The word 'selfie' makes me cringe. What's worse is what fitspo (a.k.a. fitness inspiration) has become these days. I mean really. You're telling me girls actually work out wearing this, or that an image of a half-naked woman with probably-photoshopped abs (or at least filtered and enhanced) is going to motivate someone enough to clean up their diet and get to the gym or that fitness class? I think not.
Fitspo is polluting the internet these days with countless images like the ones linked above and it makes. me. sick. As a fitness professional, there's nothing more UNprofessional than posting pics that might as well be soft-core porn on social media under the guise of inspiration and accountability. Not to mention the pictures with the 'motivational' messages like "once you see results, it becomes an addiction," or "nothing tastes as good as being fit feels." Actually, exercise addiction is a very real issue and something that shouldn't be taken lightheartedly. A balanced diet that includes some treats every now and then is part of a healthy relationship with food. These messages are out in full force and are doing more harm than good by creating unrealistic ideals.
Fitspo Is Insidious At Best
In my opinion, these messages are insidious. They're everywhere and after seeing them day in and day out, eventually they're hard to ignore. You might think okay, I will do this. I will make it to the gym or do this workout if it kills me because society is telling me I need to be that thin. (But 'that thin' is borderline anorexic.) After a while, you see some more images with ripped abs and a barely-covered perky backside and think that's what you need to look like in order to be accepted in this world. (But those abs and glutes are so digitally enhanced, they're beyond realistic for anyone!)
Why the Half-Naked Pictures Matter...
There's no denying that fitness has recently become more of a glamorized trendy endeavor for the young. Everyone and their friends are posting pictures of their latest sweat sessions. So, what about these porn-like pictures (I mean "selfies") that are in every Instagram and Facebook feed? You know, the ones of girls lifting up their shirts in the locker rooms to show off their midsection, or posing for the camera with severe lordotic lumbar posture in order to accentuate their backside. What messages are those pictures sending? I'd argue that they're no better than the 'motivational' messages mentioned before.
Everyone's body is built differently, and you can't hold yourself to the same standards as a picture you see in passing on the internet. It is, after all, a picture and not the actual person standing in front of you. You don't know how doctored that image is or what that person's fitness journey has been up to that point. What's more is that these photos are turning what should be a pursuit of health and self-love into a sexed up competition for whose body is harder.
... And Why I'll Never Post One
This might be the more personal part of this blog post, but I don't see the point in posting those types of pictures myself. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I think there's something very UNprofessional about posting a snapshot in your underthings to show off muscle gains. Sure, I do post the occasional bicep flex or shoulder pic (and I suppose one could make the argument that that's along the same lines), but what I'm talking about is the porn-i-fied photos of midsections and butts that young fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and trainers seem to love. Do these pictures make them any more knowledgable as a trainer? Do they promote their services and encourage people to contact them because of how they look? Maybe on a very rare occasion, but I'd argue that the majority of the time, these pictures are scaring people away and turning people off. As an instructor, that's the last thing I want. My goal is to be seen as a professional who helps others on their fitness journeys. Pictures of me in a sports bra and underwear don't help anyone.
Bottom Line: Make Health the Goal
Instead of setting the standard with a 6-pack and unhealthily low body fat percentage, we should be focusing on how our bodies feel and what they can do for us. Focus on curing the cardiovascular disease. Focus on developing proper movement patterns. Focus on gaining muscle and increasing flexibility in order to make quality of life better (i.e. decreased lower back pain, improved posture, reduced body fat, which lightens the load placed on the knees and ankles.) The list goes on. Instead of glorifying the sexed-up super-fit, focus on health. Focus on getting your body where it needs to be in order to live your best life possible.
Readers: chat with me! What's your take on fitspo? Do you find it motivating or a turn-off? If you find it uninspiring and could replace one message with a positive one, what would it be? What DOES motivate you and fuel your fitness goals?
Instead of posting related blog posts here, I wanted to point your attention towards some other amazing articles and blog posts on this topic. If you have a minute, they're worth the read: