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Subject: Big Folks Sports and Activities FAQ

This article was archived around: 8 Jun 1998 11:33:40 GMT

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Archive-name: fat-acceptance-faq/sports Posting-Frequency: monthly to *.answers, bi-weekly to soc.support.fat-acceptance and alt.support.big-folks Last-modified: February 6, 1998 Version: 2.1
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sports and Activities for Big Folks This document contains information about exercise and fitness for fat people. It includes information about various sports and activities, and clothes and equipment for them, as they relate to fat people. To make it clear, this is not a missive from the lifestyle police trying to get all fat people to exercise, but a source of information for the fat folks who do want to exercise. If you don't find what you're looking for here, try one of the related FAQs (see question B1 for a complete list). In particular, try the Fitness Resources FAQ for a list of clothing, equipment et cetera. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Changes from Last Version Rewrote the Aqua Aerobics section. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Contents SECTION A: FAQ about sports and activities for fat people A1) Can a fat person *really* be fit? A2) I want to start exercising, what do you recommend to get started? A3) What specific information is there about fat people and A3-1) Aerobics A3-2) Aqua Aerobics A3-3) Badminton A3-4) Belly Dancing A3-5) Caving A3-6) Cycling A3-7) Dancing A3-8) Exercise Equipment A3-9) Gardening A3-10) Golf A3-11) Health Clubs/Gyms A3-12) Horse Riding A3-13) Jogging A3-14) Kayaking A3-15) Martial Arts A3-16) Scuba Diving A3-17) Skating A3-18) Skiing A3-19) Stretching A3-20) Surfing A3-21) Swimming A3-22) Tennis A3-23) Videos A3-24) Walking A3-25) Weight Training A3-26) White Water Rafting A3-27) Yoga SECTION B: Information about this FAQ B1) Are there other related FAQs? B2) Posting information B3) Availability of the FAQ B4) Contributors -------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------- SECTION A: FAQ about sports and activities for fat people A1) Can a fat person *really* be fit? Yes, indeed. For example, look at sumo wrestlers, or the likes of Geoff Capes (used to be holder of the title World's Strongest Man). For the average fat person who is not competing at world-class competition level, there is still a range of fitness that can be achieved, from the very unfit to the very fit. Your maximum fitness level might lead to lesser achievement relative to your bodyweight than a thinner friend of similar fitness (eg your friend might run 100m more quickly than you), though this is hardly surprising as most sports and exercises involve some form of body resistance. But underneath, your muscles can be just as toned and efficient, and your aerobic capacity just as great, and maybe if your friend were to carry an appropriately heavy rucksack on their back, you might beat them easily. This leads to a quick retort if some instructor is giving you hassle if you're being slow because of your weight: "If you had to carry this around, I bet you'd do it in twice the time I've taken". Fitness can be measured in various ways. Aerobic capacity (how well the lungs are working) is one of them, performance on various set exercises is another. If you're being measured on some exercise that is relative to bodyweight, bear in mind that you have more to do than the thin person next to you, and don't expect unreasonable things of yourself. -------------------------------------------------------------------- A2) I want to start exercising, what do you recommend to get started? To get started, find something that you don't feel obligated to do, but that you're interested in and that you can do, and that you actually enjoy. Nothing puts you off faster than doing something you dislike and feeling you have to do it. Consider different types of activity. You could go for a sport, or go for the exercise machines or videos, or maybe an activity such as dancing or some other one that involves a high active component in it, such as gardening. Find something that interests you. There are so many different activities in the world, to choose from! If you're lacking in motivation, you might find it helpful to set yourself short term goals, e.g. measuring your activity and enjoyment level. Or you might find it helpful to find a friend to do it with you. Joining a club helps you find friends interested in the same activity. Take into account your personal health and history. For example, if you have a history of back and/or knee problems, then kneeling down and leaning over a flowerbed to do some weeding is perhaps not the best thing for you to try. If you have any worries about how a particular activity will affect your health, then consult your doctor. Doctors are happy to help with such suggestions (and if you have a fat-phobic doctor, it gets them delightedly off the subject of weight :-) ). Also bear in mind that charts for energy consumption, recommended exercises to try, suggested amounts of training etc, are often constructed with someone of average weight in mind. -------------------------------------------------------------------- A3) What specific information is there about fat people and A3-1) Aerobics For aerobics videos, see the videos section. For aerobic classes, you may wish to find either classes with large instructors, or classes aiming specifically at aerobics for plus sizes or a range of sizes. They do exist. See the Fitness Resources FAQ for suggestions, or look for a local class. Guidelines to bear in mind: They say when doing aerobics you want to work at a brisk pace, but you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. If not, you're not getting enough air - and none of the benefit of the exercise, so slow down. Be aware that some exercises have the potential to hurt you, and are now blacklisted. Teachers need to know the latest guidelines, so check the credentials of your trainers. If any move is uncomfortable, pulls hard or hurts, stop immediately. There are always at least two other exercises that could be substituted to work the same muscle group. A3-2) Aqua Aerobics Aqua Aerobics are aerobic exercises performed in water. There is more emphasis on using the natural resistance of the