Virgin Active have seriously taken a nose-dive for me today after booting out a collaboration with HOOP and Jessie Pavelka on the basis that it “doesn’t send the right message.”In a nutshell – Virgin told HOOP that Jessie Pavelka was a weight loss coach and HOOP was an obesity charity and that was not the message they wanted to give to their members. Exactly what message? The message that a fitness trainer wishes to help fight obesity…surely not?! Shock, horror! Are all of their members already fit and healthy and not in need of support? Do they not want to attract obese members whose lives could be transformed by the support of a giant in the fitness industry?
The full response from HOOP can be seen here – I was pretty pissed off…very pissed off actually! I will be sending this blogpost to Virgin Active…so thought that I would recap my battle for their benefit…although I doubt that my blog contains any messages that they would be interested in!
February 2012 saw me weighing in at a life-threatening 43st 5.5lbs. Last week I weighed 27st. The past 18 months have been phenomenal…there have been many ups and downs, and it was a slow start. The first 6 months saw me finding it tough to break my relationship with junk food, but I still managed to lose 2st. Since August 2012 I have shed over 14st. I have done this without the aid of weight loss surgery, which I was told was a MUST for me and that I would not lose weight without it. I have done this without pills, potions, miracle cures…just plain old healthy eating and exercise.
I have introduced exercise slowly. My treadmill – which I am now looking to part company with after joining a gym…NOT a Virgin Active gym! – helped to save my life. I used it to walk for a couple of minutes at a time, and built up to an hour of solid walking. Not Olympic standard, far from it, but life-saving all the same. I used a BodyPump DVD at home, have a Reebok Step, weights, gym ball…a home gym, as I was too worried about walking into a ‘normal’ gym.
Working out at a Fitness First for Ladies gym a few years ago was an incredibly positive experience…but they closed, which left me in limbo. I tried an Esporta gym, but it was a terrible place…full of people who judged me openly. I weighed around the 26st mark at that point in time, having lost 8st – clearly my relationship with food and my weight has been up and down for many years! Once I stopped going to the gym, I stopped bothering with everything. I did not feel that I was worth the effort…and my weight went back on at an alarming rate, plus a hell of a lot more.
Given that I weigh more than I did when I was gym-goer previously, one of my biggest concerns of recent months has been to try and find a gym that supports the needs of individuals and makes all shapes and sizes of people welcome. I found one – Lifestyles in Oxford – but it is far too far away from me to get to daily, or even weekly. If I was closer, I would be there…and I would happily recommend them to anyone! They made me feel so welcome and went out of their way to help me. In fact, one of the owners even suggested that she help me find a suitable gym locally to me…above and beyond the call of duty I think!
I do not want to feel uncomfortable in the gym – actually, I do…but I want that to be muscle discomfort due to hard work…not mental discomfort due to unsupportive surroundings and judgemental people! It is hard enough to make the effort to walk through the doors of any gym when you know that you are not the ‘norm’…whatever the heck ‘normal’ is. This is why I am shocked at the response from Virgin Active…the ‘message’ of a fitness expert supporting obesity would be something that I think they would be clamouring to offer support with. I could understand it if Smirnoff and Benson & Hedges wanted to hold an event there…but come on, HOOP…please…what better group of people to aim to support?!
Many gym-goers are incredibly welcoming – I think that they appreciate the effort that someone is putting in. As an obese – morbidly obese – person, I just want to be left alone to get on with things…and maybe be given a nod or two of support along the way. If Virgin cannot support a organisation like HOOP, then I really struggle to understand how they can possibly offer a supportive environment to their clients. HOOP are seeking the support of a national giant…and Virgin have cocked up massively. What better poster-person for a gym that someone who has made a fantastic body transformation? Short-sightedness at its absolute best.
Personally, I hope that Mr Branson himself gets to hear about this fiasco. I then hope that he kicks the arse of the PR company around one of his Virgin Active gyms to give them a tiny insight into the struggle and fight that somebody like me has had to go through…and is still going through.
It would be great if you could help me spread the word – share this blog post on Facebook, or Tweet Virgin Active @VirginActiveUK – do whatever you can to help me out…I am a lady on a mission to support others with weight issues…and I think that companies with this much sway and power need to think before they alienate a large (excuse the pun! ) proportion of society!
Right then…now that my rant is over, I will quickly cover the usuals.
Most of my day has been spent with my niece and nephew getting creative…oh, and we also did some dancing too! We made a vase of flowers from some kind of squidgy material, and we made pink horses with purple manes…but my nephew tried to eat those! I also saw my horses, and fiddled about with my trailer – the ramp struts have seized – and as I am moving them to their winter field soon, I needed to get it sorted. Asda was also visited, and then I had to take and collect my other half from the train station as he was off to the football. I think my holiday blues are peaking…the past couple of days have been horrendous with crappy food cravings…I could have happily caved in to a huge Chinese takeout, but have managed to stay strong and resist.
Breakfast: Bananas and cottage cheese.
A good day on plan. Brekkie was a strange choice, but it was okay! Lunch was simple – chicken and salad. Dinner was made with mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion, chicken and Cajun seasoning…served with warm pittas and grilled halloumi. Given the mood that I have been in today, crisps were the only way of using my syns!
Exercise: Pushing trailers by hand, dancing with kids and lifting bales of hay around.
Thank you for reading…and for your continued support,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx