Growing up as the fat kid in her neighborhood on Long Island, Morit Summers (36) hated who she saw in the mirror.
She weighed more than 200 pounds, and doctors pushed fad diets and weight loss surgery on her. It only made her feel worse.
When she was 14, her family hired a personal trainer who worked with her on strength training and movement. She became stronger and her self-esteem improved. But working out didn’t set her on the path to being a skinny gym rat.
Instead, it set her on a path to help other people reach their health and fitness goals without worrying about a number on the scale.
“I have no idea what I weigh. I haven’t been on a scale in three years. It’s a toxic place,” Summers, now a certified trainer, told The Post. The 5-foot-6 powerhouse estimated that she is somewhere in the 250-pound range. And that’s good for both her and her clients.
“If your goal is to get shredded, have zero body fat and cry during your workout, I’m not the trainer for you,” Summers said.
People who want to get strong and healthy — but aren’t obsessed with weight loss — are turning to plus-size personal trainers, both online and off. In 2017, Summers opened Form Fitness gym in Brooklyn Heights, where she has trained over 100 clients, including curvy supermodel Ashley Graham. A recent TikTok video of Summers doing push-up jumping jacks to a remixed hip-hop track has earned more than 561,000 views alone, while the hashtag #PlusSizeTrainer is more than 4.6 million strong.
“Everybody’s goal is not to be skinny when they walk into a gym,” says Summers, who charges $150 for a single session. “Most people just want to feel better. They want their bodies to feel healthy and strong.”
Summers has endured flak from cyberbullies who have called her “fat” and hatefully questioned why anyone would want to train with someone who looks like her, but her larger physique is precisely why some flock to her.
“Many of my clients come to me because I look like them. I also have a stomach,” she said. “I know what they’re going through.”
Sarah Taylor, a 38-year-old trainer in Toronto, also uses her struggles with weight and self-esteem to connect with clients.
“I know what it’s like to absolutely hate yourself. I know what it’s like to work out three hours a day, six days a week and throw up after every workout because you hate yourself,” said Taylor, who weighs about 250 pounds and is 5-foot-11.
While working out at a commercial gym before becoming a trainer in 2018, Taylor recalled being fat-shamed by a woman who gave her a dirty look and asked, “‘Do you have medical clearance to come here? to practice?”
The incident, although painful, inspired her professional fitness journey.
“What I’ve learned and what I tell my clients is that you can’t change yourself if you hate yourself,” Taylor said. “The only way you’re going to see real change is by truly loving yourself.”
She preaches self-esteem during her weekly 60-minute group workout that she offers virtually through her own fitness app for a $55 monthly subscription fee. The workouts include upper body, lower body and core strength training routines. For each exercise, she provides modifications for users who are uncomfortable or unable to perform a full range of motion. Under her guidance, a person’s weight is never discussed.
“I’m a personal trainer. I just happen to exist in a bigger body,” she said. “My approach is very different from a typical personal trainer’s because my goal is not to whip people into losing weight, it’s about empowering women to feel comfortable in their own skin.”
Las Vegas plus-size trainer Jessica Goins also never discusses the scale with her clients. She doesn’t make them do a lot of cardio, nor does she force people to track their food intake.
Instead, she kicks off each of her virtual training courses held via Zoom by putting her clients in a positive mindset through open dialogue about their physical, mental and emotional challenges.
“We start each session talking about how they’re feeling,” says Goins, 33. “We work through any obstacles whether it’s mindset, nutrition or how they feel about themselves. And then we get into the workout.”
For Goins, a recovering binge eater, a renewed mindset helped her overcome her disorder.
“My goal as a trainer is to make sure my clients are healthy: body, mind and soul,” she said. “It’s not all about losing weight.”