water to exercise the body. Also, the water helps support the body whilst moving; there is none of the impact you get on body joints for usual aerobics, and you can precisely tailor your work-out to yourself. The harder you push against the water, the harder the water pushes back. Also, you're in chest-high water. No-one can really see what you're doing under there, so if you can't quite do all of the exercises, then there is no need to be embarrassed. Above all, though, it is FUN. You get to have a fun splashy time to bouncy music, If you are a woman who is large on top, then depending on the type of exercises in the class and the depth of the water you stand in, you may wish to wear a supportive bra underneath a swimsuit, or use a supportive swimsuit. Check out your local pool or health club to see if they have details of classes near you. You can also obtain equipment to make the most of your time in the pool, such as water exercise dumbells. See the Fitness Resources FAQ. A3-3) Badminton Badminton places a lot of emphasis on good hand-eye coordination, wrist action, quick reflexes and short quick dashes across the court. So there is nothing intrinsic about the sport that hampers large people, though of course dashing about the court will put more stress on the joints of heavy people, so it might not be suitable for all heavy people. In fact, the people in the clubs in my county league have just as many large people as I see in the population in general, and with the same spread of abilities. There are no equipment problems for badminton players, although they share the difficulty with tennis players with having a scarcity of attractive t-shirt/sports-shirt and skirt/shorts outfits in any sizes larger than average. A3-4) Belly Dancing Also know as raq shari, this is very bold dancing for women (I don't have any info for men, sorry!) which is unashamedly erotic. Skinny women can do it, but having a full figure is much better, and indeed the moves develop the stomach muscles so that women do end up with a little pot belly if they didn't have one before. The three top stars in Egypt today, Fifi Abdu, Nagwa Fouad and Sohair Zaki, are all in their late forties or fifties and all have very full womanly figures. Check local information for a class near you. Obviously belly dancing is known for skimpy Eastern costumes, but at your local class you are much more likely to be wearing comfortable clothing such as t-shirt and leggings. A troupe of belly dancers in the USA is The Fatimas Ronda Wood Mor-2-Luv 9302 Valley View Ave Whittier, CA 90602 Work Phone: 310-693-1844 A3-5) Caving Caving combines seeing the beauty (or mud!) of the underground world with physical exertion and challenge. Going underground can be a cross between a obstacle course, a multigym and an art gallery! All the different muscle groups get used (in fact I guarantee each time you go caving, the next day you will find a muscle aching that you never knew you had!). Typical physical exertions underground are walking along upright, clambering over boulders, crawling on hands and knees, crawling flat-out, climbing, ascending/descending ladders, abseiling or ascending a rope using some sort of ascending system. There are plenty of large cavers about, and it is perfectly possible to cave whether you are short or tall, thin or fat, though different body types tend to have their own advantages and disadvantages. Tall people tend to be able to reach handholds and footholds more easily. Then again, in a small space, tall people's limbs sometimes get in the way and the short people have an advantage. Fat people have the advantages of staying warm more easily, extra padding in case you bump into a rock, fat people float more easily, and if going down a steep narrow section, fat thighs make very good friction brakes against the sides. Thin people have the obvious advantage that they can get through smaller rock gaps, and as thin people weigh less, a lot less effort is required to ascend (whichever method). The main advantage of being fat is the warmth advantage, but the physical limitations of not being able to get through a tight passage and having to put in a greater amount of effort are significant disadvantages. The most useful asset for a caver is a large upper-body-strength to weight ratio, and many large people (particularly women) have a low ratio. This limits in particular the length of ladder one can climb. When you go caving, you can always choose an appropriate cave. Caves come in varying degrees of difficulty, and have different heights of pitches (vertical drops), and their narrowest sections vary, as do the difficulty of the passages. Ask a friend for a recommendation. Useful techniques for the large caver: You can do weight-training exercises to strength the upper body and arms. Also important is a good ladder technique. When using electron ladders, concentrate on letting your feet support your weight, and your arms keeping you close into the ladder. To get the correct position, put your arms crossed over the other side of the ladder (Tutankhamen style!) with hands gripping onto the wire sides of the ladder. Make sure as you climb that your arms are only providing horizontal force. The great temptation is to use them to pull you up with, which will tire them very quickly. You may find (particularly if you have large calves) that putting feet either side of the ladder to climb, or both feet on the other side of the ladder may prove useful. Equipment for the large caver: To get a sit harness that fits, you may well be able to ask the manufacturer if they can make one with a little more adjustment to it. For clothing, you can go caving in tough old clothes that you don't mind getting torn and muddy, but if you are going to be in a wet cave, you *need* a proper fleece/furry and oversuit that will keep you warm when wet. Furries are heavier than fleeces when wet, so you may wish to go for a fleece. Caving clothing goes up to reasonably large sizes, as there are plenty of large male cavers with beer bellies. You can get large female clothing, but you might end up having to alter a large men's size. Most importantly, if you're interested in caving, join a local club! In the US these are called grottos. They can teach you safe techniques and you will then have plenty of friends to go caving with. A3-6) Cycling Cycling is a great activity. Exercise combined