Big Folks Exercise and Fitness Resources FAQ

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Jun 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/8/98

Archive-name: fat-acceptance-faq/fitness
Posting-Frequency: monthly to *.answers, bi-weekly to and
Last-modified: September 2, 1997
Version: 1.9

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
about Exercise and Fitness Resources for Big Folks

This document contains information about exercise and fitness equipment
and clothing for fat people.

To make it clear, this is not a missive from the lifestyle police
trying to get all fat people to exercise, but a source of information
for the fat folks who do want to exercise.

If you don't find what you're looking for here, try one of the related
FAQs (see question B1 for a complete list). In particular, try the
Sports and Activities FAQ for information about specific exercises.


Recent Changes

Added a supplier of kayaks for big folks.
Added a dance class for women in the Oakland area
Added a fit and fat web page.



SECTION A: FAQ about exercise and fitness for fat people

A1) What home exercise equipment is suitable for fat folks?

A2) What exercise videos are there available for fat folks?

A3) Are there are books about fatness and fitness that don't think
the two words are mutually exclusive?

A4) Where can I get sports clothing and equipment from?
A4-1) in Australia
A4-2) in Canada
A4-3) in the UK
A4-4) in the USA

A5) Are there any organizations, people, workshops or classes concerned with
fitness for fat folks?
A5-1) in Canada
A5-2) in the UK
A5-3) in the USA

A6) Are there any helpful scientific references about fitness?

A7) Are there any online resources about exercising for plus-sizes?

SECTION B: Information about this FAQ

B1) Are there other related FAQs?
B2) Posting information
B3) Availability of the FAQ
B4) Contributors


SECTION A: FAQ about exercise and fitness for fat people

A1) What home exercise equipment is suitable for fat folks?

Check out the manufacturer's rating. Some pieces of equipment are only
built to handle people up to 210lbs.

Some people like Nordic-Trac ski machines, because they're easy on the
knees, adjustable pace, doesn't take up much space, and you can do
other things at the same time. It's also quiet, and seems solid.
One recommended one is the NordicTrak WalkFit 5000, which has 6
inclinations, no motor, and folds down. Approximate price $800.

Some people like the Cardio-Glide (similar to a health rider), because
it is no impact (easy on the joints), not putting a strain on the
knees, a gentle full-body workout, and has adjustable resistance.
Some prefer the Aerobic Rider (similar to the Health Rider), as it
doesn't have a piston like the Cardio-Glide, and it has been suggested
that the piston gives out a little quicker for heavy people, although
some people (over 350lbs) have not had this problem at all.

A new exercise device is the elliptical crosstrainer. It's a
no-impact aerobic device that's sort of like a cross between a ski
machine, a stairmaster, and a bicycle (without a seat).
A recommendation from one person is that it is sturdy enough to
accomodate someone who is 300lbs, and they found it comfortable to use,
even though they find walking to be hard on the hips and back.

Another recommendation (from someone over 350lbs) is the
ProForm CrossWalk.


A2) What exercise videos are there available for fat folks?

Some videos available are the following, with various different

"Big On Fitness"
53-minute exercise and fitness video for large women.
Has aerobic exercises to tone legs and stomach, while
increasing muscle tone. Suitable for any fitness level.
Exercises are led by large instructors.
Available from:
West Com Productions
1925 Bailey Hill Road
Eugene, OR, 97405
Harriet Carter
Dept. 34
North Wales, PA, 19455
I.Y. Murphy Productions ($19.95)
Box 148222
Chicago, IL 60614

"Chair Dancing" - Jodi Stolove
US tel 800-551-4FUN
another important resource for those who have knee problems,
difficulty in standing or exercising on their feet

"Gentle Yoga with Naomi"
Naomi Judith Offner, MA
4815 Quebrada Circle
Carlsbad, CA 92009
tel 800-655-6668
fax 619-943-1081

"Getting Started Right" - Jan Thompson
Showcase Productions
US tel 214-653-8352
designed specifically for plus-size women.

