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Big Folks Exercise and Fitness Resources FAQ

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

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                  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,
        WA5 5AU
        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,
        SN2 5BE
        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
        NE1 SDW

  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           (bh868@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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