The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

The Reembody blog, up to this point, has been a thoughtful exploration of human movement, a subject about which I am extremely passionate.

Today, however, I’m mad and I’m going to tell you why.

I have been planning a blog post for a while on fitness misinformation, and it was originally going to be the same kind of thoughtful deconstruction found in my other installments. But then I read this and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever found in my newsfeed: so beautiful, in fact, that the rest of the health and fitness propaganda floating around Facebook like turds in a pool started to really, really piss me off.

So thoughtful deconstruction has been postponed for another day. Instead, we’re going to take a good look at a few of those turds and get pissed off together because, when someone preys upon your insecurities in an effort to manipulate or even harm you, “fuck straight off” is a totally appropriate response.

Join me now, as we stare in shocked incredulity at the worst of the worst:

#1. Your Body is the Enemy


What They Think They’re Saying:

“Don’t give up! You may think you’ve given all you have, but you have so much more! You can make it if you just grit your teeth and push!”

Why It’s Bullshit:

Getting mad at your own limbs sounds less like the behavior of an Olympian and more like the crazy-eyed hobo who lives behind my building’s dumpster.

It is absolutely true that, if your muscles finally reach the point of failure, an emotional response like fear or anger triggers the release of adrenaline, which can keep you going. It’s called the fight-or-flight response, and it’s been attributed to everything from moms lifting cars off kids to soldiers who refuse to lay down and die.

It’s also not something to fuck around with.

Pushing your body’s limits just because you want bigger biceps is sort of like setting your house on fire because you’re cold.

Central heating is for quitters! FITNESS!!
Central heating is for quitters! FITNESS!!

Routinely stressing your body’s physical capacity is called overtraining, and it’s a massive problem in the fitness industry. It is linked to everything from joint degeneration, ligament tears and bone spurs to depression and—no joke—post-traumatic stress disorder.

The fight-or-flight response only kicks in during moments of impending danger precisely because the response itself is potentially dangerous. It’s a calculated risk on the part of your own biochemistry: turn it up to 11 and risk the joint damage or become food for a cave bear. When invoking that kind of biochemical gambit becomes less of a do-or-die, last-ditch effort to survive and more of a Tuesday-at-the-gym-is-chest-day scenario, you’re inviting in a whole mess of future problems.

#2. You Should be Ashamed


What They Think They’re Saying:

“Aren’t you tired of not being as pretty as you deserve? Well all it takes is perseverance to be everything you’ve ever wanted to be!”

Why It’s Bullshit:

First of all, speaking as the father of a little girl, fuck whoever made this.

This is an expertly lit, no doubt digitally enhanced image of a girl in her mid-twenties presented here as the definition of what a woman is allowed to be proud of; “until you are proud” seems to mean “until you have six-pack abs, perky, squeezable breasts and the terrible burden of finding size 0 jeans with a 34 inch inseam”. If there were a male equivalent of this photo, it would have to be Iron Man to really capture the shocking lack of realism. It’s the “don’t stop” part, however, that earns this photo its place on my shit list. The message here is that it’s excusable, nay, it is advisable that the ladies in the audience disregard whatever else they were doing, you know, like having some self-esteem, and do whatever it takes to be fuckable. If it was explicit that “don’t stop” meant “hire a professional lighting crew and a makeup artist and maybe a wizard” it would be one thing, but it’s not. “Don’t stop” just ends up meaning “nope, you’re not up to these heinously unrealistic standards yet; keep running, fatty!”

Oh, and speaking of not stopping . . .

#3. Fitness as Socially Acceptable Neurosis


What They Think They’re Saying:

“Commitment is important! People who lack the ability to commit will always try to bring you down.”

Why It’s Bullshit:

So there’s this thing called anorexia nervosa. It’s kind of a big deal. As a matter of fact, it and other eating disorders collectively have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, killing 5%–10% of those afflicted within 10 years and a bone-chilling 18%-20% within 20 years. Oh, and it affects between 1% and 5% of women in the US … so, like I was saying, kind of a big deal.

But with better public education and awareness, it’s getting harder and harder to starve to death without anyone noticing—and, as it turns out, not wanting to be noticed is a key component in the anorexic’s psychological profile. As a result, with the kind of nuance and ingenuity that is horrifyingly common among the mentally ill, exercise anorexia, or hypergymnasia, was born.

It works just like anorexia and is caused by the same factors, only instead of restricting calories going in, hypergymnasiacs dramatically increase the calories going out. The benefit—if you can look at it from the self-abusive perspective of the afflicted—is that, instead of frequent, attention-grabbing trips to the bathroom, all they have to do is go exercise a lot! Oh man, easy! People LOVE exercise! Friends and family will just think they’re getting in shape, taking care of themselves, self-improving. The culturally accepted language associated with working out is moderately self-abusive anyway, so all the self-deprecation won’t raise any red flags and obsessing over exercise will blend right in to the normal cultural fabric of fitness.

And if someone does start to question the wisdom of a 10k run after CrossFit and two hot yoga classes? Well, the hypergymnasiac can just high five their fellow gym-goers and say, “I’m not obsessed, you’re just lazy!” … and, to a soundtrack of enthusiastic support, go right back to killing themselves.

So, no, obsession is not the same as dedication, and creating a vocabulary that makes it easier for the mentally ill to cloak their illness in normalcy is not doing anyone any favors.

#4. Disregarding Your Limits


What They Think They’re Saying:

“Do what you have to do to get the job done. Don’t be afraid to show your struggle, only be afraid to fail.”

Why It’s Bullshit:

I can’t believe I have to write this next sentence but, here goes: crawling on the floor weeping while you puke all over yourself is not healthy.

Your body has limits. Those limits are there so that daily function—up to and including heavy manual labor—requires a relatively small amount of physical stress and sacrifice. This means that, if you get into a spontaneous bar fight with a group of neo-Nazis and must defeat them to protect the beautiful tattooed bartender with the dark secret—I’m not the only one who has that fantasy, right?—well, it means that you’re not going into action with a bunch of used-up joints. Your back may look like a gunnysack full of angry pythons, but that won’t mean squat (ha!) when you herniate a disk.

The trick is to know your limits. Pain is helpful in this regard. Of course, there’s pain and there’s pain, but part of being healthy is knowing the difference. Training so hard as to induce vomiting and uncontrollable sobbing is to slowly undermine the basic human judgement of what constitutes challenge versus what causes injury; It’s a fundamental component of self-control. Toddlers learn it when they figure out that they don’t need to cry over a stubbed toe, but that a broken arm is a big deal.

Basically what I’m saying is: don’t let your training routine reduce your level of self-awareness to what it was when you still wore footy pajamas.

#5 Strong is the New Buzzword for Manipulating Women’s Body Image

Photo 17-8-13 10 45 25 PM

What They Think They’re Saying:

“Beauty used to be about getting thin—but not anymore, ladies! We’re not after waifish waistlines, we’re after strength!”

Why It’s Bullshit:

Quick! What do all three of the women pictured above have in common? If you said, “They’re all skinny,” you’re exactly right!

The fitness industry—from gyms to clothing manufacturers—collectively produces more propaganda than North Korea, a lot of it just as crazy. This particular class of ads is almost comically absurd because what’s written on the picture directly contradicts the picture. It would be like if Oscar Meyer produced an ad saying “vegetables are awesome, eat those instead of hot dogs!” printed over images of freckled Norman Rockwell kids happily stuffing their faces with hot dogs. It shows just how little credit advertisers give the public: they assume that if they tell you what you’re looking at you won’t actually see what you’re looking at.

“But Kevin,” you might argue, “the women in those images have great muscle tone! They’re totally strong!” They certainly are. So is she:

Kristin Rhodes, folks . . .
Kristin Rhodes, folks . . .

And you’re not going to find her in a Nike ad, even though she’s a stone-cold badass who probably deadlifts the combined body weight of those other three ladies as a goddamn warm up.

Now, before I get bombarded with angry comments from skinny people, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being skinny. I’m also not suggesting that being skinny and strong are mutually exclusive. I’m only pointing out that strength only sells when it’s sexy—and, make no mistake, advertisers want very badly to make you feel like you are currently failing at both.

Strong isn’t really replacing skinny; being skinny is no longer enough. Now, ladies, you need to be skinny and ripped. It’s an additional layer of self-loathing  (perfectly suited for hypergymnasiacs), just in case people had started to get desensitized to the omnipresent and psychologically crippling display of corpse-thin women in the media.

And what’s with the Playboy cover poses? The one on the bottom is basically a picture of an ass. The young lady on the top right is either confused about how to wear pants or the ad was meant to double as a promotion for whoever did her impressively thorough bikini wax. According to these photos, all this notable strength that is the new standard of beauty is only useful for the exact same thing being skinny was: sex appeal. Not adventure or longevity, or even ability. Nope, just for sexy times.

So I guess “strong is the new skinny” is, in fact, a totally accurate statement, just not so much in an inspiring way as in “the gears of modern culture crushing young women’s dreams” kinda way.

#6 Fitness Assault!


What They Think They’re Saying:

“The part of you that wants to give up is the weak, lazy part; dominate it with the strong, committed part and work your way to success!”

Why It’s Bullshit:

Please tell me I’m not the only person made terribly uncomfortable by this. I mean, doesn’t that strike anyone else as a little, well…rapey? I think it’s safe to say that, if your inner monologue during a workout even slightly resembles the script from a poorly translated hentai comic (no I will not include a link) there might have been a little mix up somewhere regarding this whole exercise thing.

If your body or your mind says “it hurts” or “I need to stop”—and I’m going to be as clear as I can about this—FOR FUCK’S SAKE, STOP. It isn’t even a joint health thing at this point, it’s just creepy.

I get that lots and lots of people enter a gym wanting to change: weight, BMI, strength, performance, whatever. Change is great. Change is healthy. The desire to change stems from the admirable ability to introspect and to see that, currently, we are limited in ways that we want not to be. If that desire to change, however, becomes a desire to change at all costs, you will be sorely disappointed with what you end up paying. Work out, have fun, get tired, fail occasionally, wake up sore and set your next goal. Whatever you do, just don’t do it like these poor suckers.


It has come to my attention that the guy in the first picture is Rich Froning, a three-time CrossFit champion and a generally respected athlete. It’s not clear whether the text is directly attributed to him. I mean no personal offense to Rich, but I stand by my observation that the text is silly. You can line up respected athletes all day long saying that they “get angry when [they’re] tired” and I will still say it’s silly.

902 thoughts on “The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

  1. I agree. As a fitness trainer in a large gym environment, I struggle to fight these perceptions of health on a daily basis. Every day, I see girls with magazines running around the gym, sweating as much over what the scale says as their workout. I see guys watching others in the mirror as much as they watch themselves. Very few of them even understand what they’re really trying to achieve, much less how to get there. What I agree with most is the comment on lack of body awareness. As you said, this is vital. The message that pain is a rewad is as damaging to the body as it is to the mind! If you say, “Pain leads to health and fitness” out loud, you immediately see how ridiculous that concept is. It actually means the opposite. But….all they know is they have to look like the pretty pictures and if they don’t, they failed. It’s infuriating.

  2. Not only was this informative reading, it was entertaining enough to make me laugh out loud twice. Brilliant essay, Kevin, and brilliantly composed and written. I’m going to share it on FB.

  3. I’m just going to come right out and say it; I am neither fat nor thin. I have curves in all the right places that my husband loves to wrap himself around, squish, kiss and generally admire. I also have curves in some of the wrong places, but I’ve learned to love the skin I’m in and therefore I DON’T CARE. Why should I? I’ve given birth so I can’t very well expect a washboard tummy or almost non-existant hips.

    I’m an ex semi-pro swimmer, cyclist and gym bunny who once had a very physical job – but fitspiration was never what it was about for me. I don’t need help to feel bad about my eating disorder – nobody does.

    I’m compromised by ill-health these days but I get out and walk when I can. In fact, having to accept slight chubbiness has helped me a lot when it comes to battling the ED; I don’t cry when I get on the scales any more and if I’m hungry I will eat what I want and as much of it as I want. I’m not diet concious, but I have always eaten healthily.

    The “obsessions” I have (Doctor Who, pickling, cross-stitch, books etc) make me happy. Obsessing over my body would kill me. I’d rather be cuddly and happy than ripped and exercise/diet obsessed. Besides, no man wants to cuddle up to gristle and sinew, right?

    Thanks for this article; I hope that it makes many more women feel better about themselves exactly how they are – it certainly has done that for me!

      1. Haha, hello fellow Who fan! My favourite Doctors are actually Two, Three, Four, Eight, Nine and Eleven! Very excited about the upcoming 50th and am currently reading “Shada”.

        I used to train at least three times a week as a semi-pro swimmer and was also quite the gym bunny, but I have epilepsy and spend more of my time falling over and hurting myself these days. I’ll let The Doctor do all the running and I’ll walk as far as I can as often as I can in the meantime :)

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As a designer and marketing communications professional, I refuse to create shame-based marketing collateral. All marketing is manipulative – they’re trying to sell you something, after all – but this wanton and callous disregard for people’s safety and psychological well being is, in my opinion, both destructive and negligent. Thank you for sharing your insights!

  5. Brilliant article! I wish more trainers would preach what you are saying. At my club this is the mentality we share. We do express that strong is sexy, but not in the same way as these insane fitspo images. We mean women can define what strong and sexy are and they can be both. We don’t promote a certain body type or use sex appeal. There is nothing wrong with being sexy, but exploiting it is quite another thing. Here is my blog on the topic Thanks for having the courage to write such a raw and honest piece! Keep spreading the message!

  6. Thanks for saying what so many were afraid to say in fear of being……everything those ads tell you to fear. I especially appreciate your comments as coming from a man. Thank you for standing up for women!!

    1. I agree with what you said 100%!!!!

      I understand that the intentions very well maybe motivation, but it’s the hidden messages and the fact that someone who is dying for motivation may end up HURTING themselves.

      I take them for motivation but ultimately you have to listen to your body and push yourself. It’s a fine line.

  7. As a bodybuilder, Women’s Physique competitor, I have to say I do not agree with this article in its entirety. However, I do agree with the skinny and overly sexualized photos of ‘the fit’ and the negative message they send to our little girls. That is personally one of my pet peeves. As an athlete, we tell ourselves things to motivate ourselves to push that much harder, any smart athlete would not compromise their health, but I said smart athlete.
    There is a difference between champions and those who just workout and in the sport of bodybuilding we go to the extreme with diet and exercise to prep for a show and bring out our best physique. I don’t expect everyone to get it, because they won’t, unless they are a bodybuilder.

  8. I was with you until #5…I really was and I still am, I’m sure

    It’s just that all the “fitspo” pics I’ve seen to date which use the word STRONG have actually include women with visible muscle tone (often in the middle of some stellar lift, push or pull activity) and are the type of women other women insist on calling “manly” or other men state they wouldn’t “hit that” in public Facebook posts.

    All that to say, the reality is that “being strong” and actual signs of strength still don’t fit the ideal body image for many of today’s young people (my focus being women here). It’s the ANAs – and other eating disorders – who are still going, umm, strong by claiming words from the bodybuilding movement to create the kind of imagery you highlighted here.

  9. Thank you for posting this — I’m cross-posting it to my twitter and facebook accounts. I agree 100% and quite often yell at fitness personalities for perpetuating the same irresponsible photos.

    I really hate the “no pain, no gain” attitude that people seem to have taken to a new level. Soreness and being challenged are different than pain. Pain is a very important indicator that something is not as it should be. It’s a warning light. Teaching people to ignore the “change oil” or “tire pressure low” warnings on their body, just like their car, is just asking for an accident, or for them to wear/tear their body before its time.

    You’re never going to see an ad that says “Balance is the new healthy.” Or “Find out how fit you are by getting a blood test.” People don’t care about that. Way deep down they’re insecure and don’t believe that they can be healthy even if they don’t look like a fitness model.

  10. Excellent post. I’d like to point out that the “pain is good” and “don’t stop till your dead” type messages that these ads provide are well meaning, but this kind of motivation is just not sustainable. Meaning, willpower fades after a time. When you traumatize your body with severe exercise, it remembers, and you will be less able to go through that a second or third time (what you said about PTSD is absolutely correct). Don’t believe me? Think about it…putting someone through pain again and again day after day is precisely how interrogation by torture works…by slowly chipping away at someone’s willpower over time. The idea that exercise and fitness should be treated like that is absurd.

  11. I think, “Strong is the new sexy”, is great. Its trying to show women that you don’t have to be anorexic to look good. Working out, lifting weights, all around just being healthy will make you look good. Eating good meals, instead of eating no meals. It also can show overweight women that you don’t have to stop eating to look good, just work out. People though, like you, will take this message the wrong way, or blame something else. But hopefully most people can see a positive message.

    1. wrong – it’s telling us we are STILL not good enough. before, we just had to be thin enough. NOW we not only have to be thin enough, we have to be smooth enough, perky enough, firm enough, AND muscular enough!

