I remember when I was really, really overweight that I hated going to the gym. I mean, I was 100 pounds more than I should have been and nothing embarrassed me more than huffing-and-puffing while sweating up a storm on a cardio machine next to some woman who looked like she was born fit. I hated everything about that experience: the way the spandex clung to my too big thighs and the loose T-shirt I used to cover up my growing belly. In fact, often I was feeling "too fat" to even make it to the gym. Now there's a new kind of gym that aims to fix this problem for all of us who are too shy to workout: over-weight only gyms that are aiming to foster a really supportive attitude!

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According to the Associated Press, Chicago-based entrepreneur Francis Wisnewski started Downsize Fitness in Chicago and Las Vegas in 2011 and opened in Dallas in 2012. The health club looks just like any other trendy gym in the country, except there is a VERY strict requirement if you're looking to join: you must be 50 pounds or more overweight. 

Citing being overweight his whole life himself and the fact that "I was embarrassed to go to the gym myself", Francis wanted the chain to allow members to feel comfortable while exercising. In order to provide that, the gym has no mirrors, the windows are fogged for privacy and even the exercise equipment is specially designed for heavier people.

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I think this gym is definitely a GREAT idea for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight. While eating healthier is the most important thing for weight loss, exercise is also a key component. It's ESPECIALLY an important part of weight loss maintenance, actually. And I'm happy that someone is finally recognizing that being comfortable in your gym is a real need for those that are significantly overweight. I can only hope more of these are to come!

Image via Downsize Fitness/Facebook

Would you join a gym that was specifically designed for those that wanted to lose at least 50 pounds?