"Great Changes" - Idrea Lippman
featuring Carnie Wilson

"In Grand Form" - Jodi Sandler
In Grand Form Enterprises, Ltd.,
#5-1272 Emery Place,
No. Vancouver, BC V7J 1R3,
a 40 minute workout with warm-up, low impact aerobics,
stretching and cool-down. $19.95

"The Larger Woman's Workout" - Idrea Lippman
Great Changes
US tel 818-769-4626
a total workout for plus-size women
includes warm-up, low impact aerobics and floor work for
muscle strength and flexibility

"Look Who's Walking"
Orchid Leaf Productions,
P.O. Box 72,
MI 48501
a fun, easy, beneficial exercise video designed especially for
the large size person. $29.95

"Rhythm Walking"
Sports Music Inc.,
Box 767364,
Roswell, GA 30076
3 different paces for Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced

Tony Little - 3-video series
A program which you slowly build up, at your own pace. It
works primarily to firm and tone muscles (including back
muscles.) He stresses thinness and firmness, so if that's
going to bother you, stay away from the tape.

"Sweating to the Oldies" - Richard Simmons
A good workout, with warmup and cooldown time. Timed segments
for you to take your pulse. Low impact. Folks of all sizes
exercise along with Richard. There isn't any "lose that fat"
talk during the workout. (There is a little at the end, but
it's easy to skip.)

"The Wave"
Gabrielle Roth
a video concerned with dance movement, not specifically
for large people (and the dancers are not large) but the
purpose is to get people to feel the music and to feel
their own bodies

Women At Large
This chain of exercise facilities (see section A5) also
have a workout video

Kelly Bliss
Work It Out, Inc.
US tel 610-459-5011
offers customized workout videos suited to your life, your
body, your needs. She spends time in person and with a
lengthy evaluation form to design a program that you'll get
the most from. 20 minutes to an hour (your choice in length).

Yoga for Large People Video
Mara Nesbitt, Licensed Massage Therapist
PO Box 19141
Portland OR 97219
Has a yoga video (90 mins) with stretching, breathing and relaxing.
VHS format, cost $30, plus $5 shipping/handling ($10 overseas).
Send a check to the above address, with your name and address.


A3) Are there are books about fatness and fitness that don't think
the two words are mutually exclusive?

Mark Lewis:
"The Roly Polys : fit, fat and fruity"
with a foreword by Les Dawson
The Roly Polys are a British dance troupe, all middle aged and older,
and beautifully plump.
Publisher: W.H. Allen, London, 1986
ISBN/ISSN: 0491031750

Pat Lyons and Debby Burgard:
"Great Shape: The First Fitness Guide for Large Women"
Excellent, excellent, excellent. They talk about fitness and movement
as a right. They talk about barriers that keep people (particularly
fat women) from exercising. Probably also applicable to men.
Covers everything from bicycling to martial arts. Everything you
need to get started.
Publisher: Bull Publishing $14.95, US (800) 676-2855


A4) Where can I get sports clothing and equipment from?

For leisure wear, you might also check in the appropriate clothing FAQ.

You may be able to make your own sports clothing, if you are handy
with a needle. McCalls have some swimsuit patterns that go up to
size 24,

A4-1) in Australia

Bathers for Big Girls
Swimwear from bust sizes 38" to 62", made to your own

A4-2) in Canada

812 13th Ave.
Sidney, NE 69160
1-800-237-4444 (U.S. or Canada)
Gortex parkas and pants up to at least 5XL. Many other items
up to 3XL in both big and tall sizes. Reasonable prices.
[checked 4/7/95]

Louis Garneau
a Canadian manufacturer of cycling clothing. They have a
variety of upperbody wear up to XXL, but this is reportedly
somewhat undersized

Vancouver, BC
They make shorts, jackets, vests in sizes up to XXL.
Distributed via various retail outlets.

Suzanne Bell
5794 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC
V5P 3W7
tel 1-604-324-7394
fax 1-604-325-7772
Contact: Suzanne Bell
Active wear and casual clothing in large and super sizes.

A4-3) in the UK

All Woman
c/o 8 Penketh Avenue,
tel. 01925 244710
Large swimsuits for ladies sizes 18-36+, prices start
from 16.99 S.A.E. for details

national chain of shops
They sell leggings, t-shirts, even cycle shorts.
Good range of swimwear

Triumph International
Arkwright Road,
tel. 01793 722200
Underwear and swimwear manufacturer offering extensive selection
of styles from A to H cup

A4-4) in the USA

Arnott Mason Corporation
P.O. Box 293
Clifton, VA 22024
tel 703-503-2916
fax 703-425-1243
Women's riding clothes in big sizes --- breeches, riding
sweats, stretch jeans, Kentucky jods, t-shirts, sweatshirts;
semi-custom boots; half chaps and full chaps.

Anne Terrie Designs
129-T Derby Road,
Ohio 45030
tel 800-774-6898.
Send $3 for a brochure

Back to Basics II for plus sizes
1107 West Main St., #201
Durham, NC 27701
tel 1-919-477-5669
fax 1-919-477-6476
Small catalog of simple cotton and cotton-blend clothes and
underwear. Bike shorts, leggings, T-shirts, tights, socks,
underwear. Reasonable prices. Sizes 1X-4X.

The Big, the Bad & the Beautiful
19225 Ventura Blvd,
Tarzana, CA 91356
tel 1-818-345-3593
fax 1-818-345-1033
tel 1-800-347-3593
Catalog $2. (Credited to first order.)
Sizes 14-32+. They also do custom work for a nominal fee.
Among other things, they sell bike shorts and lingerie.

Big Stitches Swimwear
2423 Douglas St.
San Pablo, CA 94806
tel 1-510-237-3978
Send self-adressed envelope.
Custom made large-size bathing suits. Will make extremely
large sizes as well. Basic suit is about $70. Special
fabrics, extra features $20 more. And they also make bicycle

Body by Rubens
tel 1-800-935-0355
Reputed to have large-size bicycle shorts for women.

Brookstone Hard to Find Tools
5 Vose Farm Road
Petersborough, NH 03460-0803
(800) 926-7000
Unfortunately they no longer sell the seat that looks like
two rectangles (anyone know where those can be obtained?)
but they do sell a gel-filled bicycle seat cover that fits
standard seats.

By Ro! Designs
26221 Governor Avenue,
Harbor City, CA 90710
tel (310) 534-3877
Rosaria Vitale (large size herself) designs swimwear.
Write for a catalogue.

812 13th Ave.
Sidney, NE 69160
1-800-237-4444 (U.S. or Canada)
Gortex parkas and pants up to at least 5XL. Many other items
up to 3XL in both big and tall sizes. Reasonable prices.
[checked 4/7/95]

tel 1-800-BIKE-USA
they make bicycles, oft recommended by big folks
they also make shorts and jerseys; the jerseys are reputedly
too short to fully cover the abdomen

The Dehner Company, Inc.
3614 Martha St.
Omaha, NE 68105
tel 402-342-7788
fax 402-342-5444
Custom boots for riding, Trooper boots, Wellingtons, chukkas,
laced or strap tank boots, and oxfords. Excellent quality.
Boots are all custom and can be ordered to fit any size foot
or leg. Also have a nice style of riding boot with buckles
down the side instead of pulling straight on --- great if you
have arthritic ankles that don't flex well. Everyone I've
talked to who has custom Dehner boots says that they will last
forever. They aren't cheap, but are well worth the price.

Danskin Plus
tel 1-800-288-6749
Their regular catalog has some stuff up to size 4X -- bike
shorts, leggings, sweatshirts, sweatpants, long and
short-sleeved T-shirts, jackets, and sports bras (up to DD).
Their outlet stores also carry items up to 4X.

Excel Sports Science
tel 800-922-9544
They have a catalogue which includes such items as
buoyancy belts, water exercise dumbells, zero impact footwear
for added aquatic resistance

Extra Emphasis
tel 800-539-0030
A mail order company, good for sports bras

Fit To Be Tried
4754 East Grant,
Tuscon, AZ 85712
tel 800-669-6409
$2 catalog.
Active wear up to 4X. They sell bicycle shorts.

Gilda Marx
tel 800-825-BODY
a full collection of bodywear including solid and printed leotards,
bike shorts, bra tops, T-shirts, leggings, etc. in cotton/Lycra
and nylon/Lycra combinations. Sizes are 1x-3x which fits up to size 24
Bright colours, prices from about $27-$54.
Call the above number for retail locations.

Hanover House
tel 717-633-3377
sells a special wider seat for bicycles. Also sells
sheepskin covers for this seat

Hot Off the Tour
tel 1-800-878-8189
Sportswear catalog. They specialize in golf wear, but some of
their stuff may also be applicable to tennis and other sports.
They are pricey (polo shirt $68, twill shorts $56).

JC Penney
They have some swimsuits up to size 24/26, and one in size
28-32. Try the regular catalogue, and/or the size 16 and up

tel 1-800-JUNONIA
they have sportswear in sizes 14 to 32, including clothes
for aeorbics, tennis, golf, bicycling, walking

Just Big Sportswear
4700 Rozzelles Ferry Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28216
T-shirts up to 10XL. Also sweats, dorm shirts, and hooded

Just My Size
P.O. Box 748
Rural Hill, NC 27098-0748
tel 1-800-522-9567 (orders)
tel 1-800-522-0889 (customer service)
tel 1-910-635-3447 (orders) though they "don't ship to Canada"
They sell lingerie - Bali, Playtex, JMS and possibly other
brands (up to 46DDD or so). 100% cotton panties up to size
12. And pantyhose. And pettipants (split slips). And Hanes
Her Way sweatpants/shirts. And lycra shorts up to 3x. Also
have inexpensive casual clothes up to about 4X. They use
large models and also disabled models.

King Size
P.O. Box 8385
Indianapolis, IN 46283-8385
tel 1-800-846-1600
Large-size rain gear that is more-or-less unisex. They also
sell extra-large umbrellas, ties, and fanny packs.

Leggings Plus
tel 201-962-4678
leggings, bike shorts and t-shirts, from 1X-4X

tel 800-627-4227
bikes, supplies and accessories

Northwest Kayaks
they have a model called Cadence designed for the larger kayaker,
which can support up to 455lbs

tel/fax 1-800-ODDESSY (1-800-633-3779)
or at
suppliers of knives, swords, weapons, uniforms and training
equipment; the uniforms go up to size 12 (men's size 5X)

Performance Bicycles
tel 800-727-2453
bikes, supplies and accessories; also some clothing

Richman Cotton Clothing Company
2631 Piner Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
tel 1-707-575-8924
tel 1-800-992-8924
fax 1-707-575-8924
All-cotton, dyed-on-the-premises clothing in sizes from infant
to 3X. Shirts, skirts, dresses, long johns, cotton/lycra bike
shorts, and leggings. Reasonable prices.

Sexy Fat Boys
casual sportswear for big men
sizes from 1x to 6x

Suits Me Swimwear
2377 Deltona Blvd.
Spring Hill, FL 34606
tel (904) 666-1485
They make an unusual design of tie-on wraparound swimsuit.
Sizes are children's (up to 60lbs), teen's (60-120lbs),
adult (120-250lbs) and plus size (250lbs +)

chain of "For you" retail stores throughout the US including:
Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia
Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland
Potomac Mills Outlet in Dale City, Virginia
they stock bathing suits in large sizes at reasonable prices

tel 1-800-BUY-TERY
They make bicycle saddles for women. Ask your local bike store,
or ring the above number to either find your local dealer,
or they can sell you one via mail

6310 Nancy Ridge Drive,
#101 San Diego, CA 92121
tel 800-445-2209
Ring for a catalogue which includes women's and men's walking
clothing and activewear in sizes to 2XL


A5) Are there any organizations, people, workshops or classes concerned with
fitness for fat folks?

A5-1) in Canada

In Grand Form
Jodi Sandler
#5-1272 Emery Place
North Vancouver, BC
V7J 1R3
tel./fax (604) 984-9435 (24 hour voice mail)
(office hours are Mon-Fri 9-5)
Jodi holds several fitness classes, and a jazz dance class.
These are designed for "size-plus and deconditioned adults",
and are recommended as great fun; Jodi is a good motivator
for body movements.

A5-2) in the UK

Fat And Fit Group Health Action
Annie Lee
1 Pink Lane

A5-3) in the USA

African-Carribean Rhythms and Moves
Dimond Recreation Center
3860 Hanly Rd.
A low impact aerobics class aimed at the forty-plus or plus-sized
woman; if you enjoy dancing, check it out!

Debby Burgard
c/o Bull Publishing Co
POB 208
Palo Alto, CA 94302-0208
Co-author of _Great Shape, A Fitness Guide for Large Women_
(1990). Teaches exercise classes and gives workshops on
health and fitness for large women.

Donna R. Pittman, MA
Family Therapy Center
340 N Sam Houston Pkwy E, Suite 267
Houston, TX 77060
Phone: 713-591-1721
"Heavy, Healthy & Happy" exercise and support group.

Double XX Riders
3256 West Country Road 72
Fort Collins, CO 80524
A small organization of full-figured horse riders who are
dedicated to helping and encouraging other full-figured riders
through a monthly newsletter. Offers tips on where to find
clothes and tack that fit, helpful hints, and moral support.
For info and copy of newsletter, sent large SAE.

Judy Mahle Lutter
Melpomene Institute
1010 University St
St Paul, MN 55104
Phone: 612-642-1951
Institute for research on women's health issues. Sponsored a
conference in 1989 for larger women called "Body Image,
Health, and Fitness". Offers informational packet of
literature. Lutter worte article for Women's Sports and
Fitness Magazine in March, 1991 on fitness for larger women,
title "Does Big Mean Bad?"

Lucia Kim August, MA, MFCC
2550 Peralta Blvd #7
Fremont, CA 94536
Phone: 510-792-5588
Dance/movement therapy for large women.

Major Moves
Naomi Puro
Fitness in East SF Bay Area.
Carol Squires (a large woman) assists in teaching this fitness
class for large women, in Oakland, CA. Low impact with a high
emphasis on moving for fun and increasing cardiovascular
fitness. Email Carol at for more details.

Making Waves
They sponsor swims for fat women in the East Bay
(Oakland, CA). The swim currently meets Sundays from 11am-1pm
at the Albany High School pool, sliding scale from $3 - $5.
You have to be a woman weighing 200 pounds or more. Contact
Linda at (510) 526-6206.

Mara Nesbitt, Licensed Massage Therapist
P.O. Box 19141
Portland, OR 97219
Yoga and massage for large women (also see videos section)

Martha Koester, Ph.D.
Big On Bikes
10015 Second Ave South
Seattle, WA 98168
Phone: 206-762-6417
Fat bicycling enthusiast and exercise expert with access
to research on fat and exercise/fitness.

Naomi Judith Offner, MA
Gentle Yoga With Naomi
4815 Quebrada Circle
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Phone: 800-655-6668
Fax: 619-943-1081
Yoga classes for people of all sizes and abilities. Video
"Gentle Yoga with Naomi" (see videos section)

Pat Lyons, RN, MA
Kaiser Permanente
Health Education
1950 Franklin, 17th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-987-3107
Co-author of book "Great Shape". Believed to do other
health and fitness education for fat folks.

