Challenging our society’s unjust perception and discrimination towards fat people, and seeking to promote health and acceptance for people of all sizes, Dr. Courtney Marshall is an inspiration to students and people everywhere. As a guest speaker in my Women’s Studies class, it was an honor to hear the story of such a strong-minded college professor-turned fitness instructor, determined to make difference. Listening to her message of fitness, body positivity, and size acceptance, this was a class I will never forget.
About Dr. Marshall:
Technically speaking, Dr. Courtney Marshall is a community-fitness instructor. In reality, she is much more. She currently teaches everything from Aqua-Zumba and strength training, to family classes and more. Unlike “typical” fitness instructors today, she believes in making fitness fun and accessible for all people. She offers courses for those who can’t afford gym memberships. She’ll even Skype training sessions for people who don’t have access to a gym! She listens to her students’ needs and works to accommodate them, meeting them where ever they are on their own paths and journeys towards health at every size.
In addition, Dr. Marshall stands against weight discrimination and fat bias. She stands up for fat people in a place they are often unwelcome: the gym. Fat people can be fit. They can be healthy. And yet they are judged. They are assessed, evaluated, and stigmatized. Having been subjected to this very treatment herself, she uses her experiences as a fat, black woman to give others a voice and the freedom to move.
“If you change the way you think about fat people, you’ll change the way you feel about gaining weight.” – Dr. Courtney Marshall
A day in her class…
Her classes aren’t about “burning calories” and “getting ripped.” You won’t find her yelling at students to “do more!” or “push harder!” Instead, it’s all about doing what you can do, moving in a way which feels good to you. Fitness should be fun. You should do it because you want to, not because you have to. We’re not obligated to be “healthy” and work out. Movement, she argues, should honor people’s wishes and respect their bodies.
Fitness should be fun. You should do it because you want to, not because you have to.
I left my Women’s Studies class that evening completely inspired and even more motivated to make a difference. Dr. Marshall confirmed so many things I’ve been learning on my own journey, messages I’ve been trying to share: F
itness should be fun. It should be about honoring your body and moving in ways you enjoy. Health is attainable at any size. You can be fat, fit, and absolutely fabulous!
We need to start changing the way we view fat people, because they are wonderful, beautiful people and they deserve respect. To again quote Dr. Marshall, “they [fat people] don’t owe you anything!” Stop judging others because of their size. Everyone is on his/her own journey and should to feel free to do what he/she enjoys.
Dr. Courtney Marshall currently offers a variety of fitness classes in the New England region. Click here to read her interview with Vital in 2016 and learn more about how you can honor your body and have fun through movement. Let’s change the way we view fat people and promote health at every size, for everyone.
It’s time to stop living in fear of judgement and judging others. Be dauntless and start living for yourself. Do what you enjoy! ♥