My scribbings today are some of my thoughts about the fitness industry and more so how programs are marketed.
I am a pilates trainer, I work the core (so the media says - we do a bit more that than …) that thing in the middle of your body that seems to have been put on some “to be fit your belly must look this way” pedestal and to be honest - it’s…. BS.…
I started movement video blogging about a month ago - I was posting pictures of me or clients training and I wondered what it provided for viewers, hence I decided on videos as well that are more informative, a bit funny at times and hopefully motivational and inspirational. All the other photos are to draw attention and direct to the video blog (that’s my cunning plan…).
That’s my why of doing a lot of what I do; maybe it will get me more clients, maybe it won’t - yes it is to get ‘me’ out there as the trainer and the person I am, putting yourself out there (including what I write here today) can be quite scary. My root desire is that people gain information they didn't know or simply enjoy what I post…. plus I’m enjoying doing it!!!
Anyway - what’s my point? My irk is how we as fitness leaders present ourselves to others, our image and our marketing spiel.
I cannot deny I am quite anti some types of marketing and I question the “fit/super toned” bodies I see posting their work outs, putting together training programs to “get the body you want”, trainers who state “I train the stars” and “world class athletes" and often the shame that marketing puts on someone if they’re not fit and don’t have the right look….. It may not be intentional, but from my understanding of marketing - that’s how it works and that’s what is out there.
I see these posts etc and wonder why and then what it is doing to many out there if they see this hype… Yes I know I know it is to generate business I get it….. but at what cost?
I question whether this method of marketing creates insecurities, and adds to a world where many already feel “I’m not good enough, fit enough, slim enough, pretty enough”….
There is a story behind all of us, I feel grateful that I am ageing quite well (you may disagree! :-) ) - I have good genes and I do my best to keep fit as it is part of my life and my job… But that doesn’t mean I have always liked my body or been kind to it. Not going into that story now but know that I was a sugar binge eater for quite a while, over-indulged on alcohol on way too many occasions, smoked on and off and really put myself down physically, I’ve over trained and been disappointed when I haven’t performed well enough and chastised and punished my body at times …
What does that say about how I viewed me and my body? I’ve looked great and loved myself and then also hated myself and my body when it looked great… I want to look good don’t get me wrong, but it’s not all about the look it’s also how I feel and how I treat myself.
As I get older, feeling good in my skin, knowing my joints move well and keeping them loose so that at 80 I’ll still walk sprightly… That’s whats becoming more important to me.
And that I sense and listen to my body and the messages it sends… e.g to rest when it needs it.
I see adverts targeted at women my age (nearly 46 if you wanted to know), the ‘omg I’m middle aged (if you’re living till 90) - getting some wrinkles and grey hairs and hormones are going to play havoc with me soon’….marketing creates a “ I best follow the latest fad to not grow old gracefully”….
There are some great programs out there and it is awesome that more and more people are paying attention to their health and fitness and finding programs that keep them going in the long term - and that’s whats important, ongoing motivation….
Marketing and fitness gurus are targeting to an age and demographics, new mums is another, that possibly are already going through a body crisis. The adverts could make them feel guilty for not training as well as about their ageing body. “You don’t have to let yourself go”….. No you don’t have to at all, but you also don’t need to “look” a certain way - especially having a 6-pack (personal pet peeve)… I am certain men must feel the same about the marketing geared to them.
If you are ageing, or had a child, were large and lost weight and have loose skin, can you embrace the slightly loser skin, the slight pouch at your belly, and that extra grey hair or smile line ? I am not saying it is easy as 123, and I certainly have my days and moments …
If we can’t love and accept all these signs of a life lived, how good you look on the outside is irrelevant. It’s simply external. Now what I’m not saying is don’t dye your hair…. What I am trying to say don’t put yourself down or dislike yourself due to a very natural process and definitely don’t follow a fad that plays to your insecurities to look like the person on the poster (ever watched the videos on photoshop…)..
We can most definitely keep strong and fit through life, training changes with each decade and with what we need and want. And there is plenty of evidence and research into the benefits of movement.
But what I feel is lacking, is connection to how we feel about ourselves
We tend to connect to how we look on the outside
The images social media uses or we as trainers use, I don’t believe are helping our industry and the masses out there. We might put someone off starting a program, add to their woes when they aren’t succeeding, and breed a society of comparison which is not healthy for any of us.
So if you made it this far, what was my point??
As trainers we need to consider what we post, is it truly helping and inspiring and educating and motivating ‘joe blogs - the average person who doesn’t have a lot of time to train but wants to do something’… Or are we possibly showing off and putting them off? Are we sharing our stories and insecurities? We are human and vulnerable and have our bad days after all (well I do…)
Are we part of an industry that wants to assist people in their quest for health both mental and physical and emotional or make lots of money from possibly shaming them to train?
Are we providing the service they deserve and understanding their needs or taking the easy cookie cutter approach?
I can only speak for myself and my interpretation of many of the fitness fads happening in the world, and as ever I am open to discussion from trainers and clients as to their thoughts.
A healthy body, starts with a healthy mind
It starts from within, not just in the ‘gym’.
My last thought for this blog:-
Every client I have ever trained is in a star in their life
The stars who have back surgery and start playing golf or running again
The woman who has a baby, or 2 or 4 and keeps bouncing back and juggling things
The woman/man who loses a child and keeps moving forward in life
The broken /pinned ankle that starts to jump again
The hip replacement that dislocates and faces the fear to keep and pushing boundaries
The runner/swimmer/biker who doesn’t have as much time as they’d like to dedicate to training due to life, but keeps lining up at the start line.
The people who learn about their bodies and make an effort in their every day life.
They are the stars of this world. Of my world.
They are all athletes to the ability they can and want to be
They are all brave and courageous and committed to learning about themselves in many ways
They face their movement fears and injuries and work through them
And I have the privilege of working with them.
Thanks for allowing me the space to air my thoughts…