You’ve seen them before, no doubt. They’re littered all over fitness and personal training websites and don’t even get me started about Instagram. I’m talking about bikini or sports bra photos to show off a woman’s physique. Typically they are used to promote a product or service, making you think that perhaps using the product or service will result in a body like the one in the photo. In many cases that is silly or unrealistic. But on a broader level, I am tired of fitness being simply about obtaining a perfect, eye-pleasing physique. Fitness is about so much more.
When I think fitness, I think much more broadly than cardio, lifting weights, running, yoga, or other traditional fitness pursuits. Fitness means so much more than simply being physically fit. When I think of fitness, I think about fitness in many aspects of life – mental fitness, emotional fitness, nutritional fitness, relationship fitness, fitness of the body’s functions (like heart, lungs, and other organs), and of course, physical fitness. This view of fitness cannot be summarized by a photo in a sports bra or bikini with chiseled abs and slender legs.
1. Fitness includes your emotional and mental well-being. How can a photo capture mental and emotional well-being? Simple answer, it cannot.
2. A photo also cannot depict the internal health of the body. When was the last time you say a #fitspo image that talked about heart health? Yea, I didn’t think that was a thing either. The health of your body is about more than your outward appearance. Blood pressure, fasting glucose, cholesterol, VO2 max, and other wellness indicators are not visible to the eye.
3. Many of the fitness photos convey unrealistic goals and outcomes. For most normal adults, maintaining a health body weight and a healthy, balanced diet is challenge enough. And really, why shouldn’t that be enough? Why must we strive to attain a body that requires multiple hours at the gym each and every day? For most of the models in those photos, that’s their reality. For most of us, we struggle to fit in an hour workout several days a week. And somedays, we cannot fit in a workout for a variety of reasons – you (or a family member) are sick, you have been working insane hours at work, or you did not sleep well the night before. Sometimes taking time to rest and recharge is more valuable than a workout. Balance is important and most of those photos do not convey balance.
4. Nurturing relationships with people who love, support, and care for you is another critical aspect of total fitness. Sometimes you need a girls night out complete with wine and cupcakes. Rock on, girlfriend! In fact, I think it is fantastic that you carve out time to socialize and nurture relationships with women in your life. You should do these things and they have a place in a healthy, balanced life. Find those cheerleaders in your life and engage them. In the end, they will help you achieve your goals more than some silly #fitspo photo ever will.
5. Modesty, y’all. It is noticeably absent in our culture and I do not believe that showing a photo of me in a sports bra makes me a better trainer and fitness coach, nor do I want those type of photos floating all over the internet.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments!