Too many exercise programs are not inclusive enough. These are the A+ options.
The movements Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate and Health at Every Size have brought inclusion into mainstream consciousness over the past year. All brands are now marketing themselves as inclusive.
This hollow promise of inclusion is especially evident in the fitness industry. Despite claiming to be inclusive and body-positive, gyms and streaming apps don’t make accommodations for everyone.
Popular at-home exercise equipment and bikes may be led by different instructors. However, they can often exclude certain people due to their weight and height limits. Although the local gym might claim it is “for everyone,” do they make modifications to accommodate people with different abilities?
Joy Cox is an activist and researcher who studies intersections of race and body size. Joy said that many fitness apps and programs have “set restrictions around movement and what constitutes exercise.”
In an effort to make fitness more accessible to everyone, she and co-founder Bunmi Alo developed .Jabbie, an identity-inclusive, body-affirming app that encourages people to move their bodies in their own way. The app does not stream audio or video-guided workouts. However, users can participate in “troupes”, which are shared by others who share similar movements and connect through themed challenges.
Here are some other options for an inclusive, body-positive fitness app.
Joyn is an app that encourages joyful movement. The workout videos last between 10 and 40 minutes. They offer a variety of movements such as yoga, pilates and stretching, as well high-intensity interval training. You can do the movement patterns standing, sitting, or lying down. The instructors represent a variety of body types and identities.
Cost: first month free, then, $10/month.
2. The Underbelly
Jessamyn Stanley, a yoga teacher, has been an influential voice in the fat-positive community. Her app, The Underbelly offers a variety of yoga videos. Some are complete flows while others focus on a single pose. The emphasis is on modifications and props, while the main focus is on what feels right for you in that moment.
Cost: Three-day free trial, then $10/month.
3. Leavell Up Fitness
Lauren Leavell, personal trainer and instructor in barre, streams live four workouts each week via her Mighty Network. This online community allows users to schedule events, post videos and chat on forums. All previously streamed workouts are available to members, including stretching and HIIT. Although Leavell’s live classes are inclusive and have a community feel to them, her teaching style is focused on you as an individual.
Cost: Starting at $40/month. Participating in partial or full scholarships is available.
Many times, even inclusive fitness apps and classes don’t make it accessible for people with disabilities. Kakana is an exception. It’s designed specifically for people with limited mobility. Its instructors often teach classes from their wheelchairs. Livestreamed classes include yoga, cardio boxing, and crosscycle (which is like a small bike for your arms).
Cost: Free for one week, then $15/month.
5. Big Fit Girl
Louise Green (known as Big Fit Girl) is a personal trainer who advocates a weight-neutral approach in fitness. The app is suitable for all levels of fitness. Some of the videos can be done in a chair and at different intensities.
Cost: Free for one week, then $10/month.
6. Roz The Diva
Roz Mays is a personal trainer and pole dance teacher. She has a large following thanks to her high-energy videos and unapologetically fat positive message. Her Patreon members have access to a collection of workout videos that includes a new video each month, live stretch classes, and weekly “pep talks”.
Cost: $20 per Month
7. Yoga for Everyone
Dianne Bondy is a long-standing member of the yoga community. As an instructor, she strives to help students find the best way to practice yoga. Yoga for Everyone is her online platform. It has hundreds of videos that feature yoga flows by herself and other instructors. There are also a few videos for non-yoga students (including a workout with Green, who’s Big Fit Girl app).
Cost: $15 per month for the first two weeks. Bondy’s YouTube channel has many free videos for those who cannot afford a membership.
8. The Fitness Marshall
You can find a lot of free online workouts. There are many free workouts online. But not all of them promote body diversity and movement for everyone. The Fitness Marshall is a YouTube channel that has more than 3 million subscribers. These videos feature Marshall and other dancers and showcase different body types. Modifications can be made based on your fitness level.
Cost: $5 per month. There are also shorter videos that can be downloaded for free.