When Whitney Way Thore started posting about her newfound love of exercising on social media, her inbox flooded with questions from her followers.
“People were asking me about my workouts ALL the time,” Thore, 34, tells PEOPLE. “I’ve gotten such a good response from people, whether they be fat people or people with different abilities, or people who just aren’t confident in their fitness levels.”
The star of My Big Fat Fabulous Life wanted to help fans get fit and healthy too — but initially she wasn’t sure how to do it.
“I’ve been thinking about what I could do to help encourage or inspire other people, but personal trainers are really expensive and not everyone has an hour to spend in the gym every day,” she says.
Then Thore met Ryan Andreas, a personal trainer who developed a daily training program that’s just 24 minutes long, and she knew she found the perfect partner to create a workout plan that her followers would love. Together, they came up with No BS Active — a program with daily online workouts that people can do at home, for $20 a month.
“I’ve been training people for ten years, and the thing I see the most is a revolving door of people coming in and out of training, so I wanted to develop something that was sustainable, so someone didn’t have to worry about spending $200-300 this month and not having it the next month, and it throwing off what they’re working towards,” Andreas says. “I wanted to develop something that people could do from home that was short but still effective.”
And while there are hundreds of online workout plans already out there, Thore says No BS offers something truly different.
“What I’ve heard a lot from people is that they want representation, because there are fat people everywhere, and there are fat people who exercise everywhere. I’m not an anomaly,” she says. “People are getting really excited that there is a workout program that features someone who looks like them and is probably a lot bigger than them, actually. That’s something that Ryan and I really worked on together, which is how to offer modifications for every single thing. We even have modifications for if you need to be seated and can’t get onto the floor. That was really excluding to a lot of beginners and overweight people.”
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Exercise has become a huge part of Thore’s life in the last year, and that will continue throughout the new season of My Big Fat Fabulous Life, premiering Jan. 1 on TLC. Thore says some of her past workout habits had led to disordered and unhealthy habits.
“I always had the expectation of weight loss hanging over me, so that made me very hyperfocused on one goal, and it made me very obsessive,” she says. “Any time I would be in the gym after that, since 2011, I wasn’t able to enjoy it, and I was afraid. I think the gym can kind of be a threatening environment where everything is focused on weight loss.”
But this time around, Thore changed her mindset when it came to working out.
“When I finally got back in the gym about 8 months ago I started working with Jessica Powell, who is the daughter of my old trainer, and I just talked to her. I said that I don’t want to focus on weight loss, I don’t want to weigh myself, I just want to get in here and move,” she says. “And for the first time in my entire life, I’ve actually lost weight without trying, which is pretty wild, because that’s never happened to me ever. Now I work out for the sake of working out. I work out because it makes me feel good. It’s literally changed my entire life, and that’s the message I want people to know. You can be active and there’s so many more benefits other than losing weight.”
My Big Fat Fabulous Life season 5 premieres Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. on TLC.
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