Howdy! I’m Stacey! I love dancing, boxing, dirty martinis and comedy shows. I’m also a plus size fitness instructor. At the end of July 2019, PopSugar Fitness released a video with me leading a PlyoJam workout. My dear friend, Deja Riley, is one of the new hosts on PopSugar and she recommended me to their producer. I sent over a highlight reel of me teaching PlyoJam and BOOM, the video shoot was scheduled! WOAH!
It’s taken me a couple months to write about this subject because I’ve needed some time to process the feedback and words I’ve received.
PopSugar has an enormous platform and audience (millions!), and I was well aware that my video could strike a chord with many. You see, I am most certainly not the typical fitness instructor that we all see in magazines, on videos, on billboards, at the gym, etc. I am a plus size fitness instructor. When we think of fitness instructors, we think of washboard abs, sports bras and leggings showing off toned arms and legs, peppy smiles and positive “you can do it” attitudes.
And guess what? I applaud each and every one of those instructors because it’s not an easy job. So many fitness instructors lead with grace and positivity, without revealing the daily grind, the tax it takes on the body, the hustle, and the days that they just don’t feel like putting on a smile. Those fitness instructors work hard and have discipline and while so often genetics plays a HUGE part in body type, I will never devalue or underestimate the work it takes to create and maintain a body like that.
SIZE REPRESENTATION IN FITNESS
However, while I applaud those fitness instructors that fit the physical mold of what we envision when we hear the words “fitness instructor” or “trainer”, it has always left me wondering why there isn’t more representation of different body types in the fitness space. Does the world REALLY believe that only size 2s and 4s can be fit? Does society REALLY believe that only washboard abs are capable of leading and motivating? Do people REALLY believe that only a certain cookie cutter size and shape is worthy of helping others live their best lives?
I have been teaching PlyoJam for almost four years now. My weight has fluctuated throughout the years for various reasons, my energy has fluctuated, my strength has gone up and down a bit. But never once have I given up on wanting to lead and inspire my students. And I believe whole-heartedly that my fluctuations and ups and downs actually represent what MOST people go through, and therefore it’s very relatable. The love and loyalty my students show me has given me the courage and determination to continue on even during the hard times.
FACING MY FEARS AS A PLUS SIZE FITNESS INSTRUCTOR
When asked to lead a video for PopSugar video I definitely paused for a moment. Would a much larger audience embrace me the way my own students do? How would they feel about a plus size fitness instructor? I really wasn’t sure. They don’t know me the way my students know me. They may take one look at my video and wonder why a size 14/16 woman (who is 40 years old no less!) is leading a workout on PopSugar. After all, PopSugar has never had a full figured fitness instructor actually LEAD a workout.
But I chose to put all those concerns aside, because even if I could inspire just one person somewhere in the world to feel good and worthy of moving their body, then I would feel accomplished. And I decided that even if I received some mean comments or hateful trolling, knowing I had inspired just one person would FAR outweigh that vitriol.
I STRAPPED ON MY SPORTS BRA AND SAID LET’S DO THIS!
So I did it. I strapped on my 38DD sports bra and my XL high waisted leggings (90 Degrees by Reflex keep me right and tight) and did my very best to do what I know how to do. Shake my booty, have fun, smile and help others feel good. It helped to film my video with Deja and my other dear friend, Christina Duerr, both of whom I love so much and are so incredibly supportive.
When the video went live I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared for the outpouring of love and support and gratitude I received. Women from all over the globe reached out to me. Hundreds and hundreds of women telling me they were so happy and excited and RELIEVED to see a body type like mine on their screens. I received messages of love and praise and gratitude. I received messages of hope and relief and renewed sense of energy. I received messages from women who told me my video made them feel WORTHY of working out. And when I tell you I received messages from all over the globe, I am talking Ethiopia, Israel, the Caribbean, Switzerland, India, Peru, all over the United States and so many more places.
I wanted to share a couple of messages I received:
Thank you for stepping through the fear and doing this. You have broken a barrier for women who feel like they can’t lead workouts or be in the front because of who they are. Weight, size, none of it matters. What matters is who are when we show up and how we use our talents to help others. So thank you for being so willing to show all of us women out there that we can follow our dreams no matter what the world says. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’m a curvaceous gal who works out every single day. I’ve lost 40lbs doing videos with Anna and Deja and the other instructors. But this video made me admire PopSugar Fitness even more. It’s a glorious thing to see a curvaceous woman unapologetically leading workouts and killing it! OMG Stacey has the best dance moves. Thank you!
Hey Stacey! I just saw your workout on PopSugar. I can’t tell you how comfortable I felt workout out with you. We need more Stacey’s in the workout world. I just had my 3rd child and I’m the biggest I’ve ever been. I started back into fitness a couple of months ago, and the weight is coming off. I have so many workout videos but get mentally frustrated because I feel so inadequate comparing myself to the workout leads. I love what you are doing and I just know you are going to be a great success. We NEEDED this!!! God bless you!
This workout was sooo fun! I was sweating and smiling the whole time. Honestly I got a little teary eyed too. Thanks for sharing your JOY Stacey.
I adore Stacey so much, she is just so naturally positive and encouraging and she just has a way of making you feel so good about yourself. I love PopSugar videos but this is by far my favorite for the fun dance moves and positive vibes. This video has gotten me motivated to workout so much more than any other video has in the past. So thank you so much Stacey!
Dear Stacey, I came across your YouTube session and I just wanted to say how much you inspired me. I have been dealing with food addiction for all of my life. I have had several doctors that want me to have bariatric surgery. They just don’t believe I can be healthy with just exercise and food portion control. I started using the YouTube session a month ago. You are an amazing person. I was so impressed by your strength and vitality. It has motivated me to keep using your session again and again. Thank you.
IT WAS ALL WORTH IT
The messages go on and on and I am beyond humbled and my gratitude is through the roof. Yes, I received some hateful, ignorant and just plain MEAN comments as well. But those mean words have nothing to do with me and everything to do with the person writing them. And they are like a speck of dust compared to the love I’ve received. In some ways I feel like I have no right to receive this love. I struggle and I fail all the time. I get down, I get frustrated, but I always, ALWAYS get back up. And that’s the message I want to spread to every single person out there. You are worthy. Your size doesn’t matter. Be healthy, be strong, be brave and ALWAYS get back up. I am so happy I fought my fears and filmed the PopSugar video. Taking the risk produced an outcome that has far exceeded my expectations in every possible way. Take the risk my friends.