What’s Happening to Women’s Fitness?
I was doing some research on Instagram the other day getting ready for a small fitness photoshoot for Doll Fitness. I’m not a model whatsoever and have no knowledge on what my “best side is” or how I should pose while taking the perfect selfie. I was looking for some inspiration on what to do until I found myself confused as to what I had actually searched. Had I typed in “women’s fitness” or “soft core porn”?
My search page was plastered with Women wearing mere semblances of “clothing” in the form of thongs and itty bitty bikini tops stretched across massive balloon chests. Covered in fake sweat, they stared seductively at the camera as they bent over gym benches with their long hair down and dripping wet. And how they were posing or holding the equipment was not even proper form for any type of exercise I have ever seen. It was pure sexualization at its finest, and it got me thinking: What is happening to Women’s Fitness?
Instagram explains that it provides a “simple way to capture and share the world’s moments.” But somewhere along the way, we started spending far too much time on the materialistic and superficial uses of the app. Rather than using it as an outlet to express our creativity, educate others, or share an experience, it has become a site of competitive marketing ploys where peoples’ only goals are to gain fame, likes, comments, and followers.
This has affected the world of Women’s Fitness tremendously as the message of “strong is sexy” seems to have transformed into one that says “look at my bare ass” with a goal to arouse men and gain their attention. Scrolling through all of these photos, I couldn’t help but think, “Who are we kidding here?” You cannot honestly say that half these poses, fitness shows, competitions, and Instagram pages are for Women at all. It’s painfully obvious to me that many of them are actually directed to men. Do not get me wrong, I am happy that Women are proud of their bodies and proud to show off what they have worked hard for, but this line is constantly being blurred and on the verge of exploitation.
I was suddenly so disappointed after doing that small amount of research. I thought we were all collectively making such a good push in terms of Women’s Health. More Women were hitting the weights over cardio—which is so essential and integral for Women’s health—Women were becoming less intimated by the weight room, and strong bodies were becoming more appealing than overly skinny ones. But now its gone completely backwards.
I will use myself as an example here, as I have been asked while working out at a corporate gym whether I compete in fitness shows or not. What the f**k?? First of all, I enjoy working out—always have and always will. I have a general interest in the physiology and science behind exercise and I think it’s sweet how the human body works. Yes, it may be popular right now, but this interest stemmed from when I was young and will continue whether it is popular or not. Secondly, why does there have to be a reason as to why I am at the gym and strength training? Why can it not just be for myself? And lastly, not every girl that lifts weights wants to pay thousands of dollars to a meathead coach and an organization so she can go on stage with hundreds of other women and look for a ranking that indicates how hard she worked in the gym. Can I not just workout to, you know…workout?
This brings me to the massive uprising in fitness shows and competitions. They have been around for decades and the science behind them is actually pretty amazing if you take the time to really look into it. Being able to diet down to a certain leanness while maintaining all your muscle mass for a specific time and day is extremely impressive and very difficult. It is not for the faint of heart, but I find it has been unfortunately watered down by an onslaught of half-assed competitors looking to become Instagram-famous and get some self-affirmation from judges on their efforts in the gym. Are you offended yet? Well, stop reading if you don’t like it. I, for one, have been offended by the way Women are being so blatantly sexualized. But we keep buying into the system over and over again. Even if you do love the sport itself, does it not seem completely insane that in order to be competitive you need to have fake boobs? It is pretty much a pre-requisite.
Bottom line, if you want to workout and strength train, do it for yourself (and know that you don’t have to be nude in the process). There are so many amazing positives to working out I have personally experienced and witnessed. An overall sense of well-being, confidence, emotional steadiness, psychological therapy, pain reduction, posture improvement, osteoporosis prevention, insulin sensitivity improvement, and disease prevention are just some of the benefits. Let’s try to relax a bit with the “bare all” attitude we have towards Women’s Fitness, and try to make it a bit classier maybe? Too many times there have been Women taken advantage of by coaches, photographers, judges, and sketchy supplement companies trying to make a quick buck and exploit the shit out of them. Next time you think about strapping on a bikini and joining the masses, think whether you are actually serious about the commitment, and who you are actually doing it for. Are you strength training for yourself as a part of a new health journey toward self-improvement? Or are you strength training for the creepy so-called “coach” at your gym who is looking to put you on the most insane diet of your life and make a big buck off you? I am not going to give up on Women’s Fitness, but this has been a discouraging slippery slope I have been witnessing and I hope at least some of us wake up and work out for the right reasons. Educate yourself, ask questions, be aware of who you are working with, and do your due diligence and your own research before diving into anything head first.
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