This Video of Whitney Way Thore Shows Why Gym Equipment Needs to Be More Size-Inclusive

The reality TV star laughs it off when her body doesn't fit a machine at the gym, but her experience highlights an important issue.

Whitney Way Thore wearing black dress on a purple background
Photo: Getty Images

Whitney Way Thore regularly shares details of her day-to-day life on My Big Fat Fabulous Life, a TLC series that follows the 37-year-old who's unapologetically herself. But her Instagram followers just got a particularly candid look at a challenge she faced during a recent trip to the gym: The exercise equipment wasn't "made for" her body type.

On Tuesday, Thore posted a video of her using a pec deck machine (which is used to strengthen chest muscles) during a gym workout. In the clip, she uses her arms to pull the handles of the machine together in front of her body, squeezing her breasts in the process.

Viewers can hear Thore and her trainer, Jessica Powell, who's tagged in the video, laugh about the predicament. "When the machines weren't made for your body, you've got to work with what you've got 😂," the reality TV star captioned the video.

While they seemed to have a good chuckle over the incident, it draws attention to the fact that not all gym equipment is size-inclusive. Thore likely isn't the only person who's had trouble using certain machines at the gym due to their size, and there's certainly room for gyms and equipment manufacturers to create more inclusive workout options for all. In the meantime, trainers recognize that some equipment simply isn't designed for all body types, but they urge people not to get discouraged by that.

"Instead of paying mind to what you can't use, focus on what you can and start from there," says Doug Sklar, M.S., NASM-certified personal trainer and founder of PhilanthroFIT in New York City. "Ignore the voices and equipment that don't have your back," he adds. "Listen to those that motivate and encourage you to become the best version of yourself."

Gym goers can also focus on equipment that works for all body types, including dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells, according to personal trainer Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, Promix Nutrition, and ARENA. "Those are one size fits all." Matheny also suggests people start with bodyweight exercises, such as planks, push-ups, and squats — regardless of their size, as these don't require any extra tools or items and, in his words, "Bodyweight exercises are amazing."(He's not wrong: Bodyweight resistance workouts, such as calisthenics, can help you make the most of every muscle.)

While inadequate gym equipment can, at the very least, be frustrating, Thore doesn't seem to let it get her down or keep her from exercising. She's been active for years and regularly shares snippets of her workouts (which often include dance moves) on Instagram. She even has her own fitness app called NoBS Active. However, the reality TV star has received backlash for posts about her active lifestyle on social media, she previously told People.

"They don't want to see you working out, and it's so ridiculous, because the people who maintain that I should lose weight should be applauding me, if that's what they think I should do, and yet they still find a way to criticize me," she said in the 2019 interview. "It's just fat phobia, and I don't listen to it."

Thore's ability to shut out the haters and focus on her goals seems to help her get past any obstacles that get in her way, including gym machines that are too small for her body. And while no one should have to modify their workout routine because they don't have access to inclusive equipment, there's always a way to get moving, whether you pick up free weights or simply start dancing. (Up next: Racism Needs to Be Part of the Conversation About Dismantling Diet Culture)

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