The online fitness community can be a wonderful thing. The boom its seen over the past couple of years has been monumental. There are now an abundance of blogs, tweets, Instagrams and Tumblrs to turn to when you’re in need of fitness motivation. But there’s been a weird vibe about it all over the past few months and it’s started to make me uncomfortable. And I say all of what I’m about to say knowing that I may have played a part in it.
I am all for a tough workout. I like to sweat, I like to be completely puffed out, I like to have to peel myself off the floor at the end of it. But does that make my workout superior to someone else’s? No it does not.
What I’ve noticed about the language that’s being used by fitness ‘professionals’ (that term has to be used very loosely these days) and enthusiasts alike is that it’s become all about ‘all or nothing’. While I understand that it’s important to have goals in fitness, I think it’s equally acceptable (and important) to be able to workout just ’cause you enjoy it. But now it’s all about pushing yourself further, harder, faster, better. Sweat more, hurt more, DO more, do it now, do it often and do it more than other people. And make sure you document every last sweat dripping minute of it so your followers can know, you’re hardcore.
These attitudes are especially prominent around the Christmas/New Year. I’ve seen fitness pros mocking inactive people, fat shaming, dismissing people’s preferred method of exercise – how does this help the cause in any way?
I’m genuine in my love of fitness and wanting to encourage women to workout, but God help me if I ever shame or humiliate anyone into doing it.
There’s a smugness among a lot of online fitness folk. As if being in the gym every day, running every day, lifting every day somehow makes them a better person at the end of it all. If you’re not keeping up with them, well then you’re just less than. You’re not serious. You’re not about that life. Oh you only work out three times a week? And you like to just enjoy it? Screw you – you’re not trying hard enough.
It’s actually a kind of bullying – the kind that many who came to exercise later in life were put off by for years, hence why they never got involved. Many in the online fitness community have become the smug high school jock, picking on the weedy kids.
A woman I follow on Instagram who I find to be very inspirational, posting a video of her doing deadlifts a few days ago and the comments turned into full blown arguments between PTs, correcting her form and poo-pooing other PTs because they may have the occasional party pic on their Instagram feed, which obviously means they’re not serious about their fitness life.
First of all – pretty sure she wasn’t asking for anyone’s critique (she has a trainer and coach for that) and second of all – take an entire stadium of seats with your wannabe-personal trainer ass.
It’s become all about one upping each other. Who runs further or faster or has a better six pack or is the most flexible yogi. Sheesh – let’s just all take a breath. If you’re in competition with anyone but yourself, you’re doing it wrong. And I venture to say, if you’re just posting these workout pics for the approval of others or to one-up or humiliate people, then yeah, you’re a little off the mark there too.
I’ve seen a swarm of things floating around in the online fitness community about January newbies at the gym. Some of these people are personal trainers (way to drum up business!). Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps the reason a lot of people quit the gym is down to the rank attitude of gym goers? Would it kill you to be supportive and encouraging of the new people who’ve taken a giant leap and committed to being fitter and healthier in the New Year? I mean, if you’re ‘about that life’, surely, you’d want to share your passion for fitness with the newbies and make sure they don’t quit.
And most importantly, lest we forget, none of us emerged from the womb running six minute miles and squatting 300lbs, so let’s all just dial the rhetoric down a little.
I am guilty of posting my runs on Instagram and sharing my journey into weights on there (hello gym mirror bicep flexing selfies – yes, guilty as charged), but over recent weeks, I have done so less and less as I’ve slowly become more disillusioned with the online fitness community. I’m not saying I’ll stop posting those kinds of pics – I enjoy sharing my journey – but I guess I’m just saying I’m reevaluating my own motivation for doing so.
The online fitness movement can really be a fantastic thing. When it’s done right, it’s supportive, encouraging and inspiring. Let’s not make it catty and competitive. Let’s not humiliate and shame people. Everyone’s fitness journey is different. We’re all working towards individual goals. What works for some people, won’t for others.
If you’re making the choice to put yourself out there, you have to ensure you do so responsibly. Check the ego at the door and embrace what ‘community’ really means.