Fat and fit: These women are redefining what fitness looks like

Jessamyn Stanley and Kristy Fassio. (Photos: Stanley: Lydia Hudgens; Fassio: Courtesy of Kristy Fassio; artwork: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

What was known as the body-positivity movement is now a new world order. From advertising and television to lingerie and fashion lines, different body types are becoming increasingly more accepted and normalized. That said, the one space where we continue to routinely see cultural pushback is in the realm of fitness.

Being physically fit does not necessarily mean being a size 2 with six-pack abs. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and physically fit bodies are no different. But finally there is a push to more widely accept physical fitness without weight loss — a long-overdue end to the theory that you can’t be fat and fit.

When I was growing up, I was an active kid. I was on the volleyball and track teams in high school. In college, I swam all four years and made captain. Something I noticed early on was that I was always the biggest girl on every single sports team. That fact came with stares and the surprised looks that I wasn’t only on a sports team — I was actually good. Sadly, I never felt good enough; no matter how many races or games I won, I was always focused on my weight.

As I’ve gotten into my mid-20s, my focus on weight loss has waned. Now, at 26 years old and 220 pounds, I just recently took my first gymnastics class and participated in my first triathlon.

There are many fit, plus-size women like me who are challenging the status quo — and their bodies: Jore Marshall, a professional dancer, Jessamyn Stanley, an internationally known yoga instructor, and Kristy Fassio, a body-positive personal trainer — to name a few. I spoke to these three women about times they have been discriminated against, why representation matters in the fitness world, and the different ways they’re taking care of their bodies rather than obsessing about their weight.

Kristy Fassio – personal trainer

Kristy Fassio’s fitness journey started after she had her first baby in 2007, when she joined a fitness class that incorporated strollers into the workouts.

“It was my first fitness community,” Fassio tells me. “There was no encouragement to lose weight, just an open space to move my body. I remember lying on my back that first day, staring up at the trees thinking, ‘I could do this every day.'” Fast forward 11 years, and Fassio is a personal trainer and owns a company called Fit From Within, where she’s helping clients to accept the bodies they have.

So, how does a plus-size personal trainer challenge her body and gain confidence? Her daily workouts consist of walking, strength training, tap dancing, and doing away with diet culture. “I moved away from anything regimented when it comes to fitness, and now I ask myself, ‘How do I want to move?’ and I do that,” the Washington-state-based trainer says.

“Your body is yours. Learn to cherish it,” Fassio adds. “Listen to it. Love to run? Run with your body. Swim? Put a fantastic swimsuit on that body and get in the water. Act? Get up onstage and shine. Do not hide!”

Jore Marshall — dancer

Jore Marshall, who danced with Beyoncé at Coachella. (Photo: Courtesy of Jore Marshall; artwork: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)
At 9 years old, Jore Marshall’s passion for dancing took hold, when she first learned how to krump, a style of street dancing that originated in South Central L.A. From there her passion snowballed, and she and her sister Amari both became dedicated to dance. The sisters were so committed to pursuing their dreams that in 2015 the whole family moved from Florida to Los Angeles.
Three years later, the Marshall sisters were side by side with Beyoncé during her celebrated Coachella performance of her reggae-inspired number. Looking back, Marshall knew that moment was huge for the plus-size community.
“It was so powerful. I’m still shocked because not only are we representing thicker women, but I was able to share that moment with my sister and with Beyoncé. We have so many people writing us saying how inspired they were. I would’ve never, in a million years, thought I’d be dancing with Beyoncé,” Marshall tells me.

[caption id="attachment_3193445" align="alignnone" width="800"] However, achieving that moment was far from easy. Marshall knew what she signed up for being a professional plus-size dancer, but she didn’t realize the discrimination she would face, not only from casting directors but from fellow dancers. Marshall recalls countless auditions in which she and her sister were typecast because of their size.
“There was a dancer I actually heard saying they were surprised that bigger girls got the gig. There’s been a lot of times I’ve gotten discriminated against because of my weight. I’m so used to it because it’s the dance industry,” the 21-year-old says. “The industry standard for dancers is small — very pretty and petite. Now the industry is changing, and they’re getting bigger girls in general. I think it’s amazing.”
Marshall remembers trying to “look the part” when she started working as a professional dancer, until one day it clicked and she just thought, Who cares? “I’m beautiful the way I am, and I’m just as capable as any other dancer that’s smaller. Either you’re going to take me or you’re not,” Marshall says.

Now her sights are set on dancing with another music legend: Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott.

