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  1. #1
    MegaRoll ChplHillGymGirl's Avatar
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    Anorexia and working out

    i'm not sure about this...does anyone know of a gym that maybe has some sort of rule about letting someone who pretty obviously has a full-blown eating disorder, something like anorexia, work out? there's a girl at my gym whose bones you can see poking through a thin layer of skin - i bet i could wrap my hand around her lower legs easily - anyway, i know she does cardio for at least 2 hours a day because when i get there she's kickin it on the elliptical and when i leave she's still going strong. drinking coffee for some of the time. i just feel that the gym should have some responsibility about letting her workout like this when it appears she's not healthy. but i'm not sure what sort of legal issues would be involved in that (discrimination,etc??).
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  2. #2
    Cailin Deas Eileen's Avatar
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    Unless there is some sort of court order involved, I doubt any gym will prevent someone working out on the grounds of an eating disorder. I'm pretty sure there is some sort of law against non-medical people making medical diagnoses like anorexia.

    However, most gyms do have a rule about not using cardio equipment for more than 30-45 minutes. Might be worth reminding them of that.
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  3. #3
    MegaRoll ChplHillGymGirl's Avatar
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    good idea bout the time limit, at my previous gym there was one, but i've not seen anything like that at my new one. ah well, sometimes i feel like saying something to her (nicely) but i feel it'd be out of line. i've been there (though never that small) so to an extent i understand her mentality, or what appears to be her mentality, and yet, i just don't think i'd have taken well to someone saying something me. i dunno. also at my previous gym, i believe there was another girl there with the same behavior and the manager told her she wasn't allowed to come back until she'd put on some weight. never heard the end result of that one....
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  4. #4
    weirdo TurbulentFluid's Avatar
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    Well I dunno about other countries, but in my country gyms are 100% "at your own risk", except for people under 18 when a parent has to sign the kid in and take full responsibility. Which is, IMO, OK. We're all grown up people there, and what we do there is our own business. I'm saddened to hear about that girl, but there shouldn't be a way for her to be FORBIDDEN to work out - approached with friendly advice, yes. But nothing more.
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  5. #5
    Queen Miranda to you Miranda's Avatar
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    banning her won't help - she'll just go somewhere else.

    also, if she truly is anorexic telling her to stop won't do a thing except make her mad at you. i don't think she'll be cured in 5 minutes and kiss your feet for helping her to see the light.
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  6. #6
    Just doin' my thing... BuffedWildCat's Avatar
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    If it were me I would probably try to find an open opportunity to talk to her and then just start a casual conversation. Eventually you can get around to talking about fitness goals and go from there. If you present a very helpful and caring attitude from the beginning she may open up and be willing to share her trials and tribulations then you can go about tactfully offering helpful advice to at least try to get her thinking in the right direction. I did this and ended up becoming good friends with a girl in my gym. What I also found was that her issues run VERY deep psychologically and I had to realize that despite my best efforts, she was going to have to REALIZE for herself that she has serious body image issues that perhaps only a qualified professional could help her with.

    And then I moved and lost contact with her. I've often thought of trying to find her again but at the same time I fear that there's nothing I can do for her from so far away when she doesn't even have a computer, and neither one of us can afford long distance phone calls, sigh...
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  7. #7
    Affably Content HeatherAC's Avatar
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    We have one or two women like this at my gym as well, and I've asked one of the trainers who is there all the time about her....he, and other gym staff members have talked to her from time to time about the excessive working out......and it seems to have helped a little, but she's still there every day, AND walking all over town! Apparently she got the Nike's that connect to her Ipod and tell her how many steps she's taken - just one more outlet for her insanity. She'll be in the gym telling the trainers how many miles she's walked in a day, and how much cardio she's done.....thank goodness I work out in a facility where the staff actually cares about the customers and are not hesitant about telling her she has a problem. I think hers is twofold, both with the not eating enough AND the exercise addition - definitely some body dysmorphia going on here.
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  8. #8
    Registered User Revmachine21's Avatar
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    I see parallels between a drug dealer taking money from an addict for heroin and a gym taking money from an obvious anorexic. Both the drug dealer and the gym are facilitating an illness. Both the drug dealer & the gym may be providing a service that comes "at your own risk", but that doesn't make either the dealer or the gym ethically righteous.

    I guess the more simple approach is : would you intervene if you saw somebody slitting their wrists in a suicide attempt even if the person might get angry or die? If you answer "Yes" to this question, you have your answer on how to handle this situation, you need to take some type of action.

    I personally would answer "Yes" to my question. I would speak to gym management about my concerns. I'd say your hands would be clean at this point, you aren't taking her money & aren't enabling her illness. There is a limit to what you can reasonably be expected to accomplish in this situation.

    If courage is an issue, you could make your life easier by printing out this thread and submitting anonymously.
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  9. #9
    MegaRoll ChplHillGymGirl's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Revmachine21 View Post
    I see parallels between a drug dealer taking money from an addict for heroin and a gym taking money from an obvious anorexic. Both the drug dealer and the gym are facilitating an illness. Both the drug dealer & the gym may be providing a service that comes "at your own risk", but that doesn't make either the dealer or the gym ethically righteous.

    I guess the more simple approach is : would you intervene if you saw somebody slitting their wrists in a suicide attempt even if the person might get angry or die? If you answer "Yes" to this question, you have your answer on how to handle this situation, you need to take some type of action.

    I personally would answer "Yes" to my question. I would speak to gym management about my concerns. I'd say your hands would be clean at this point, you aren't taking her money & aren't enabling her illness. There is a limit to what you can reasonably be expected to accomplish in this situation.

    If courage is an issue, you could make your life easier by printing out this thread and submitting anonymously.
    i like the way you put things - i will ask the gym manager about this the next time i see him in there. if nothing else, at least i'll learn their policy and viewpoint and perhaps plant a seed in their minds as well. with so many people working out there, perhaps they haven't even noticed her. thanks for the input!
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  10. #10
    Registered User secondwind's Avatar
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    If risk (i.e. disability, condition etc.) is self-identifed on the pre-membership fitness/medical profile questionnaire, then staff can act on it and decline a membership or refer accordingly. If risk is not documented on the profile by the client, then they are responsible for themselves -'at your own risk'.

    I do feel gyms should take a more active role in body image awareness, and eating disorder support or referral -especially because it is also becoming much more common in men and older adults.
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  11. #11
    grebagal grebagal's Avatar
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    Re: Anorexia & Working out

    As tough as it is to see I don't think there is anything the gym can do without legal ramifications. Unfortunatly the responsibility of her eating disorder is hers alone. Not just that but when it comes to eating disorders it is quite similiar to an addiction. They are very resourcful. If you were to take away one thing they will find another and usually worse than the first. It is how alot of anorexics turn into Bulemarexics. The only thing you could try is becoming friends with her and maybe her family could help. Maybe an inpatient facility. Even then if it does work, you have only put a bandaid on the problem. Her over exercising & not eating is only how she is dealing with the disease, not the disease itself. It still remains. For all the good anyone might do to help, she will not stop until she is ready or she dies. It is nice that you care, most just stare & whisper. Good luck
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  12. #12
    Don't give me evils! SumthinOrNuthin's Avatar
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    There's a young woman at my gym like this - the widest part of her arm is her elbow, she's skeletal. The first time I saw her I wondered if maybe she was working out as part of a recovery from an eating disorder and getting healthy. But her physical appearance hasn't changed in months now. She's only ever in the cardio room - never seen her lift a weight - and she goes from machine to machine to machine. It makes me really sad but I'd never say anything to her. My gym doesn't give a damn about anything other than getting enough people to sign a monthly payment order that they're bound to for a year.

    On the flip side, in a gym I used to use a few years ago was a woman who talked openly about her history of eating disorders. She was lovely and very honest about what damage she'd done to her bone density etc. She'd been thrown out of 2 gyms in her time but could fully understand why.
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  13. #13
    jsfitnesssolutionsllc.com nacersusaf's Avatar
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    I think that while it's great to be concerned for people, you'd be overstepping your bounds to try and do something about someone's anorexia.

    First of all, if you approached someone at the gym and said "hey there, I see you have some issues... would you like a sandwich? Perhaps you should get off the treadmill?" it's not as though the person in question would just say "wow, you're right, I'm killing myself. Thanks ever so much... you've saved me and now I think I'll go have some cheesecake."

    LOL, I understand that the idea is to be sensitive and concerned, and to help this person... but sadly there really is nothing you as an individual can do other than to try and befriend her and be a shoulder to lean on if she reaches out to you for help.

    Frankly I would think it to be rude to butt into someone's life like that, no matter what your motivation. It's no different than someone walking up to an obese person at a buffet and telling them "I am concerned about your weight, and I think you should stop eating. Furthermore I have asked the management not to let you dine here anymore. Gee, aren't I a great person?"

    Now, if someone you know and love has an eating disorder, you could certainly convey your concerns to them, but again, it is up to the individual to seek help and they cannot be pushed.
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    As far as the legal issue goes, I asked my husband (he's a lawyer) about it, and he seemed to think there would be no problem with the gym not letting an aneorexic workout. Think about protected classes: minorities, gender, disabilities, etc. those are the groups that can't be discriminated against. Aneorexia is definitely not on that list. Also, he said that if the gym has any reason to believe a person's exercise will result in his/her injury or death, the definitely have a right to kick them out. Have you ever seen those "management has the right to refuse service" signs? That's what those are about.

    Anyhow, its a sad situation. Its so frustrating to watch people with eating disorders slowly destroy themselves--you just wish you could somehow knock some sense into to them (at least I do!).
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    grebagal grebagal's Avatar
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    Anorexia & working out

    Another thing you might want to consider that if you do decide to have the gym banned her from working out, although it may be legal it is not a good idea. She undoubtedly feels bad enough about herself, making her feel like a reject & unwanted by having her thrown out will do great harm to her self image. Think about it....Imagine if it were you and you have people approach you from a gym to tell you that based on your Physical appearance you need to leave the gym. How would that make you feel?
    And as far as "Shaking some sense into them" advice post goes well to that I say "sense" has nothing to do with it! Her self image does. You would be surprised to know that some very smart people have an eating disorder. Like me for example, although I am not active now, nor am I a genius. However, I am a surgical tech. I work in surgery and I have bulemarexia and it is not because I am in any way lacking in brains. I know exactly how harmful it is but despite all that I still almost died from it. Just trying to say be very careful before you act. You could do more harm than good, Legal or not.
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  16. #16
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    ya i agree with the posters above who were talking about how its very risky to just upright approach someone and confront them w/ a problem they may have. i dont know at all what it's like to have an eating disorder, but i definitely know that being called anorexic hurts emotionally. i used to be very skinny before i started to lift and people made jokes to my face about how i probably didnt eat, but all i could really do was ignore them. but MORE IMPORTANTLY, i hope that this woman at your gym finds the help and motivation she needs to really feel good about herself!
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    I don't really see how anyone could kick someone out for being anorexic. How is her disease any different from a man having muscle dysmorphia and never believing he is big enough?

    We would never approach these people and tell them they're big enough (because we can't distinguish which ones may actually have a problem) but they are possibly doing just as much damage to themselves as an anorexic
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    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ jillybeansalad's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jinx_janx View Post
    I don't really see how anyone could kick someone out for being anorexic. How is her disease any different from a man having muscle dysmorphia and never believing he is big enough?

    We would never approach these people and tell them they're big enough (because we can't distinguish which ones may actually have a problem) but they are possibly doing just as much damage to themselves as an anorexic
    There is a point, but like you said, if it is distinguishable, then it would be great to do something about it. Most of us do not have the education or training to be able to deal with it well though. As someone who has and still does occasionally struggle with an ED, it is highly likely to back-fire if not handled correctly. It is more beneficial when she realizes her errors and has some close friends and family to help. There is no simple solution unfortunately.
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    "loosing weight" = the weight is loose and will run free, not sure if that's good for the environment though... stray fat everywhere.
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    We had someone like that in the gym I used go to....
    And I did query it with the management.... and they were aware of it, knew her well and kept an eye on her.... her doctor was also aware of it and they had an 'agreed" amount of time she could work out every day.... so she knew she would burn X calories and that was it.... she counted what she ate.... she also had severe osteoporosis as a result of being anorexic for almost 20 years.....
    After I got to know her we used talk about it openly.... she was aware of the problem, but had been anorexic so long that doing this gave her in her mind an element of control.... she was painfully thin... but her body and mind were still rejecting what we see as normality....
    It is hard to watch somone like that but, if the gym is any good they will be there to support her.... and may even liase with her doctors etc....

    Don't know if I have actually made the point i was trying to
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    I can see both sides of the argument, but I know in Australia (and I'd be assuming obviously elsewhere as well) gym staff do have a duty of care to their patrons. At what stage that comes into this scenario however, would probably change depending who you asked.
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    Ive only ever seen 2 anorexics at my gym.

    Maybe there are more but they arent noticeably ano, just quite thin.

    But the 2 anos I saw looked digusting. I felt really horrible for them too. Such a sad, sad illness. One was attemping lap pull downs though!
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    There is very little the gym can do except throw her out. However, if they do that, she will just go somewhere else. If no gym gives her access, she will exercise on her own and that's even more dangerous. At least, if she is in a facility, she can be monitored. There is a girl coming to our classes and she is very sick. However, I have been keeping an eye on her. I have been letting get familiar with me - she knows that I am a trainer there - and eventually, I will talk to her. She has been in some of my classes before. Once I think that she is comfortable and familiar with me, I will approach her and talk to her. Eventually, I will try to get her to go to a therapy centre that treats people for ED (I recovered from my own ED there).

    If I throw her out, she'll be in a worse situation. If I approach her too quickly, she might leave anyway and then she's no better off.

    This is what gyms should do. Use their facilities and some tolerance and kindness to help these people. Naturally, if a person gets extremely sick, other measures may have to be taken. But the gym operators will notice that by monitoring the sufferer.
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    Gym Girl - Do you go to the LTF in Cary? If so, they have a "At your own risk policy". That girl is on her own, but they will call an ambulance for her if anything happens.

    Jinx - I think you are totally right. There's nothing they can do. Hell... We had a guy die at our gym almost 3 years ago. Guy worked out like normal, was stretching and then collapsed from a sudden heart attack. Just this weekend we wheeled someone else out on a stretcher.
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    I recently switched gyms and there's an anorexic girl who goes to both my old gym and my new gym in one day. She usually doesn't workout for long, which is probably a way of diffusing suspicion, before hopping over to the next gym.
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    Thumbs up Caring People: I Think it's Great

    To all who posted on this subject, Although we all seem to have our own ideas on what to do, the overall response seems to be to help. I have to say although it might be a little corny, I for one think it is great that this many people care enough to share their own experiences & advice.

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    Lightbulb Anorexia

    Morality: Do you say something? Risk hurting the persons feelings and maybe save a life?

    Legally: Hell if I know, but what if they do "pull the trigger"?

    Banishment from a gym will not really help. These people have a problem with how they look. If they can't workout, they may start cutting more calories or something else more dramatic.

    Bottom line: I would rather risk a lawsuit, AND hurt the persons feelings by getting them assistance, than stand by and watch them slowly waste into Karen Carpenter-land.

    Someone on here posted whether or not to talk to an obese person about over eating. ABSOLUTELY YES... Do it in a kind manner. Alone, or with a manager from the gym.

    Being "overweight"/"undertall" myself, if I ever got to the point where I "looked" unheathy, PLEASE say something. Maybe that person is needing someone to step in (human touch).

    Drugs/Booze/Overeaters/Undereaters... There are support groups for all of these... BUT an INTERVENTION is always the first step.....
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    I don't think they can legally kick her out since she pays. But you can have a talk with the trainers and hopefully one of them will mention something to her.
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    Originally Posted by ComputeGat View Post
    I don't think they can legally kick her out since she pays. But you can have a talk with the trainers and hopefully one of them will mention something to her.
    They can kick her out at anytime for almost anything, as long as they refund what payment hasn't yet been used.

    Ever seen the sign "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"?
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    anorexic girls are hot!
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    Originally Posted by ChplHillGymGirl View Post
    i like the way you put things - i will ask the gym manager about this the next time i see him in there. if nothing else, at least i'll learn their policy and viewpoint and perhaps plant a seed in their minds as well. with so many people working out there, perhaps they haven't even noticed her. thanks for the input!
    Any news on this?
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