The fear of ridicule - it's one of the big reasons overweight individuals won't enter a gym.

That's the theory behind Downsize Fitness, a West Loop facility that opened last October. It features fogged windows and a locked door. Only members are allowed in, and if you want to join, you have to call to set up an appointment.

And you need to be 50 pounds overweight.

Trainer Jason Burns explained the concept to me today. The training sessions are either one-on-one or in very small groups. Clients can feel comfortable working out around others in the same situation. For different reasons, they've ended up overweight, and they're ready to do something about it.

So what happens when the pounds come off? They aren't kicked out of the gym - they're actually encouraged to stay. Clients who reach their goals will be given special red shirts, and they'll serve as mentors for new clients coming in. 

We spoke with Tara Lawton, a client who has been at the gym since October. She's lost 30 pounds so far and hoping to reach her goal weight of around 165 pounds. 

I also ran into Time Out Chicago Editor Frank Sennett after his workout. He's on his way to shedding 100 pounds, and wrote a nice piece about the gym a few months ago. Read it HERE.

My WGN News feature on Downsize will air at 5 p.m. and will be posted here after. They're located at 220 N. Aberdeen 1-North. But again, call them first at 312-226-SIZE. You can also visit their website HERE.