Growing up as the fat kid in her neighborhood on Long Island, 36-year-old Morit Summers hated who she saw in the mirror.
She weighed over 200 pounds and doctors put her on fad diets and weight loss surgery. This only worsened his state of mind.
Then, when she was 14, her family hired a personal trainer who worked with her on strength training and movement. She became stronger and her self-esteem improved. But training didn’t put her on the path to being a skinny gym rat.
Instead, it set her on a path to helping other people achieve their health and fitness goals without worrying about a number on the scale.
“I have no idea what my weight is. I haven’t been on a scale in three years. It’s a toxic place,” Summers, now a certified trainer, told the Post. The 5-foot-6 powerhouse inches estimated it to be somewhere in the 250 pound range, and that’s fine for her and her customers.
“If your goal is to be shredded, zero body fat, and cry during your workout, I’m not the trainer for you,” Summers said.
People looking to get strong and healthy — but not obsessed with losing weight — are turning to great personal trainers, online and offline. In 2017, Summers opened the Form Fitness gym in Brooklyn Heights, where she’s trained more than 100 clients, including curvaceous model Ashley Graham. A recent TikTok video of Summers doing jumping jacks to a remixed hip-hop track alone garnered over 561,000, while the #PlusSizeTrainer hashtag has over 4.6 million likes.
“Not everyone’s goal is to be skinny when they walk into a gym,” said Summers, who charges $150 for a single session. “Most people just want to feel better. They want their body to feel healthy and strong.
Summers has come under fire from cyberbullies who have called her ‘fat’ and hatefully wonder why anyone would want to train with someone who looks like her, but her larger physique is precisely why some are flocking towards her.
“Many of my clients come to see me because I look like them. I also have a belly,” she said. “I know what they’re going through.”
Sarah Taylor, a 38-year-old trainer in Toronto, also uses her struggles with weight and self-esteem to connect with clients.
“I know what it’s like to absolutely hate yourself. I know what it’s like to train three hours a day, six days a week and throw up after every workout because you hate yourself,” said Taylor, who weighs about 250 pounds and is 5-foot-11.
While working at a commercial gym before becoming a coach in 2018, Taylor recalled being fat-shamed by a woman who gave her a dirty look and asked, “‘Do you medical clearance to exercise here?'”
The incident, while hurtful, inspired her professional fitness journey.
“What I’ve learned and what I tell my clients is that you can’t change yourself if you hate yourself,” Taylor said. “The only way to see real change is to truly love yourself.”
She preaches self-appreciation during her weekly 60-minute group workout that she hosts virtually through her own fitness app for a monthly subscription of $55. Workouts include upper body, lower body, and core strength training routines. For each exercise, she offers modifications for users who are uncomfortable or unable to complete a full movement. Under his tutelage, a person’s weight is never discussed.
“I am a personal trainer. I happen to exist in a plus size body,” she said. “My approach is very different from that of a typical personal trainer, because my goal is not to inspire people to lose weight, but to empower women to feel good about themselves.”
Plus-size Las Vegas trainer Jessica Goins never discusses the scale with her clients, either. She doesn’t make them do a lot of cardio training, or force people to track their food intake.
Instead, she kicks off each of her virtual exercise classes hosted via Zoom by putting her clients in a positive mindset through open dialogue about their physical, mental and emotional challenges.
“We start each session by talking about how they feel,” said Goins, 33. “We work on all the hurdles, whether it’s mindset, nutrition or how they feel about themselves. And then after that we go into training.
For Goins, a recovering bulimic, having a renewed mindset helped her overcome her disorder.
“My goal as a trainer is to ensure that my clients are healthy: body, mind and soul,” she said. “It’s not just about losing weight.”
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