with fresh air and a changing view as we go past. In particular it's a good activity for big folks, even super-size folks. There are plenty of avid cyclists at 400lbs+ out there! When sitting on a bike, our weight is evenly distributed between arms, back and seat. Although we are sitting slightly forward, as long as we can breathe comfortably, we are using major muscle groups so there is less concentrated strain on any one particular area. The expended effort of pedalling and the payoff of the gravity release when going downhill gives you the sensation of flying - no wonder you hear about the biker's "high". What sort of bike should I get? You don't need a special bike, indeed many recommended weight limits for bicycles go up to 250-300lbs, but you do need a sturdy one. Look for strength rather than lightness of components. ATBs (all terrain bikes, or mountain bikes) and hybrids are good. Test drive before you buy! Personally recommended brands include Cannondale M400, Trek Multi, Specialized Hard Rock ATB. Ask your local store for their best-selling brands. One different (although expensive) sort of bike you may wish to consider is a recumbent bicycle. It eliminates any discomfort of leaning over. Many recumbents have wide comfortable seats, and they are easier on the neck and wrists. What things should I look for in bicycle components? Many people recommend getting components that are designed for tandems. Axle-hub combinations from tandems are good. Some mountain bikes have oversized axles precisely to avoid axle breakage, for example bullseye rear hubs, or ones made by Phil Wood. Tandem wheels have at least 40 spokes, and the more spokes (and the more the spokes are true and properly tight), the stronger the wheel. Make sure your wheels have at least 32 spokes. Make sure you get a bike that is the right size for you, and that you can have the handelbars and seat heights adjusted to suit you. Unless you're always going to ride along flat terrain, you need a a third gear (granny) on the chain wheel to get you up hills easily. Choose one with as few as few teeth as possible compared to the largest rear wheel gear. If you stand up a lot on your bike you might wish to get sturdy pedals, preferably metal ones. What sort of seat/saddle should I get? Recommended seats include Vetta and Terry saddles. Try a gel seat. Try a gel seat cover. You might even want to try a special wider seat, actually 2 separate pads with independent tilting action and large, foam cushioned pads. These fit on regular seat supports (posts). Some bicycle stores sell these seats now, or you can get them from Brookstone or Hanover House. What can I do to make myself more comfortable? Wear padded cycling shorts, or buy pads and put them where you need them in your own bike shorts. You might also try tilting the seat downwards a little. As the hands partially support the bodyweight, you could try wearing padded cycling gloves. If you are topheavy, you might find riding in a bent-over fully extended position very uncomfortable. Get the tallest handlebar stem possible, with the shortest and most steeply angled handlebar attachment crosspiece. If you still have to bend over too far, get raised BMX type handlebars (the kind you see on kids' bikes). Go for a low speed and pedal more. Don't push hard in a high gear, it's too strenuous. See the Fitness Resources FAQ for bicycle equipment and accessories. A3-7) Dancing There are many varied types of dancing, but you can even do this in your own home. Put on some music that gets you moving, and go to it! Nobody has to see you, and you can move the parts of your body that you prefer. A dance troupe in the UK is The Roly Polys A British dance group composed of older, larger ladies, founded in 1980. Four of the five are average height and about UK size 18-20. The fifth, Big Mo (Mo Moreland) is 4'11" and UK size 28-30. She's the "darling dumpling" of the Roly Polys. She's also very fat-positive. A3-8) Exercise Equipment Many pieces of home exercise equipment are suitable for big folks, though you should check the weight rating of the equipment. Some people like ski machines, as they are easy on the knees. Generally people tend to prefer low impact exercise machines with a gentle full-body workout. If you sweat a lot, as some fat folks do, be sure to drink lots of water *while* you are working out. Don't wait until the end. Bring a water bottle onto the machine with you. If you're using a stationary bicycle, make sure the seat is comfortable for you. Some people find the Stairmaster is a good antidote for back soreness. It keeps the back upright. You may find that as a fat person, as you're lifting more weight than most people, you want to use the lowest levels. You don't need to support your upper body by leaning on the rails with your palms turned out. It may hurt, and it's counterproductive, as you're then only working your legs and you might as well be on bicycle or a treadmill. Treadmills vary. You may wish to choose one with no bars on the sides, or only on one side, as with the two-bar ones, you might hit your arms on the bars as you walk. Some treadmills are poorly made and will creak if a heavy person walks on them, but the well-made ones support several hundred pounds with no difficulty. Walking on the treadmill is low-impact. If you swing your arms, you'll get a more strenuous workout. Holding onto the rail in front will be a less strenuous workout, but it will stabilize your body and may help if you are experiencing some soreness. By cranking the incline up to 10% or more, you can get an aerobic workout that's just as good as running. Some people like the Elliptical Crosstrainer. This is a cross between a ski machine and a treadmill, except that your feet move in an arc instead of in a horizontal line. The depth of the arc and the resistance of the machine can be altered. A3-9) Gardening Gardening offers many different types of exercise, including digging, mowing, weeding, planting, and can be very energetic. It also offers the benefit that you get to see a beautiful garden at the end of the day! You can get kneeling pads for when you want to kneel down, or you can make your own ones that are as wide or soft as you like. A3-10) Golf Golf offers no particular problems for the large person. Totes makes a big, sturdy, golf-umbrella sized umbrella called the "City Slicker". Large enough to keep almost