“Anti-Diet” Fitness Instructor Claims Recent Pilates Trend Is Linked To Transphobia, The Alt-Right

Natasha Biase

A fitness instructor who promotes the “health at every size” and “fat positivity” movement is raising eyebrows for associating women who practice Pilates with transphobia and the alt-right. Barb Puzanovova, who goes by the handle @nondiet_trainer, denounced the recent surge in popularity the exercise regimen is experiencing, attributing it to anti-fat bigotry.

Puzanovova first began speaking on the issue last week after responding to a woman who explained that she chose to drop heavy lifting in favor of Pilates in order to slim down.

Although she claims “choosing to do an activity like Pilates is fine,” and is a “fantastic form of exercise,” Puzanovova explains that every woman she’s seen online discussing the switch from heavy weightlifting to pilates is doing so because they were afraid to look bulky and muscular.

“Ultimately, every video that I’ve seen regarding the switch from strength training to Pilates or Barre or yoga is primarily because of the aesthetic look,” she says. “Women are not wanting to look bulky or visibly muscular. Instead, they want that long, lean, toned look.”

“While I support you doing anything that makes you feel affirmed in your gender,” she continues, “I do have a little issue with this. Most women are not actually strength training enough, and we tend to strength-train less as we age.”

Personally, this shift over to the long and lean muscles makes me really feel like we are back in the nineties,” concludes the Nashville-based trainer.

Following up, Puzanovova shared a series of other videos where she ties the rise of “Pilates girlies” to the COVID-19 pandemic, white supremacy, trad wives, former United States president Donald Trump, and anti-Queer and transgender legislation. In one of the videos, she maps out her thought process on a large whiteboard.

A screenshot from Puzanovova’s video on pilates.

“Lots of anti-queer and trans legislation in direct relation to the rise of Trump emboldening these kinds of things on even a state level,” explained the “inclusive” trainer. 

“We’ve got the reinforcement of the gender binary in response to maybe this larger gender expansiveness that is happening. This deconstruction of gender and sexuality in general, and a lot of people saying there’s only male and female, masculine and feminine.”

She continued: “I think it’s fair to mention trans athletes entering sports. Lots of discussions about banning trans athletes from participating in competitive sports because we think that the way someone looks is their gender… And this comes back to the Pilates girlies not wanting to look masculine.”

Although Puzanovova limited comments on her original post, which garnered nearly 13,000 views, her rant was met with mockery after it was shared on X (formerly Twitter) by Anna Slatz, a journalist and co-founder of the independent news outlet Reduxx.

“Pilates has driven this ‘healthy at every size’ personal trainer on Instagram completely insane.”

While some joked that “social media was a mistake” for giving HAES fitness instructors like Puzanovova a platform, others testified about their experiences with Pilates and what they liked about it.

Brittany Martinez, founder of women’s magazine Evie and menstrual health app 28, said that some women prefer Pilates and low impact movements because “they don’t spike our cortisol and are great for injury prevention.”

“Funniest part of this is ‘exercise is anti-fatness,’ responded another X user by the handle @Cluffalo. “Like yes that’s the whole point I want to be pretty and skinny.”

“I started a Pilates gym last week and I love it 🤩,” added MJ, a social media manager for the Babylon Bee.

In addition to attributing Pilates and low-impact movement to anti-fatness, transphobia, and alt-right movements, Puzanovova frequently shares posts on her Instagram account criticizing discipline and affirming that weight and health are not connected.

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