    2. You missed the point in all this…the point has nothing to do with “strong” being wrong. It’s the images and the shaming that go along with it. A pic of Kristin Rhodes with “Strong is the new sexy” is completely different than thin what is pictured in the article.

    3. I hear what you’re saying, Southey16, and I understand that you support physical fitness which is a good thing. However, I think you’ve missed the point of this blog. If you look more closely at these ads, you’ll see that the marketers are taking the “fit is better” message to an extreme. They’re using it to shame people into spending crazy amounts of time, money and effort to attain an ideal that very few people can achieve or maintain (except, perhaps, for elite athletes who, after all, make their living from their chosen sport). The underlying message is, “if you’re not this ripped, then you’re not worthy” and that is the very definition of shame-based marketing. Take a look at Kristin Rhodes, the 7th photo down in the post. This woman is a powerhouse – strong and healthy – the very ideal of what that these advertisers are yelling at us to attain. Yet, as the blog says, you’ll NEVER see a photo of Ms. Rhodes gracing the cover of “Shape” magazine. Why? Because, despite being strong and healthy, her body type is not sexy (according to these same advertisers). That’s why so many of us have issues with this kind of advertising – not because being fit and healthy is a bad thing. It isn’t. It’s a good thing that comes in all different shapes and sizes, e.g. Ms. Rhodes. Hope this helps to clarify and thanks for joining the discussion.

  12. amen! fitspo is ironic at best, and alienating at worst. it tells us we aren’t good enough or that our bodies aren’t performing well enough on days when we might have been giving it our best. a lot of people (and as a woman, i can say this without one shadow of a doubt) — don’t need to learn to listen to our bodies less, mistake a number on a scale for some sense of self worth, or decide that obsession with exercise is somehow the only way to embody dedication…. it’s an uphill battle to learn to undo THOSE things. thanks for this!

  13. THIS. IS. FABULOUS. Let me tell you, I worry about this stuff daily with my 9 year old daughter and unfortunately fall prey to it for short moments of insanity now and then myself. It’s especially difficult when I am at my gym where everyone around me has these attitudes while I’m maybe not as ripped, happily eat whatever the heck I want and TRY to focus on getting stronger and healthier. People just treat me like a total pudgy moron who hasn’t a clue about “health”. It’s exhausting to deal with this shit. At least for me at the moment, it takes constant vigilance while learning to navigate the best way to handle the world around me and my kiddo. Thank you for this post!!

    1. i’m beyond “pudgy” and i get the same treatment even though i handily passed the proficiency test for being a certified nutritionist without ever taking a formal class. as the saying goes “if you want to know everything about diet, ask someone who’s overweight”.

  14. I LOVE this message! This definitely needs to be said. These images are everywhere and they are so damaging. However, I want to share it, but I know that people who could really benefit from reading this article will be turned off and tune out because of the excessive use of profanity. This article could have been written very well, and been extremely powerful without all of the f-bombs. I’m just disappointed that there is a whole sub-population who will ignore this message because of the included language.

  15. Thank you, so much for this post. As someone who has suffered from extremely disordered eating and exercising habits, this post has meant the world to me. I actually recently posted my a series about my journey to eating real food. You can read it here:

    Again, thank you. Some days, it’s hard to remember how to accept and love myself and to get out of the vicious, self-tormenting mentality, especially when I’m bombarded with messages that encourage to hate myself.

    This is a beautiful reminder.

  16. Standing ovation!!! This is what I’m also working to combat with … You can’t work with a body you are cursing. Fitness doesn’t have to be half-clad. Your raw candor is refreshing, and I’ll be sharing your article on my “family-friendly” pages despite the language because it needs to be read!!! Plus, some people listen better when the language is more snarky. P.S. I think I heard about you first from choose growth? P.P.S. The link I attached to my name will take you to my own little project about belly love and seeing beauty. My niche is diastasis recti awareness.

  17. Thanks for this article. As someone trying to combat the negative messages in fitspo, I’m really glad to see stuff like this popping up.

    Especially offensive to me is the idea that ‘strong is the new skinny.’ I think this picture sums up my views on that quote nicely:

    I’m trying to compile a list of articles similar to this one about people’s varying perspectives on fitspo, good and bad. If anyone has any to share with my I would love to them.

  18. As the mother of an anorexia survivor, THANK YOU! That line “…with the kind of nuance and ingenuity that is horrifyingly common among the mentally ill…” is truer than you know. Totally sharing this.

  19. ” I mean, doesn’t that strike anyone else as a little, well, rapey? ”

    Doesn’t strike me as that way at all.

    Unfortuately I had a long and brilliant post explaining exactly why but killed the window before hitting send and don’t feel like retyping it.

    But frankly that’s the way I feel about half the time ON THE WAY TO THE GYM.

    In fact Friday I had more weight on the bar than I’d ever dead-lifted before, and 3 times I got into position, tightened up and my mind refused to pull. I was tired, I was sore, and it was more weight than I’d ever lifted.

    But the fourth time I got down there, and I pulled. And I got the weight up and did 3 sets of 5 reps. No international record, no picture on the cover of a magazine, but I pushed my limit and I won.

    Transformative exercise is work, and for many of us it’s work we do *after* we do a full day of other work, and before we go home and deal with a different kind of work.

    So many of us *do* exercise when we’re tired, and we *do* exercise at or near our limits, because that’s the only place we can get the transformation we want.

    So yeah, for a at least one of us–tired, stressed and sore, we have this argument in our head.

    1. First of all, congratulations on Friday’s lift, William; it sounds like you really worked hard for that and you should be proud.

      I like what you said: “Transformative exercise is work . . .” You’re right, and for many that work does not have a convenient spot in the day and requires great discipline. It sounds to me like you’ve found a way to maintain that discipline and do something positive with it.

      I hope you can see that I am not speaking out against motivation and certainly not discipline. As a matter of fact, I advocate for greater discipline so that, in addition to strength and flexibility, workouts can also build up people’s self awareness and control. Sometimes that means saying “I’ve had enough,” Sometimes “I can do more.” That decision can only be safely made from a place of personal appreciation, not shame.

  20. Thank you for this great post! I’m passionate about this issue and write about it on my website. There are so many wrong messages being sent to people, especially women. Thanks for shedding light on this issue. Definitely will be sharing this post!

  21. Regarding the first one: There actually is no such thing as overtraining. The real problem is under-resting. Get enough rest and nutrients after and the limits can be safely pushed *provided* that you don’t ignore any pain. Being sore and tired are all fine, but when it’s painful is when you stop.

    1. “There actually is no such thing as overtraining.”

      I disagree. At some point your body needs to rest. As a former triathlete and fitness addict I used to be obsessed with long cardio workouts all the time, every single day. I usually bit the dust sometime around consecutive day #15-18 when all I felt was tired, tired and more tired. It didn’t matter how much I slept or ate: my workouts started to get slower and the rest of my life suffered from it. There is indeed a such thing as overtraining – that is why most professional athletes have fancy coaches to tell when enough is enough.

  22. Brilliant!
    As a mother of two young kids (one of them a girl), I am very aware of what appropriate role models are for them. I work out because I want to change my body shape, lose fat, gain muscle and set myself up to be healthy into old age. I also want to be a good role model to them and show them it’s important to take care of their bodies and their health.

    But the thought of having to do all of that to be socially acceptable, attractive, and sexy is abhorrent. I don’t want my 8-yr old daughter to grow up thinking that she is not good enough. I don’t want her to grow up thinking she has to hate and shame her body because society and media and whoever tells her that’s the only way to be acceptable.

    Exercise should be for fun, for health and for the mind. Period. It should have NOTHING to do with being accepted, popular or god-forbid, sexually available.

  23. Dear sir, I am sorry, but i laughed out loud when I read your first point. That man in the picture, thats Rich Froning, aka the fittest man on the planet. The face, body and voice of crossfit, and also a very nice, godfearing, friendly person. The total opposite of a man with a restraining order…

    1. Someone pointed that out to me and I’ve made an addendum in the article to make clear that I wasn’t originally aware of his identity and have nothing against Mr. Froning. I stand by my observation, however, that the text, whether or not it is attributed to him, is irresponsible.

  24. Man, thanks for giving me permission to be a lazy piece of crap. I was gonna go work out but now that I know that what I thought was dedication to fitness and improving myself was actually just marketing driven obsession, I’m just gonna kick back with some Cheetos and fire up my Netflix account. Man, and here I thought all my time doing squats and dead lifts was so I could more effectively climb mountains wearing a rucksack and body armor, little did I know that I was deluding myself with the motivational phrases that I used to push myself when I was tired and feeling weak. I guess it’s OK to regress to the mean and be average like everybody else. Good to know, thanks!!!

      1. The Hindu Kush range, though I would categorize “like” as a strong word. The body is stronger than the mind, most people who are unused to physical exertion will break mentally long before they break physically. To push through that mental weakness is to make progress. Also, I have trained until I vomited, until I cried, until I crawled, and until I quit. I only regret one of those.

    1. If this article causes you to give up, you would have found an excuse eventually. If you need abusive language to stay in shape, you would hurt yourself eventually.

      This article isn’t the problem. Do you see what I’m saying?

      1. No, I don’t see what you’re saying, just as you clearly missed the blatant sarcasm in my post. I specifically ask my trainers to be verbally harsh with me during training because it is an effective motivational tool for me, I know that is not the case for everybody, one size does not in fact fit all. Everybody is motivated differently, who are you to judge what motivates me? People have different goals, my goal is to achieve excellence, that requires a slightly (drastically) different mindset from the person whose goal is to … whatever the goals people here have. I can’t tell because everybody here is too busy congratulating themselves on not pursuing excellence.

        1. wrong again! there is nothing wrong with pursuing excellence and that is completely irrelevant to the point of the article.

          the problem is with ppl being mind-raped into pursuing “perfection” – a perfection they cannot hope to achieve
          EVER because the images being presented aren’t even human.

          1. It’s being used as motivation to get better not mind raping you into trying to be perfect. It you cant’t see that and think that these ads are horrible for people then you my friend are lost.

          2. you, “my friend”, are the one that is lost if you cannot see those ads for what they are. maybe if you stopped drooling over the photoshopped perfect glutes that is the tree you’d be able to see the rest of the forest.

          3. It’s people like you that make it so kids these days are surrounded in a bubble and everyone has to get a prize. If you’re a failure you shouldn’t be rewarded. (I’m guessing you didn’t many trophies as a child)

            These ads are made for motivating athletes and others who want to push themselves to the next level. If they are to much for a person to handle then that person should think about seeing a psychiatrist. I see them all the time and I am mentally stable enough to know that I will never be like the people in the ads but i don’t let it effect my life. I use it as motivation to become the best I can be not the best the world wants me to be.

          4. Well, I don’t want kids to live in a bubble and I don’t think every kid should get a medal, and yet I DO understand the danger and deceit in these ads. I think it’s fantastic that you aren’t negatively impacted by them (if that’s the case) but what you don’t understand is how many people ARE. WHY do they only show ONE type of body for women and one type of body for men?? Are the skinniest women always the healthiest and the most muscular men always the strongest?? What if the woman is skinny because she overtrains and undereats and the guy is so big because the steroids he’s taking are building his muscles while simultaneously destroying his organs? The point is that talking about fitness while showing extreme examples of what that looks like gives a very imbalanced and skewed concept of what healthy really means. Just because you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  25. This was inspiring and had just the right amount of sass necessary for the situation. Seriously, you’ve kicked my butt back out of my self-shaming cycle and back onto the right path to a healthy lifestyle and body weight and I greatly appreciate it. I had been making my own leaps as I’ve been struggling with this, but this was the final push I needed, so THANK YOU.

  26. My sister was always strong and healthy. She ate good food she exercised a lot she did a lot of hiking birdwatching and nature photography, but she always was a larger woman.
    I remember when she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the chemotherapy and the illness robbed her of all of her weight. I remember being shocked and horrified when I would see her and she would have lost another 10 or 20 pounds. But I also remember people seeing her in her bald-headed state and commenting how wonderful she looked.. Their comments are based purely on her BMI. They seemed completely unaware of the fact that her color was awful her energy was low her hair was falling out her teeth were yellow all from the chemicals being pumped in her body. In the end she lost her fight but people continued to tell her how great she looked. Healthy is something completely different.

  27. LOVE!!!! I run fitness bootcamps and own a fitness studio in Southern Utah and I am TIRED of all the crap thrown at me of what people think real health is about. I work with a LOT of obese and older clients. Pushing these ideals on them is degrading to women, and unrealistic and depressing. Using Pornographic images of a women’s ass and breasts is not a way to make a 350 pound couch potato feel inspired to workout. it does the exact opposite. It sends them running the opposite direction back home to the couch with the chips feeling worthless about their mishapen body. And what about us moms? I gave birth to 6 large babies. I teach 6 Fitness classes a week (Zumba, Pilates and Bootcamps) as well as Stand up Paddling fitness classes. but can I tell you… i will NEVER have those abs pictured above. i have an amazingly strong core, but after all that stretching in and out and back and forth and I am hitting 40… yeah… Not happening. My boobs sag, and I got stretch marks. I am not quitting the workouts, But I am not EVER going to look like any of the images in and fitsperation ad. I am a real human being and although I am not fat, or too skinny and I have some muscle tone, I also allow myself a cheat here and there and will not be at 10% body fat with no stretch marks and perfect body. As a fitness professional… we need to get over it and lead the way with helping people get the real truth. Health is about mental health, self control, and feeling good about your direction – not what your ass and boobs look like. We need to GET OVER IT! Age gracefully. live life and love where you are in your fitness journey. Thanks for the write up. I think I will share it, But I might have to edit all the “F” words for my conservative clients. :) Otherwise – great read. thanks.

    1. THE best fitness instructor i ever encountered was a size XXL (she showed us the tags on her clothes). she was VERY large – in all dimensions, as she stood five-eleven in her socks.

      i’m not kidding: i’m pretty sure she would’ve run the energizer bunny into the ground and i saw her casually toss two bales of hay fifteen feet up to the top of the stack on the wagon like they sandwich baggies.

      yeah – she had a big bust and a solid gut and gave “thunder thighs” a whole new dimension but she really really looked *good*. (and no: no shortage of dates when she wanted them).

  28. I lost 36 kilos in 12 months with the above messages as ‘inspiration’. And eventually got involved in triathlon. Great results, but it came at a cost. I pushed my body too hard with the “no pain no gain” mentality and am now dealing with rehabing injury. My body had had enough and I tore my glute mede tendon. I have an unstable pelvis and its been a slow return to regular exercise. I’ve put back on almost half the weight I lost and am now still challenged in re framing my beliefs around what constitutes a ‘good’ workout. Thank you for your insightful article

    1. Sorry to hear about your struggle, Nicole. I work with a top triathlete here in Hong Kong who is struggling with injury and instability as well. The long hours necessary to be competitive in tri can certainly take their toll.

      I’ll be lecturing at a Triathlon coaches course this month with the express purpose of teaching aspiring coaches how to spot injuries before they happen. I hope I can help some folks avoid what you’re going through.

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you Kevin! I look forward to hearing more from you on your site about Triathlon. How about a summary from the lecture? (I know, I’m cheeky) I haven’t given up on getting back into the sport, however I will choose my future coaches carefully!

  29. How do you feel about Chris Powell? I’ve watched him drive people to success like a slave master building the Pyramids. One of the most notable things I hear at the beginning of each show (Extreme Weight Loss on ABC) is, “Don’t listen to your body. Listen to ME!” He’s gotten amazing results from these people, the ones we get to see, but I’ve often thought if I were under his lash, he’d kill me.

    1. “Don’t listen to your body listen to me” is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard of a trainer saying to a client.

      People who struggle with morbid obesity frequently have issues with self-loathing, which is one of the major things that drives the desire to overeat. They check out of their bodies because it’s an uncomfortable place to be and, as strange as it sounds, can no longer easily discern between “hungry” or “depressed”, “tired” or “in pain”.

      This weight loss jackass is just replacing one outside stimulus (food) for another (his greater charisma) which may get the person to shed pounds but it won’t make them like themselves or their bodies, meaning they run a high risk of gaining it back. Oh, and hurting themselves in the process.

      People need to be taught how to be in control of their own bodies, not simply give that control over to a different outside source.

  30. I had a back and forth with a local trainer on his posting of this pic:
    I commented that the difference between the two had nothing to do with squats: it’s about genetics. The woman on the left could do squats until her knees blew out…she would never get the booty of the girl on the right (notice the words I chose). To imply anything else is cruel, vulgar, and ultimately defeatist. He was not amused. Don’t get me wrong; bodies can change dramatically under specific training and dietary conditions. If he had posted a true before and after of the lady with Connecticut butt become high n tight St Tropez cougar, fantastic. Just don’t tell women they go from Cameron Diaz to J-Lo or Beyonce.

  31. I’ve lost 50kg using sport as a motivator to get out, meet people and spend time in the real world. Its hard, it does hurt. There are some pains you have to ignore. Particularly when your fighting addictions and habbits. I haven’t yet seen a good picture matched with an appropriate comment that would have motivated me to do what I did. Certainly not the ones listed above. The girls look great, the guys do too, they just aren’t representative of what is normal. It looks and sounds rapey.

    I enjoyed the laugh, and thanks for that. It would be nicer to think that there’s a little bit of truth in all of the badly delivered message above however. I think it can be as simple as, Push hard, don’t give up, believe in yourself, love the image you see. The part where it all went wrong is that we have to use pinups to put image to what we feel we should look like. Part of a much larger problem.

    Here’s a novel idea. If you truly believe in the message behind this fantastically entertaining article. I go to a gym with no mirrors. I don’t buy magazines full of professionally sculpted and airbrushed bodies. Stop buying stuff that contains these images and you will stop seeing them around.

  32. I’m not a fan of militaristic fitness regimens or obsessive body image goals, but I think this article is failing to give credit to so much of the empowerment that pushing oneself and meeting a goal really means for a person. I do not agree with the body image brain washing that goes along with so much of this type of advertising, especially when concerned with a particular agenda of media or a business to sell us something, but there is so much to be said about pushing oneself out of your comfort zone. When the message is, it quote a particular yoga practice, “This is your first back bend, it may hurt like hell, don’t be scared.” we have a serious problem. Pushing a limits is painful. Doing that which we have never done is uncomfortable.. And sometimes seeing images of sexy, fit people makes us feel inadequate. At least if this is the case we strive to be better humans. THIS BEING SAID, if you think you can ever look like someone else without actually being that someone else, you are delusional. If you are short, you won’t be tall. If you have brown eyes, you won’t have blue eyes, and if you don’t have the same build as another, you wont. It’s tough but true and not something worth reading too far into unless you are looking to just complain on the internet. We live in a nation of mediocrity in terms of so much. If you are strong, passionate, and willing to accept a challenge, then these types of advertisements will do little more then any other type of media that tries to sell you on what you should look like. To speak for fitness advertising, beyond the crossfit, abuse, body building, “no pain no gain” mentality, what IS being advertised is a lifestyle that is healthy. Training, passion, nutrition, dedication, and love for something… it doesn’t need to be a sexy body, and in fact, it shouldn’t. That is a result; a consequence of a lifestyle dedicated to the love of an activity. I know I’m biased. I come from a community of climbing and cycling, where strength, fitness and skill are all required to be prolific. All the sexy body, slim waistline, nanana stuff is just a result of loving what you do and doing it well. That being said, not everyone that does these things, by any means, have that ideal body, and that is fine with them, because they still push themselves harder then they would think themselves to be able to, only to realize, just as anyone that chooses to do so that we are capable of so much more than we thought. Complaining about things on the internet, torching ourselves over our body image, or asking, “Am I good enough?”, seem inconsequential because at the end of the day, if you try… if you REALLY try, you can, in fact, do most anything. It doesn’t have to be for anything else for yourself, and there is nothing bullshit about that.

    1. nobody – not even the article – is saying “give up – you’ll never look like those images of non-human beings so don’t even try”.

      the POINT is that such adverts are telling us that until we look like those plastic, digitized ppl, ***we are inadequate and failurer***.

  33. Oh I LOVED this post!! I used to be an elite swimmer and used all of the above and guess what? I got chronic fatigue syndrome and 10 years later are still dealing with it (of course much less extent). Our bodies are amazing and if we listened to the messages they gave us our global health and health problems would be SO much less. As to people who keep training with pain – did you know that pain is one of the last things to manifest and that you’ve already lost roughly 30% of your function BEFORE the pain shows up?
    Sure training in the here and now with pain might seem ok but at what cost 20, 30, 40, 50 years down the track??? Of course I want to be wheelchair bound when I’m 70 because I could squat 150kgs when I was 25…..yes, I’m being sarcastic. Balance, as most people have said, is key.
    thank you again for this fantastic post!

  34. I am a member of a crossfit box in my town and i am 30. It has taken me many many years to realise that aspiring to other people’s body types is unhealthy and unrealistic. We are all different! The girls & guys at my box inspire me to work hard to be the best my body will let me be, not random photos of unknown models with text written by unknown authors. We don’t know their backgrounds, their training ethic, what lighting or photoshop work they received for those photoshoots so how can anyone compare themselves! We should all be well informed to disregard this nonsense but we are bombarded by it everyday and mugs suck it up. It is a very sad thing. Healthy isn’t the new skinny, healthy is just healthy!!

  35. This year, aged 40+ I was diagnosed with a congenital condition that affects all collagen bearing tissue (joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons). I’m a person who works hard at stuff, but believe me when I say I have done myself permanent harm as a result of this kind of subliminal message that has been going on for a very long time. Pain is my body’s way of telling me I was damaging it. Not only are a lot of things simply impossible for me, trying to do them is likely to make a lot of other things impossible as I get older. I don’t subscribe to the idea that if we really try hard enough we can achieve anything. My father believed he could fly if he flapped his arms hard enough and broke his nose as a three year old jumping off a table.

  36. Love this post for so many reasons. The fact that you pointed out why the sentiments are unhealthy, and the fact that you say it upsets you as the father of a little girl… so good.

  37. I can’t express how much I want to thank you for this blog. I feel relived like finally someone adequately expressed what has pissed me off so much. Especially the contradiction with “strong is the new skinny”. If I could reach this laptop I would kiss you!! Seriously thank you. I am reporting x

    1. I totally agree Elle. I love my trainer but he posts this stuff all the time and it angers me but I couldn’t put together words to express why. I’m giving him this article.

  38. Reblogged this on Association of Me and commented:
    This makes me happy because LIKE MOST PEOPLE (especially girls) I struggle with self-acceptance and positive reinforcement of the truth – that skinniness is not everything – is always great. Also, I have friends who constantly go to the gym, and have ‘fitspo’ like this that they love to show me, and I really wish I could show them this and have them take it seriously. Ugh. Read it!

  39. Awesome post man! I agree 100% As a gym rat I nearly got caught in a training frenzy because it’s just so. darn. fun. But then there are Instagrammers posting pics that show them emaciated with some muscle tone and hastagging #strong #fit #athlete….. grr. boils my blood, eat something kids and relax!!!!!!

  40. I love this post so much. I’m a weight-lifting racquet-sports playing footballing coaching yogi, so it’s safe to say that fitness and well-being are a pretty big part of my life. The memes I see on Facebook pages have been a source of confusion and discomfort to me for the last few months, and this post completely nails what I think I have known deep down for a long a time. Your analogies are excellent (especially the one about setting your house on fire because you’re cold), and I’m so pleased to see a fitness expert drawing people’s attention to potential mental health effects such as Overtraining syndrome, which I can say from personal experience, is completely horrible and, unfortunately, misunderstood by a lot of fitness types. Your views on women’s body image could not be more brilliantly put. Thank you so much for reminding me that I should be proud of what I do (and subsequently how I look, not that it’s an incentive for me), and for finally convincing me to rid my Facebook feed of all this nonsensical propaganda. x

  41. I treat patients every single day with an excelerated “fight or flight” nervous system that reeks havoc on their poor bodies throughout!! I have also been involved in fitness for over 30 years and see the stress high intensity workouts place on the body not only physically, but mentally, pushing the sympathetic nervous system into a hyper-charged machine! You might look good physically now, but in time, this time bomb that is your body will rebel and offer up on a silver platter the pain or possibly injury that might change your life as you know it, with some form of an inflammatory process that by then,,,will be too late to fix! Awesome brutally honest article thx

  42. Reblogged this on abieleanor's Blog and commented:
    Everyone should read this. These are the kind of photos you see popping up all the time on social media sites but they’re promoting totally the wrong things, and sometimes they’re promoting really dangerous behaviours.
    Know your limits, and know that “skinny” isn’t a healthy goal to have.

  43. A lot of fit people are unhealthy. I use to work with a lady doing body figuring that thinned out so much you could see her bones her veins popping out and she looked so ill in her face. At 110 lbs and she needed to lose more weight. Um no. Now a women at 130+ lbs look so healthy and fit it’s amazing. She recommended people as a trainer, to see a physician, that’s important. I say if people want to be fit. Take courses that teaches you about the body. How to eat cause be surprised that we should eat a lot more than you’d think. It’s important to be healthy but there were two examples of healthy here. And yes you can tear your body down but over extending. Hell I weigh 134 lbs use to weigh 115. Told I was too skinny now I’m fat so I think people have a wrong idea about health. I run and exercise 30-45 minutes daily. I’m not bulky in not strong I’m fit enough to keep moving with my condition.

  44. “kind of rapey”? You shouldn’t be throwing that word around just because you’re uncomfortable with an ad/poster. Would you feel the same way if this was a guy in the picture?

    Some people use mantras and repetative phrases to help shut up the thoughts going through their head. I’m certain there are times you’ve availed of this technique in your life. Was it “rapey” or “creepy” then? Likely not. Just because you don’t like the phrasing some people use to push through limits, doesn’t make it sexual. Why not push yourself to try to be more articulate, instead of taking the lazy route of likening personal mantras and assault?

    1. I appreciate your sensitivity to language, John, and you’re right, we should be very careful about the words we use.

      Forget the sex of the person in the picture for a moment and imagine seeing that text absent any picture at all. Do you still not see any correlation between the coercion expressed there and the painfully common “your mouth says no but your body says yes” rhetoric?

      1. Personally, I don’t. I feel it’s a massive stretch. To me, it’s an argument of context. The text is part of the picture, as it helps make up the whole of the picture. Subtracting the subject, the setting and the action allows anyone to add whatever context they feel. This can be done with many text/image pictures, and is a very slippery slope which discounts context. If you had an ad with a hockey fan in the stands shouting “shoot! shoot! shoot!” and removed the image, you can only imagine what people would think it was about.

        This picture shows a woman in a gym working out. The words are related to that. Your argument is the same as removing connotation and sarcasm from a statement. If you do that, the statement loses context and is left to interpretation, despite the fact that it had a very specific delivery and meaning. The same should be said here. This has a very specific context and interpretation – motivation to work hard.

        I get that you may not approve of certain aspects mistakenly associated with these types of motivational media, and in many cases I right there with you. What I don’t agree with is removing context from communication and implying it means something that it clearly doesn’t.

        Outside of that, great article and great tips!

      2. As a professional ballet dancer who has seen a lot of unhealthy attitudes (including anorexia) in the business, I make sure I have positive self talk to myself instead of negative. Yet I feel “getting angry” at a particular step or even a part of my body for a moment will help me achieve more than if I just said “you can do it!” to myself. A healthy type of anger gives a person a burst of energy and is in a strange way, encouraging. When I have been dancing on pointe for ten minutes straight onstage as Sugar Plum Fairy and my feet are going numb, but I have two more minutes to go in the dance, I need a little more than “oh Gina, you can do it.” You do have to push yourself through, HARD, because your body has very little left to get through. Just a different perspective. I do not in any way feel I am being negative with myself or my body when I do this, in fact when I get through the show, I feel more proud of myself than I ever could have if I just gave up.

    2. I don’t think he meant to make it sexual. I believe his point was that if your body is saying no and you force your body to do something even though it’s in pain, you can do real damage. However, the language that he was referring to, no means yes, is the language that many rapists use.

    3. well, i’m a lady who likes to lift at the gym. this is pretty date-rapey to me.

      i’ve had men at the gym hit on me by commenting that i look ‘strong’ (i’m 5’1″ and 150lbs+, def not one of the models in those meme photos) and do i ‘come here often’. it made me remarkably uncomfortable to continue doing my routine for fear of eyeballs staring at me while i finished my set of goblet squats.

      there’s absolutely no way i could imagine a trainer (female OR male) trying to tell me this type of mantra without feeling like i’d need to take two or three showers. gross.

    4. I think “kind of rapey” was spot on. The prospect of physical and/or implied sexual assault on women is nothing new in the advertising world; it’s one of its worst trends of all time. I think it was downright responsible for Kevin to acknowledge how readily that wording in the horrible pictured ad could easily be substituted into a real scenario woman resisting, and ultimately being forced to consent to, an actual sexual assault.

      1. I agree with you 100%, and was about to comment with a very similar post. But instead I’ll just give you a virtual pat on the back.

  45. Love this! As someone who works with teens with eating disorders and obsessive exercising, it scares me when I see educated adults and training partners posting this sort of stuff on Facebook, as it bears a striking resemblance to the “pro-anorexia” stuff you see online. I’ve found myself commenting on pictures women have posted of what they aspire to look like, to point out the flaws in the images from where they’ve been photoshopped.

  46. Thank you. I can not tell you just how much appreciated hearing my own thoughts reflected by someone else, although a bit more colorfully than I would. But as a mom of 2 daughters I worry about the images that they are expected to aspire to. Hopefully I am doing a good enough job so their self image does not have to be the one society has chosen to push .

  47. This is really inspiring. I am always painfully aware of all these messages and it bothers me a lot. As you say there is a whole industry bent on making my loved ones hate themselves. I have found trying to do anything about it a lot like fighting the tide. Perhaps because I am a man my opinions about body fascism are often interpreted as misinformed, ‘far out’ or possibly the result of some perversion. People who disagree with the dominant hegemonic discourse are just as easily marginalized as the targets of the discourse itself. But your article reminds me that life is too short to fight things quietly. And fight we must. I thank you.

  48. Just going to send another heaping serving of gratitude from a trainer and coach who fed up with female clients coming in with a sick idea of what their bodies are supposed to look like and just how much vomiting and shaking they’re expected to do to accomplish it. Strong is moms and dads and cancer survivors and athletes alike — and promoting a sickly thin teenager with a 6 pack in their stead is infuriating. THANK YOU!

  49. I just want to thank you for this. I read (a somewhat edited version of) it to my three daughters, who love sports but don’t see themselves represented in most media. Even as a wise 40-year old woman with a body that has carried and nourished three great kids and completed a marathon, I am vulnerable to the pressure that it’s not enough, that I also need to look good/MILFy/fierce while doing it. I used to want to be those things, but I wasn’t moved by the images in any meaningful way. In fact, they made me feel inadequate. But when I look at Diana Nyad’s jellyfish-stung biceps and listen to her words, that moves me. That inspires me to continue on my path and to seek inspiration in worthwhile places for myself and my daughters. Thanks for writing an article that I can come back to again and again for inspiration.

  50. I’m 50lbs overweight yet I workout regularly(3-4days) each week. I lift weights, I use my bodyweight, I do hiit and anything else I like to do and my husband says i’m the strongest woman he knows(physically). He finds me sexy and that is important to me. But because of my weight society just thinks i’m fat. Not healthy or sexy because you can’t see my muscles and I don’t have a smaller pant size. Yes I need to lose weight but that doesn’t mean i’m not beautiful or strong or sexy just the way I am. It’s hard to always stay positive and proud of me when there is so much misinformation out there. Thanx for your article and reminding me this isn’t about looking like those women and feeling bad but looking like me and being proud of how hard I do work( know when to stop;). It’s not just about being skinny for me but being healthy. I don’t want to ruin my body for my future I want to make it stronger for then. And showing that to my own kids. I appreciate your perspective as a father.

  51. I think most of these “posters” are ment for those who is already going to the gym. It’s two different things if your knee is hurting during squats or your muscles because of metabolic stress. I my self work out a lot and study sports. And some of these “posters” actually makes me wanna give more. And healthy actually is the new skinny. Not talking about the extremes like eating disorders but girls and guys opening there eyes towards their health. I would say that working out and setting a goal to be fit is much more healthier than looking like a catwalk model on beeing obese. But definately health before looks. People should focus on getting stronger (wich also gives stronger bones) and eating healthy to live longer and stronger. I would prefer going to the gym now and be able to dress myself at an age of 70, than beeing in a wheelchair or in need of constant help. Im sorry to say that people that dislike fitnesspeople are not fokusing on the bigger picture, all they see is bronsed statues that hates fat people. But the reality is so much more. I wish people could stop judging everyone else and focus on themselves instead. (Sorry for any miss spellings – im from scandinavia). And I really hope no one takes offence in what I’m trying to say

  52. This is a great article, well written and fully in line with what I teach as well. Thank you, I shared it on FB. I always tell my female clients to be the best they can be and not compare themselves to anyone else especially, not some girl that’s been airbrushed on a magazine cover or in one. That a lot of people take all forms of fat burners and other supplements and or steroids to get a certain look not to mention it is airbrushed, it’s not natural, real and certainly not healthy. That you want to be healthy and fit at every age naturally, I educate them on how to have a healthier mindset not just a healthier body because it’s all connected and you can’t have one without the other. Thanks again for a well written article!