anyone dry. A3-11) Health Clubs/Gyms Some people have had problems in the past with attitudes at gyms. Visit a few to find one you like. If you're a woman, you might want to try one for women only. Two American recommendations are World Gym and Club Fit. If you're into weight training, you might also consider a hard-core body-building gym rather than a "yuppie" gym. Some power lifters are fat, so fat people are not considered out of place in a serious gym. Another point to consider is that in the U.S., if you use a fairly new health club, they must be ADA-compliant, which means they must accomodate disabilities. This means one shower will have a shower seat and detachable shower head, which is better for washing between skin folds. It's something to look for while touring health clubs. A3-12) Horse Riding Horse riding is a very enjoyable experience. It can be very liberating to feel all that power between your legs. And horses have a wonderful intelligence. The question most frequently asked by big folks is "Will I be too heavy for the horse?" The short answer is "maybe". The long answer is that it depends on a lot of factors: your weight, experience, the type of saddle you use, the horse's strength, age, health, and how hard the horse is worked. As a rough guide, a horse can carry about a quarter of its weight, a fifth with a novice rider. Your weight: There are large people (various weights up to 360+ lbs) on the newsgroup who have ridden without problems. There are also people who gave up riding when they became large enough for it to be a problem for their horse (for example, one person was 300+ lbs at the time). Your experience: If you are a good rider, and know how to post, you will minimize the chances of harming the horse. Novices tend to bounce around a lot more, and this could possibly cause stress to the horse's kidneys. A properly conditioned horse can handle a large experienced rider pretty easily, but a novice of 350lbs sitting at a trot can do damage. Also novices don't have the inner thigh muscles to grip effectively, and once a large person is slightly off balance, it is more difficult to regain balance. The type of saddle: If you ride English, this uses a small saddle, and posting is required. However using a Western saddle, this spreads the rider's weight out more, causing less stress to the horse. It also provides a handy grip for novices. Check that your saddle fits - the length of thighs makes more difference than weight, but large thighs or rears can make a difference too. The horse: Horses are very strong creatures, and properly conditioned, can handle a large rider easily. When you first feel the power in a horse, the first time the horse decides not to do what you're telling him to do, you'll realise what a light-weight you are :-) The riding stables can help to select you an appropriate horse. Choose one that is big, in good health, not too immature, reasonably quiet. You may wish to consider a draft horse. What level of activity you do: If you're a novice, you probably won't want to go faster than a walk at first anyway, until you get comfortable with the horse and vice versa. At any rate, the gentler the activity, the less hard on the horse. Walking, trail riding are great fun. Galloping and jumping do put more strain on the horse if you are heavy. You may wish to try a stable that is involved in therapeutic riding, as they often have a wide variety of horses, plus mounting ramps for those who have difficulty from the ground or a low block. They are also more sensitive about differences than your average stable. A good idea is to call ahead to the stable, saying what you weigh and asking whether there is a suitable horse for you. They may well appreciate you calling as then they can reserve one of the more strongly built horses for you. The organization Double XX Riders may be of interest (see the Fitness Resources FAQ). A3-13) Jogging Fat people can and do jog or run. Jogging offers a great way to take exercise in the fresh air, and you can do it on your own, without needing any special equipment. Jogging does however give the joints impact, and this is more of an impact for heavier people, so jogging is not necessarily for everyone. Recommendations are to wear good supportive running shoes, and to build up slowly. A3-14) Kayaking Kayaking is great fun! You can do it on inland lakes and rivers, or you can go sea-kayaking. There might potentially be a problem if you're pear shaped and the kayak is decked (has a hole in the top that your thighs have to fit through). Alternatively you can use an undecked kayak. Canoes are undecked and more accomodating. If you are worried about the weight the kayak can carry being a limitation, use one that two people can go in. It may be that a spray skirt would be useful if you're in a rough sea, in that case put the skirt on before getting into the boat, then attach it. You may be worried about if the kayak capsizes and you get stuck in it. The most important thing is do *not* panic. You have more time than you think. Most people can hold their breath for at least 30 seconds, and most wet exits take less than 5. A technique you may find useful is once you're upside down, rotate yourself about the axis from neck to toe, so that your legs are still in the kayak at the same end, but your torso has now turned round so that your face is now facing the rear deck of the kayak. Then you just crawl out of the cockpit along the rear deck and your lifejacket will take you to the surface. The first time you attempt a wet exit, have a practice in waist deep water with someone standing next to you. Arrange a signal that if you get stuck you'll pound on the hull and they'll lift you up (rotate the kayak) so you can breathe. Check out rec.boats.paddle for more information. A3-15) Martial Arts Martial Arts are suitable for all body types,. In some arts like Sumo, size is important, but this is an unusual exception. A good instructor will adjust the training to match the student's physical attributes, e.g. while a light person might be told to work speed, a heavy person might be told to work leverage. If you are comtemplating getting involved in a martial art, check out the rec.martial-arts FAQs. They have descriptions of the various types of moves involved in the different martial arts, so you can see which moves you would prefer your body to be involved in. Some