Taryn Sisco and Megan Ellis opened a barre studio in Frederick, Maryland, to provide a safe haven for women to work out without fear of judgment.
Ironically, the two women would find themselves being judged when they received an angry piece of body shaming hate mail after an article about their studio appeared in the local paper.
“Now I realize you can’t please everyone, and I know barre isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but this was different,” Sisco, 40, and Ellis, 35, wrote in a blog entry posted to the Barre East website. “A woman cut our article out of the Frederick News Post and proceeded to write insults all over it saying we have no place in the business of health and fitness. But it wasn’t about our business or our training – she was picking apart our bodies and the way we look.”
The letter’s author – who Sisco and Ellis did not name – drew arrows pointing to the women’s heads with the words, “You are overweight” and “You are fat” written by them.
“The woman had never met us in person, she’d never seen us in person, she’d never come to a class,” Sisco tells PEOPLE. “Her entire rant is based on a picture of us. It would be one thing if she was critiquing our business model or our studio, but it was only based on the way we looked.”
The words were very hurtful, because both women have struggled with body image.
“Early in my 20s, I did have an eating disorder, but I actually learned from that how to accept my body and be proud of who I am,” says Sisco. “Megan is still in the middle of her fitness journey. She’s lost a lot of weight. She’s doing amazing, and she is really healthy, but it really kicks her down.”