How would you move if your body was celebrated, and movement was weight-neutral and loads of fun? During this isolation period, it can be hard to find the passion and energy to encourage movement, especially if that movement comes from platforms that see your body as a problem. Not everyone can get on a Peloton bike and move in a way that makes them feel good.
Movement should be joyful and doesn’t need to be focused on weight loss. Cristina Hoyt, MS, a clinical nutritionist and body image coach, asserts that linking movement and weight loss is actually seriously harmful.
“If you don’t see a scale change, you think the movement is worthless or not right for you—when it really should be about getting into your body, moving, and having fun. Otherwise it becomes a chore and leads to us further shaming ourselves and monitoring our food intake,” Hoyt says.
Body positive educator and article author Chaya Milchtein
Digging through Google, however, trying to find options can be triggering to some and entirely unpleasant for most everyone else. It seems like the entire industry is focused on weight loss alone.
Hoyt, however, is clear about the benefits that movement brings. “When you remove the weight loss component, you’re able to find activities and movement that you genuinely enjoy and actually reap the benefits—like stress release, joy, endorphin release, etcetera,” she says.
I want people to know what is available to them and have access to those options easily. “Joy in movement is all about what brings me joy and what best serves me,” Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista (TheCurvyFashionista.com) shared with me. “I walk my rescue dog Mocha two to three times a day. Since the pandemic, I go for slightly longer walks than normal. It does help me disconnect and be present.”
These days, Denee is also staying active through her love of choreographed dance by “watching the YouTube tutorials and two-stepping with my family via Zoom.” You too can stay active on your terms. If dancing is not your thing and you don’t have a dog to walk, there are outlets, trainers, and influencers who will guide you on various ways of staying active. These platforms often offer accommodations for different movement abilities and skill levels, so try out a few to find one that best fits your needs.
The Fitness Marshall and his body-positive backup dancers
THE FITNESS MARSHALL
If you love to dance to the latest pop music, The Fitness Marshall has you covered. Join via a YouTube subscription ($4.99 monthly) and you’ll get access to all the hottest dance workouts. Founder Caleb Marshall gives you—with the help of many various-sized backup dancers—the ultimate dance experience, accessible to multiple fitness levels. (TheFitnessMarshall.org)
BIG FIT GIRL
Louise Green founded Big Fit Girl, which offers weight-neutral exercise videos that are inclusive of different abilities. Workouts include options for people who have various exercise equipment as well as for folks who don’t have any. I especially love that there are options for people who want to exercise standing or sitting. (BigFitGirlFitness.vhx.tv)
WALK AT HOME
Body-positive lifestyle blogger Marcy Cruz (FearlesslyJustMe.net) says she loves to walk and uses movement as selfcare. Living in New York City and being immunocompromised, she’s turned to videos on her Amazon Fire Stick from Walk at Home by Leslie Sansone. (Sansone also has a YouTube channel if you don’t have a Fire Stick.)
“After 30 minutes, I was surprised to learn that I walked two miles! Her videos are fun and very upbeat, allowing me to get my walk in right there in my living room,” Cruz says. (WalkAtHome.com)
Dianne Bondy is focused on making yoga accessible to all bodies
YOGA FOR EVERYONE
Dianne Bondy is a world-renowned yoga instructor and author of Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body. For a small monthly fee, you can have access to all of her workouts online (YogaForEveryone.tv). Bondy also has lots of free content on her YouTube channel, available to anyone at any time. (DianneBondyYoga.com)
The Joyn app is the convergence of the Health at Every Size movement (SizeDiversityAndHealth.org), technology, and loads of workout variations from yoga to dance. New teachers are added monthly, and these classes specifically cater to different ability levels and needs.
At the start of the pandemic, Dakotah Wallace (@QueerInaMirror) started using Joyn. They love that trainers are diverse and clearly care about what they’re doing. “I can move my body in a way that poses little threat of injury that I’ve worried about in other fitness classes,” Wallace says. (Joyn.co)
The author of Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body, Jessamyn Stanley teaches yoga all over the world. You can subscribe to learn yoga from her virtually through Underbelly Yoga. If you need a little inspiration, Stanley also has a popular YouTube channel and shares short clips on her Instagram feed. (TheUnderbelly.com)
Decolonizing Fitness founder Ilya shares his expertise to help usher in a new era of fitness
As a Black nonbinary trans-masculine person, Ilya says he was “fed up” with spaces that “were unable and unwilling to provide me with the affirming support I need as a trans person in a larger body who also carries chronic injuries and medical conditions.”
And so IIya started Decolonizing Fitness using his over a decade of experience as an ACE-certified medical exercise specialist and physical therapy assistant. Workout videos are available on his Patreon channel and you can also hire Ilya to work with one-on-one virtually. (DecolonizingFitness.com)
ROZ THE DIVA
I’ve been a mega-fan of Roz the Diva for years. As seen in the documentary Dangerous Curves, Roz Mays is a brilliant pole dancer and personal trainer who is an all-around badass. Usually, Mays teaches pole dancing in New York City but at this time, she’s hosting virtual Zoom workouts that have no set price—you tip what you can. You can also support her work and have access to workouts via her Patreon channel. (RozTheDiva.com)
NO BS ACTIVE
If you like your workouts short, sweet, and often, No BS Active is for you. Five custom workouts weekly focus on different parts of your body. Each workout is only 24 minutes long. You also get one recipe a week and access to a body-positive Facebook group for subscribers. No BS = no body shaming. (NoBSActive.com)
Author and founder of Underbelly Yoga, Jessamyn Stanley
BODY POSITIVE YOGA
Body Positive Yoga helped Mulyssah Mickmurray (@ChevronPrintsAndFlorals) not only learn yoga but also gain the ability to pass on her knowledge to yoga instructors. The platform inspired her confidence to move the way she needed, unapologetically.
“Amber [Karnes] from Body Positive Yoga gave me instrumental body modifications to safely and effectively move my body both at home while practicing online with her and in the studio in my hometown,” says Mickmurray. “Prior to my discovery of Body Positive Yoga, I hadn’t found a single local class that understood the intricacies of a fat body in movement.” (BodyPositiveYoga.com)
However you choose to stay active and whatever your abilities and activity level, you’ll find these platforms a great starting point for staying active at home. It’s all about moving joyfully and in a way that makes you feel great.