particular martial arts that have been recommended are Tai Chi (good for fat people because it's weight bearing, low impact and concentrates on flexibility and balance), Tae Kwon Do (good for tall folks) and Wing Chun (good for short folks), Aikido. Some WWW pages to check out are Isshin-Ryu Karate: http://www.physics.sunysb.edu:80/~gene/MA/isshinryu.html World-Wide Martial Arts Supply: http://www.corp-reflection.com/cgi-dojo/wwmas A3-16) Scuba Diving Scuba diving is good fun! It's also relatively easy to have a great time whilst being safe. However, like any other sport that uses life-support gear, make sure you take training to get certified, before you go, and make sure you are under the instruction of a properly trained instructor. It's an active sport, using up lots of energy, so having a reasonable level of fitness is useful, particularly aerobic fitness, as the more air you use, the shorter your dive is. Ample Opportunity (listed in the organizations FAQ) recently held a scuba class for fat women, with fantastic success. They checked out the various scuba shops for fat-accepting attitudes and found a very accomodating shop. The shop answered all their questions that dealt with fat and scuba and never left folks feeling embarrassed or bad. Many of the instructors were large folks. The instructors suggested that folks rely on the conservative end of the diving tables, but said they in their experience, fat students didn't have any more problems than other folks. Everyone that dives will probably wear weights, large folks may however wear a few more more to counteract the extra buoyancy from size. On very small boats with flimsy ladders, large folks may have some difficulty getting into the boat. If you encounter this problem, hand your gear up to the folks in the boat, and then rock up and down in the water to get some height, so the crew can help pull you up. This should not be a problem on larger boats. As far as equipment goes, you should be able to cut extensions on the belts so that they fasten around a larger person. Finding scuba suits in large sizes is difficult, and you do need a suit that fits: a suit that is too small will restrict your movement and make it more difficult to breathe. Also, don't have a suit that is too large, otherwise the warm can flow through more quickly and you'll get cold. You can dive in warm water without a suit. Apparently one place makes lycra suits (suitable for warm water) up to size 3X. You can have wet or dry suits custom made, though they are not cheap (about $200). A3-17) Skating Skating, whether ice-skating, rollerskating or in-line skating (rollerblading) is a wonderful way to glide around. It's also low impact (if you stay on your feet :-) ), and easy on the knees and ankles. If you have problems fitting your boots on, what with large calves and ankles, you might try shopping around for different brands, or you could try buying lace-ups as opposed to the buckled variety. Also try out the selection for men, they tend to be wider-fitting. For pads, if you have difficulty finding ones large enough to fit, you could try buying regular knee-pads and then sewing on some strips of Velcro yourself. As the ankles of a heavy person have to support more weight, if you have problems in this direction you might try some exercises for ankle-strengthening. One recommendation from a roller-blader is that you do inner thigh and calf stretches afterwards. A3-18) Skiing The feel of the wind in your face as you fly downhill on a pair of skis is fantastic. The first few days on skis, though, you're more likely to spend a lot of your time on the ground trying to get up again than experiencing the flying feeling. This is the same for everyone, not just fat people and everyone should be prepared for it when they start out. It's advisable to learn on a real snow ski slope as the snow is softer to land on than the dry slope version. Advantages: The most important thing when learning is to gain a sense of balance and fat people tend to have more established centres of gravity which enable them to do this more easily. Also, people with long gangly limbs are more likely to get them tangled up than those with fat limbs. Disadvantages: If you are not very good at getting into an upright position from sitting/lying on the floor then you may have problems getting up unaided after you have fallen. Falling seems to be a fact of life when first learning to ski or when trying to advance to another level. It can be especially troublesome because the techniques that ski instructors teach to get up after a fall simply don't work for fat folks, unless you are unusually flexible or are on an extremely steep hill. The simple answer is to remove one ski, stand up, and put the ski back on. It is easiest to put your ski back on if you make the loose ski the uphill ski as you stand across the fall line. Don't let ski instructors bully you because this takes a bit longer than what they teach. What clothing do I wear? The main thing is to be comfortable all day, no matter what the weather. Wear lots of thin, soft layers underneath and a waterproof layer on top. DON'T wear jeans - they WILL get wet no matter what and will chafe. Jogging pants or leggings underneath a pair of waterproof trousers will be more comfortable. Wear clothes which are comfortable to bend in and won't constrict you. Wear a knee-high pair of socks with no rolls or seams where they will be inside your boots. Don't wear trousers tucked into boots as this creates friction along seams. You also need waterproof gloves, hat or ear protection, sunglasses or goggles, balaclava, scarf, and extra thermals if necessary. What equipment do I need? The length and type of ski depends on your ability, style, and height, but not your weight. It's easier to start learning on short skis. It's also important that the bindings should be adjusted to match your weight and ability. If your bindings are set too low for your weight then you may pop out of them unnecessarily. It is usually quite easy to tell if your bindings are releasing too early as they will release when you try to make a normal manoeuvre, rather than when you've twisted a leg into the wrong position. Hire shops tend to process customers as quickly as possible. If you feel that your bindings may be set incorrectly you can ask your instructor if they can help (many carry the necessary screwdriver