Scales tipped back in favour of Carleton University gymgoers

Carleton University has reconsidered its decision to remove a scale from the gym after a torrent of pointed commentary and media coverage from as far as the U.K.

The decision to remove the scale earlier this month unleashed a firestorm of criticism online as the gym shifted toward a more holistic approach to a healthy body image among its users. 

The move created a buzz among the student body at the university in Ottawa. In a matter of days it was splashed across headlines of websites in Canada, the U.S and even across the pond.

In a statement to CBC News on Thursday, Carleton spokesperson Beth Gorham said while the gym itself does not currently have a scale, one was added last week in the men's change room. There was always a scale in the women's change room, she said. 

The decision was prompted by feedback from students.

"While we will continue to provide educational information on various health measurements that shift the focus away from weight, we do understand that some people want to weigh themselves and so we have provided scales in the change rooms," the statement reads.

"We thank everyone who has contacted us with comments."

Some students said scales could be 'triggering'

Many students opposed the university's decision to remove the scales, some out of principle, while others out of concern for members, such as boxers, who regularly track their weight. 

On the other hand, some students applauded the move after they were removed because the presence of scales could be "triggering" for some, especially those with eating disorders.

Bruce Marshall, manager of wellness programs at Carleton, said it was the recreation and athletics department's decision to remove the scale and that it wasn't based on complaints.

In explaining the rationale, Marshall explained in a statement to CBC earlier this month that not having a scale in the gym was in line with "current fitness and social trends."

"Although it can be used as a tool to help measure certain aspects of fitness it does not provide a good overall indication of health and here at athletics we have chosen to move away from focusing solely on bodyweight," he said.

"If you need a number to focus on in regard to reaching certain fitness goals we suggest using girth measurements. You can start by recording measurements in multiple areas, for example your torso, hips, chest, legs and arms. You would then revisit these measurements after a few weeks to keep tabs on your progress."