A body positive fitness space is so important to me. I’m not interested in hearing that I now earned my french fries because I worked out hard enough or that I need to burn those calories to get my bikini body for summer. My favorite quote sums up my feelings about exercise perfectly: “Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do; not a punishment for what you ate.”
That is why I continue to be such a huge fan of Uplift Studios in NYC. I’ve been attending classes at this women’s only fitness studio for about two years now. And I have never ever heard a single instructor talk about exercising as a way burn calories and I’ve thankfully never heard anything about weight loss in their classes either. Rather, they focus on being strong and empowered and that is one of the biggest reasons I love them so much. The instructors always encourage you to push yourselves but to also go at your own pace and listen to your body which is so important.Jess Mosher (pictured in these photos) is one of my favorite instructors at Uplift. I remember the first time I heard her say, “For all those time you were told to shrink, don’t be afraid to take up space!” I can’t put into words how powerful it felt to hear that. I know that as women, the message that we need to be smaller and take up as little space as possible starts from the time we’re children. Getting the opposite message was an amazing and empowering reminder that we are allowed to take up space, that we deserve to take up space, and that we are just fine as we are. Last year, I went to a new workout studio for the first time. My weight was higher than it is currently because my weight fluctuates sometimes. The instructor looked me up and down and said there are modifications for those who need it. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable and humiliated at that point but we started the class.The instructor called out advance moves for each exercise, and what do you know, I was the only one in the room able to do those advanced moves. I saw her looking over in surprise; what a shocker, a bigger girl can be strong and fit too!
I’ve never felt judged for my body size at Uplift and unfortunately, I can’t say the same about any of the other studios I regularly attend. The lack of assumptions of what my body can and cannot do when I’m larger makes Uplift the one safe space for me to exercise.
They have a wide variety of classes and there’s something for everyone. I love their strength class which combines full body strength training with two tabata-style intervals to boost your heart rate. I’m excited to try their new class, Strength X, which is a circuit-style strength training session in smaller groups.
At the end of the day, exercise offers so many benefits. It increases bone density, muscle mass, and range of mobility; all of which significantly reduce risk of injury. It also increases lung capacity and makes your heart stronger. It feels great when you can run up a flight of stairs and schlep groceries without it knocking the wind out of you! And of course it boosts endorphins and relieves stress and as a psychotherapist, I know just how important that is!
I find that when we use exercise as a weight loss tool or a way to earn food, it quickly becomes old and more often than not, hard to stick with. And that’s just sad because exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself to prolong your life and live optimally, regardless of your size.
I personally favor classes because I push myself in a way that I might not on my own. I also appreciate that my form is being watched. I keep coming back to Uplift because of their killer workouts in a safe, body positive fitness space. But what works for me might be very different than what works for you and that’s absolutely ok. Tell me your favorite way to workout!
Photography thanks to Kelly West, check out her instagram and facebook page.
Star leggings: silk knockout leggings or lux knockout leggings My favorite sports bra: Wacoal Underwire Sport Bra Blue leggings: sold out but love these: colorblock 7/8 tight Cute plus size leggings: Fabletics xxs- 3x, Nike epic lux or colorblock compression leggings Sneakers: Nike Free RN Flyknit c/o
Check out my three favorite workout studios in NYC including Uplift of course, right here as well as my other favorite, Fhitting Room.