Anna Ipox, Fat Flex Founder, Fat Yoga decrier
           
The Thing About Fat Flex®

First and most obvious, Fat Yoga classes are tailored to people who may not be the stereotypical "yoga" student. While most of us identify as fat, it's certainly not a requirement for participation. You do NOT need to be a specific size to be welcome at Fat Flex. 

Poses are presented and modified to each individual's ability. The size of our thighs, arms, bellies, and butts all change the way we are capable of expressing the traditional asanas (poses). Fat Flex honors and embraces our differences and strives to create an environment where all bodies can do all poses.

Fat Flex has no objective or claim towards weight loss. We are not interested in weight loss or dieting. We focus on strength building, flexibility, balance, self-acceptance and peace of mind. There is much evidence of transformative power of moving bodies that we love and accept. Through a committed practice, we can embrace our relationship with our bodies and find joy in movement.

Meet Mack, Fat FlexTM Founder 

Mack has been studying and practicing asanas for over 15 years. Never quite finding the right "yoga" class that understood the way fat bodies move, let alone how we might explore and challenge our limits; Mack decided it was time to offer their own yoga-influenced classes that both respected and honored fat bodies. June of 2011, Mack completed leadership training and Fat Yoga was incepted. In March of 2017, Mack announced the ethical choice to a rebrand of their classes to Fat Flex, and are in the process of completing that transition. Mack is able to combine love, humor and a passion for dismantling anti-fat bias to create an environment that both nurtures and empowers the growing Fat Affirmative community. 


Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do you use the word Fat? Isn't that offensive?
A: 
You mean, as opposed to “plus-sized” or “pudgy” or “fluffy”? Or the more commonly hateful "overweight" or "obese"? Fat is simply a descriptive word. Unfortunately through misuse the word fat has become burdened with negative feelings and connotations.  Because we don't believe that any one body type is better than another, there's no reason for Fat to be a bad word. Fat is fine. Using words like "hefty" or "big boned" can be problematic. We don't want to make excuses for something that needs no excusing, explaining, or shaming. We aim to reclaim it for what it is- a totally neutral descriptive adjective! Well, maybe just a bit of pride in reclaiming the word too

Q:
 Isn't being Fat a bad thing? 
A:
 Not intrinsically, no.  We believe that a person should not be judged by the amount of fat they have, and that there is no “right” amount of fat.  A person’s physical health cannot be determined from simply looking at their shape or weight. Furthermore, even if somebody is fat and unhealthy (or thin and unhealthy), no human deserves to be judged, shamed or mistreated. 

Q: 
Is Fat Flex for fat people only? Are there size requirements?
A: No way! All bodies are welcome at Fat Yoga. Many of our regular members do not identify as fat, but then tons of us do. The only requirements are that you leave conversations of negative body talk, restrictive dieting, weight loss goals and size-judgment at the door.  

Q:
 Can I share about my latest weight-loss plan or diet at Fat Flex? How about my weight loss success? 
A: Nope. While people may have good intentions, these conversations often come across as offensive and hurtful. Additionally there's vast scientific evidence citing the negative mental & physical health effects of yo-yo dieting. For more about diet plans and weight-loss success stories. One of the main objectives of Fat Yoga is loving and empowering ourselves and our bodies in the present; restrictive eating & scale-watching is the opposite of that.

Q: What about weight loss? I want to lose X number of pounds. Will Fat Flex work for me?
A: People engage in a yoga practice for many reasons, however we've found coming to yoga for yoga's sake is the best reason. No mistake, Fat Yoga is not "easy" - we work hard! Engaging in a committed yoga practice definitely has the potential to transform ourselves in many ways, however weight-loss goals are antithetical to Fat Yoga's core values. Additionally, studies have proven sustain weight-loss isn't possible for the vast majority of the human population. 

Q: 
Then what IS the goal of Fat Flex?
A: 
We're glad you asked!  Our goal is to provide everyone- regardless of size- with an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of yoga in a positive, non-competitive environment. Yoga is an excellent transitional fitness option as well. Our yogis get a great workout complete with messy sweating and active breathing without feeling self-conscious.  The poses and movements strengthen muscles, tendons & organs. Not to mention the numerous benefits for bone, joint and circulatory health. Fat Yoga also provides more intangible benefits such as increased confidence, better balance, and a general feeling of bad-assery. These changes towards being more physically capable reveal themselves in tons of subtle & obvious ways in our everyday lives. You'll find this out for yourself too. In the meantime, check out what other Fat Yoga practitioners have to say. 

Q: 
Do I need to have yoga experience to join Fat Flex?  Do I already have to be “in shape”?
A: 
Nope!  We welcome all skill levels, and will work closely with you to make sure the classes challenge you without causing injuries.  At the same time we don’t coddle you- be prepared to work hard, whatever that means for you and your body, wherever you're at now.

Q:
 
What are the kinds of adjustments do you do that are different from a "standard" yoga class?
A:
 Some, but not too much actually. The main difference is that the majority of our yogis and all of our leaders are fat. This changes things for how our bodies move. Thick thighs, round bellies, large hips and butts all change how we approach and modify poses. Since our leaders have these kinds of bodies too, it's just natural we verbalize the adjustments & modifications that come with the territory. Some yoga poses which don't make sense for a lot of fat bodies aren't offered in our yoga.

Q: What is Health At Every Size?
A: Health at Every Size (aka HAES) is a belief system that focuses on intuitive eating and pleasurable physical activity rather than dieting and weight loss. Linda Bacon authored this amazing book, and facilitates the fostering of the greater HAES community

Q: 
Do I need to bring anything to class?
A: 
Just your smile and a positive attitude!  Ok- that's kind of cheesy…  We do have loaner mats and other props available for you to use during class if you need them. For those who are engaged in a committed asana practice, we encourage you to have your own mat (we have both loaners & for-purchase available). Also we suggest bringing a water bottle & small towel for hydration & sweating.  Make sure you also come with an (mostly) empty belly!

Q: Why should I come to class with an empty stomach?
A:
 We recommend you don’t eat for a couple hours prior to class. Food in the stomach can causes a fair bit of discomfort. During yoga practice, we're expanding and contracting our bodies a fair bit. In fact asanas helps with digestion-things get moving, so to speak. However, food still in the stomach can cause urpy-ness and feels gross. Lots of people test this theory, however usually just a time or two. If you must eat, its a-ok, just have it be a small thing.  

Q:
 
I forgot about yoga tonight and I just ate, should I just skip class?
A: 
Well that's a tricky one. We'd never want to encourage any self-sabotage (even the accidental kind), so skipping class isn't endorsed. It's a better idea to go ahead and come to class. Be sure to let the teacher know you've eaten, and then take it a little easier in today's class. A gentler practice today far exceeds just-skipping-it. 

Q:
 Will you y'all be my social media buddy?
A: 
Of course!  You can find us on FacebookTwitter and our blog. We promise not to spam up your news-feed with a bunch of boring stuff.

Q: I love Fat Yoga but I am totally broke. Does that mean no yoga for me?
A: Fat Yoga's first objective is to be accessible. Sliding-scale and/or work trade may be available. Come to a Community Class us to discuss your goals, and we'll help work something out. This option is best for only those who are very committed to developing their yoga practice.   

Q:
 What's a committed yoga practice? 
A: A committed yoga practice is as the name implies. Showing up to class is the first hurdle. Even when we're feeling down, even when we'd rather stay home and read a book, even when it's... People who have a committed yoga practice, do sometimes miss classes on occasions; however the majority of the time, showing up is the hardest part. That being said, a committed practice is not for everyone. Drop-ins are always welcome, and sometimes even the most persistent yogi's need a break now and then. All of the above is okay. It's about loving and accepting ourselves for right where we are now.

Q: Are your classes only in SE Portland?
A: For now, most of our classes are in SE Portland. Eventually we're looking to have some options in other parts of town. Perhaps options in other towns & cities near you. We do have videos so you can practice Fat Yoga in your own home.  Find the videos here.

Q:  This Fat-Affirmative stuff sounds great!  Where can I read more about it?
A: 
 We’re glad you think so!  Check out our Resources page for some good starting points.


I'm Still Fat? Yes!

In a culture where the language around size, fitness and health is muddled and divisive, it's hard to have a constructive conversation about the transformations that can result from being physically active. 

Through activating our muscles and expanding and contracting our insides, a host of bodily functions get activated and improve function. As our bodies becomes adjust, it allows us to move more optimally. Because we're moving easier and feeling stronger perspective starts to shift.

Seemingly overnight, we notice that accepting invitations that used to be feel like chores or hurdles to overcome become enjoyable activities. We're still fat and we can move easier!

***Have more questions? Email info@fatyoga.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible. For quicker results, come on in for a Community Class.