Growing up as a chubby kid in her Long Island neighborhood, Mauritt Summers, 36, hated who she saw in the mirror.
She weighed over 200 pounds, and doctors applied diets and weight-loss surgery to her. It only made her feel worse.
Then, when she was 14, her family hired a personal trainer who worked with her in strength and movement training. She became stronger and her self-esteem improved. But the workout didn’t put her on the path to becoming a skinny gym rat.
Instead, set them on the path to helping others achieve their health and fitness goals without worrying about a number on the scale.
“I have no idea my weight. I haven’t been on a scale in three years. I haven’t been on a scale in three years,” Summers, now a certified trainer, told The Post. The 5-foot-6 strength estimated her to be somewhere in the 250-pound range. That’s good for her and her clients. .
“If your goal is to get shredded, not have body fat and cry during a workout session, I’m not the trainer for you,” Summers said.
People looking to get strong and healthy — but not obsessed with losing weight — are turning to plus-size personal trainers, both online and offline. In 2017, Summers opened Form Fitness in Brooklyn Heights, where she has trained more than 100 clients, including curvy model Ashley Graham. A recent TikTok video of Summers performing a push-up jump to a remixed hip-hop track garnered more than 561,000 alone, while the hashtag #PlusSizeTrainer is more powerful than 4.6 million.
“Everyone’s goal is not to be skinny when they get into the gym,” said Summers, who charges $150 for one session. “Most people just want to feel better. They want their bodies to feel healthy and strong.”
Summers has suffered criticism from cyberbullies who have called her “fat” and obnoxiously questioned why anyone would want to work out with someone who looked like her, but her larger physique is precisely why some rush to her.
“A lot of my clients come to me because I look like them. I have a belly, too,” she said. “I know what they’re going through.”
Sarah Taylor, a 38-year-old trainer in Toronto, uses her struggles with weight and self-esteem to connect with clients.
“I know what it’s like to absolutely hate yourself. I know what it’s like to work out three hours a day, six days a week, and puke after every workout because you hate yourself,” said Taylor, who weighs about 250 pounds and is 5-foot-11.
While working at a commercial gym before becoming a trainer in 2018, Taylor recalled being shamed by a woman who gave her a dirty look and asked, “Do you have medical clearance to exercise here?”
Although the accident was traumatic, it inspired her in her professional fitness journey.
“What I’ve learned and what I’ve told my clients is that you can’t change yourself if you hate yourself,” Taylor said. “The only way to see real change is to truly love yourself.”
She advocates for self-esteem during her weekly 60-minute group coaching session, which she hosts virtually through her fitness app for a $55 monthly subscription fee. Workouts include upper body, lower body, and core strength exercises. For each exercise, it provides adjustments for users who are uncomfortable or unable to perform a full movement. Under her tutelage, a person’s weight is never discussed.
“I’m a personal trainer. I just exist for a plus-size body,” she said. “My style is very different from that of a regular personal trainer because my goal isn’t to force people to lose weight, it’s about empowering women to feel comfortable in their own skin.”
Plus-size Las Vegas trainer Jessica Goines never discusses scale with her clients. It doesn’t get them to do a lot of cardio, and it doesn’t force people to track their food intake.
Instead, she began each of her Zoom virtual training sessions by putting her clients into a positive mindset through open dialogue about their physical, mental and emotional challenges.
“We start each session talking about how they feel,” said Goins, 33. “We work through any hurdles whether it’s mentality, nutrition, or how they feel about themselves. And then we start working out.”
For Goins, a recovering binge eater, having a restorative mindset helped her overcome her disorder.
“My goal as a trainer is to make sure my clients are healthy: body, mind and spirit,” she said. “It’s not just about losing weight.”
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