to make the adjustments) or take them back to the shop and ask to have them adjusted for you properly. This should involve you standing in your boots in the bindings and them testing the pressure in some way. (A sideways kick to release the toe grip and asking you to step forward out of the rear binding whilst they stand on the rear of the ski is one set of crude tests.) Boots: Boots have to be as comfortable as possible and often are not. Fat people sometimes have the problem of boots not fastening around the calf and being too narrow in the foot. If your feet are larger than a 10 women's (US size), you will have to wear a man's boot. Men's boots always have smaller calf fit. Do try different brands, as they vary quite considerably. Typically, Saloman's are often narrow in fit, Nordica's are often wider, and Lange's tend to be small in calf size, but have good instep height. For boots that don't fasten around the calf, extension loops to fit certain types of boots can be purchased at most ski shops. If a boot is too narrow this is tricky. Some more expensive boots have more adjustments including pads which can be adjusted to push in to fit around your foot to prevent it sliding around. If you are hiring it may be worth investigating the cost of hiring a more expensive pair of boots to get this extra adjustment. Rear entry boots are the most common boots that beginning/intermediate skiers use. This is slowly changing as rear entry boots fall out of favor and technology continues to improve comfort in front-entry boots. Rear entry boots can be made to fit larger calves by replacing the existing cable with a longer one. A custom boot fitter is the best source for this. If you don't live in an area with ski boot fitters, most major ski areas in North America have one on staff. Or, ask at the ski patrol office who they use. Boot fitters are accustomed to working with ski tourists who are on a tight schedule. Front and mid-entry boots are the choice for high-intermediates/experts. They offer more control, though often at a loss of comfort and/or warmth. At a glance, these boots do not look customizable for large calves. However, a good boot fitter can do it. Boot fitting is included free if you purchase your boots from the fitter (at full retail). The benefit is that fitters usually offer a lifetime fit warranty -- including calf fit. If you buy your boots elsewhere, fitting and customization is done for a fee, but it is always worth it. If you rent your gear you will most likely get rear-entries, some rental shops (particularly those at the resorts themselves) have the longer cables. If you enjoy skiing a lot and want to advance, I would recommend having ski orthotics made by the fitter. They can be moved to your next boots and reused. Note: these are entirely different than orthotics made by podiatrists. Another option is to have custom boots made. This is especially useful if you have very wide or long feet. It is not as prohibitively expensive as it sounds. DaleBoot USA (pronounced Dah-leh) in Salt Lake City will assemble custom boots for your feet and lower legs in sizes up to 16 mens'. For about 20% more they can make foam injected boots, which are moulded specifically for your own feet. The foam-injected customs cost about the same as a mid-upper priced boot. All DaleBoots have a lifetime (of the boot) full-money back guarantee. They are infrequently rated by the ski magazines because they are custom, but are excellent boots. Sticks: For sticks, there are no special issues relating to weight. Skis: In recent years a new style of skis has come out that offers some real benefits to heavy skiers. This is the style family of "fat" skis (yes, this is the commonly-used name). Within this group are: super-fat (look as wide as water skis), mid-fat, and wasp-waist or hour-glass skis. The major benefit these skis offer is flotation for heavier skiers in powder snow or cut-up crud. Some skiers are even opting to replace their all-mountain skis with mid-fat or wasp-waist skis. (The super-fats are really best used as a fun accessory ski.) These skis tend to be much shorter (up to 40 cm shorter than what you'd normally ski on) and put less stress on your knees and hips. They are great confidence builders. Most major manufacturers now make them. They are variously known as "Chubbs" (Volant), "Fat Boys" (Atomic), "Wide Glides" (Evolution), "Big Kahunas" (K2), etc. They are definitely worth a try (be sure to demo or rent to try them out before you buy). Check out the rec.skiing FAQ, which can be found at ftp: chinook.atd.ucar.edu /pub/ski/skiFAQ www: http://skiing.geo.ucalgary.ca/skiing/faq.html A3-19) Stretching There are a lot of different stretching exercises, for stretching different muscles of the body. The usual aim of stretching exercises are to gently stretch the muscles to warm them up or wind them down. The positions are of the "stretch and hold" in a stationary position, rather than "bouncing" the muscles. As a fat person, or as a person who has a slightly different shape (for example, long or short arms), you may find that you can't do some of the movements as pictured. What to do is to use common sense and some knowledge of the body to find other ways to stretch the area in question. Quad stretch: One exercise to stretch the quads (some of the muscles in the thighs) is to grab your ankle from behind and pull up. Some fat folks have problems with grabbing the ankle, because they can't reach. One possible solution is to grab the ankle from a sitting position on the floor, and then lie on one side to stretch. Another way to grab the ankle from a standing position is to use a wall behind you: put the foot you intend to grab on the wall behind you, then use the friction of the wall to help lift your leg relative to your hand grabbing the ankle, as you lower yourself slightly by bending the leg you're standing on. Inner thigh stretch: A standard way to do this is with one knee forward, other leg back, hands outside feet, however you may find that the legs squish against the stomach. One way to try to get round this is to put just one hand on the ground, the other keeping the leg parallel. The exercise involving sitting on the floor, leaning forward and holding onto the toes might be difficult, as the tummy can get in the way. Try instead sitting on the floor, legs apart, doing one leg at a time. That way, the stomach has space in the direction of the floor. Use common sense. Don't twist joints such as knees into strange positions, try to keep them parallel. Don't compress your belly so that you can't breathe. Don't push yourself to assume positions that don't feel right to you. An excellent web site that tells you all you ever need to know about stretching (and more!) is http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/papers/rma/stretching_toc.html A3-20) Surfing Surfing is terrific fun! See the Scuba section for comments about wetsuits. Unfortunately, no more info as yet except to say that yes, fat folks can and do surf! A3-21) Swimming Swimming is a good exercise, particularly for large folks and pregnant women. The water supports the bodyweight gently, and provides a resistance for working all sorts of muscle groups. Also, you don't get all hot and sweaty! If you have problems getting out of your own pool, you can get weighted plastic steps, or arrange a ramp to help. Personally, I recommend swimming nude in the sea off a nudist beach with golden sands and deep blue-green sea, for a truly wonderful experience. You might also be interested in the organization Making Waves (look in the organizations section) A3-22) Tennis People of all shapes, sizes and ages can play tennis. Emphasis is mostly on hand-eye coordination and some arm strength, though being able to move about the court and having some power help a great deal as well! Specifically relevant to fat people are the following points. You may find that you have a preference as to which surface you play on. Common surfaces in use are grass, artificial grass, cement, clay, shale. Some people find that being heavy makes them slip and slide less on shale (clay with a scattering of very fine red gritty stuff on the top). Also, if you're turning to go for a shot, as the shale is loose, it turns with you, whereas surfaces like artifical grass which provide more friction also provide more resistance to you as you turn, thus helping you to pull a tendon or similar. Then again, if you're a player that falls over frequently, you might just want a surface with a nice soft landing. If your thighs rub together and you're wearing very short shorts or a tennis skirt or dress, you might get friction rubs on your inner thighs. One way to avoid this is by wearing cycling shorts or leggings or longer shorts. Clothing can be whatever you usually wear as exercise wear, but if you're trying to get hold of smart tennis whites with a matching t-shirt/sports-shirt and skirt/shorts, then unfortunately those seem to be very scarce for anyone over average size. If you're playing in a tennis match that goes on for several sets, or you're playing in some other long session that it's not easy to get a drink in the middle of, then take a water bottle with you and use it frequently to keep hydrated, particularly if it's a hot day. A3-23) Videos Some exercise videos have a lot of impact aerobics on, which may not be the best thing for a heavy person, as that puts more strain on the joints. Choose a video that is right for you. Some videos suitable for older people might be appropriate. You might also want to ask your doctor for a recommendation for a good video for you. See the Fitness Resources FAQ for some available videos. A3-24) Walking Walking doesn't provide any problems for the fat person. The key is to make sure you're comfortable. Make sure your boots fit, your trousers won't chafe, and you've got good socks on. Tip for breaking in boots - wear them on a hot day, walk through a stream (get water inside them) and let them dry out on your feet if possible - same as shrink-to-fit jeans I guess. Some people recommend Thorlo socks. Shoes recommended by some big folks include: Natural Sport Cradle, Reeboks, Turntecs, Nikes, Nike Airs, Rockports, Propets, San Antonio Shoes. A lot of people recommend good running shoes or cross trainers, not necessarily walking shoes. It also depends on the sort of walking you're doing (hiking or shopping expeditions). Also some people like the ones with air cushioning in the heel. Make sure you get shoes that fit. If you have wide feet and you're female, some of the shoes for men have wider fittings. If you suffer from back pain, and this is sometimes brought on by walking and having to support a large tummy, then you may wish to get some suitable exercises from a physical therapist, both to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, and for stretching before walking. A3-25) Weight Training Weight training is an activity that anyone can get involved in, and fat folks do tend to be good at it, after all we do have natural weight built in! Some doctors will tell you that you are putting stress on your body by being heavy, and telling you to lose weight, but another way to take the stress off is by making your body stronger so it can cope with it better. Weight training is good for this. Also, fat folks have an easier time with this sort of equipment than with some others, as many bodybuilders weigh up to 300lbs (21 stone, 136 kg), and the equipment can cope with large sizes. Take care when choosing what exercises to do. Some exercises involve toning the muscles using the resistance of the weights of a machine. Others involve using the human body itself for resistance. The latter type of exercise might or might not be suitable for heavy folks. Check the recommendations of the particular machine or weights that you're using. If in doubt, ask your doctor to check if a particular type of exercise is suitable for you, or ask your doctor to recommend an alternative one to exercise a particular muscle group. Sometimes there are minor problems with equipment, such as belts being too small, or equipment being difficult to climb in or out of. There are often different ways of doing an exercise, so if one doesn't work, don't worry, try another piece of equipment. If you are just taking up weight training, then do either read up on the proper way to do the exercises, or hire a personal trainer (one that does not pressure about weightloss) to make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly. If you do them improperly, it can cause injury. A3-26) White Water Rafting White water rafting is very exhilarating and incredible fun! Be prepared to use a lot of upper body strength to paddle. Paddling may give you sore arms if you're not used to it, and/or you may