[Episode 17] The Ugly Truth About The Fitness Industry

by | May 22, 2020

In this episode we’ll be looking at the toxic culture of the fitness industry and the enforcement of gender stereotyping, harmful body shaming and policing of people’s identities and lifestyles.

To say that there is some toxic messaging used by the fitness industry would be an understatement. This is not to say that every person in the industry is preaching harmful rhetoric, but yeah, most of them are.

There is a very large percentage of trainers out there who express the view that being ‘overweight’ is something to be ashamed of and that it’s something you should change about yourself.

This view is layered on top of the discriminatory attitude constantly pushed by the industry and many trainers regarding people who are trans, gender diverse or queer; people of colour; people who are differently abled and people from lower socioeconomic brackets.

It is very NOT ok.

How is a person supposed to feel good about getting moving when all they may be seeing or hearing is the message that they are wrong to be who they are or how they are.

I’ve had folks tell me that they want to train at home before they join a gym so they look fitter, have lost weight, have some muscles before they go.

Going to a gym, training studio or accessing a trainer are a right everyone should have, not a privilege accessible only to the few.

Figuring out how you want to feel, what things you want to be able to do in life and how you want to see yourself are all important questions to ask yourself when you do decide to begin moving.

Moving your body needs to be done on your terms. You are not obligated to fulfil anyone’s expectations of who you are or how you should exist.

If a gym or trainer is telling you that you need to lose weight regardless of your physical size or what your actual desires are when it comes to being active, I’d strongly recommend finding someone more affirming to help you.


Dibs PT

Train with Becca

Rooted Resistance


Rooted Resistance Instagram profile screenshot


Decolonizing Fitness

Non Normative Body Club

Non Gendered Fitness

Pink Mantaray


Pink Mantaray Instagram profile screenshot


Pony Club Gym

Black Girl Pilates

Alien Athlete

Q Grit Fitness

Non Conforming Fitness


Non Normative Fitness instagram profile screen shot


Harlan Lifts

These are just some of the folks around. There are many more out there but if you are in need of some affirming, body positive, supportive people that celebrate all bodies, all identities and all abilities then these profiles are an amazing place to start.

The views pushed by the fitness industry, trainers and society as a whole are super toxic. They are fuelled by a patriarchal society that diminishes any person that isn’t cis-gendered, heterosexual, white and male.

Breaking out of the engrained cycle of toxic shaming of our bodies, identities and lives can be tough and takes time.

Trauma caused by these experiences shapes our whole identities, so it’s a process. Take it slow and be gentle with yourself.

Our subconscious brain doesn’t distinguish what is truth from what is a story that we are telling ourselves. Stories like our bodies need to be changed, that we need to be attractive to be accepted by people, that we are lesser if we don’t “fit in” to the standard social construct of western culture.

It believes everything we think. So we need to make sure we are telling it things that are helpful.

When our subconscious believes positive affirming things we say about ourselves, it becomes easier to begin to change the harmful stories we tell about ourselves. Replacing them with ones that help to build us up.

The more often you start saying a nice thing about you, the easier it becomes to believe the nice things and begin to see that the negative messaging out there isn’t yours to take on.

Reminder: You are an excellent human, exactly as you are.

What is considered attractive, acceptable or desirable is totally subjective.

If you truly struggle to believe that you can say a positive thing about yourself. Try something neutral instead. You could start with something like, I like the colour (insert your favourite colour/s here). The colour X makes me feel (insert neutral/positive feeling here) or even I have eyebrows, maybe you don’t have eyebrows and you could say I don’t have eyebrows.

Just stick to little facts.

Bowie Stover Thinking Pose

Bowie Stover

Pronouns: they/them

My passion to help others through developing an active and healthy lifestyle, along with my desire to contribute as much as I can back to our queer community, has led me to co-found Non Gendered Fitness. To be a small part of your day that makes a HUGE impact on your life would be one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences that I could hope to have.

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Get in touch

Got any questions about this episode?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!

Would you like to learn about how we may be able to support you?
Feel free to go to our contact page and send us a message.

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You can also find me (Bowie), Non Gendered Fitness (NGF) and Non Gendered Fitness (NGF) on instagram and Facebook at the links below.

Bowie: @the.no.t.enbie
NGF: @non_gendered_fitness



Non Gendered Fitness FB Page

Non Binary Fitness Coach Bowie Stover kneeling with two kettlebells

Bowie Stover
Kettlebell and Movement Coach

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