Jessamyn Stanley — yoga instructor

Jessamyn Stanley strikes a yoga pose. (Photo: Lydia Hudgens; artwork: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)
If there were a piece of advice Jessamyn Stanley would give a young girl struggling with her weight, it would be: “Your strength is not limited by what you look like. And honestly, the way you look is a benefit. No one can tell you [differently] about yourself.”

Stanley got into yoga after her aunt, grandmother, and former partner’s brother died within a matter of months. Yoga became a solace for Stanley after she nearly slipped into depression. Now, seven years into a yoga practice and a book , podcast , and several yoga tours later, Stanley is relearning how she can challenge her body besides doing yoga.
[caption id="attachment_3193459" align="alignnone" width="800"] “My thing this year is weightlifting. Yoga and weightlifting are complementary. I go to a CrossFit gym, and one of the coaches coached me through a lifting routine. But then I immediately ran into that mental barrier of I don’t know what I’m doing, or I’m not good enough to just be hanging out over here powerlifting. [I’m] pushing past these new boundaries and learning about myself in a new way, ” says the North Carolina yogi. “I’ve spent decades pouring hatred into my body. At this point, it’s a detox.”

Being one of the very few plus-size and queer yoga instructors, Stanley knows she’s an anomaly in the fitness industry, and she also knows that people view her as an underdog because of her weight. But she’s no longer concerned with the opinions of others. These days she’s focused on doing the inner work.                                                                                                                 

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.


  • UCP attacks media for 'old news' on party platform plans - but was it?
    News
    CBC

    UCP attacks media for 'old news' on party platform plans - but was it?

    At least that seems to be the odd tactic of United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney. One story in the Edmonton Journal — headlined "Quick laws and freezing wages: Jason Kenney outlines plans for power" — explained that a Kenney government would lower the minimum wage for teenagers, put in place a minister of deregulation, and move swiftly to scrap swaths of NDP policy in a special session of the legislative assembly next summer.

  • Turkey hasn't shared Khashoggi audio with U.S., minister says
    News
    CBC

    Turkey hasn't shared Khashoggi audio with U.S., minister says

    The state-run Anadolu Agency also quoted Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying that Turkey would share "with the world" the results of its investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi, who hasn't been seen since the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Cavusoglu made the comments during a visit to Albania on Friday.

  • In China's Catholic heartland, Vatican deal brings Communist Party closer
    News
    Reuters

    In China's Catholic heartland, Vatican deal brings Communist Party closer

    Authorities surrounded Donglu village's Our Lady of China Catholic Church, blocking thousands of pilgrims and detaining Vatican-ordained Bishop Su Zhimin, who was a member of the "underground" Church, not the state-backed official Church which did not recognize the pope's authority to name bishops. Despite repeated appeals to Chinese authorities from Vatican officials and underground clergy, it is unclear whether Su, who would now be 86, is still being held or is even alive. Decades on, the Donglu church's ties with officials are now convivial, according to Diao Ligang, a local priest, reflecting a generational shift toward acceptance of the ruling Communist Party's authority over China's Catholics.

  • Britain's Harry scales Sydney Harbour Bridge, joins group hug at Bondi
    News
    Reuters

    Britain's Harry scales Sydney Harbour Bridge, joins group hug at Bondi

    Fantastic for all the veterans," said Facebook user Angela Doggett on the social media page of the company that organizes the climbs.Earlier, Harry and his wife, Megan Markle, joined a group hug on Bondi Beach at an event organized by surfers to build awareness of mental health issues. "Harry said each and every one of us will experience poor mental health at some stage in our lives," Charlotte Connell, one of the participants in the circle, told the Australian Associated Press. Harry, who has said he sought counseling in his late twenties to deal with the grief of losing his mother Diana, served in the British Army and campaigns to provide mental health help for soldiers who need it.

  • Europe, Asia show commitment to free trade: Merkel
    News
    Reuters

    Europe, Asia show commitment to free trade: Merkel

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that an Asia-Europe summit in Brussels showed that some two-thirds of the world was committed to multilateralism and recognized the benefits of free trade. "The summit shows that countries have gathered from Europe and Asia who want a rules-based trading and have pledged themselves to multilateralism," she said, adding it was an important signal given that Europe and Asia represented almost two-thirds of world GDP, trade and population. "Our theme is about creating connections, for example through free trade agreement... ...

  • EU's Barnier says Brexit deal 90 percent done, but Ireland issue could derail it
    News
    Reuters

    EU's Barnier says Brexit deal 90 percent done, but Ireland issue could derail it

    European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday a Brexit deal with the United Kingdom was 90 percent done, although there was still a chance no accord would be reached due to ongoing stumbling blocks over the Irish border. "Ninety percent of the accord on the table has been agreed with Britain," Barnier told France Inter radio. On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May and other EU leaders voiced renewed confidence that they could secure a Brexit deal, yet the two sides remain at odds over how to deal with their only land border, between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland.

