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Entries in overweight (2)


Gym is open for overweight only

There are women-only gyms and ones that don't allow children. So why not one that caters to only the overweight population?

Downsize Fitness is only open to those who are 50 or more pounds overweight. Founder Francis Wisnewski said he started the chain because he has always been heavy and was intimidated when going to the gym.

To help combat issues overweight gym-goers may have, the clubs do not have mirrors, the windows to the outside are fogged and the machines are made for larger individuals.

For more, check out the Associated Press story.


Should all employees in the industry be in great shape?

Tex McIver, Justin Tamsett, Gary Klenchiski and Emily Liskow discuss a touchy subject for this week's Best Practices.

Q. “How do you handle an overweight staff member that may be hindering the message we try to convey about health and wellness?"

A. Fitcorp is committed to employing talented people and supporting them to achieve their highest potential. Our employees should reflect the diversity of our customers, markets and communities where we operate; and their diverse capabilities enable Fitcorp to anticipate and meet our customers’ needs. That means, we treat all employees with respect and dignity.

It is not our job to judge or discriminate- rather to help and encourage our employees, just like our members, to engage in a fitness regimen that is right for them. 

Emily Liskow
Director of Sales & Marketing


and Gary Klencheski
President & CEO

A:  This is one of the toughest aspects of a fitness business: looking the part. I think this must be handled super delicately. You cannot discriminate and there are many fit and overweight people. I would suggest that you have an informal discussion over a cup of coffee. I think you should be honest and fair. I would suggest not being accusatory. Rather take a counselling approach as there maybe factors that you are unaware of that have resulted in this situation. 

I have clients who in their job description outline that ALL staff will have an annual fitness test. They emphasise the importance of your physical shape. I have other clients who have solid (maybe termed overweight) staff. So there is a place for all shapes and sizes. For some people a larger staff member could be far less intimidating. 

The key is for you to be comfortable having this discussion and it not being a discriminatory conversation. 

Justin Tamsett
Active Management

A. As we all know, obesity is becoming a big problem in our society and in the workplace. To combat this, employers are aggressively implementing health and wellness programs into the workplace to encourage healthier lifestyles and to improve employee morale. However, employers must make sure they are not requiring or making employees feel coerced into participating in these programs. The key is to encourage participation, and inform the employees of the long term benefits for them engaging in a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, when dealing with an overweight staff member who might be avoiding the health and wellness message, employers should make sure they are sensitive and understanding towards that employee’s situation.

Our advice is to remind the employee of the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle, such as: being able to be more active with children and family members; better efficiency in the workplace; longer life span; being less susceptible to adverse health effects, and increased self-confidence. Furthermore, we would emphasize the rewards or incentives available for participating in these programs. For example, giving premium discounts on group health plans for employees who achieve a cholesterol level less than 200. But be sure that your message does not come across too harshly or create the appearance that the Company is unhappy about the employee’s lack of participation. You need to ensure that the employee does not feel discriminated against or retaliated against for his or her lack of participation. On that point, employers should also make sure that their wellness programs are in compliance with federal laws such as HIPAA, the ADA, Title VII, and GINA.[1]  It is best to check with your labor and employment attorney, or our authors, if you have any questions about these laws or implementing these programs. 

[1] (HIPAA) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, (ADA) American’s with Disabilities Act, (Title VII) Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964, (GINA) Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

Tex McIver
Senior Partner
Fisher & Phillips, LLP


Editor’s Note: One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.