  53. I 100% agree! I talk about this ALL the time! Great post!
    I take particular offense to #3 since I WAS obsessed with exercise and know that there is a HUGE difference between dedication and obsession. Fitting physical activity into your life on a regular basis is dedicated, working out when you’re sick or tired or because you’ll feel horribly guilty if you don’t, is obsession ( so is missing days of sleep and going to the gym at 2am because you think sleeping is for “lazy people”, the way I used to.)

    One of the reasons why it’s so difficult for anorexics to recover is because we so often confuse “Being” fit with just “looking” fit and are obsessed with how our bodies look instead of how they work.

  54. “Central heating is for quitters! FITNESS!!” <– All. The. LOLs.

    Seriously, I have run into this sort of mentality at the gym. At the freaking YMCA gym*, at that. It is distressing, and if you have any kind of social/general anxiety, can make you want to skedaddle out of their, tail tucked.

    * – usually far more noted for their Mums and Dads getting healthy and not so much with the gym rats making with the grunts.

  55. Well okay. I appreciated the article. And while I know this was specifically about the information printed on images that most of us agree may lead people down an unhealthy path resulting in exhaustion, overtraining syndrome, injury and the like, ANYONE in a health, wellness, training mindset knows that to succeed in any course of athletics is 80% what we eat. It is our nutrition, the times and how long we work out each day/week, and how we hydrate and refuel. I am one of those bodies. I work out until I am tired. I am 53 years old and I understand about my THR and muscle build. Nothing wrong with aspiring to have a 6 pack, but most importantly I believe it is about a wholistic approach to be healthy AND happy and safe.

  56. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As a powerlifter the “Strong is the New Sexy” get’s me every time.. I roll my eyes because I know I am not (by society standards) considered sexy… but I am strong. Very very very strong. I blog about my lifting, and other things at but you NAILED it with this post. Thank you.. again, thank you.

  57. I’m on the 7th week of my personal training sessions and my new lease on life to get healthy!! I LOVE this post as its given me a very clear picture of what is realistic to work towards! Thank you :)

  58. Thanks! Great article. In addition, many do not realize that commercially produced pictures are NOT photos but rather are Photoshop LIES. There are NO pictures anymore that are not altered. We the collective, are being lied to by cruel sales/graphic techniques and, in many cases, destroying ourselves to look like a dream.

  59. As a 33 year old mother of 3, who is also employed full time, President of the School advisory committee, Vice Pres. of my women’s club, etc., it was very eye opening for me to read this!! I see ads like this all the time and think to myself that I’m never skinny enough, never strong enough, never fast enough!! I rarely eat the things I want, and feel extreme guilt if I miss going to the gym!! So thank you for taking the time to write this post!! Maybe now I won’t feel so bad about cutting myself some slack!! I guess a size 6 isn’t bad after all, right?! :) I’ll be following your blog from now on!!

  60. This post sounds like a tantrum from angry little people, who don’t have the commitment to stick to their fitness goals. There is nothing wrong with any of these messages. Your goal doesn’t have to be that of a fitness model, but there is no reason, other than health problems, that you can’t achieve your goal.

    1. wow, that’s a little presumptuous since I don’t think any of the comments have sounded angry at all. The problem isn’t with hitting fitness goals, the problem is when those goals aren’t Realistic OR healthy! Our society has trouble understanding that fit bodies really can come in different shapes and sizes and will often put their health at risk to achieve an image that is actually not right for them. AS a body image specialist, I’ve heard too many people tell me that they’d rather be SICK than fat. THAT’S a problem.
      While being obese is never healthy, there are plenty of studies that say that being overweight but active IS healthier than being too thin. We need to remember that fitness is about how we work not how we look.

      1. I resonate with most of your comment except for your statement that “being obese is never healthy.” It’s worth remembering that the only thing you know about looking at a fat person is that they’re fat. You have no idea about their aerobic or muscular fitness, and you know nothing about their cholesterol/blood sugar/blood pressure numbers just from looking at them. This goes for thin people, too. If most people looked at my guy (very thin) and me (considered obese, they’d probably think that I was the inactive one with poor eating habits and lousy resting heart rate. They’d be wrong.

    2. “your goal doesn’t have to be that of a fitness model” – newsflash: that’s exactly (EXACTLY) what those memes are saying. “if you don’t look like a fitness model, you’re just lazy and an unmotivated slacker”.

      and if you truly truly believe that “nothing is impossible”, try striking a match on jello.

      1. those ads are made for people who are into fitness. If you’re not into fitness then just ignore them. Just like i ignore ads that don’t apply to me. I don’t analyze them and judge other people’s ways of life.

        1. except that ppl who ARE into fitness dont’ need those ads – they don’t even see them any more. the ones who are most vulnerable are those just dipping their toe in the water and already feeling pretty stupid sidling into the gym in their fleece knee-length sugar bag shorts and oversized t-shirt that they hope will skim over the rolls and blobs. they look around and the room is packed wall to wall with tight, hard bodies and they feel completely out of place and alien and oh, look…. there on the wall…. documented proof that they totally and categorically do not deserve to be here.

  61. Wow! I thought I was alone in feeling this way, especially with the “strong is the new skinny” hype. I admit, I got caught up in it for a few months. It was fun at first, but I had no balance and no life. Great article! Everyone needs to read this.

  62. You can also look at is as for someone who is trying to better themselves they use these sayings as motivation. So they are only bad to those who view them in a negative way as this article is.

    1. I’m afraid you are not getting the point. Saying them as motivation for yourself is potentially damaging to your body. That’s what this article is all about. Puking, crawling, and hurting are warning signs of your body that you should take seriously.

  63. Reblogged this on Boo's & Ooo's and commented:
    This popped up n my Facebook newsfeed this morning from my sister. It’s an amazing piece of information & something that really love as I have been working on getting back into my exercise routine to get healthier for our boys,

  64. Thank you for this wondrous article! Amazing, accurate, well written, clever and humorous. Very human and I love that you are concerned for your little girl’s future. Having a daughter myself this is something that I am always aware of and I have already worked toward instilling a self esteem and confidence that does not involve what she looks like. That you are a man writing this just makes it that much more delicious!

  65. One thing you all have to remember is that no matter the message it’s simply a marketing campaign. They will use whatever societal and or cultural issues to sell a product. In this case it’s apparently motivational posters using current social aspects of our culture to sell you a product, aka, body image as related to fitness. This is where critical thinking and understanding of modern society needs to be emphasized in teaching today’s you so they can learn to “immunize” themselves from advertising campaigns. The author is simply pointing out what basic critical thinking about this campaign on body image reveals. We should all be able to reach these conclusions without having theme intend out to us. This is why teaching critical thinking to children is so important.

    I am in my early 50’s and a serious road and off road cycling enthusiast for about the last 25 years. I have my occasional fantasy’s about riding in the Tour de France but one thing age does to an athlete is bring you down to earth and understand what you can and can no longer do. That said I can still put some hurt on the younger guys and gals who don’t have the experience.

  66. Soooo… the 2nd fattest/unhealthiest country in the world shouldn’t push fitness… Its memes and pictures of other people transformations that motivated me to get in the shape of my life. To me, this sounds like someone telling you your harden arteries and fat encased heart are totally fine as long as “you’re” OK with it. As a veteran, I know that most people do not have any idea what the human body can do when pushed responsibly. People RARELY go to point of throwing up and ripping tendons… but even more rarely do they exercise to a point where they make real changes that could mean the difference between a long healthy life or diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. PTSD from lifting…. interesting. People who overdo it are in the minority. By contrast, people who give up at the first sign of uncomfortableness (most times confused with real pain) are in the vast majority. I used to be one of them.

    1. I don’t think he’s saying fitness shouldn’t be pushed, but rather obsessive fitness shouldn’t be pushed, ESPECIALLY combined with PHOTOSHOPPED PICTURES OF MODELS or WORLD-CLASS ATHELETES as if they are Joe Average at the gym. I consistently see people lifting more weights than they should, running outside to puke in the bushes and train when they’re injured when they should be letting their joints, tendons and herniated discs heal.

      1. When has anyone one been motivated by average people? No one should ASPIRE to be half-assed version of themselves, but if that’s where you end up, so be it At least you gave an effort…Dare i quote the old mantra of the Army “be ALL that you can be.” I rarely see Photoshoped pics in fitness memes (maybe advertisements, but good luck fighting capitalism). I usually see a person that worked hard to get into the best shape that they could. You don’t have to half-kill yourself to look that way either; I see ladies and gents in the gym all time doing very normal routines that look amazing. We should laud the best of us… not applaud mediocrity. Not to say there’s anything actually wrong with being mediocre personally… its just not inspiring.

  67. This was a great read and informative. With all due respect, my only wish is bloggers consider their faith based followers with regard to using foul language. It prevents us from posting great stuff. Have a great day.

      1. Keep the f-bombs. They help to make the point. People can have faith and still read the work “fuck” – they’re not mutually exclusive

      2. As a faith-based follower, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cursing for emphasis in any faith that I’ve ever encountered. Since there is no swearing using the name of any faith’s god, this comment is an over-reaction. I say rock on, Kevin!

        And more importantly great article! Which I AM sharing, specifically because I love the combination of your casual writing style with real, relevant topics.

      3. Kevin, I wouldn’t adjust your style to meet the expectations of others. Don’t let people push their dogma on you! This article is well-written, fantastic, and REAL. Looking forward to reading more :)

      4. It’s a great post, Kevin. The truth is that some people will get it and some people won’t. You can go crazy trying to educate people aren’t the slightest bit open to seeing things a different way.

      5. Even if you ignore faith-based preferences (which are different for every person), F-bombs are no ordinary swear word. The stronger the language, the less comfortable many of us are to post that link or forward that article to our friends, because whatever we share reflects back on ourselves and our preferences. This article contains just a little less professionalism than I prefer to maintain…no matter how AWESOME it is (and it IS spectacular). But no, I can’t pass this one on, unfortunately. :-( But thank you for approaching a discussion that needs to be said.

      6. I’m a high school English teacher, and I read this article with the wonder and delight of a child. My initial thought was “If my kids read this, we could discuss SO many helpful issues,” not to mention your incredible writing style. I will still be using pieces of your writing here as mentor sentences for my students but I have to agree that I wish the language (while hilarious and purposeful) wasn’t a barrier to me sharing this incredible text with my students.

        Thank you for writing this, sincerely. I greatly enjoyed this read.

    1. I agree with Vanessa, though less for the ‘faith’ based reasons. You have an AWESOME message here, and as a teacher (k-12 physical education and health) a coach (varsity basketball and baseball) and a personal trainer I would LOVE to link this to my students and younger clients…however the more colorful language would prohibit that option. Kevin you make some FABULOUS points. But remember, if we wish others to take us seriously and maturely, we must make an attempt to present ourselves as such…even though you are correct and my reactions to many of the pictures you shared were just as raw and …expletive laced as your own. We must remember, though, not everything immediately felt needs be expressed so…immediately. :o) But again I applaud you for bringing this to peoples attention. Not all fitness professionals or practitioners behave as these advertisers do. Just saying

      1. Couldn’t have said it better, Tim! – I agree with you and Vanessa. The less-than-creative vernacular that appears to permeate our culture has no place in an article/post that’s so very on-target and so very well articulated in every other way. I totally – TOTALLY – appreciate the feeling, Kevin, but clearly you have the ability to express yourself without slumming your language.

    2. My thoughts exactly. I wouldn’t mind sharing this with some of my friends but not with the language. I agree with a lot of this. I hate all the fitness pictures on Pinterest. I complain all the time that you never see 40+ women in these types of photos. I had flat abs and toned arms and have never dieted or worked out…until my hysterectomy at 42. I’m trying to just walk on the treadmill to feel better while all I hear at work is all about the crossfit workout they had at 5 this morning.

  68. As someone who spiral fractured my humerus through physical exertion, necessitating three surgeries, I can confirm that when your body tells you to stop, it is a good idea to listen.

    1. Hallelujah. I wish I hadn’t “muscled through” all the pain in my neck and arms in my 30s from RSI, and a bad car wreck (you can actually damage yourself sitting still at a computer all day, too, turns out…) because after two surgeries, while I’ve regained a LOT of the lost strength in my hands and I”m no longer dropping stuff because my hands suddenly lose the signals my brain is sending because of crushed and damaged nerves, I haven’t gotten all my strenght back, and the risk I take to my neck these days, doing ordinary things like lifting a 40lb bag of dogfood isn’t worth blowing out a disk in my neck.

      This guy knows what he’s talking about. Pain is the alarm buzzer telling you “quit it!”

  69. I find it funny that you address a serious mental health issue, such as anorexia nervosa, but 2 points earlier make reference to the “crazy-eyed hobo” as if issues in our society weren’t responsible (in-part) for both those situations. I appreciate the sentiment in this post, but I think there’s a lot to say about how we view people suffering from poor mental health, particularly in different social circumstances.

    1. I understand what you were going for, but I have to agree with Mo. I work with a community of homeless and often mentally ill folks. It’s no laughing matter. Otherwise, this article rocked my socks off!

    2. I completely understand your point of view and I’m not arguing. But there is an alternative view. The author was using the “crazy-eyed hobo” as a means of illustrating the insanity of the “inspiration,” not addressing possible causes of the hobo’s mental illness. The point, essentially, that it isn’t actually a good thing to sound as if you’re mentally ill if you aren’t. Whereas the “inspiration” promoting hypergymnasia was deconstructed to make it clear that it is in fact promoting, and even directly contributing to, mental illness.

  70. Kevin Moore FTW. Thank you so much for your honest, experience, and care in addressing this subject. I was raised with the “harder, faster, stronger, longer” mentality, and rather than inspire and strengthen me, it has led to some fairly serious problems as an adult. I’m blessed to no longer have such an intense obsession with body image, but it’s still there — and messages like the ones you posted don’t help. At all. Keep shining a light on these pernicious, pervasive messages.

  71. I shared this on my FB page :
    because while there will always be people who have the “You can never work out too much” mentality, it’s so important to know the difference between inspiring GOOD habits and encouraging DANGEROUS ones.
    I tell you something else…before Fitspo there was Thinspo, which are a series of memes aimed at “inspiring” men and women to get as skinny as they can get, it encourages eating disorders and it’s evil. While Fitspo may seem like it’s different since it claims to focus on Strength instead of size, it’s really important to note that so many of the memes used in Fitspo are exactly the same as some of the ones used in Thinspo, so are the message really all that different? I think not.

    Thanks again for a GREAT read!

    1. Thank you so much for this post. I’m a 35 year old mom of 2. I can also run father then I ever could, do more push ups AND I just so happen to be 10lds heavier then I was before my kids. I have seen so much of all of this while getting back in shape. You just spoke the words for me. Thanks!!!

  72. Thanks for this post. I started being more aware of my fitness about a year ago. It was primarily about my mental wellbeing. Then I saw changes in my body (which I liked) then all of a sudden these very damaging images and slogans are thrown at you, and even without your conscious say so, one starts to consider as if there is a truth in them!

    Body image will always be tricky for me
    and thanks for the wake up call. Fitness is not about thin, and over worked muscles. It is about health which starts with the mind.

  73. You’re right, but i think you should write about the fact that starvation (which all of the bodyfitness competitors do to look like girls on the pictures above), can cause terminal problems to your metabolism and to your thyroid aswell. Maybe put links to support the facts. Thank you for writing this!

  74. I appreciate this post. I get it. But what if the discussion was about how to find a happy medium within yourself, within each person as an individual. I mean, say you turn the media frenzy off, the images and pictures of other people, photoshopped or not, don’t work for you. So you throw it away. Then you decide, I like to drink wine on the weekend, I want to be able to eat ice cream now and again in the summer time, I want to maintain weight _ _ _. You set up parameters that work well for you. You evaluate your diet, introduce a few new foods that might help you veggie it up, whatever, you consistently workout, lift heavy things, get all your work outs in. And you live life as fully as possible. Body hate is extreme, body appreciation seems much more appropriate. Why is this such a hard sell?

  75. Twenty years ago I over trained myself into a chronic fatigue/depressed state. I’ve tried to lift since then and feel really awful mentally every time. I had no idea that PTSD in the gym was a thing but it sure makes sense.

  76. Awesome post, I’m trying to convey the same message on my blog. It is hard to describe over training through a computer since you cannot physically see how hard someone is working their body, every person is different. Great work, I look forward to more post.

  77. Thank you for writing this, and in particular for calling out the emperor of fitspo (aka “strong is the new skinny”) for not wearing any clothes. Proverbially speaking, of course. Whenever these pop up on my Pintrest feed I want to yell and throw something at my computer screen because while the intention may be good, the execution is shoddy and the long-reaching effects can be SO damaging. I’d like to submit a seventh for consideration into the mix, even though it’s an ad and not a meme:

    And the housefire/heating home analogy is spot-frickin’-on.

  78. Love it! I actually identify with the “strong is the new skinny” but you’re right on that their images are ridiculously manipulative. Personally I identify myself with Kristin Rhodes, I have what seems a few extra pounds on me, my muscle definition isn’t chiseled, but training and racing Triathlons guarantees that I can out fitness anyone of those skinny ‘strong’ bitches modeling the ‘new’ healthy.

  79. This is a funny, astute, and much-appreciated article. I only have a couple of comments: One, I agree with the above commenter about the two references to mental illness; mental illness does not always look like the “crazy hobo in a dumpster” and it’s irresponsible to imply so. The idea encourages stigma, which prevents people from seeking treatment every day. Two, when it comes to eating disorders, why is it that people only seem to speak of anorexia? Bulimia is just as serious, and the medical complications are usually more so, yet people tend to only focus on anorexia. Bulimics struggle with overexercise too; there is a separate category of bulimia in the DSM that classifies bulimics as purging through exercise. I had an eating disorder for over 20 years, both anorexia and bulimia. I did it all; starved, puked, over-trained, etc. I had a heart attack at 17 years old. I got aspiration pneumonia at 23 and had to have part of my lung removed due to infection. I lost some hearing in my left ear due to the heavy amounts and types of antibiotics they gave me. I got osteoporosis. I got stomach ulcers and vomited blood on a regular basis. I went into liver failure at one point. Now, I am turning 30 in three weeks. I have not been in recovery for long. I just wanted to illustrate the level of deadly medical complications this disease can induce. And let me tell you, it is a nasty way to die. Thank you for doing your part by writing this article.

  80. I love this post. I am 35 years old and have spent most of my life playing sports, primarily soccer and rugby; I still play actively a couple of nights a week as well as coach my daughter’s team. I’ve suffered injury on the field and have done stupid things like continue to play regardless of injury or pain but it’s not something I go out of my way to do. I don’t have a 6 pack I have a keg that is a little squishy, I’m not fat but probably about 20-30lbs over where I “should” be; yet I can still run up and down a field for 90 minutes for a full game. I always laugh when I see most of these “get fit/bodybuilding messages” as most of these people that work out all day with the 6 pack abs and rippling muscles can’t actually do anything physical, they just look buff. Healthy is healthy, photoshop is still photoshop.

  81. THANK YOU for 1) finally being able to bring light and truth to such a twisted new form of body image manipulation in the media and 2) Being a MAN that can wrap his head around it!

  82. Number 5! Yes! Thank you. That’s how those types of “fit is the new skinny” pictures make me feel. They’re all over Pinterest. Glad I’m not alone.

  83. I stumbled across this and wanted to say a) I really enjoyed the article. It’s about time. B) I immensely enjoy your writing style, f bombs and all. Most blogs I read I usually don’t visit again. I will th is one!

  84. I really enjoyed reading this blog! More people (and people whom are raising little ones) need to realize that a perfect body and a die-hard gym life isn’t the most important thing in life. You don’t have to kill yourself to stay healthy. Last year I competed in an all natural fitness show. The bodybuilding type. I entered in the bikini category. My hopes were to get in better shape to impress the guy I was with (the gym enthusiast to the core). Sad, but true. Anyways, I stood on that stage among a line up of beautiful women, all in “optimal” shape just as you see in the unrealistic pics above. But I didn’t feel beautiful. I didn’t feel happy. I looked in the mirror that night and cried. I placed 4th but I didn’t feel like I had won. I realized that the image I had worked so hard to achieve meant nothing if the person I was inside was still broken. Also, some of the women at that competition were almost passing out because on the last day of your diet you can’t eat anything and your drinking is very limited. CRAZY to put your body through that just to win…
    The girls in the pics above don’t walk around like that 24/7. Young girls NEED to know that the “models” they see in the media put their bodies thru a lot before a photo shoot.
    A healthy mind and a healthy body is what God intended for us.

  85. This article made me laugh out loud because, last week I ran a 10K then went to CrossFit for an hour. Almost exactly what you described, coincidence? When someone asked me whether I then also ran back home (another 10K) after CrossFit, I answered “No! That would be crazy!” Made me realize how the line between “crazy” and “not crazy” is very relative to each person. As long as I don’t throw in 2 hot-yogas, I’m ok, right?

  86. I love this article. Love, love, love it. Love. It. And yes – I can’t agree more about the misinformation that so easily confuses “pain” that is that fatigue and muscle achy-ness from working out with PAIN, that feeling you get when your body says stop, enough, something is very wrong”. People fail to remember that you can achieve results and goals without hurting yourself, your body, or your life (because hypergymnasia can, in fact, reduce your ability to function normally on a daily basis, and stress your relationships with those around you). It just requires patience. Time, and patience.

  87. This is absolutely excellent! Would you mind if I reblog it at some point? I love how most people assume that we are just supposed to accept these ideals because they have snazzy coloring and catchy phrases. The mentality behind them is dangerous and there is really a fine line between being healthy and going overboard.

  88. I’m sorry, but I think you are going over the top here. I always assume that people are generally mature enough to understand that these phrases and pictures are meant for advertising purpose. They are meant to inspire people, not push people toward overdoing. Let’s face it: posters of your deadlifting-female-hero are not going to draw many people into the gym that has it on the window.

    What about Nike’s motto : Just do it !

    What about all those movie trailers that seem so much more explosive/scary/funny/dramatic then the actual movie turns out to be ?

    What about that Microwave dinner commercial, where the dish always looks much better then the actual thing ?
    Etc. etc. etc.

    I am not saying that people with different appearances should be shunned, come down upon, or anything else negative. I am merely stating that the above mentioned advertisements are NOT meant to push people towards overdoing themselves.

    1. Except that all of these examples are VERY different than those in your argument. All of these messages in this article are VERY SPECIFICALLY *SHAMING* messages, designed to make you feel horrible about yourself. Nike’s motto has no shame involved. No movie trailer makes a viewer hate themselves. No TV dinner commercial makes a user feel inadequate. (well, maybe their cooking skills.)

      These messages are all DAMAGING, ABUSIVE messages which directly contribute to warped feelings about oneself as well as encourage and support mental illness. That’s not to mention that the messages, when taken seriously, could lead to serious physical injury or illness.

      No other advertising you mentioned comes close to this.

  89. As someone who has struggled for years with various forms of eating/exercise disorders, I used to abuse ‘thinspo’, yet claim I didn’t want to be ‘that’ skinny. I just wanted to be strong (with ‘skinny’ being implicit). I With the influx of ‘fitspo’, I fooled myself into thinking I was aiming at healthier goals, that I had progressed, that I no longer had as severe an issue. But nope. I was (and, to an extent, still am struggling with) replacing one with the other. The constant bombardment is almost impossible to dodge, and I appreciate this article.

  90. I’m a little surprised you didn’t touch upon bigorexia too.

    I guess at the end of the day, shit won’t sell unless we’re made to feel awful about ourselves.

  91. I’m just curious… Are you overweight? You sound like a bitter overweight person. I see the points you were attempting to make, but your obvious jealousy overshadowed them. You’re obsessed with the term “skinny.” Yes those women are skinny, but they’re physically fit and judging by their pictures they eat well too. Unlike the bigger (I’m sorry I didn’t know what word to use to describe her) girl who yes is obviously strong, but who is also not physically fit which says to me that she doesn’t eat well. I’d rather be a healthy eater and reep the rewards from it. The number one reward is that your physical health is better. So why put down people who work out to be fit and healthy? Sounds like your outlook is the problem. Oh and another reward is confidence. Believe it or not I bet home girl (the “bigger” one) lacks confidence.

    1. Did you not see the photo above this article? I believe that is the author, Kevin, and he isn’t overweight or “bitter”. Chill with the fat-shaming. Criticism doesn’t always mean jealousy.

    2. CDs9810,

      You actually can’t tell from looking at someone what kind of health they are in. For all you know, the women in the bottom photos may not eat well. They may struggle with eating disorders (fun fact, you also can’t tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them). They may eat excellently. They may eat in the middle. These photos may be photoshopped. The point is, you don’t know anything at all about them simply by looking at these photos. You also can’t tell that Kristin Rhodes doesn’t eat well, you know absolutely nothing about her diet.

      Please read this article, because it expresses everything that is so wrong with assuming peoples’ health based on their appearances.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with working out to be fit and healthy, and the author is not making that claim. One of the take away messages here is by all means, eat well and exercise. Exercise for health, exercise for enjoyment. But eat well and exercise for that purpose, not for the purpose of looking a certain way or fitting into a certain beauty standard. Mental health is JUST AS important as physical health, and this is so unfortunately often forgotten. If you’re in the absolute best physical health but your relationship with yourself is awful, you may not be better off than someone who is in pretty good physical health and has a fairly good relationship with themself. And also, don’t judge other people who don’t look a certain way or fit a certain beauty standard.

      Also, you don’t know whether or not “home girl” lacks confidence. But if she does, chances are it’s because she lives in a society that superficially judges people based on their outward appearances rather than on more important things. Molding herself to fit inside the box of “socially acceptable” will not ACTUALLY make her more unconditionally accepting of herself. All that will happen is that other individuals will give her less shit about her body. Real confidence is brought on by unconditional self-love, not only loving your body when it looks a certain way.

    3. Actually, Kevin Moore is an internationally recognized fitness coach, and he looks like a guy who’s spent the last 10 years teaching Pilates for a living. Also, I’d be curious to see your evidence for the assertion that Kristin Rhodes, “America’s Strongest Woman”, eats poorly and lacks confidence.

    4. um, I think if you check out Reembody’s facebook page you’ll see he’s NOT fat! I completely disagree that he’s knocking working out and being fit – his site is dedicated to health and fitness. The points he makes are about pictures that are unrealistic for most people – e.g. lighting, photoshop effects…and come on, getting down to six pack is awesome, but it doesn’t define fitness – and you’re not lazy or unhealthy if you choose to stop 3kg the other side of a six pack – that’s the point I felt he was making. It’s great if mature people find the ultra ripped pics to be motivating, and you can tell the difference between reality and photoshop etc, but this article makes great points and says things that need to be said for more vulnerable and probably young people who might not be able to filter the messages for themselves.

    5. Um….seriously??? That bigger girl is most definitely physically fit. Being physically fit is not exclusive to very thin people. You have obviously drunk the kool aid. Look at Olympians. Depending on the sport, they can vary from thin to what we call large or chunky. They are fit.

      Wow. Way to make the author’s point.

    6. Are you aware that it is actually possible to be “bigger” as you put it and be perfectly healthy, fit and strong and not lacking in confidence. It may not be the ideal, but it is possible.
      I don’t believe the author is putting down the people who work out to be fit and healthy, just the propaganda that says that the only way to be fit any healthy to conform to an unrealistic ideal and ignore the signs that your body is damaged.

      Also about your first line…are you aware of how patronising, insulting and bigoted you sound when you ask that?

  92. Great post, Kevin.

    As another father of daughters I second your thoughts. In fact, I’ve built on Facebook a small group of upstarts (Mental Meat Heads) whose purpose is to question our White Goodman approach to fitness, “Here at Globo Gym, we understand that “Ugliness” and “Fatness” are genetic disorders, much like baldness or necrophilia, and it’s only your fault if you don’t hate yourself enough to do something about it.”

    As part of our outreach I do a weekly interview series would you be interested?

  93. This is less about anything related to fitness and 100% about marketing, pr and how deception or ‘double-speak’ (to use an Orwellism) has become normal in our society. It isn’t bound to anything related to fitness, it’s a part of our culture. Well, our consumer culture.

    What I find hilariously ironic is that bloggers are the new #1 source of doublespeak. There is very little proofing or editing involved, ideas come out half spun and unfinished and as a result emphasis is put on style and ‘voice’. Content lacks. A medium like the written word, when reduced to being stylized, resembles tabloids, pulp or mass market romance. Think about it, bloggers put out market driven deadlines for when they need to publish, say, twice a week, and what does that logically do to the content of their arguments? Views and clicks are more important. Just like the attention is more important than the message when it comes to marketing.

    The subtext of most blogs (and this is exemplified and enabled by the blogger culture of ‘I scratch your ego you scratch mine’) put very simply is: “Me, Me, MEEEEEE!!!!”

    It’s cries for attention and self-aggrandizing.

    There is no substance in this article. Ads have been lying to us for centuries. Argue the right argument or don’t argue at all, you’re confusing everyone.

  94. Awesome! Thanks! And regarding your Addendum: you know who else gets angry when he’s tired? My 2 year-old. So you are totally spot on, a grown adult getting angry because he is tired is just silly!

  95. Kevin, this post is hilarious, well-thought out and critically important! Thanks for taking this stand. I also wanted to share, but agreed with Jessica. I will however, paraphrase when I discuss it with my three little girls. In gratitude, Alex

  96. Dude, you are really funny. And so right. By the way, I did not mind the F-bomb. It was well placed and effective in the context. Carry on.

  97. I LOVE this article. I am a mother of a six month old daughter and I’m afraid for her growing up in an era where these ads dominate. How are we supposed to teach our younger generation about loving them selves no matter there waist size. I’m a size 5 and before I had her I was a size 0 out of shear luck. Now I’m told I need to work out more, push my self harder, ect. I am more than happy with my body and the amount of work I put into keeping it that way. Just cause I’m not as pleasing to their eyes doesn’t mean I’m any less beautiful to those who matter.

    Thank you for posting this. You have restored some of my faith in humanity. Guys like you are awesome. :)

  98. I initially wondered if REEMBODY was a reference to Alistair Overeem, a professional fighter. His nickname is The Reem. But then I spoke RE-embody out loud. Ah. Interestingly though, and relevant to your blog, he was suspected for years of using the juice. He claimed lean horse meat was his secret. Since testing with an elevated testosterone level he has gone 0-2 in the UFC.

  99. I barely ever comment on online articles. But, thank you. That’s not enough. THANK YOU! My beautiful, couldn’t be any slimmer, brave, creative, ridiculously bright daughter came up to me the other morning with tears in her eyes and a sob in her voice and said: “This dress makes me look fat. I don’t ever want to be fat. I would be so sad mommy.” So you know what. Use that profanity. It’s the perfect place for it. Seriously. Everyone perpetuating this business supported insanity, that is literally killing our children, can FUCK RIGHT OFF. Because I don’t have the power to protect her. She is incredibly stubborn and strong willed and if she gets it in her mind that she needs to look like these girls to be happy or to deserve to live, it would be the fight of my life to help her change her mind.. and I’m not sure I’d be able to. So thank you for writing this and working to make people stop being unreasonable self abusive assholes advocating a sad and narrow view of what’s important in life. We all need to help make this insanity stop! It worked, I’m angry with you.

  100. Reblogged this on Goodbye My Muffintop and commented:
    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Love this post…for so many different reasons, and I know it will speak to dozens, if not HUNDREDS of our clients. It actually brings tears to my eyes because of so many stories women (and men) have told us about their personal journey’s to lose weight. For some, their journey started in their school age days. Decades and decades of family members, friends and society telling them they just aren’t good enough the way they look. People telling them they are fat. Lazy. Enough is enough.

  101. Its easier for people to quit than push themselves. So, while I agree some of the above may go too far, they’re attempting to motivate (like a trainer might). The bottom line is, no one is going to crawl, puking and crying all over themselves. So, we all (should) know they’re being dramatic. Weren’t they? :) And, the girls in the “Strong” and “Healthy” pic appear more healthy than just waifs, or Kristin Rhodes, despite her obvious power. Leaner people DO live longer; People w/ muscles ARE able to do more, have more “adventure.” So, even if “sexy times” are the goal (and, is that all bad?), there are many other positives that come of it, even if accidentally.

    1. “The bottom line is, no one is going to crawl, puking and crying all over themselves.”
      I do. After every training session. It’s the only way I know I’ve pushed my body beyond its limits. You don’t improve by training below your limit, just like you can’t improve at chess by playing people who aren’t as good as yourself.

    2. “Leaner people DO live longer” This statement is actually untrue. The largest metastudy of the relationship between BMI and mortality rates demonstrated that people in the category “Overweight” live longer than people in both the “Normal” and “Underweight” categories (and all other categories, but that’s beside the point). The finding wasn’t actually new though. Enough other researchers had found it that it has a name (the Obesity Paradox).

  102. The f bombs are hilarious. You shouldn’t need to change your blog to accommodate the delicate sensibilities of a few. I’m a Christian. I laughed the entire way. There are other blogs for those who can’t deal with profanity. I say keep it real. You write great stuff and it’s YOUR blog. Don’t change a thing.

  103. This sort of ‘Don’t let your body tell you to stop’ thinking is the reason why I ruptured one Achilles tendon, and then the second 2 weeks later. It turned out I had a connective tissue disorder which had gone undiagnosed, but still, I might not have quite the history of injuries if, in the past, I’d actually *listened* to my poor hurting body. As it was, it took 8 months before I got out of a wheelchair for more than a few steps.

