A Local Fitness Instructor’s Response to Body Shamers Is Going Viral

Sarah Gaines led a workout on the USA Today Facebook page. Things didn't go exactly as planned.

Sarah Gaines

Photo courtesy of Sarah Gaines

When Sarah Gaines saw the rebuttals rolling in, she knew it wasn’t good.

The Fit University founder and Boston-based fitness instructor had been asked to lead a live workout on USA Today’s Facebook page, and she was nothing but excited. But as the workout progressed, she caught glimpses of her phone, blowing up with comments—not all of them positive.

“I started to see people commenting in, like, ‘Ignore the comments, people are so mean,'” she remembers. “I was like, ‘Alright, something’s going on.'”

As she scrolled through, she began to see what that something was. “OMG! She needs to lose a lot of weight,” one person wrote. “She needs to be doing [the workout] with them lol,” added another. “But the instructor is thick,” chimed in a third.

“For a second, in my head, it bummed me out, but I couldn’t let it distract me,” Gaines says, adding that she thought the comments were “ridiculous” and “crazy.” Instead, she responded to the trolls with (amazingly good-natured) comments, and took to the Fit University blog to write about the experience herself. In the post, she left her followers with a foolproof strategy for shutting down the haters.

“You let all the negative stuff roll off your shoulders because it’s not worth your time, energy, or emotions,” Gaines wrote. “You remember that your body is yours to do with it what you want. If you find people making comments about your body, leave. If you find yourself making comments about other people’s bodies, figure out something else to do with your time.

People will always have bad things to say. It’s up to you to know what’s worth your time and what’s not.”

So far, the post has been shared more than 1,200 times and picked up by multiple national media outlets. The response from fans, readers, and fellow trainers has been universally positive, Gaines says, adding that the opportunity to spread her message of positivity and acceptance was well worth a few negative comments.

“I’m really big, personally, on pushing that fitness isn’t this one size,” she says. “In the past few years there’s been a lot of talk about fitness not looking a certain way. This is a good push of continuing that conversation forward.”