Carleton University in Ottawa has sparked a heated online debate through the fitness center’s decision to remove the scale from the campus gym. In place of a scale, students found a sign encouraging them to focus on wellness rather than weight.

Carleton Athletics’ manager of health and wellness Bruce Marshall said in an email to the Charlatan, “We don’t believe being fixated on weight has any positive effect on your health and well-being.” Instead, Marshall offered a myriad of other measurements that might be more indicative of good health, such as girth, heart rate, cardio time or distance and increase in weight lifted, as well as generally how the body feels.

A CU spokesperson told The Huffington Post, “Many fitness centers are moving away from having scales in their facilities because they are not considered a good health marker. We provided some educational information on various health measurements as we were concerned that the focus is on weight.”

While some students are defending the move on the basis that scales can be a factor in triggering eating disorders or obsessive exercising, the response from CU students has been largely negative, with many students voicing their disgust with the initiative using #bringbackthescale.

Second-year student Marko Miljusevic posted a Facebook message reading, “We shouldn’t remove something because some people abuse it. If they can’t handle the number that shows up on the scale then don’t step on it.”

Freshman Samar El Faki posted her support for the initiative, writing, “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

According to the University Herald, the CU wellness center has voiced a tentative support for the initiative so far, but says the discussion far from over. The program will continue to monitor student response, as well as the general atmosphere in the fitness center.

The discussion surrounding CU’s fitness stance is reminiscent of the heated debate surrounding Oral Roberts University’s fitness initiative, when it proposed requiring all incoming freshman to wear a Fitbit to monitor daily steps and calories burned.

ORU’s initiative was followed up by a petition to reverse the requirements, headed by National Eating Disorders Association blogger Kaitlin Irwin, as fears arose that the university’s tracking system would trigger compulsive behaviors.

Irwin told the Independent, “ORU’s attempt to track and grade their students’ aerobic activity may inspire unhealthy competition, unhappiness and stress, and could even trigger disordered thoughts and behaviors.”

The petition garnered more than 1,500 signatures, including that of one supporter who said, “One goes to college for education, not to be tracked regarding their exercise habits. Would you do the same for faculty?”

However, the petitioner’s outrage at the idea of tracking employee’s fitness levels is not the hyperbole it was intended to be, as more companies jump on the bandwagon to offer fitness incentives to employees using wearable fitness technology as an indicator of wellness.

Read it here: Should Employees Be Forced to Wear Fitness Trackers?

Is it the place of the University to regulate the way in which students track fitness goals?
  • Votes: (0%)
  • Votes: (0%)
  • Votes: (0%)
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Courtney Cameron is Editorial Assistant of Athletic Business.