Educate, don't confiscate: Trainers say Carleton wrong to remove gym scale

Educate, don't confiscate: Trainers say Carleton wrong to remove gym scale

Two Ottawa trainers are weighing in on a heated debate about Carleton University's decision to remove the scale from its gym in a bid to promote a more holistic approach to healthy body image. 

Bruce Marshall, manager of wellness programs at Carleton, told CBC News on Saturday the decision to remove it two weeks ago was motivated by "current fitness and social trends."

The fitness centre is moving away from focusing solely on bodyweight because it does not provide a good overall indication of one's health, he said. Others have said the presence of a scale in a gym can be "triggering," especially for people with eating disorders. 

- Read more: Weigh in: Carleton University faces backlash after scale removed from gym

But Carolyn Carson, certified personal trainer at KRX Fitness, said the gym is taking the wrong approach.

"I kind of wonder why they chose to use that route instead of taking a different route in terms of educating people on what value a scale does provide, what measures people should stay away from, and what other measures there are of health and fitness," Carson told CBC's All in a Day on Monday.

"Instead of just removing something I thought a better approach would be to educate around other measures of health and fitness success."

Marshall had said a better way to measure one's goals is to focus on different numbers than weight, such as girth measurements. "You would then revisit these measurements after a few weeks to keep tabs on your progress," he said. 

Some athletes want to track weight

But Lisa Pitel-Killah, who won the gold at the 2016 World Championship of Kettlebell Lifting, said gyms can still do so without removing the choice from members who do want to track their weight.

"Some people are trying to gain muscle and gain weight," said Pitel-Killah, a kettlebell athlete and coach. 

"So, it's another option they can use with the scale if that's something that they want to mix together. That (girth measurements) being the only option? I think that's a very limiting factor."

She admitted she did have an unhealthy relationship with the scale, especially in her university years and when she was a figure skater. 

"It was a focus for a while. But you know what, it's something where now I use it as a proper tool. And I think that if I had the education about how I was dealing with that at the time, I think I would have made a lot better choices."

Marshall said it was the recreation and athletics department's decision to remove the scale and that it wasn't based on complaints.

Following a flurry of negative social media reaction, he said the department will "weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision."