Fit & Fat – Running alongside Toronto’s own Chubbie Chasers

It was just the other week, I was making a run to my local Starbucks when I noticed a sign up on their community board for a program called ‘Chubbie Chasers‘.  Given the largely problematic usage of the term ‘chubby chaser‘ – my interest was piqued on who was behind this group and what they were all about. What I didn’t expect to find was a hugely positive and amazing community behind Chubbie Chasers created by one Monica Low.  The community Monica was launching and creating was real grassroots movement for her to create an all season, outdoor run, strength and cardio club for bigger bodies in High Park.

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Running is an amazing sport enjoyed by millions around the world, and for many reasons.  When I sat down with Monica,  we chatted briefly about the struggles of learning a new sport in a safe environment while starting off slowly (and sensibly) with a group that one would feel comfortable with.  For Monica, providing a safe space to potential runners was absolutely paramount as she explained to me, “When I would run with The Running Room, I was always at the back of the pack,” and while The Running Group had the policy of leaving “no man behind” – she often times felt like she was being left behind.

Monica has been a distance runner for a few years now having completed several races and triathletes in her years and wanted to share her knowledge with another group of people similar to herself, thus Chubbie Chasers was born.  Monica tells me, “I kinda hated running at first because I was always at the back of the pack, every single time.  But after awhile, it became a challenge and an adrenaline rush.”  One of the biggest things that Monica points out to me is that the group does not focus on losing weight but rather gaining strength, endurance and increasing ones confidence through having a body in motion. Monica acts as a mentor and coach reminding those to just breathe and have fun.

Since bringing together bodies to enjoy a new sport (running), the group has also utilized a strong message on body image acceptance and helping to showcase different types of fat bodies in public.  Monica tells me that since she has gone live with the site (and the group started their runs on September 1), some local residents have called into the City of Toronto to complain about if they group could actually meet within High Park.  Monica shares, “I don’t know why people are so afraid of fat bodies taking over a space and being happy.  We’re not bothering anyone, we’re running and encouraging one another to do something great.”

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For the entire month of September, Monica has offered her classes for absolutely free to encourage those in the community to come out and join in. With different types of classes offered each and every day, it can help those who have never run before to become familiar with the sport iteself, the group and if its the right decision for you. It’s about letting go of the fears and doing something new, different and exciting. The classes promise a decent amount of running/jogging, but also will showcase different ways to run with speed work, hills and tempo.

Monica tells me, “I want people to come out and feel like they aren’t in a competitive environment.”  And because of Monica’s inspiring words, I’m going to look into running with this group (as often as I possibly can).  It’s a new challenge for me but something that I feel will be rewarding.  Have you thought about running before but didn’t know where to start – if you’re in Toronto, you should join in and do something different.  Who knows: we might even earn a Cookie Medal together!  For more information, check out Monica’s Chubbie Chasers website or the Facebook page for encouragement.

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