University’s decision to remove scale from gym raises questions

An Ottawa university has raised eyebrows and ire by opting to remove the scale from its primary athletic facility.

Carleton University pulled the scale out earlier this month in a bid to shift focus away from weight and onto a more holistic view of health.

Bruce Marshall, the university’s manager of wellness programs, said Carleton was following what he called an emerging trend away from having scales in workout facilities.

He said weight alone is not a good health marker and said many fitness facilities, including Carleton’s, were actively moving away from a focus on weight.

But the move has prompted considerable backlash both from the Carleton community and beyond, with people criticizing the university for removing a basic fitness tool and others lambasting the school for pandering to oversensitive students.

Marshall says the university is reviewing its decision and says it’s considering reinstating scales in less prominent locations.

“We provided some educational information on various health measurements as we are hoping to shift the focus away from weight,” Marshall said in a statement. “We are listening to feedback and we will review further.”

One major Canadian chain said the practice of having a scale in fitness centres still appears to be the norm.

Kim Lavender, national director of team training with GoodLife Fitness, said scales are still available in the company’s more than 300 facilities across the country, adding that scales are also still common sights at other facilities she visits.

But, she said, GoodLife and other fitness clubs would likely agree with Carleton’s stance that weight plays only a limited role in good health management.

Lavender likened the debate over scales to one that raged years ago about the presence of mirrors in workout facilities.

She said some providers opted to remove mirrors from busy workout areas after customers voiced concerns about sending negative messages about body image.

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