Tag Archives: Fitness Culture

3 Things I Don’t Love About Fitness Culture

A few days ago blogged about the four things I love about fitness culture. Today I’m going to be talking about three things I wish I could change about it.

Since it can be difficult to read people’s tones on the Internet, know that I’m bringing up these concerns because I care about this topic quite a bit. Everything I’m about to say is coming from a genuine, sympathetic perspective.

The Pseudoscience

What is it about the topics of diet and exercise that attracts so much pseudoscience? I’m all for each fitness enthusiast figuring out what works for them as far as what they eat and what types of exercise they do, but I’m also alarmed by how many ads I’m seeing for products claiming to do things that are either scientifically impossible or could potentially be dangerous if tried without a doctor’s supervision.

For example, I keep seeing advertisements for products that are supposed to block your body from absorbing certain types of calories in the food you eat. I’ve seen other ads for products that claim to be able to get rid of belly fat without diet or exercise, along with many other strange declarations.

While these kinds of ads have been around for a long time, I’m surprised by the fact that people are still falling for them. It would be amazing if there really were a magical pill, powder, device, or spell that allowed everyone to eat and drink whatever they pleased with no side effects, but sadly that’s not how the human body works.

The Consumerism

Consumerism is one of the biggest reasons why I stopped following fitness blogs and social media accounts. As a minimalist, I have no interest in buying a whole wardrobe of fitness clothing in order to have matching outfits when I exercise. What other people wear is not my concern, but I personally don’t see the need to buy new stuff if what I already own still functions perfectly well.

My workout outfits tend to be old, stained, and/or already mostly worn out. I like the fact that I can do any exercise in them I want to without worrying about ruining them. They’re impossible to ruin! If I didn’t wear them while exercising, I’d probably turn them into dust rags or throw them away entirely.

I follow this same rule when deciding when or whether to buy new fitness equipment. A yoga mat and a few pairs of free weights in various sizes are all I need. This seems to run so counter to how many well-known fitness enthusiasts operate that I often find it hard to connect to them.

The Objectification of Women

There are many wonderful stock photos out there of people doing all sorts of exercises, but in order to find them to illustrate my posts on this topic I need to wade through far too many images whose compositions vary widely depending on whether a man or woman is being shown in them.

This is a typical photo of a model who is a man.

 

Look at how his body is covered by loose, comfortable clothing. The photograph is framed in such a way that the weightlifting itself is what’s most important. The model is lifting heavy weights, and he’s totally focused on doing it properly in that moment. Nobody cares if he’s perspiring, has messy hair, or makes a funny facial expression while he lifts.

I do my best to share pictures of as many different types of fitness models as possible. This includes gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and as many other visible markers of difference as I can possibly find because of how important inclusivity is.

However, this is a mild version of the sort of photos I find when I look for fitness models who are women.

 

As you’ve probably noticed, they are not exercising at all. They’re using cell phones, and yet this is being tagged as a “fitness” photo. This happens far too often.

I’d like to be perfectly clear here that I have no problem with pictures of women exercising in sports bras and yoga pants. That’s what I wear for some of my workouts, especially if it’s a warm, humid day and I’d prefer to perspire from the workout itself instead of from unnecessary layers of clothing.

The issue is that male models are at least pretending to do workouts while female models are often either posed in sexual/suggestible ways or aren’t shown working out at all.

I don’t know about all of you, but this isn’t a time when I worry about how I look in any way. My only focus is on getting a little stronger, faster, or more flexible than I was the last time I did that routine. It would be really helpful to see this reality reflected in fitness culture imagery.

How do you wish fitness culture would change?

4 Things I Love About Fitness Culture

With the weather gradually warming up here in Ontario, I’ve been spending more time thinking about fitness and fitness culture.

Once the last patches of snow and ice have melted for good, my neighbourhood is going to have even more people going out and about for a jog, walk, bicycle ride, or other forms of exercise that aren’t so easy to do indoors.

Some people workout outdoors in all sorts of weather, of course, but it’s invigorating to see a much larger number of folks getting some exercise on a nice day.

While I’m waiting for that to happen a few weeks from now, let’s talk about the five things I love about fitness culture in general.

The Focus on Sustainable Change

What sustainable change looks like will vary from person to person, but most people seem to respond best to small lifestyle changes that build on each other.

For example, I’ve followed bloggers who switched from a completely sedentary lifestyle to an active one by beginning with a five minute walk one day.

As their stamina and overall health improved, they gradually moved to longer walks and then later to running, swimming, weightlifting, or other forms of exercise.

This is a pattern I’ve seen repeated in my own life, too. Changing everything at once often doesn’t work longterm. Picking one habit at a time to either begin or discard does. The smaller it is, the higher the chances are that I’ll be able to stick with it.

The Respect for Perseverance

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the past five years is how crucial it is to keep going even when your goals seem just as far away today as they did yesterday or last week.

Losing weight and building muscles takes time.

So does learning a new language, finding someone to date, getting a  job that suits you better, and any number of other goals that someone might want to achieve.

There may be times when you don’t seem to be making any progress at all, but that doesn’t mean that pattern will continue. Good things often come to those who work diligently for them.

The Optimism

Our world is filled with things that either can’t be changed at all or take the efforts of far more than one person to be nudged even a single inch in a  direction.

I believe in both acknowledging this fact as well as focusing on the things that I as an individual do have influence over.

On a societal level, this can be something as simple as picking up a piece of trash you find on the street or holding the door for someone behind you. These little acts can make a big difference over time as more and more people participate in them.

On a personal level, I think there’s something to be said for taking note of all of the subtle changes that happen as one grows stronger, faster, or more fit. Fitness culture in general does an excellent job of encouraging people to track their progress and celebrate every success they have along the way.

I’d argue that our world needs more of this optimism. We can both fight for a better future and acknowledge all of the good that already exists around us.

The Discipline

Like perseverance, discipline is a skill that can be transferred to many parts of someone’s life other than their workout habits.

If you know how to have the self-control necessary to jump into an exercise routine on a day when you’d rather stay in bed, it can make other difficult parts of life a little easier to deal with as well.

This wasn’t something I necessarily thought I’d learn when I first began working out regularly, but I’ve seen all sorts of positive results in other areas of my life from learning how to make and stick to a regular fitness routine.

For example, I’m not a huge fan of calling medical offices to make appointments for myself even if they’re for perfectly routine check-ups. I started to become a little less nervous about this once I got into the routine of pushing myself a little farther with each workout. There’s something reassuring about seeing how far you can go if you step just an inch out of your comfort zone at a time!

Fitness culture’s encouragement become more disciplined is definitely one of the things I appreciate the most about it. If I’d known this was going to be an unexpected side effect of getting back into shape, I might have done it much sooner.

What do you like the most about fitness culture? On a more lighthearted note, how many of you also don’t like making medical appointments?