Should Your Coach Be Lean and Strong?

Written by Christopher Kelly

Oct. 10, 2015

In 1997 something shocking happened at Disneyland, but chances are you didn’t hear much about it.

For over 30 years one of the favorite rides at the world famous amusement park had faithfully entertained and brought joy to the hearts of park guests. But in 1997 the famous ride, “It’s a Small World” was shut down for over 10 months. Why?

It was breaking down. Repeatedly.

Not because it was old. Not because its mechanics were inferior to the technology used in the modern rides.

It was breaking down because it couldn’t take the load caused by the increasing weight of the average American. So for over 10 months the dearly loved ride was re-engineered to accommodate heavier riders.

You probably never heard about that. Why? Because our culture is more concerned about not hurting the feelings of overweight people than it is about saying that being overweight has serious, even life-endangering consequences.

Vinnie Tortorich tells that story often because it serves as an example of why we can’t continue to allow that kind of politically correct thinking to keep us from addressing the reality of what’s really happening when it comes to health and nutrition.

Politically correct thinking happens in the most zealous ranks of the health and fitness community too.

Vinnie was in 24 Hour Fitness one day when he noticed a personal trainer who was working with another member. He’d seen the trainer in the gym before.

The guy was big. No, he was obese. Not the member, the trainer.

Is there something wrong with that picture in your mind? There was in Vinnie’s.

Vinnie took a photo of the guy and posted it in a Facebook group he’s a part of, “Vinnie Tortorich no sugar no grains.” It’s a community full of people who take their health seriously. He included the following comment with the photo:

“Here’s where we are… where trainers don’t even have to be thin anymore.”

Vinnie wasn’t trying to make fun of the guy. The photo didn’t even show the trainer’s face or the member’s face. All it showed was the back of the trainer’s shirt boasting “24 Hour Fitness,” and the trainer’s girth.

The group exploded!

Group members posted responses like this:

“What?!! Are we ‘fat shaming’ now?”

“You don’t know the guy’s journey!”

Vinnie didn’t mean to mock anyone. He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. In fact, he was tempted to respond, “I’ve seen that trainer in that gym for the last two years. You want to know the guy’s journey? His journey is that he’s gotten bigger than he was two years ago… and he’s a trainer!”

Vinnie was simply trying to make a very valid point to people that he thought would understand it:

Why is it acceptable for people who are supposed to be helping others get their weight under control to be overweight and out of shape themselves?

The response Vinnie got from the group shows that rather than speaking truthfully about difficult but needed subjects like obesity, we’ve become conditioned to back off so nobody’s feelings get hurt.

When dealing with life and death issues like nutrition and obesity, It simply doesn’t make sense.

There’s not a fat person in the world who wants to be fat.

That’s how Vinnie puts it, and he’s right. And there’s no shame or blame to be had in talking about the fact. It’s about time somebody said it.

There’s also no shame in saying that people who are overweight often need help. Most of us do when we get into a situation and struggle to get out.

It’s not a judgmental thing to say, “You need help, can I help you?” or to point someone to a resource that could change their life for the better.

Thanks Vinnie. Thanks for being willing to speak the truth and for helping the rest of us screw up our courage to do the same.

Who knows? Lives could be saved if more of us spoke up.

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