Patricia Forte
Full-Body Fitness
300 Main St #4
West Haven, CT 06516
Phone: 203-933-6112
Created and teaches exercise program for fat women. Also does

Potbelly Cycling Association
45 Munson Road
NY 10570
The organization's purpose is to promote the idea that folks with
potbellies can enjoy cycling, and to encourage other potbellied
folks to try bicycling. It's NOT to lose weight by exercise,
although I guess that may happen for some.
Yearly membership $20, to people with potbellies and interest in
cycling. Includes membership certificate and 4 newsletters per year.
People who are potbelly deprived can only get "Athletic Supporter"
membership, same price. The organization is big on fun and pun!

Undeniably Me
Cinder Ernst
Fitness program for large women in the SF Bay Area.

Theatre Workshop for Fat Women
Conducted by 4 Big Girls in May 1995.
4 Big Girls
PO Box 2134
Seattle, WA 98111
Use of movement, voice, and relaxation to explore self-esteem,
personal power, sexuality, and body image. If interested,
send a SASE to the address above.

Women At Large
Chain of exercise facilities for large women in the Pacific
Northwest. Run by two large women who didn't really want to
lose weight, but wanted to be in shape.

Yoga for Round Bodies
San Diego area
contact BobbyeJoy, at for details
of current/future classes


A6) Are there any helpful scientific references about fitness?

Yes. See the Research FAQ for several references.


A7) Are there any online resources about exercising for plus-sizes?

There are a number of web pages available, and also a mailing list.
Besides the web page of this FAQ, there are the following:

the Sports and Activities FAQ, at

CFFF's page Moving Forward, at

the BHealthy Gym, at

the Grand Style Women's Club has a Spa page with useful info, at

Dee's Fit and Fat web page, at

There is a mailing list called Fat and Fit.
Subscription address:
Message body: SUBSCRIBE FATANDFIT (your name)
Fat and Fit is a mailing list devoted to discussing health and
fitness issues, within a size-accepting atmosphere.


SECTION B: Information about this FAQ

B1) Are there other related FAQs?

Yes. The list of them below can be found from the following page:

information about clothing for large people in Canada
information about clothing for large people in Europe
(excluding the United Kingdom)
information about clothing for large people in the UK
information about clothing for large people in the U.S.
information about health issues affecting large people
information about research concerning large people
information about large-size maternity resources
information about resources for sports and activities
for large people
information about organizations for large people
information about resources for large people (that aren't
covered in the other resources FAQs)
information about resources for dealing with the physical
aspects of being large
information about publications for large people
information about size-acceptance
general information file for

There is some overlap in the topics covered by the FAQs. If you don't
find what you're looking for here, try the other FAQs.


B2) Posting information

This document is posted monthly to news.answers and alt.answers and
posted bi-weekly to and
Sharon Curtis ( maintains this FAQ.


B3) Availability of the FAQ

All FAQs posted to news.answers are archived at and its
mirror sites. You can get any of these FAQs from via
anonymous FTP or via the mail archive server. (To get information
about the mail server, send email to with the
body of the message containing the word "help", without the quotes.)
FAQs posted to news.answers are also available on the Web from:

You can find old version of the fitness FAQ at the following URLs:

although the latest version specifically adapted for HTML and maintained
by the maintainer can be found at


B4) Contributors

These are the people who contribute significant chunks to the FAQ.

Sharon Curtis (
Sasha Wood (
Helen Lovisek (bh...@TorFree.Net)

Also, lots and lots of other people (too many to credit) contributed
information that appears herein, some via email and some on s.s.f-a or
a.s.b-f. Thanks to them all.

Suggestions for additions/improvements are always welcome.

Copyright 1995 by Sharon Curtis (
Permission is granted to copy and redistribute this article in its
entirety for non-commercial use provided that this copyright notice is
not removed or altered. No portion of this work may be sold, either
by itself or as part of a larger work, without the express written
permission of the author; this restriction covers all publication
media, including (but not limited to) CD-ROM.

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