Do You Have to Be Thin to Be an Athlete?

Close your eyes and think of an athlete’s body. Are you imagining six-pack abs, striated calves and rock-hard biceps? Are you envisioning someone thin?

Are you surprised to know that an athletic body is not necessarily what exercise and fitness experts have in mind when they speak of a fit body.  Athletes come in all sizes and shapes, and, in some sports, a successful athlete is not what you might initially envision. For example, a ballerina or a marathoner may tend to be very thin but with strong tendon muscles. On the other hand, a sumo wrestler, power lifter or football lineman may seem “obese” or overweight although these athletes are extremely successful in their sports and are in great health.

This is best explained in “Fit vs Athletic Bodies.” The article states, “Depending on the sport played, the athletic body is built and trained for strength, power, speed, agility, quickness, endurance or a combination of these attributes. But an athletic body that is built, for instance, for an endurance sport such as marathon racing may be severely limited when it comes to strength — particularly in the upper body, or even flexibility. While some sports, such as gymnastics may require the athlete to be proficient in most if not all of these attributes, others have more very specific requirements and therefore the body type of the athlete performing them may not be as well-rounded. An athlete’s body type more often than not reflects the most commonly relied upon skills needed for their sport.”

I recently read, “Plus-Size Runner Leads the Way for Overweight Athletes.” Mirna Valerio doesn’t have the typical body of a runner. In 2008, her doctor told her that, if she didn’t change her lifestyle, she would die. That prompted her to begin running one mile at a time. She now competes in ultra-marathons (100K races/62 miles) but she still hears, “Wow. You are a big girl. Are you sure you should be running?” She also began blogging about “being a runner in a big body” in her blog, Fat Girl Running, and has become an inspiration to overweight athletes.

As an Athletic Trainer for more than 30 years and the founder of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic fitness facility helping children with special needs, adults wanting to regain their athletic edge, senior citizens and professional athletes reach their full potential, I have seen firsthand how being thin doesn’t make you a better athlete and how being a great athlete won’t necessarily make you thin.

Although it is true that everyone – no matter of age, ability  or weight – needs to exercise in order to live long, healthy lives, we need to focus on becoming fit and not just “looking” fit. Fitness should be fun! You don’t need to train like Ms. Valerio and run marathons. But, you need to have Ms. Valerio’s mindset.

She said, “I think most people who are my size and in athletic pursuit, we exude something different. There is a joy in what we do and we love to spread that joy to other people. Especially if it motivates them and inspires them to be athletes.”

And, that’s the goal of being an athlete – finding joy in the pursuit of bettering yourself.

About Fitness for Health:

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight or maintain weight management for adults or kids?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.

Do you want to improve your athletic skills?  Try our EDGE Training using our one-of-a-kind training regimen utilizing our state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment to give you the EDGE when you need to take your game to the next level.

EDGE Training is so much more than traditional training. We can help increase your visual acuity, balance, reaction time and speed. Want to know how we do this? Contact us at 301-231-7138 for a FREE, one hour workout!