Roz Mays, also known as “The Diva”, has been on a roll lately! And I’m proud to say that she is definitely one of my pole sisters. Actually, she is one of the people I encountered in my very first pole dancing class in 2011, who encouraged me to keep going just by her existence. I was inspired by how confident she was, and how good her moves were, but that’s just me…and probably most people. However, there are unfortunately many people who have negative views toward anyone who isn’t a size 2. That’s just what it is.
Enter that time that Roz auditioned for America’s Got Talent, where Howard Stern attempted to roast her. He basically told her that she would be seen as a joke and that she was too fat for fitness. Sadly, this isn’t something that Roz hasn’t heard before. Many people seem to believe that fitness is all about size, which actually isn’t the case. There are heavier people who are fit, and there are slim people who aren’t. The other thing is, just because someone seems trim and fit, and actually has muscles, doesn’t mean that their form is correct, or that they’re someone you generally want to train with (there are a lot of trainers and fitness personalities out there who don’t use or teach correct form). Everyone starts somewhere when it comes to working out. Some people (aka the lunks) forget where they used to be and look down on everyone else. Personally, I’d rather train with someone who is humble, fun, and encouraging, and all of the above is exactly what Roz is.
Since that AGT snafu, Roz has been all over the media spreading her message of size diversity. Enter The Doctors. I saw this floating around social media and got super excited. Check it out:
Again, you have to start somewhere. You aren’t too [insert self-deprecating statement here] for fitness. How else do you think you’ll achieve your goals in a healthy way? As cliche as this might sound, haters gon’ hate, but haters don’t have any say in your life. They don’t pay your bills, and they damn sure ain’t gonna sit at the doctors office for you, right? So, get your life and seek out instructors and fitness environments that have your best interests at heart.
Planet Fitness prides themselves on being a judgment-free zone but it seems that they’ve taken this concept too far. I stumbled upon a news story about Tiffany Austin, from the Bay Area, who was told to cover up because her toned body was intimidating. Yes, people actually complained about the woman’s body being scary, according to KTVU.
Austin said she was trying to get back in shape after recovering from a recent car accident, and felt that Planet Fitness would work out. However, her first workout only lasted 15 minutes. She was running on a treadmill at a slow speed, wearing the outfit that you see in the photo above, which I don’t think is bad (especially considering some of the things I’ve seen). Eventually she grew self-conscious because she noticed other people staring at her, and then a staff-member stopped her and said, “excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”
Here’s the full story:
I used to think the Planet Fitness commercials were gross exaggerations of the extreme personality types you come across in the gym but I guess the rumors are true. There are people in the gym who’d rather be seen and judge other people than actually focus on their work out. I’ve been a member of a few gyms and have seen it. That behavior always makes me laugh but most of the time, I encounter more people who are just there to mind their own business.
I prefer lifting and classes, and have been a member at Bally, Crunch, Lucille Roberts and a New York City Parks Gym. Bally was a Lunkhead central meat market. I got hit on a lot and a lot of the people there seemed like their purpose was to get picked up. There was one time when I was doing intervals on a treadmill, where this buff man who had been staring at me since I walked in, stationed himself on a treadmill next to me and kept questioning my various speeds, not realizing what I was doing. Another at Bally, I was doing preacher curls and a PERSONAL TRAINER told me not to do them because I’d get too bulky. WTF! Crunch was cool because I really enjoy their classes but my only beef is that here in NYC their classes are often too crowded for comfort. Lucille Roberts was entirely too girly and didn’t really encourage overall fitness. They were more about weight loss, which I think is vapid. The New York City Parks gym might as well had been Riker’s Island but I digress.
Planet Fitness never appealed to me based on the commercials, especially not the dance one (dance is one of my favorite ways to work out and I like to get down without having to think about who’s intimidated by my presence so that set off a red flag for me). I get that they want to encourage people who may otherwise be too insecure to workout, to stand feel safe and comfortable but isolating one group while judging another doesn’t makes sense–fit-shaming at it’s finest. It’s ironic, considering their tagline is “No Judgment.” I’m absolutely not the fittest person in the world but I prefer places that encourage wellness from a balanced, well-rounded perspective as opposed to environments that keep people at a beginner level.
I got sucked down a rabbit hole on YouTube researching things about Planet Fitness and not only did I discover that they have designated days where they give out free pizza, bagels (BAGELS!), and also have bowls filled with Tootsie Rolls laying around. I believe in a balanced diet and I am not a nutritionist but common fitness knowledge is that pizza can be tricky (you can make healthier variations of it but it’s still not ideal for fast toning and/or weight loss) and bagels are full of empty calories. Let’s not even start on gummy candy. You can eat what you want but is it really productive to eat these things after working out? Shouldn’t we be nourishing our bodies with fruit, vegetables and protein post work out? So, yeah…I do have a problem with that. They also have a Lunk Alarm that goes off whenever people display what they describe as “lunk-like” behavior. One of the things they describe as lunk-like is grunting or breathing to hard while lifting. Huh? Anyone who has done heavy lifting knows that both are unavoidable. You can control the volume but not doing it at all is absolutely ridiculous! One of the things that stuck with me from the trainer who taught me how to lift is that breathing is integral.
Planet Fitness is free to do what they want but they should consider remodeling how they put their plan into action. Perhaps create an environment where those who are more experienced serve as inspiration for those who aren’t. The Lunk Alarm could still be fun for actual meat heads but nitpicking every little thing, including the way someone’s body looks, is ridiculous. Isn’t part of the point of working out to achieve your desired figure?