get blisters. Check the life vest to make sure that it is adjustable. You don't want the vest to fall off if you fall out! Many big folks who have done this have found the life vest to fit, but be a bit snug (but that's ok because it's supposed to be snug). Big folks may also wish to sit in the back of the raft for stabilization purposes. Weight distribution can make a significant difference. Pay attention to the safety instructions you are given. You may wish to wear old sports shoes that won't matter if they get wet. Depending on the venue, as most whitewater is cold (snow runoff), you may have to wear a wetsuit. It can be a problem finding large size wetsuits, if they don't have a suit big enough. See the section on Scuba Diving. Also check to see if the route requires carrying the raft. This may be over some narrow, rocky, hilly trails and your fitness needs to be up to it. Check the ratings of the rapids (rapids are rated from Class 1 to 5). Class 4 are usually the largest you can navigate in a raft, and you *will* get drenched. Don't bring anything that can't get wet! A suggested first trip could be a half-day trip with Class III rapids. A3-27) Yoga Yoga is a good alternative to more rigorous aerobic activity and a good stress-reliever. Stretching, breathing and relaxation are the essence of the movements. A good teacher will welcome large people as well as small, emphasize that all bodies are different, and insist that you _not_ do any exercise that hurts. If you sometimes have problems with your tummy getting in the way, one suggestion for the forward bend from the Indian (American) sitting is to put the soles of your feet together, rather than crossing your legs, hold your ankles, and pull yourself down. That leaves a space for your tummy. Gentle Yoga by Naomi is a good videotape (see the Videos section). You can also get it through the Ample Shopper Catalogue. Also see Mara Nesbitt in the Fitness Resources FAQ. -------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------- SECTION B: Information about this FAQ B1) Are there other related FAQs? Yes. The list of them below can be found from the following page: http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/sharon.curtis/BF/SSFA/faqs.html fat-acceptance-faq/clothing/canada information about clothing for large people in Canada fat-acceptance-faq/clothing/europe information about clothing for large people in Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) fat-acceptance-faq/clothing/uk information about clothing for large people in the UK fat-acceptance-faq/clothing/us information about clothing for large people in the U.S. fat-acceptance-faq/health information about health issues affecting large people fat-acceptance-faq/research information about research concerning large people fat-acceptance-faq/maternity information about large-size maternity resources fat-acceptance-faq/research information about research concerning large people fat-acceptance-faq/fitness information about resources for fitness for large people fat-acceptance-faq/organizations information about organizations for large people fat-acceptance-faq/resources information about resources for large people (that aren't covered in the other resources FAQs) fat-acceptance-faq/physical information about resources for dealing with the physical aspects of being large fat-acceptance-faq/publications information about publications for large people fat-acceptance-faq/size-acceptance information about size-acceptance big-folks-faq general information file for alt.support.big-folks There is some overlap in the topics covered by the FAQs. If you don't find what you're looking for here, try the other FAQs. -------------------------------------------------------------------- B2) Posting information This document is posted monthly to news.answers and alt.answers and posted bi-weekly to soc.support.fat-acceptance and alt.support.big-folks. Sharon Curtis (sharon@comlab.ox.ac.uk) maintains this FAQ. -------------------------------------------------------------------- B3) Availability of the FAQ All FAQs posted to news.answers are archived at rtfm.mit.edu and its mirror sites. You can get any of these FAQs from rtfm.mit.edu via anonymous FTP or via the mail archive server. (To get information about the mail server, send email to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with the body of the message containing the word "help", without the quotes.) FAQs posted to news.answers are also available on the Web from: http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/top.html http://www.cs.ruu.nl/cgi-bin/faqwais You can find the old version of the fitness FAQ at the following URLs: ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/fat-acceptance-faq/fitness http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/fat-acceptance-faq/fitness/faq.html http://www.cs.ruu.nl/wais/html/na-dir/fat-acceptance-faq/fitness.html although the latest version specifically adapted for HTML and maintained by the maintainer can be found at http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/sharon.curtis/BF/sports_FAQ.html -------------------------------------------------------------------- B4) Contributors These are the people who contribute significant chunks to the FAQ. Sharon Curtis (Sharon.Curtis@comlab.ox.ac.uk) Sasha Wood (Sasha.Wood@cs.cmu.edu) Sheena MacKenzie (sheena@acse.shef.ac.uk) Helen Lovisek (bh868@TorFree.Net) Stef (stef@netcom.com) Also, lots and lots of other people (too many to credit) contributed information that appears herein, some via email and some on s.s.f-a or a.s.b-f. Thanks to them all. Suggestions for additions/improvements are always welcome. Copyright 1995 by Sharon Curtis (Sharon.Curtis@comlab.ox.ac.uk). Permission is granted to copy and redistribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial use provided that this copyright notice is not removed or altered. No portion of this work may be sold, either by itself or as part of a larger work, without the express written permission of the author; this restriction covers all publication media, including (but not limited to) CD-ROM. -- http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/sharon.curtis/ v 3.12 GM/CS d s:++ a-< C++ U+ p L !E W++ N++ o+ K w-- O? M-- V-- PS? PE? Y PGP- t-- !5 X- R- tv--- b+++ DI+ D- G e++++ h- r z+(--) -=- A month is a calendar, a year can be a decade spent alone -=-