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Fat and Fit

Sarah at Single, Fat, and Happy offers these tips for how to treat a fat person in a fitness class.

1. Don’t assume fat people are necessarily beginners.

2. If I wanted a personal cheerleader, I would have brought one to class.

3. I don’t need modifications for everything.

4. Don’t assume we’re trying to lose weight.

5. Do treat us like human beings, deserving of basic decency and respect.

Sarah’s not an elite competitive athlete, but track and field championships, as well as the Olympics, regularly feature athletes who look like Sarah (or are bigger) — like the woman in the middle of this photo (from Getty Images), shot putter Savannah Sanitoa. After she missed the qualification mark in shot put in the Berlin World Championship in 2009, Sanitoa opted to take up the wildcard on offer in the 100m. She didn’t win, but she didn’t come in last, either.

So don’t make too many assumptions about people on the basis of their appearance — in a fitness class or anywhere else, for that matter. It’s the decent, humane approach, and people are full of surprises.

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