In related news, none of this stops me from being amused by their policies. Like I said, I got sucked down a rabbit hole on YouTube where people were ranting against PF. In one case, someone said that a location removed squat racks because people were intimidated, and in other situations there were several people trying to make the alarm go off.
It. Was. Hilarious. I almost want a buddy pass to PF so that I can try to set off the Lunk Alarm too.
“My buddy has a membership there and asked if I could show him an arm workout(never being in a PF, I did not know what to expect). I picked up the 75lb DBs and started hammer curling, people went up and complained to the front desk that I was too itimidating! Really? i was still warming up! jesus … hahah.”
Back when I worked for VIBE magazine, I interviewed a woman who got illegal butt injections and was fascinated upon discovering that she knew the potential liabilities involved but didn’t care because she wanted what she felt was a better body, for cheap. This woman was extremely lucky because at the time we spoke, she was a few years removed from her surgery but we were just a few weeks after a major sting that landed to person who injected her with calk (possibly), in jail for murder. A few women that this person inject had died.
The woman I spoke with, who chose to remain anonymous, explained that she went to a backroom operation in a salon to get her injections and she wasn’t exactly sure what was inside her, she only had an idea. Prior to her “surgery” she said she had a nice body and had worked as an urban model but felt her natural booty just wasn’t enough. Her desire for a bigger rump was so strong that she was willing to get it done illegally because it was cheap. Illegal butt injects cost hundreds versus a few thousand and so there went that. This was a grown woman. At the time we spoke, she was 29.
I was reminded of the aforementioned story by Vice magazine. They created a documentary surrounding the disturbing practice of plumping butts. The embed code wouldn’t show up here but follow this link to watch the full thing.
I’m sharing it because I can’t spread the message enough that it’s important to make peace with how you look. There are absolutely things I’d modify about my body if I could (I want a breast reduction), but I’d rather do it in a way that is safe. It’s not worth looking good if you’re going to be 6ft under.
Meet Sarah Massey. Her butt measures at about 7 feet in circumference and she’s perfectly ok with it. I appreciate people who are genuinely confident and content in who they are. That’s the type of vibe I’m getting from Miss Massey. I wish they had shown younger pictures of Massey and got into her upbringing. I wonder how she got so confident. I’m also curious about what her workout goals are they didn’t go into too much detail there. So many questions. I am fascinated.
Beyonce´ released the latest vignette in a video series where she explains various elements that went into creating the audio and visuals for her latest album. In “Self-Titled Part 4 -Liberation,” she talks about putting her sexuality on display and coming into herself as a new mom who still wants to feel confident and sexy, and as a woman who still has dreams. So many people have had opinions about her work and her motives that it’s nice to hear where her head was during the creative process.
The video opens with Bey talking about the process for “Partition” (one of my favorite songs). Assuming you’ve heard her album by now, and I really hope you did, a lot of the songs and corresponding visuals are sexually suggestive and racy but not raunchy just for the sake of getting attention. Beyonce´revealed that while she is comfortable with being sexual, it was embarrassing to be so open about it during the recording process but she got over it.
For the video, she recreated a Crazy Horse routine that inspired her years ago. She and Jay-Z went to a Crazy Horse show (in Paris) on the night they got engaged and she was so inspired by the sexiness of the dancers that she wanted to be a part of it, so she enlisted them for the video.
Get into cabaret style entertainment!
She also addressed changes she went through once she gave birth to Blue Ivy and working hard to feel normal again postpartum. She doesn’t believe that mom’s should be frumpy and boring and I agree. I’m not a mother but there also seems to be similar belief systems in place when it comes to wives. I’ve seen a lot of women lose themselves to relationships whether it’s marriage or motherhood. They let their bodies go, they give up on their happiness and don’t nurture their own desires, and become people who are constantly saying “I wish I could,” or “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” I realize that the aforementioned life changes are critical aspects of a woman’s life but I feel it’s also important to maintain elements of your individuality to help foster optimal happiness for all parties involved.
Beyonce´talks about this toward the end of her video when she explains her 195 lb weight gain during pregnancy. She lost 65 lbs following the baby and she felt proud and accomplished, like anyone who loses weight or achieves their optimal physique should.
“I wanted to show my body. I wanted to show that you can have a child and you can work hard and you can get your body back. I know finding my sensuality, getting back into my body, being proud of growing up, it was important to me that I expressed that in this music, because i know that there are so many women that feel the same thing after they give birth,” she says. “You can have your child and you can sill have fun and still be sexy, and still have dreams and still live for yourself. I don’t at all have any shame about being sexual and I’m not embarrassed and I don’t feel like I have to protect that side of me because I do believe that sexuality is a power that we all have.”
Say that again, please!
What she’s saying speaks to me as a 31-year-old. One of the changes I’m experiencing in my 30s is a new found sense of confidence that I didn’t have in my 20s. I heard a lot of women mention this transformation in the past but there’s nothing like experiencing it.
I love her album because it exudes self-confidence, embraces femininity and represents the power of sensuality. I’m still quirky and awkward at times but I’m a work in progress. Again, if you haven’t heard Bey’s new album yet (assuming you’re a fan of pop music) then you should. There’s a lot of good material on there for dance playlists and it’s especially pole dancing gold.
In related news, I may have to make that trip to Paris so I can check out Crazy Horse. However, in the meantime, I guess I could check out some local cabaret and burlesque classes.