Gym only accepts people with 50 pounds to lose

Staff - - 01/06/2012
Success Stories

You know the feeling. You’re at the gym, but you’re out of shape and patience. As you look to your side you see a human gazelle effortlessly prancing up and down on a treadmill. Well, those showoffs can have their gym.

In Chicago and Las Vegas, the heavy set has theirs. Downsize Fitness is “specifically designed for overweight individuals” according to the gym’s website.

It’s a new twist on membership health clubs: New members have to be at least 50 pounds overweight. If you lose the weight through the gym’s program, you’ll stick out: Patrons will be given special red shirts designating them as graduates.

The gym was brought to Vegas by Francis Wisniewski, a hedge fund manager who was desperate to shed pounds. “Gyms aren’t conducive to overweight people,” Wisniewski told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. “I felt uncomfortable, that people were staring at me.”

The gyms, opened last fall, take the focus off people-watching and put it back on exercise, he said.

In Chicago, the facility’s windows are frosted. The door is locked. Inside, there’s a lot whole of burning going on, according to Time Out Chicago Editor Frank Sennett, who’s done the program.

There’s also a nutritional component to the regimen. “Several small meals a day, mostly packed with vegetables, some lean protein, and carbs only right after a workout,” Sennett said.

Read: Are health ads targeting 'fat kids' too much?

In Chicago, one of the personal trainers is Jason Burns, a former NFL player who has “crafted a holistic approach to wellness that includes a balance of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle,” according to the gym’s website.

"I want to cry sometimes at how it changed my life," said Tara Lawton Lawton, 42, a 280-pound Chicago woman who has lost 20 pounds, according to the Chicago Tribune. "My body is responding positively to being pushed."

But this weight-specific athletic club got us to thinking: Would you join a gym that excluded different shapes and sizes? Or are you motivated by club members that walk around like Adonis?

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