  • Unlicensed medical pot dispensaries the wildcard in new cannabis landscape
    News
    CBC

    Unlicensed medical pot dispensaries the wildcard in new cannabis landscape

    Katie Beaulieu says the wave of calls and customers began as soon as the Best Buds Society dispensary opened for business on Oct. 17. "It was pretty much business as usual, except that our phones were ringing off the hook with people looking for recreational dispensaries," she said. Best Buds is the city's longest-running unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary.

  • Wharf worries: Northern Alberta community worries about the privatization of their port
    News
    CBC

    Wharf worries: Northern Alberta community worries about the privatization of their port

    Transport Canada has said it's in talks with an unnamed company to take ownership of Fort Chipewyan's main wharf. Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam is worried about what could happen if the port were to close and a wildfire burned through the old growth boreal forest that surrounds it. Fort Chipewyan is a Cree, Dene and Métis community of about 1,000 people located north of Fort McMurray on the shores of Lake Athabasca.

  • More precaution than promotion for Canadian cannabis tourism
    News
    Reuters

    More precaution than promotion for Canadian cannabis tourism

    There are precedents for Canada to follow in California, Colorado and elsewhere. On Wednesday, Canada became the first major industrialized nation to legalize recreational marijuana, sparking huge demand. "The tourist is really at the mercy of the drastically changing landscape," said Neev Tapiero, who had a soft launch for his company, Canadian Kush Tours, months ago.

  • Man rescued from Arizona mine lucky to survive fall, snakes
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Man rescued from Arizona mine lucky to survive fall, snakes

    An Arizona man who fell to the bottom of an old abandoned gold mine shaft, broke both his legs, fought off a trio of rattlesnakes and went two days without food or water before a friend heard his cries for help is lucky to be alive, said the head of a rescue team. "He is a very fortunate individual," Operations Commander Roger Yensen of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Mountain Rescue Posse said Thursday of 62-year-old John Waddell. Waddell owns the land where the shaft is located north of Phoenix and was using a rope to lower himself into it on Monday when he lost control and fell at least 50 feet (15 metres ) to the rocky ground.

  • New owners to take over Wolverine Mine, says Yukon gov't
    News
    CBC

    New owners to take over Wolverine Mine, says Yukon gov't

    Ownership at the Wolverine Mine is about to switch hands — according to the Yukon government. The mine, located southeast of Ross River, Yukon, has been in temporary closure since January 2015. Minister of Energy, Mines, and Resources Ranj Pillai told the legislature last Thursday the new ownership group is in discussions with the Yukon Water Board.

  • Cleaning crews find cremated remains in old funeral home
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Cleaning crews find cremated remains in old funeral home

    Several cremated remains have been found by cleaning crews at a former Detroit funeral home where mummified remains of 10 fetuses were discovered last week in a ceiling, state licensing inspectors said Thursday. Crews clearing the building for its new owner came across containers holding cremains in a trash-strewn basement over three days this week, said Julia Dale, director of the state Bureau of Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing. The building on Detroit's east side was owned by the Cantrell Funeral Home until earlier this year.

  • Exclusive: OPEC, allies struggle to fully deliver pledged oil output boost - internal document
    News
    Reuters

    Exclusive: OPEC, allies struggle to fully deliver pledged oil output boost - internal document

    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies agreed in June to boost supply as U.S. President Donald Trump urged producers to offset losses caused by sanctions on Iran and to dampen rising prices. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC and non-OPEC would pump roughly an extra 1 million barrels per day (bpd) following the June agreement. The OPEC document seen by Reuters adds to signs they have yet to deliver the full amount.

  • 'It's been a long time since we slept in a bed'
    BBC News

    'It's been a long time since we slept in a bed'

    Thousands of Venezuelans have fled to Brazil trying to escape from their country’s crisis, most of them crossing the border town of Pacaraima to soon head to Boa Vista, both in the state of Roraima, north of Brazil. But their presence has been causing tension in the state. Locals complain of Venezuelans sleeping in the streets and overwhelming the state’s public services. In August, Brazilians and Venezuelans clashed in Pacaraima, not for the first time, leading migrants to flee back over the border. The tension has pushed Brazil’s the government to step up efforts to move people to bigger cities in Brazil where there’s more opportunity for Venezuelans to rebuild their lives. Video by Luciani Gomes.

