Creating Inclusive Physical Activity Spaces: The Case of Body-Positive Yoga
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PURPOSE: Within the modern cultural climate, those in larger bodies face high levels of weight stigma, particularly in sport and physical activity spaces, which serves as a strong barrier to their participation. However, given the strong link between physical activity and general health and well-being for participants, it is important to explore strategies that encourage participation of these individuals. Thus, the current research examined strategies that physical activity instructors use to develop inclusive exercise spaces for all body sizes. METHOD: This study employed a series of semistructured qualitative interviews (n = 9) with instructors of body-inclusive yoga classes to explore the ways in which they encourage participation for those in larger bodies. RESULTS: Emergent themes from the current study suggested support for 6 factors for creating body-inclusive physical activity spaces: authentic leadership, a culture of inclusion, a focus on health, inclusive language, leader social activism, and a sense of community. CONCLUSION: This study revealed that leaders must intentionally cultivate inclusion in their spaces to encourage those in nonconforming bodies to participate. These findings have important health and management implications for the sport and physical activity context and provide a basic outline of practical strategies that practitioners can use to foster inclusion in their spaces.
author list (cited authors)
Pickett, A. C., & Cunningham, G. B.