things like that. And I know that’s a good life thing, but maybe you play around with some welcoming names, maybe highlight some of those.
Sarah: Yes. So for example, today was admirable arms, so I try and take the focus on just a body part and really trying to empower women in so many different ways and calling it a little bit, something a little bit different to make you think a little bit outside the box and be mindful of how beautiful your body is and how strong you are and core competence and cardio. So not just working on your core and your cardio, but like let’s work on your confidence as well. So we’ve got themes throughout the week and throughout each day to really help challenge women to really focus on that body, mind and soul aspect because it really the whole package. That’s who we are as women.
Kelly: If people want to find out more about your gym, where can they go?
Check out the Feature on BlogTO as well — HERE