Louise Green, the company's founder and CEO, calls Body Exchange a "safe haven" for women who are intimidated by traditional gyms. "Many of our clients have not had successful fitness pasts so I can see the anxiety before we get started and I can see the relief and happiness after we finish," she tells The Province.
Her company offers clients a wide range of activities — from hikes and 5k runs to an all-day boot camp. Women who want to join are screened by phone, and anyone deemed too slight is told to consider alternative venues.
"The presence of that person in our program will bring down morale," Green says.
Body Exchange is so committed to making its plus-size customers comfortable that it does not market itself as a weight loss aid. Green says being active is the top priority; any weight loss experienced at Body Exchange is incidental.
The North Vancouver-based chain currently has three branches in British Columbia, but Green is looking to expand into other provinces. The Daily News notes that, stateside, Downsize Fitness and New York's Buddha Body Yoga have admission requirements similar to Body Exchange, though neither has an outright ban.