  • News
    Reuters

    Tanzania police work with Interpol to search for abducted tycoon

    Africa's youngest billionaire, snatched a week ago off the street outside a luxury hotel in Tanzania, was kidnapped in a car that had arrived from "a neighboring country", police said on Friday. Mohammed Dewji, 43-year-old CEO of the METL Group family conglomerate, was seized as he arrived for a morning workout in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam last week. Forbes estimates his net worth as $1.5 billion, making him Africa's 17th richest man and its youngest billionaire.

  • Cardi B hands out free winter coats in New York
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Cardi B hands out free winter coats in New York

    Hundreds of people have lined up in New York City as rapper Cardi B handed out free winter coats. Cardi B says she cares a lot about kids and the community and feels it's important to set a good example. On Oct. 1, she got a summons in connection with a melee at a New York strip club.

  • Weaker than expected Canadian data not seen delaying rate hike
    News
    Reuters

    Weaker than expected Canadian data not seen delaying rate hike

    Statistics Canada said the annual inflation rate in September dipped to 2.2 percent from 2.8 percent as price pressures from gas and air travel eased. September marked the eighth consecutive month that the overall inflation rate has exceeded the Bank of Canada's 2.0 percent target. The central bank, which predicts inflation should move back down toward 2 percent by early 2019, will announce its next interest rate decision on Oct. 24 and markets are expecting a hike.

  • Woman finds unmarked white pill in chips
    News
    CBC

    Woman finds unmarked white pill in chips

    Wood also called the CFIA and a representative came to Wood's home to collect a sample of the pill. In an email to Wood, the CFIA says, "the test results from the sample obtained by the CFIA on Oct. 9, 2018 confirmed the presence of ibuprofen.

  • Fort Smith trapper says town unfairly seized his 2 working dogs
    News
    CBC

    Fort Smith trapper says town unfairly seized his 2 working dogs

    A trapper in Fort Smith, N.W.T., has had two of his working dogs seized by the town. William Hoffman said his dogs keep him safe in the bush, pull his sleds along traplines and help haul firewood for him and his elderly father, renowned Fort Smith trapper Karl Hoffman. Hoffman said he has been trapping with his father since he was five years old.

  • Copter crashes on USS Ronald Reagan in Asia, sailors hurt
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Copter crashes on USS Ronald Reagan in Asia, sailors hurt

    A U.S. Navy helicopter crashed on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan on Friday, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors, the Navy said. The Navy's 7th Fleet said in a statement that the MH-60 Seahawk crashed shortly after takeoff Friday morning while the carrier was off the Philippine coast. All affected sailors were in stable condition and their injuries were non-life threatening, the Navy said, adding they ranged from minor abrasions and lacerations to fractures.

  • New Brunswick hopes cannabis can help drive rural economic recovery
    News
    CBC

    New Brunswick hopes cannabis can help drive rural economic recovery

    There is still much uncertainty about how much money provinces actually stand to make from legal cannabis, but in parts of rural New Brunswick, legalization has already helped to revitalize the economy. In Atholville, a village with a population of just over 3,000, the arrival of cannabis giant Zenabis has given the struggling community a new lease on life. Atholville was a typical northern New Brunswick village.

  • News
    Reuters

    Swedish Academy names new member after scandal that blocked Nobel Literature prize

    The Swedish Academy, the body that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature, picked an expert in ancient Nordic languages as a new member on Friday, a step toward recovering its standing after a sex scandal forced it to postpone this year's prize. Mats Malm, a professor in literature at Gothenburg University, becomes the third new member appointed this month to the 18-member body, filling all empty seats including two left vacant by members who quit over the scandal. The Academy, founded by Sweden's king 232 years ago to safeguard the Swedish language, has picked the Nobel prizewinner in literature since 1901.

  • News details released on fatal plane crash near Fort Simpson
    News
    CBC

    News details released on fatal plane crash near Fort Simpson

    The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released new details on a fatal plane crash near Fort Simpson, N.W.T., in August. The floatplane, a Cessna 206, operated by Simpson Air, went down when it was coming in for a landing on Little Doctor Lake on Aug. 16. According to the TSB, the pilot lost control during the touchdown and the right float dug into the lake, causing the right wing to hit the surface of the water.

  • Thousands set to run 'bigger, better' Toronto Waterfront Marathon
    News
    CBC

    Thousands set to run 'bigger, better' Toronto Waterfront Marathon

    Reid Coolsaet believes it's his first chance at a "decent" marathon performance in about two years.

  • Privacy Commissioner investigating personal data collection at cannabis stores
    News
    CBC

    Privacy Commissioner investigating personal data collection at cannabis stores

    P.E.I.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner has launched an investigation to see if the new government run cannabis stores are collecting personal data from customers — and how they're using any information collected.