  104. I enjoyed the overall message and agree. However the following comment really jarred me:”….like having some self-esteem, and do whatever it takes to be fuckable.”. I didn’t think the image was particularly fuckable or that I should aspire to look like that to be fuckable. In fact I find the image largely unfuckable and the last part of the sentence negated the first. The statement might have brought to light what you think is fuckable – and that’s ok it’s your article about what you think after all. But it was a little bit of a slap in the face. Finding that stinger in an article about inappropriate health and body image messaging in media. And for me brought the very issue right back around to the start.

    1. He is talking about what the *media* tells use is fuckable, not his personal taste or opinion. The point is that the media says there is only one way to look “uckable and that looking fuckable is the most important thing.

    2. I think you’re misreading his comment. He is saying that the picture DOES NOT promote self-esteem despite its “be proud of your body” message. To quote him (with some edits in brackets for clarity): “The message here is that it’s excusable […] that the ladies in the audience disregard […] having some self-esteem […] and [instead] do whatever it takes to be fuckable.” He’s arguing that the photo is promoting the idea of being fuckable despite SEEMING like it’s promoting self-esteem.

    3. I don’t think the author intended to define fuckability, or even imply that he thinks it’s how a woman should be measured. He’s simply lampooning the advertisement culture and what is a real mindset amongst a certain subset of women (and the “men” who lust them) in post-feminist America. It’s the Disney Princess syndrome. “All I have to do is look pretty and be a little bit quirky, and my Prince will come rescue me from my dull, empty life and shower me with limitless material goods.” The advertisers are playing into this and know this all too well, it’s the old Romantic Fantasy (or Heroic Fantasy, from the male perspective). It’s just that now we’ve finally become a bunch of debased pagans who can freely use the language to say what it really is at its base: “Fuckability”. Ironically, I find the concept of “fuckability” to be paradoxical; insecurity is a horrible attitude to bring to bed.

    4. This is an excellent example of how too many commas in a long sentence can lead a reader to confuse a dependent clause with a separate thought. The author is saying that the message portrayed in the picture is to forget about all the important things you are already doing, such as having self esteem, and go do whatever it takes to make a man want you. He is not saying that having self esteem comes from doing whatever it takes to make someone want to have sex with you.

    5. i think it was a poorly worded sentence really. I think he was suggesting we ‘don’t’ have to do whatever it takes to be shaggable. That we already are, and so to insinuate otherwise is really insulting degrading and the major issue within these memes. I don’t think the author was actually suggesting we ‘have to do whatever it takes to be fuckable’. I didn’t read it that way, and the overall message of the entire article also suggests the author would not have meant it that way.

  105. I have been getting mad because I’m tired when I use my body. I was actually also getting depressed about it. But you know what happened? I turned 50 and am menopausal. I can’t work 10 hours outside in the sun anymore! I can’t toss bags of dirt and mulch over my shoulder as if they’re nothing without paying some heavy consequences now. I’ve been paying those in the form of doctor bills because I couldn’t acknowledge that I need to learn to pace myself more.

  106. I would just like to say that while I agree with the majority of your post and the spirit and motivation behind it, I myself have a shirt that says STRONG is the new Skinny on the front and on the back it says New England Center for Circus Arts. That is where I take Pole Fitness and Aerial Fabric classes and Strong IS the new skinny for me. I have gone back to dancing and I am in love with pole dancing and I do physical work and I am getting RIPPED. For the first time since I can remember having a body image at all (maybe 10, maybe 6 or 7 years old), I do not want to lose “weight”. I think my size is fine. I want to get stronger and more flexible and be able to do more cool moves but I really don’t think I need to be thinner. I don’t want to lose my curves. By “curves” I mean my boobs. I had hips and a butt as a 12 year old 80 pound Anorexic, they probably aren’t going anywhere now… I have never in my life not felt fat. Never. At least not since I can remember. Body dysmorphia is an amazing thing. I can look at pictures of myself from High School and College when I felt “fat” and see how very not fat I was. It doesn’t help that that my shirt size is a large or extra large when I’m a medium sized human female, but I digress… So I get what you’re saying and I agree wholeheartedly, but being “strong” is an attainable goal. If you are anorexic/body dysmorphic, you will never be thin enough. I don’t think the circus performers I take classes from and with care as much about how their bodies look (except in motion), I think they’re proud of what their bodies can DO. We are besieged by pictures of anorexic and photo shopped models and actresses as the standard of beauty. Strong is the New Skinny is about being strong, being healthy and being fit. The goal of any fitness plan should be getting closer to feeling “comfortable in your own skin”. While some of us may never totally get there (I myself would still sell a kidney to get rid of my cellulite and don’t get me started on my forehead wrinkle), I get closer by becoming more and more strong and able to do what I love. That’s the key to all around health, I think. Be kind to yourself. “Change” because you want to feel better, because you want to do more things that you enjoy and continue to do what you need to do in your life. Humans always function better with moderation and balance, in everything we do. I shall be wearing my shirt with pride and finally telling my body dysmorphia to F*&k off!

    1. Melanie, he doesn’t have a problem with the slogan, he has a problem with the slogan being applied solely to pictures of very thin women. I think the same thing every time I see an ad for that Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge.

      Excellent article, thank you.

  107. I think I love you. Lol’d at the “hobo” image.
    And I love how aware you are of the way some “inspirational” sayings still are underpinned in shaming people (especially women) for not “working hard enough” ( #3), or making us feel as if we have to look a certain way (#5) to be “sexy” or “healthy”, etc. And I love you adding the female dead-lifter chick at the end as a final “fuck you” for people who have essentially changed HOW the best female form should look, but NOT the idea that there is ONLY one good way to look. I also have a daughter and I hate that this is the kind of propaganda I have to prepare her for. Society basically pits women against themselves, daring us to have a healthy body image.

  108. Thank you for this! As a power lifter and strongman (women’s division) competitor I don’t look like the women in these pictures and my self esteem has been knocked down to somewhere near by big toe. I believe I am healthy and fit and whilst I could reduce my body fat a bit I know I’ll never look like these pictures

  109. I wish that someone would have shown me this a year ago- it would have saved me from spending all those hours in the gym yet still feeling like a failure when I didn’t look like those women in the pictures, but was too physically exhausted to go on. Thankfully I realised what I was doing to my body before I became seriously ill. Fitspiration blogs are incredibly damaging- creating obsession and harm under the guise of ‘health’.

  110. Save for the couple of images that seem to relate to body image, I wholly disagree with your premise. The attitude with which you approach these messages are exactly what these images were created for. You have, mostly it seems, a defeatist attitude with no apparent desire to achieve anything greater than mediocrity. Most of the images where meant to motivate and encourage those that endeavor but have become, thanks to our PC, super-soft, entitled society, quite frankly weak-minded. Keep supporting the “it’s okay if you’re morbidly obese, so long as you love yourself” crowd. For the record, I train athletes. I take people(civilians, soldiers, soccer moms, kids, retires, high school ball players, etc.) and show them that they can do amazing things with their bodies, if they commit to it. And YES, often one has to shut out the part of your brain that tells you to quit. Sometimes you can take your emotions and use it to fuel your training. I teach them to be smart and pay attention to their bodies, but not quit simply because they’re uncomfortable. You might try some sustained discomfort and stop justifying the easy road. Whether you agree that’s what you’re doing, trust me, you are.

      1. No, quite honestly I agree with Keith. As a runner, I’ve definitely used the ‘get mad’ mantra from one of the first photos. When I’m on my last mile of an 18-mile long run and I’m sick and tired, that saying motivates me. I think what Keith was saying, and what I agree with, is that it’s important to stay motivated and push yourself, which is what most of these photos are trying to do. I can see what you’re saying with this article, but I think, in the end, every person who wants to commit to running, fitness, yoga, anything that interests them, is going to have to learn to listen to their body and learn their limits. It’s just learning how to strike a balance between motivating yourself and knowing when to stop.

    1. I’m pretty positive he never said anything about being obese. As a matter of fact, I read a few references to being healthy. Obese isn’t healthy. Anorexic isn’t healthy. Pushing yourself too far isn’t healthy. There is a difference between regular training to get more fit and the training that is happening in gyms now. You can’t deny that CrossFit in particular has really put an emphasis on this “hardcore” training. I did it for 4 years and would have kept going if I hadn’t torn the ligaments in my thumb through overuse. And now, at 27, I wonder if I will ever be able to work out or do my job without pain in my hands (and I had NEVER had symptoms until it was too late). So, listening your body can be smart. You can avoid injuries. And you can BE HEALTHY without smashing your body into the ground…

    2. Oh, for the love of god. This man is NOT in the “it’s okay if you’re morbidly obese, so long as you love yourself” camp. He’s in the “it’s okay if you aren’t unrealistically, impossibly thin and muscled,” “it’s okay if you’re reasonable about your workouts and choose to stick with a more modest workout plan” and “being healthy is about being healthy” camps.

      There’s nothing, NOTHING healthy about these messages. It’s NOT healthy to work out until you throw up. It’s NOT healthy to abuse our adrenal glands. It’s NOT healthy to believe that we can look anything like any of those women, because even THEY don’t look like that! It’s not healthy to confuse the “impossible” with the “difficult” and berate ourselves when we don’t achieve the impossible. It’s not healthy to be obsessed about anything. Anyone who is encouraging obsession is not worth listening to.

      Nothing about what he said advocated quitting simply because someone was a little uncomfortable. He is very clearly arguing against the excessive nature of these ads, which advise NEVER EVER STOPPING NO MATTER WHAT EVEN IF YOU ARE VIOLENTLY ILL AND ARE OBVIOUSLY HURTING YOURSELF.

      Yes, stop! Stop, stop, stop! Any sane trainer will tell you to put the frakkin’ weights down or to get off the dang treadmill if you’re feeling ill, because when you overdo it, you have to have downtime to recover. Having downtime interrupts your training routine more than anything else. Slow but steady really does win the race here, people.

      True, useful, life-changing change happens /not/ when we push ourselves past our limits, but when we create healthy habits and maintain a sane and sensible fitness routine from which we do not deviate. It’s /consistency/, not /compulsion/, that fosters health.

      1. Actually, those women DO look like that. I personally know several fitness models. They choose not to be airbrushed or photoshopped in their pictures and they still look like that. It IS possible and it can be done in a healthy way. What IS unrealistic is trying to look like a Victoria’s Secret model.

    3. As an ex semi-pro swimmer I have this to say to you:

      When the burn hits, it is time to stop. Warm down for a while drink water, breathe and then start over if you want to – but always STOP immediately.

      1. Why? Why must we challenge ourselves? And why specifically in terms of extreme physical ‘fitness’? If you want to, sure, go ahead, be an Olympic athlete or try for the Superbowl. But that is very different from being healthy and fit. I can think of plenty of ways I’d prefer to challenge myself other than making my body hurt (education, for instance) but there is nothing wrong in being content with how you are. Actually, there is a lot to recommended about it.

        1. Because most people who get into fitness are doing it to change their body composition. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with loving your body exactly the way that it is, but there is also nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself, even if you do completely love your body. I personally love my body and that is why I workout, to make it the best that it can physically be. In order to build muscle, you must tear it down, which means challenging your body. Because doing something that doesn’t challenge your muscles is not going to build more and make you stronger. And it isn’t pain. It’s sore. There’s a big difference. Sore muscles mean that you are building and altering your body to improve it. I’m not saying that you should work past actual pain. That is what causes injury. But the burn in your muscles can be worked beyond without injury. And a lot of people enjoy that burn and the challenge.

  111. I absolutely love this. Finally I can have something to share on fb that is worth a look.
    I have plenty of this friends that would fit any or all of this pictures.
    One of blatantly admitted than she posts this pictures but doesn’t really follow them, she just uses them because she is a ” trainer”.
    Total bs

  112. The real problem isn’t so much the potential to misinterpret the motivational images and blurbs; it’s someone using these little blurbs as education instead of inspiration. These are to help people who already know what to do remind themselves what they need to do when their dedication threatens to leave. “Fitspiration,” not “fitducation.”

  113. Wow… Sorry but I am one of the ones that “doesn’t get it!” Your article is well written, but I actually find it incredibly offensive! Especially when saying things like “a little rapey” or stating it as a call card for anorexia!!! You went on to say the girls in the image were skinny!? You mention anorexia then look at those women and there are worlds of difference!

    I have used almost all of these quotes and images as motivation on my weightloss journey and sometimes you need to tell yourself to push a little harder, or to keep going to get the results YOU want to be proud of… but I have not broken my body, have not been reduced to anorexia, nor have a felt “a little rapey.”

    Sorry. Like I said, I just don’t get it.

    1. The “a little rapey” was that dialogue: “I can’t do this. I need to stop. It hurts.” “Shut up and take more.”

      If that kind of talk doesn’t make you just a little uncomfortable? I don’t know what to say to you.

      It’s seriously possible to push your limits in a healthy fashion and still be kind to yourself. If you’re crying and saying, “I can’t do this, I need to stop. It hurts.” and you think the acceptable response is “shut up and take more,” again, I don’t even know what to say. That just feels, to use a different phrase, abusive. We’re not here to abuse ourselves. We’re here to get healthy. Abuse is not healthy. Why does anyone ever need this spelled out to them?

      Oh yeah… because we have all THESE “fitspiration” pieces of crap in our faces.

      1. Julie, have you ever been obese? I used to be and when I first started training I WAS crying and saying “I cant do this, I need to stop, it hurts”… But do you know why? Because my body was not used to exercise. I needed to push through the mental limitations and learn that my body COULD do this, and this kind of “fitspiration” is EXACTLY what got me there. I am curious to know how you push yourself to your limits in a kind way? I think all this image is implying is that your mind will try and convince you to give up while your body still has plenty to give – such as working through a lactic acid threshold…I guess the perspective comes down to how you like to train?

  114. Firstly, I’m a “faith based follower” and I don’t have a problem with the “foul” language. Please don’t include me in that group.

    Secondly, a personal trainer pushed me through my “whinging” pain barrier and I blew out my knee cap. I’ve spent a year in physio and gained 40 pounds thanks to her ignoring my pleas to stop. I will never work out with a PT again. And yes, she was a “trained professional” and a reputable gym. Apparently, begging to stop because you’re in pain is unacceptable.

  115. Kevin, this was a fascinating read. It’s really interesting to read something like this from a male perspective. I see these memes posted all the time of facebook and people think they are ‘inspiring’ other people. I myself am very fit and physically active, but I’ve got thighs and an ass…. I might have abs, but I don’t look like the women in those photos. I often feel worse about myself after seeing those, as I’m sure many women can agree.

    You’re spot on when you say that strong is the new sexy only when it looks a certain way… skinny, sexy and scantily clad. Not every (physically) strong woman will/can/wants to look like those photos, it’s a fact of life. Advertising screws people over, but it’s the people who post and repost those images that make it much worse, psychologically.

    I’m a dietitian and have seen first hand how these images distort people’s sense of reality, manifested through eating disorders and disordered eating. I write a nutrition blog over at that discusses living a healthy, normal, balanced life when it comes to food. Similar to what you’re saying, chasing a fantasy body isn’t healthy. Neither are cutting out food groups and foods we enjoy in the pursuit of this ‘perfect’ image.

  116. Great post, Kevin – I too have felt like there’s a lot of exploitation in the name of health and fitness going on on Facebook and other social media outlets. Every time I see a post where throwing UP is a reward for a workout it makes me want to throw up too! Well done!

    1. I know, right? I laughed so hard at #4. The last time I was crawling on the floor, in pain, puking, everyone around me told me to stop drinking!

  117. Fabulous, I wonder about the body images and work out ethics as espoused on programs such as Biggest Loser for some of those very reasons. Thank you for your comments and I do not mind the F Bombs.

  118. As someone who works out at least 5 times a day, who is 4 ft 10 in, a female and has a healthy lifestyle, I agree with a lot of this. Yet, I somewhat agree with the saying, “strong is the new skinny” because it’s important for people (especially women) to include weights in their workout. I guess it just depends on how you read it. It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to be in the weight room even if I am the only woman. If feels good now that I can be intimidating to some men. I am not cut or anything but I have the personality of a determined woman who uses her workouts as a stress reliever. But, that’s just me. Anyways, great article. Some people need to think outside the box more and get out of their little self-centered shells. I know…. I am surrounded by certain people that think they are the sh**t just because they have muscles “no one else can have.”

  119. You would have a stronger point if you weren’t using the slogan “You Are Stronger Than You Think” with a picture of a guy looking like he’s about to do a deadlift or another GHD or something. Is he really stronger than he thinks? He looks uncertain. Doing one more rep may incur injury. He may not be stronger than he thinks.

  120. I definitely have a problem about #2 and #5 (photoshopped images of perfect women should never be a motivator; #3 is pushing it), but the others I think are just fine. I’m an athlete who has crawled, burned, puked, and finished a workout barely able to walk…..and pushing yourself beyond mild discomfort is how you get results. Yes, it’s possible to overtrain and ALL exercise (mild or extreme) comes with risk, but the trick is learning the difference between “good” (strength-building) pain and “bad” (signs of injury) pain, and learning to listen to your body.

  121. Terrific read. As a camp counselor who heads fitness recreation activities, I can’t tell how many times I had to try to explain to people that running like a cheetah doesn’t make you the Iron Man. Definitely sharing this!

  122. I’m definitely against #2 and #5 (no photoshopped image of a perfect woman should be a goal; and #3 is pushing it), but I think the others are just fine. I’m an athlete who has repeatedly crawled, burned, puked, and finished a workout unable to walk…..and pushing yourself beyond mild discomfort with strong mental fortitude is how you get results. ALL exercise (mild or extreme) comes with risk – the trick is learning to recognize the difference between “good” (strength-building) pain and “bad” (risking injury) pain. As always, start easy and slowly build up the intensity to a level you’re comfortable with.

  123. Can I PLEASE share this with my clients…. as a PT in training with a nutrition background I cringe at so many of these ‘fitspiration’ posts, like you I ‘get’ the intended message….but what Id rather see is…’eat healthy whole foods in moderation and exercise every day doing something you enjoy”……and so many don’t get that it is that ‘simple’ or that these posts can be this damaging…. Ive been trying to put it pout there but your post makes it so easy to understand…

  124. thank you. As an overweight person with physical disabilities, trying to change over all health, you have spoken a lot of what I have been thinking lately. I just want to be healthy and lower my BMI and get rid of type 2 diabetes. I am NEVER going to be ripped, or skinny. It is not my goal. Right now it is a struggle to walk 1/8 mile on a treadmill. My goal is to get to 1/4 mile. I am lucky to walk at all. With 7 spine surgeries, chronic pain, limited mobility, I simply CANT lift more weight, not listen to my body, Get mad at the skin I am in. I am damaged enough. I just want to be able to sweep and mop my floors, walk through the grocery store, stand long enough to wash dishes after prepping a meal. Thats far more important that being sexy. And to the rude gym rats who roll their eyes at me on the trwad mill. That 1/8 mile is just as hard for me as your 5 k run. Get a grip

    1. omg, you remind me of one of my most embarrassing moments at the gym:

      i’m not small – i’m more into powerlifting than bodysculpting. but cardio is important even to a powerlifter (more cardio capacity = more oxygen = more power to lift) so i would grudgingly haul myself onto the treadmill and do a half hour as intensely as i could.

      there was one lady there who DROVE. ME. NUTS. seriously. i wanted to stab her in the eye – she punched every single button i had. she was a black lady who epitomized “fabulous princess”:

      big “did” hair – ultra-elaborate weave with purple and gold ribbons worked in and those big flat curls that looked like they were made of tinfoil.
      fake eyelashes that made her look like tarantulas had attacked her face.
      lurid makeup – purple and gold eyeshadow, bright purple lipstick, gold dust.
      purple and gold spandex on a body that really shouldn’t be wearing spandex
      a fancy lace underwire bra (seriously!??? in a gym!!!?)
      gold and purple high-tops.
      LOOOOONG purple and gold nails – so long she sometimes had trouble managing the touchpads on the equipment.

      normally, i just avoided her like the plague but that day started off bad, got worse, and now was approaching hell. i had JUST enough time left to get my cardio in…. and this woman’s la-la-la on the treadmill, yakking away to homegirl on the cycle next to her, blah blah freakin blah.

      OMFG, started the internal screaming. Lady! you’re not going to lose any weight! yo’ure not even trying – i HAVE TO GO! GET OFF!!!!

      it was probably about 2 seconds but it felt like eternity before she saw me, started, looked at the readout and said “oh, gosh, i’m so sorry – i’m taking up your time. have a great run, sweetheart!” and sailed majestically off to the change room followed by a cloud of my mental blue smoke.

      i was so stressed and irritated and just plain pissed off that i cut the cardio short. i went into the change room just as she was coming out of the shower, naked except for a towel wrapped casually around her big Earth Mother hips.

      she asked me for help getting her locker open as her nails were too long to manage the little key.
      she had no makeup on.
      she had no fake eyelashes on.
      she had no fake hair on.
      she had no hair.
      no eyelashes.
      her skin was a sickly liver colour.
      and where her breasts had been, was a lurid scar.

      i walked out of the gym feeling so low a cockroach could have stepped over me without noticing.

      so yeah – don’t think you know the story from the picture.

      1. This is such a great story and you beautifully illustrate the truth about being human: who we are and where we have come from doesn’t always show on the outside. We all hate being judged, we get righteously angry with people who don’t understand how hard we’ve worked even though we don’t look like a magazine shoot in motion; best we don’t do it to others. For me, not judging, not mentally tearing other people down and getting all superior, is sometimes the hardest work out of all.

  125. It’s important to mention the WAY the women are photographed, as parts rather than the whole person – a common practice in advertising in the ongoing sexual objectification of women. Graphic #2 says to me “Don’t strive for a whole healthy self, just the part that attracts sexual attention – now THAT’s something to be proud of!” For a terrific place to start on understanding the problems inherent with this approach, start with this article:
    “Women are more likely to be picked apart by the brain and seen as parts rather than a whole, according to research published online June 29 in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Men, on the other hand, are processed as a whole rather than the sum of their parts.”

  126. They’re just for motivation. It would suck to be the people that have to live around you if you bitch about small things such as stupid pictures.. Go on a trip and find yourself, you’re obviously busy with anger.

  127. I wish my father was as enlightened and aware as you are, when I was a little girl. Please keep spreading these messages! It’s so important to try to fight back against this plague overtaking our society. I am going to save and share this post.

  128. Thank you for this post. I have several friends who post things like this all the time and sometimes I think I am nuts for thinking that they are taking it too far, but it is about safety and common sense!

  129. I suffered from exercise anorexia in college. I fell right into the stereotype that every one of these ads creates and it was far too easy to slip into the socially acceptable trend of “fitness”. Thank you for this article- I hope that it can help people to truly think about the way that our society judges the human body and serve as a reminder to respect it.

  130. Great article. The bit with the skinny and healthy. They’re ok with this as long as the woman IS skinny. They overlook the “health at any size” movement, and refuse to acknowledge the fact that is possible to be larger sized and fit, too! Those people love to tout the idea that ‘fit doesnt’ mean looking like a fashion model’ but yet they still use models to illustrate their memes, don’t they?

  131. Thank you. As a recovering/recovered hypergymnasia sufferer, I appreciate you sharing this so much. It’s so hard to escape the unfortunate way our society seems to take everything to extremes.

  132. Wow. Very powerfully written. Blunt truth in a way that makes people stop in their tracks and listen. I am a high school English teacher, and I see many of these fallacies perpetuated on our youth daily. I’m also the mother of a daughter, and I especially appreciate your insights as not just a fitness expert, but a father. Thank you for cutting through the bullshit and telling it like it is in a culturally relevant way. And may I also add that those who are criticizing the one lady who was offended by the “f” bombs need to chill; it wasn’t the content that bothered her, and who are they to bully her because she doesn’t pepper her speech with the word fuck? I doubt you use that word in all your blogs—just the one that really needed it–and you were addressing a culture that seems to listen only when you speak their language, and you needed to get their attention. If all your blogs were proliferated with that word, you’d probably lose quite a few readers; I’m sure that one reader will agree. Keep up the great work. I would like to show this to my students, but the district–and their parents–might have a problem with me giving them something to read with so many “fucks” in it…. hahaha…. Gotta love the irony, huh? :)

  133. So right on and well said! I realize it is this constant thread of fitness, that is ever present in our culture, …that truly makes me fill ill. Thanks for building such a strong argument for why that is not fitness and that inspiring your own inner athlete may require a reality check, an injury history, and a healthy goal reset. Thanks for the jolt to speak my message of “Empowering Health Through Movement” louder and clearer.

  134. First, I want to say, right on! Some of these “inspirational” messages I see constantly on Facebook are really f-ed up. But (did you know there was a “but”?) I’m going to take some issue with #3, “Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.” My crowd is an endurance sports crowd – marathon, triathlon, ultras – who tends to do a lot of training. To finish these events, we might be out there running or cycling for 2-3-4 hours or more on a weekend – lots of people do this, and generally not in an unhealthy, hypergymnasiac kind of way. And yet I can’t tell you the number of stories I’ve heard from my fellow athletes about friends, co-workers, and family members who question that kind of training time – you’ll ruin your knees with all that running, why would you spend your Saturday that way, come out to brunch instead, you’ll never finish that half-ironman – it goes on and on. So in my world, it’s far more likely that if an athlete is being described as “obsessed” by the people around them, it is exactly as the quotation goes – maybe the detractors aren’t lazy, but they certainly are unsupportive and probably insecure.

  135. So needed to hear this. I love Pinterest but it promotes a lot of negative body image for women, exactly how you pointed out in this post. Thank you for being awesome and for standing up for truth.

  136. I think you are spot on on 98% percent. I a a female, acupuncturist, massage therapist , personal trainer and been doing martial arts on and off for years. I agree with everything except its your mind that tends to be the problem. Its you ego that drives you. Its the ego that you conquer in your training. If you go in with ego you leave with injuries. Knowing what is driving anything you do is the first step in mastering yourself and your respect for your body The last print was somewhat right. Although, could have been worded many times over more eloquently. Perhaps, your mind gives up 10 minutes before you body does. Or quite your body and you mind follows. I will agree whole heartedly that arguments with the body or being angry at it is a losing battle. You have a RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BODY. Sometimes you need to have better communication, that is all.

  137. Pingback: 10 minutes later
  138. So I agree with the premise that these posters are “irresponsible”, none more so that #2. BUT #3!? How does someone look at that poster and feel the need to rant about anorexia nervosa, where does that line of thought come from in relation to that poster? or that an individual’s accusation of “obsession” must therefore mean that the accussee is indeed “over-doing-it”? I strongly believe that dedication is and should be an admirable trait for all people to have; whether that be in a hobby of theirs, or their business, or their education, and especially their health.

    1. Clearly you have never had a loved one in your life affected by an eating disorder. Dedication IS admirable. Obsession is not. In fact, obsession is a disease and the two have nothing to do with each other.

    2. Well Garrett, I can tell you because women look at those pictures, then look in a mirror and start making the comparisons and no normal woman that isn’t airbrushed and photo-ready like those women are will EVER measure up. Anorexia generally begins in the early teens and sometimes even younger. When the message is sent out to women especially our young girls, that this is what you need to look like to be “healthy” which women inherently know really means pretty, hot, sexy, popular or doable…then they attempt to achieve this by any and every means possible, up to and including so many that actually end up killing themselves. This happens when they have a psychologically skewed sense of themselves. Guess what gives them that skewed sense? Shit like those posters. Those girls don’t even look like that on any given day, they only look like that for photo shoots and or competition and they go through utter hell to look like that. Now I realize, you probably think these women are hot and indeed, they are but posting pictures of them as this is the “gold standard” ladies, is just totally the wrong message being sent out to our young girls and the fact, that you see nothing wrong with it, shows how out of touch with this reality most men are.

    3. Hi Garrett.

      I reply as somebody who has struggled with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.
      First of all, this blog article made me so happy, and I agree 100% with everything written. The bottom line is that “obsession” is not healthy. “Dedication” is healthy, sure… unless you are “dedicated” to starving yourself, or “dedicated” to working out compulsively so that you burn thousands more calories daily than you ingest, because you are mentally ill.

      “Dedication” is a choice. You are dedicating your physical and mental energies to something that you are passionate about, like exercise. “Obsession” is not a choice. The very nature of “obsession” denotes lack of control… as if you’d like to stop exercising, sure, but you just can’t get off the treadmill. I’ve BEEN THERE. I know this obsessive, “excess-ercise” behaviour (excess-ercise is a term I learned in recovery). It is not something you choose. It is a sickness, a deadly serpent-voice in your head that will not let you stop, will not let you rest, will not let you eat. YOU want to, but obsession, or your eating disorder, or your mental illness, will not abide it. This is NOT HEALTHY. This “obsessive” behaviour is NOT the same thing as being “dedicated” to something positive; this behaviour will kill you.

      If you are “dedicated” to exercise because you are passionate about fitness and having a strong body that is capable of a multitude of physical achievements, then way to go you. But that should by no means be called “obsessive” behaviour. If your “dedication” starts to become “obsession,” then you need to look at where your motivation stems from. Is it about how your body looks? Is it about gaining a ripped physique to like or feel okay with yourself? If it is, then you need to dial it back. No amount of physical ripped-ness will fulfill you. I know this, because I’ve been there. What if you injure yourself or get hit by a car and can’t work out anymore? Does this mean you are a worthless sack of shit? No, it doesn’t. But “obsessive” exercising is only setting yourself up to feel this way; your self-esteem will surely suffer. People need to know that their value does not come from their ability to crank out reps or do prolonged cardio.. it is innate, it is there from birth, and our physical bodies do not indicate it. We need to stop putting value on our physical bodies, because so much of it is out of our control (we didn’t get to pre-select our bodies, faces, or genetic codes before we were born). It is the CHOICES that we make that truly affect us… or at least this is what I believe. I made the choice to write a lengthy blog comment-response.. fellow bloggers may think less of me, but I can’t control that. I can control promoting self-esteem and the TRUTH that You and I have value, just because we DO. Our bodies have nothing to do with it.

      1. Thank you for writing down these lines. I couldn’t agree with you more and I feel like I wan’t to cry because it’s so important, so fucking important to never stop write, talk, think about your self worth being actually totally disconnected to your body. You have value, that’s it. Nothing more. And the most fucked up thing is: this is nothing no one ever talks about, it’s always what you do, how you look, whatever, never just: you are ok. Always and whatever you do. You have value. Thank you again.

      2. Such a great distinction! Of course obsession is a totally out-of-control state. Makes me think of the term moderation – sometimes you need to moderate your enthusiasm to make sure you’re keeping everything well balanced. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or weak, or any of that other garbage. It means you understand yourself, and you’ve acquired wisdom. Absolutely agree with the truth that we have value simply because we do.

    4. Obsession is by definition going too far. The dictionary defines it as “dominate or preoccupy thoughts; beset, trouble, or haunt persistently.” Dedication is of course admirable, but when one is over-dedicated, that is obsession. There’s a reason why OCD stands for obsessive compulsive disorder. And when obsession is combined with a healthy habit, like watching what you eat or hitting the gym hard, it leads to detrimental effects. That’s how you know the difference between dedication and obsession: Is your habit hurting you?

      Lots of athletes, I would imagine, are very close to this line of harmful obsession, so the message in #3 is necessary for fitness junkies to hear. I myself have been battling tendinitis for two months (for the second time this year) because I don’t rest enough. And I know that, and I keep training anyway. That’s not a good thing. It is NOT smart to show up in the gym or studio saying, “Well, I can’t really use this arm or do pull-ups, but I’m ready to train my upper body anyway.” I’m aware that overtraining is hurting my body and actually delaying my progress, and I still make the decision to push my body to the limit. That’s obsession. (And yes, I’m actively working on listening to my body about when to rest!) However, at least in my case I do it because I love what I do (aerial acrobatics), not to burn more calories or look a certain way. Regardless of reason, though, the main point here is that obsession causes injury.

    5. Calling someone obsessed does not make that person obsessed. People get called obsessed simply for lifting weights on a regular basis, when in reality it’s just a part of their routine and helps them achieve their goals. Yes some people are obsessed with lifting or dieting, but it’s a minuscule percentage of people that get called obsessed for lifting and dieting.

  139. As female athlete who does NOT look like those women in the ads and mother of two daughters . . . . THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! It’s so refreshing to hear it from a man, too. Your wife must adore you.

  140. I’m so grateful to see a post like this from a guy. The fitness industry is perpetuating more body hatred than the fashion industry. The fashion industry can at least be written of as frivolous and narcissistic but the fitness industry is supposed to provide helpful healthful information and all it does is make people feel lousy and then compound it by blaming them for their inadequacies. I loved this because it is bullshit and deserves a fuck you so thanks for saying it!!!

  141. I’m grateful to read this and hoping so many see it, I am a Wellness Coach and Mindful movement guide (some call it yoga) and I have been focused for the last 6 years on “less is truly more”. My main focus is supporting people out of pain in their body from all the above…the over doing, the not listening, the to do list, the simple fact that we live in this world of “what we ought to be doing” instead of being REAL with what is for us! I’m grateful to have found one of the most amazing Yoga Therapy programs/ teachers to study with, she teaches what she calls pure movement, and it’s the most amazing, mind blowing way to unwind the spine and free the body and anyone can do it, seniors, those in wheel chairs, disabled, I feel blessed! And so excited to read this, may this awareness of “less is more” and listening to pain as a signal that something isn’t right and yes you should stop, slow down, and listen!
    We constantly blow thru so many yellow lights and next thing we know we are in the RED LIGHTS (PAIN)..I love gifting people awareness of those yellow lights so that they can enjoy living a life with more ease, more awareness and less pain. AND LESS THINKING THEY NEED TO BE SOMETHING THAT THEY ARE NOT and understand and be comfortable with who they are! Sending so much courage strength and love to you, keep sharing your truth!

