Note: this post mentions body image and dieting.
For a long time, I avoided exercising, scarred by memories of being forced to play lacrosse in driving snow, or being screamed at by P.E. teachers while I “ran” around playing fields (i.e. hyperventilated by a fence until they let me walk). It became connected with deep feelings of inadequacy and shame, and in my head, my weight was the reason. My occasional gym stints were self-punishing, and unsurprisingly, when I don’t feel good about something, I stop doing it pretty rapidly.
However, over the years, as I ditched dieting and started viewing my body in a more neutral way, I had the fortune to come back to exercise and movement with a new mindset. Hard as it may be to put on my spandex and leave the house, when I do, I typically feel great, both physically and mentally. I know that it doesn’t really change my body externally (I cycled 350 miles across Asia and lost zero weight, so it’s just not going to happen), but now that I’m focused more on how I feel rather than look, it’s much more rewarding. My chronic illness means I’m not always able to move as much as I’d like, but when I can, I enjoy lifting weights, swimming, doing yoga and cycling.
One thing I find particularly inspirational is following plus size athletes on social media. Any time I think “oh I can’t do crow pose because I’m too heavy” it’s a huge wake up call that I’m definitely capable of it if I work hard! So here’s a round up of some of my favorites – and the patterns from the new Cashmerette Activewear collection that you can use to make your own workout gear.
Jessamyn Stanley, yogi
Jessamyn was one of the first curvy yogis I started following on Instagram, and her practice – and particularly her inversions – are so inspiring to me! She also wears awesome funky leggings, which you can make yourself, using the Belmont Leggings pattern.
Louise Green, personal trainer & triathlete
Louise Green is an amazing athlete, and she’s the author of Big Fit Girl, which is all about helping plus size women become athletes and stop focusing on losing weight. Crop the Spruce Tank and add some Belmont Leggings to get her minimalist look.
Krista Henderson, triathlete
Krista Henderson is a 5-time award-winning, plus size athlete in triathlon and indoor rowing, and she runs Born to Reign Athletics, which has a wealth of information for aspiring and active plus size athletes. The Spruce Tank in a chlorine-resistant lycra with the crew neck (and maybe even an added neckline zipper) would be a fantastic option for a triathlon.
Roz the Diva, Personal Trainer and Pole Dancer
Roz the Diva is so much fun! Follow her Instagram for eye opening moves, awesome outfits and hilarious hijinks. Plus, she’s another devotee of crazy leggings, which I am entirely here for.
Source: Jon Premosch / BuzzFeed
Mirna is a marathoner, ultramarathoner, and trail runner, who’s completed a 100k race (WHAT!), and ran the Marine Corps Marathon and NYC Marathon back to back. I have to admit it: this probably means I can’t use being plus size as the excuse for not being able to run for 5 minutes…
Amanda is a joyous dancer, who set up the hashtag #BreakingTheStereotype, to challenge preconceived notions of what dancers should look like. You can read all about her amazing journey – culminating in appearing in a Katy Perry video! – at Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls here.
Amanda is a big fan of athleisure separates, and would totally rock a Cedar Dolman Top.
Rachel Denis, Powerlifter
Rachel came relatively recently to powerlifting, but she’s already won a gold medal at the Northeast Regional Championships! Her Instagram videos are a joy to watch, and you can easily make your own compression shorts using our Belmont leggings pattern – just cut the pattern at mid-thigh and size down by 1 or 2 sizes.
That’s a whole lot of inspiration for one post! Do you have any more curvy athlete icons? I’d love to add more to my social media readers!
10 thoughts on “You can do it! Plus size activewear inspiration”
I love these posts! SO inspirational
The peacock fabric in the first post has been available to the sewing community too. That’s awesome.
Where can I find it?
Both Spandex House and Spandex World carry it online.
I wasn’t overweight when I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s but I did have only one lung (birth defect). In those days influenced by JFK’s fitness programs no provisions were made for people like me. I was routinely marked down on my report cards because I couldn’t keep up with the required sit-ups, pull-ups, 50 yard dash, etc. Of course, this affected my self-esteem and grade point average. Later when I married a medical student I had access to doctors who put me on steroids which helped my breathing and contributed to a great amount of weight gain (as did my poor eating habits).
Now as I struggle to become fit I exercise with a Pilates trainer twice a week and am in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program wearing plus size active wear. I am a senior citizen now. I have the fabric and ability to make my own active wear. Thank you for your inspirational post and pattern suggestions.
What about 63 year olds! I’d love be to take up dancing or yoga? Your patterns make me HAPPY!
You can take up yoga and the gym at any age, I’m nearly 67 and very, very curvy. I took up yoga last year and love it. I started the gym when I was 61 and I aim to take up running in March as my next birthday treat. It hasn’t altered my weight but I’m a lot fitter, happier and do not need any medications. Just be patient, start slowly and don’t expect miracles.
Wow these ladies are such an inspiration. You I thought at 53 and curvy suppleness just doesn’t happen and these ladies prove it does