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What is weight-neutral fitness?

Ask an Expert: Karina Inkster

You may have noticed the term “weight-neutral fitness” popping up recently. It’s becoming more and more common – and rightly so!

Weight-neutral fitness means working outside the confines of fat loss or a smaller body size as the main goal of fitness. It rejects weight, size, or BMI as accurate measures of health; this is in line with scientific evidence, which shows that body size alone (without taking other factors into account) does not correlate with health outcomes.

Exercising solely to lose weight often leads to restrictive diets, food and body preoccupation, or a damaged relationship to working out (e.g. exercising just to “burn off” calories).

Weight-neutral coaches work with their clients on developing long-term health habits, fostering a movement practice that adds enjoyment and increases quality of life, and creating an eating pattern that supports their fitness and health goals. These things may result in weight loss, but they’ll increase a client’s health regardless of changes in body weight. Also, these practices are within someone’s direct control, whereas the number on the scale is not.

Weight-neutral fitness also means making sure we’re not stigmatizing or discriminating against folks in larger bodies. This could include questioning what we think a personal trainer “should” look like, not making assumptions about the commitment or self-discipline levels of people in larger bodies, not engaging in “fat phobic” discourse, and valuing bodies of all sizes.

Karina Inkster is a qathet region health and fitness coach, author of five books, and host of the No-B.S. Vegan podcast.

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