JO GALE

moves

Why exclusive space for those living in bigger bodies?

Exclusive movement classes led by/for those living in bigger/plus size/fat bodies are coming back this May to GoodBodyFeel. To give folks more information about these offerings and why we think they are important, I thought I would share a blog I originally posted on the GoodBodyFeel Blog back in September 2020, just as I was about to launch the Be Abundant Moves weekly class at the studio.

Through community feedback, we have decided to bring the class offering back with a rotation of facilitators, every other Sunday afternoon starting this Spring. And to kick it off, a panel discussion with some of the past Be Abundant Moves guest facilitators where we will speak on building exclusive spaces and about their personal journeys as movement guides in THEIR bodies.

So here it is, originally published here on September 13th 2020 but amended a little bit to reflect where the offerings are going today.

x

Jo

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BE ABUNDANT : a story about community creation

Recently while promoting my new class, Be Abundant Moves, a virtual movement class exclusive to those living in larger/plus-size/fat bodies, I received a very good question from someone. In fact, a question I had had myself at one point.

“Why do people in bigger bodies need separate classes?”

And the question really got me thinking. 

It got me thinking of when I met Katie McCrindle in 2019. Katie is a Body Liberation Counsellor, Fat Activist, and Registered Social Worker. I was taking the Yoga For All training with Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes at the time, a course that focuses on adapting Yoga practice for all bodies. Katie was (and still is) co-facilitating Fat Chat, a group for “fat individuals” to create a supportive community. We wanted to see where our individual expertise could intersect and how we could try to create some kind of experience that would be useful,  joyful, and meaningful for folks. 

What we created was a workshop series called Be Abundant, which was a place for folks to get out of their heads and into their bodies. A place where we could share, laugh, cry, move, and learn together. And people came, and people liked it, so we did more. In 2020 when we started to offer a new round of workshops, we extended an ask to the community to see if anyone else wanted to facilitate and we expanded more. We pivoted online, as the whole world did in March 2020 and offered two more sessions of the workshop via zoom. 

One thing that came out of feedback from the workshops is that people wanted a weekly movement class for the community, therefore Be Abundant Moves (which I call B.A.M for short) was created.

When Katie and I were gearing up for the next round of our Be Abundant workshops, I mentioned the question I received about the B.A.M class as I was promoting it and asked Katie what she thought:

“If you haven’t had the pleasure of being in a room of people that truly get your experience, I understand why you might ask this question. Identity-specific communities are places where people don’t need to explain or justify their experiences or themselves. We come together as people in fat bodies among other people in fat bodies to commiserate, celebrate, take up space unapologetically, and to simply be.”

“Our culture is not welcoming to people in larger bodies, so Be Abundant (and other fat-specific community spaces) becomes a sacred gathering- a space to share, and to welcome each other in as much non-judgment as we possibly can. As we open to being together through verbal sharing, our bodies open too- we expand, our energy expands, the group’s collective energy radiates outwards. Sharing in moving our fat bodies, in seeing each other’s bountiful squish in ever-different and rippling forms, serves to solidify and strengthen this collective energy. We leave with our cups full. We leave having been truly seen, heard, and honoured in each other’s abundant experiences.”

“We come together in community for us, but as our energy expands and radiates into the world (I’m imaging shock waves of abundance flowing outwards), we do this for you, too. As we heal and give ourselves permission to be in our bodies, the world heals and gets that same permission.”

And that is some powerful mic drop stuff right there and why I love co-creating with Katie. Katie and I plan on offering more workshops in the future, but for now, if you are interested in body liberation work you should check out her work.

Flash forward, to March 2021. A new iteration of the Be Abundant Moves series is under way with a larger variety of facilitators. As much as I am a human in a larger body showing up as a leader in the fitness world, I fully recognize the privilege I hold as a “small fat” person, and as a white, cis-hetero woman in this world. I think this offering is more than I can balance, and should be taught by a collection of folks as diverse as possible.

I’m so excited to see this offering come back, at a time that is hopefully more accessible to more folks. If you are curious, ALWAYS feel free to reach out. I am a real live person and I answer emails (it’s true)! If you know someone who would be a perfect fit to lead these offerings or if that’s YOU, please fill out THIS form.

As mentioned above, a panel discussion will be held at 1:30pm on April 26th 2021, hosted by myself, with panelists made up of our past BAM facilitators, stay posted for the OFFISH announcement.

As for now, stay safe, stay dangerous, and take care of each other.

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March 31, 2021

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