  142. The girls in number 5, especially the black and white…doesn’t look “skinny”, she looks lean and strong – healthy. She has worked hard to get into that kind of shape and inspired many along the way. You Kevin Moore should be ashamed at your attempt to take anything away from these people.

    1. Well, I’d say that all of those girls have worked incredibly hard for their bodies, dieted down to very low fat% and work hard in maintaining it. Some may even compete. The point I think is that when will “just strong” be enough? Why can’t I, a regular exercise loving young female at a healthy weight can’t be enough (I am for me)? Strong is the new skinny yeah, but does “strong” mean a lifestyle of strict dieting and meal prepping, fasted cardios, plyos and lifting and ffs… cheat meals twice a month? Isn’t for example a 27% body fat, 100kg deadlift or 10 chins enough?

    2. Mate, you’ve missed his point rather spectacularly. He never said she was ‘skinny’ rather than ‘strong’. From the little evidence we have- an airbrushed photo- she appears to be both. So do the other two girls. The point was, strong does not necessitate skinny. You can be strong and large; in fact, it’s easier to do. But you could never draw that conclusion by looking at those photos, because all of those three girls are as skinny as you could be without negatively impacting on health and strength. Strong and healthy doesn’t have one body type.
      Let’s put it another way: If strong- ‘healthy’- is the desirable trait here, then surely the girl who wins the arm-wrestle is the one you’d find most attractive? My money’s on the chick lifting tyres.

    3. He is not attacking the people in the pictures. He is attacking the fitness industry that is putting false messages out there. And he is right. First of all, the picture of the girl has been photoshopped, second, the girl doesn’t look strong, she looks fit, lean and yes, skinny. If that’s not skinny, who else is skinny nowadays?

  143. Dude, amen for writing this. It is so totally on par, for every single one of those posters! Our bodies are amazing machines capable of incredible things, including fixing what we screw up and it asks one thing when we are driving it, to listen to it and when it’s speaking to us and telling us to stop…we damn well better stop. That’s our internal governor trying to keep our dumb ass from going over the cliff…so we gotta listen up!

    Great job, thanks!

  144. Aggressive, but I can definitely empathize with your emotion and passion to the subject. I train young athletes as well as women in Bootcamps, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I push science versus fad, core versus abs. I have big bootcamp companies that have lost clients to me because their trainers have weekend courses, no education aside YouTube, and no consideration to the trade or their clients. Pushing HIIT training, Crossfit, or any flavour of the week, as long as you can have 20 people in your class to pay the rent, so screw attention to detail, or technique. I have a small group of trainer friends and we are a VERY small few who couldn’t agree more with your statements above, and the abdication of those posters just keeps making my job harder as a trainer. But I love what I do and I won’t stop, I’ll just have to continue educating my clients regardless of the constant trash out there. Keep preaching brother, and stay healthy my friend…


  145. There’s alot of truth in this, but as a very sporty person workin out in that way, and having a physical Job. I believe its all about the people training you. Your only trained that way continously for a certain goal. Good trainers Will help you reach it when its reasonable. I can take this blog and give reason to almpictures, because taken out of their context(magazine papers commercials) they look awfull.
    I know the point that is made, which is fair, but the way its put here i have to disagree. Except the fact that sny form of anorexic is a serious problem. That is a fact that need more attention. But in stead of attacking the fitness and sport industries, attack the modelling world. Thats the presented skinny!! Thats what goals people set for them selves. Which are NOT reasonable.
    I workout insanely for fun. Its the mental chsllange to push your limits. Some people dive of a plane i work out. Dont judge people by what they do, and not eve how they are, accept who we are, and help those that need it.

  146. Kevin,
    Thank you for this post. I don’t feel alone and weird. I am a trainer too and I completely agree with you. I am tired of magazines and fad adds about how somebody should look and workout. They manipulate people with low self esteem and low self confidence. Somebody has to stop that madness and I hope there are more normal trainers like us that understand body’s and people’s needs.

  147. Great blog post,

    these pictures are a problem for a few reasons.

    1. Pictures like this widen the gap between the fit and the non-fit. It’s almost as if they say, “if you don’t look like this, get out of our gyms”.

    2. Somebody who isn’t comfortable in a fitness program may not be ready to see these images yet. Perceived fitness elitism is a real problem and it stops people from starting on their journey to fitness every day.

    3. They are usually posted by young teenage girls on tumblr who have no experience training clients or helping others embrace a life of fitness and health.

    4. 1% of the population look like the people in the photos. It is just as bad as the photoshopping done in glossy magazines. Most people just want to look like the best versions of themselves.

    5. They are only motivating to people who are already in great shape and are super fit. They would put the majority of personal training clients off.

    I hope these images stop soon. They are only encouraging the already fit and confident people but they are putting most people off.

    Love the blog post.

  148. The guy is right you NEED! to listen to your body. The pain is only in your mind thinking is why my cousin currently has two fused disks in his back. Playing High school football he took a hit on the lower back in a dog pile and when he came out told his coach that he was really hurt and was given the “walk it off, it’s just pain” line from the coach. 19 years later he is still in chronic pain

  149. I enjoyed reading this article! It was shared by my aerial hoop instructor at Melbourne

    I may have pushed myself a little too hard exactly a week ago. The result: I’m in a bus reading this article, I’ve dislocated my right shoulder/arm and can’t drive to work! I intend to
    continue the exercises I did before my injury when I’ve recovered but I’ll definitely do so with a little more caution.

  150. Reblogged this on Awesome Åshild and commented:
    You have to read this post. It’s so nice (and about time) to hear this from a guy as well (cos I am sure there’s plenty of us girls already saying it), that there is truly something wrong with this world. Use your body wisely, keep it strong and healthy, don’t overdo it, don’t set unrealistic goals and don’t be stupid about it (and I think deep down inside, a lot of us know that they are – except the ill ones perhaps).

    You only have one body – look after it so you can have it for a very long time! Yes, I know I say Something Every Day, but I don’t say run a marathon every day or you need to train at least an hour for it to count. I say Something, and that something needs to be something active. Something that makes you feel good. Not something that breaks your mind or your body down. Mental and physical training should build you up, make you stronger, healthier and happier.

    Once you’ve read it, come back and leave me a comment, would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

    1. So happy I read this. Completely agree with you that reading the perspective from a man made it interesting in a different light, and I appreciate hearing a man say these things. There is so much unnecessary “fitspiration, thinspiration” out there that in some ways I find that it demotivates me.

      We have these unachievable goals put out for us all of the time- where the real people at?!


      I push myself to do what I feel is right for my body.
      I listen to myself and I learn what I am capable of, and what I can achieve, but acknowledge that there is so much potential that I have not unlocked yet in the future.
      I feel myself getting stronger and healthier and then I see what I can do the following day, or maybe two days if I need a break.

      I want to get there and to be the best version of myself, but only if I got there in the best way for my body.

  151. Great read! It took me years to realize this, but it is so true. You don’t have to go against your body, in order to achieve your goals. You don’t have to exhaust yourself, in order to have results. You need to work smart! And truth is that the only motivation to achieve something, comes from within. Pictures with motivational quotes, can’t keep you going, if you lack the inner drive!

  152. The most inspiring image I have ever seen was about 10 years ago in a fitness magazine. It showed a rear view of a very overweight woman on an escalator with the caption “2005 (2 years from the current year) Walks the entire Appalachian trail.”

    The thought that no matter where you start from you can attain an impressive, fitness related goal has stayed with me since then. I just wish I could find a copy of that image somewhere.

  153. I will be reblogging this. I completely agree with Ashild’s comments. We should aim to do what WE PERSONALLY want to do to feel good about ourselves and that includes ignoring bullshit, manipulative propaganda like this. Everyone is an individual, it’s good to have aims and to inspire others (which many of the great blogs on WordPress do) but there is not a one size fits all approach so no-one should EVER try to make others feel bad about doing the best they can for themselves and what makes them happy. This sort of thing particularly hits people with low self-esteem to begin with (especially young people) and is potentially very damaging

  154. Reblogged this on Feel Good Challenges… and commented:
    This caught my eye – reblogged from AwesoneAshild. Anything that tries to make people feel inadequate and guilty is a no no in my book. So many youngsters, in particular, are influenced by images and sentiments like these and as the mother of two teenage daughters, one of whom has had, and is still struggling with an eating disorder, this sort of thing makes my blood boil!!

  155. Hi Garrett,

    I just wanted to say the 100% agree with everything written here. As someone who has been a dancer for 16 years and a teenager myself I see this in many of my dancing friends. These girls are becoming obsessed with having that picture perfect skinny body to the point where they won’t eat during an 9 hours rehearsal.
    I see them getting weaker, injured and extremely exhausted after just an hour in class. As someone who is on what many people would say the larger side for a dancer I am constantly getting the feeling that I am going to be put in the back for the way I look even though I am just as good as everyone else.
    The only thing which is keeping me from become obsessed with what I look like is that I am happy with how I look and I don’t want to change that. But for many out there this is not possible and they become obsessed with becoming skinnier.

  156. I really don’t like the way most fitspo is worded. I see a lot of recovering bulimics posting things like that on Instagram/their blogs & I can’t help but wonder if its all that good. Also (in relation to the very muscular female dead lifter), I agree that there is a hypocrisy behind the “strong is the new sexy” credo that basically only allows you to be one type of strong. God forbid you’re a female bodybuilder because “That’s nasty!”

  157. I read whole article and all comments. Many things came up in my mind. Nickname “Mix” wrote that ” Isn’t for example a 27% body fat, 100kg deadlift or 10 chins enough?” and “Why can’t I, a regular exercise loving young female at a healthy weight can’t be enough”. And my question is that, who are you trying to please? If you are happy with your body and your goals, then everything is okay, and you shouldn’t worry about anything else. People are taking too much stress about society, and society beauty limits. In “perfect world” everybody pleases everybody and there wouldn’t be “too fat” “too muscular” “too thin”. But that wouldn’t be perfect world.

    I am personal trainer my self and i am not trying to push every client through same mold. Different people have different goals. I have lots of overweight friends but i haven’t never given a lecture about healthier ways to live. They have heard same things from their doctor over and over. Spark to make change have to come from their own head, cause only then there can be change.

    Whole fitness thing is everywhere now. In my opinion the reason for that in my country (Finland) was new Bikini Fitness and Men’s physique competitive classes that came here. Now every second 18y old girl is writing own fitness blog and getting ready for competition. I think this is good and bad thing. It’s very good that people are finding new hobby/sports/lifestyle and are into it. But if you aren’t listening your body and don’t give rest to it, then bad things can come. But you can’t blame whole fitness for it. You can choose any thing and find stupid people from there. It doesn’t mean that whole fitness boom is bad thing.

    The vast majority of people drinks alcohol good amounts, and doesn’t do stupid things… and then there is people that shouldn’t drink even one, but they still do. Year after year. There is people that drives car reasonably… and then there is people that want’s to go full speed and doesn’t care what can happen. And the list goes on.

  158. Reblogged this on Foul Mouthed Foodie and commented:
    AMEN to this!
    I used to think that I had to punish myself to be fit or that I had to really kill it because I had to much to eat the day before. Your body is not something to be punished or pushed past what it was really meant for. A long and healthy life is far more important! Unrealistic images and goals do us all no good.

  159. I loved reading this. Thank you.
    There is so much media designed to make women feel ashamed of their bodies that sometimes I stop seeing it. Sometimes I buy into it too. Not in a considered way, just it can get to you without you really realising. Reading your post made me think hang on a minute. What is going on in my head when images like the examples you gave show up in my Facebook feed.

  160. This is excellent! I actually just wrote a post about the danger of thinking that we all need to look like those in “fitspo” photos, so I can’t wait to share this post too! The one that really gets me is the obsession vs. dedication. You are right that there is a very fine line there, and I have met a handful of fitness bloggers who are actually “pro-ana” bloggers in disguise, and it makes me sick!

  161. This is fantastic!
    As a athlete and mother of several young athletes I appreciate nothing more than someone else who feels that a person does not need to be “skinny” to portray strength or beauty.
    Thank you!!!

  162. Thanks for the great post, it was very funny too, which is no surprise, as the funniest stuff stems from truth. I’d like to point a significant viewpoint in picture #6. The bloodsuckers are claiming that it is not the body telling you to stop but the mind. The presupposition here is that there is a you outside your body and mind, and that it is either your faithful body (water, carbon etc. or “meat and shit”), the exercising consuming production machine, that is telling this external you “hey, man, relax”, or it is your mind.
    That’s plain silly.
    Another thing that may be considered silly but from which I’ve found great inspiration in life is that a person is his/her mind. Now, if you consider the statement about the mind telling “you” to stop in the light of this view, you’ll find that it does not quite “work out”. As you supposedly are the mind. So, it is signals from the body received by you, the mind. Period.

    1. You know what truly sucks about all of those advertisements? That I, a 45 year old woman who has never had an eating disorder in my life, has now fallen victim to “anorexic thinking”. I got very sick this summer and while I was sick, I was not hungry. Mind you, I was 5’9″ and 170 pounds, and a size 10. I carry my weight very well and people always thought I weighed much less! So, I began losing weight in early June because of illness and not eating. I lost 40 pounds very rapidly! I now weigh 130! My bones are sticking out, I have lost all muscle mass, and I just starve myself. Because now that I am down to this weight, I do not want to gain a single pound! It is very unhealthy and I am sending a terrible message about body image to my 16 and 18 year old daughters! I am a size 2 now and have to special order pants online because I need 2 longs. I look sick, I feel sick, yet I don’t do anything about it! People have actually asked me if I am a model! Wow! So being thin, feeling like crap, and having no muscle mass now makes me look like a model! I am not proud of this…..please do not get me wrong…..but in our society, we are told that skinny = healthy and looks good. I am now in therapy and hope to just slowly gain some muscle by doing the right things for my body.

      1. I know the feeling. I had a series of health problems in my early 20s that caused my weight to go down to around 100lbs (I am 5’6, and have always had broad hips and shoulders). I got nothing but compliments, and now that I’ve gained 40lbs and my weight is in a much healthier range, I can’t help but look at old photos of myself and wish I still looked like that. Even though I was ill, and my doctor was carefully monitoring my weight to make sure I didn’t lose any more. I KNOW this kind of thinking is destructive and unhealthy, but I can’t help it.

        I wish you the best of luck with getting healthier, and doing what’s right for YOUR body, not the body advertising tells you that you should have.

      2. I went through a divorce a couple of years ago and lost my appetite for a few months. I’m about average-tall height and dropped down to about 100lbs quite quickly. I am also older, and I was an athlete before. I lost all my hard-earned muscle mass and found myself feeling good about looking… well, weak. It took a long time for me to understand that I was on the verge of an eating disorder and what I had done to my body in the process. It took me at least two years to gain the muscle back to perform, and I look back on those pictures (way more often than I’m willing to admit) and catch myself thinking, I wish I was still that thin. I’m about 50lbs heavier now and in the best shape I’ve ever been in.. but by no means do I look like one of those fitness models. If I did, I don’t think I’d be able to do half the things I can now without a high-risk of soft-tissue damage. It makes me sick; these people have no idea what beauty and strength is.

        I wish you all the best in your recovery.

  163. Trying to use the word “silly” after all the cussing you’ve done yourself discredits your words. I think you’re an overboard person like the pictures you’re talking about. Be professional.

    1. “all the cussing”??? *five* f-bombs in a post that size!? i use far more than that (plus variations in several languages) explaining how to reinstall Windows. but seeing as it’s gotten your attention, i’d say it worked!

    2. If you think someone who says f*** is unfit to judge when something is silly, well you’re a bit silly, frankly. No offense intended, but the word you object to is a) one of the oldest words in the English language b) a word that refers to a totally innocuous and commonplace activity c) really handy for certain forms of emphasis, and d) one that many people (such as myself) grew up hearing every day, in a loving, middle-class, intellectual household. Don’t worry: reading a word can’t harm you.

    3. Yes all those professionals laying out all this image crap from their marketing departments or the chain gyms laying out pizza and bagels in their lobbies are trustworthy and professional because they don’t curse. Give me a break. You can’t handle “fuck”? Turn on your child filters.

    4. This is an interesting article and raises important questions. Thank your.

      However, why does swearing, or the lack of it, invalidate the argument? Swearing is part and parcel of human language, Chaucer and Shakespeare wrote sublimely and also filthily. Swear words, or the pursed lipped “cuss” words, refer to the more taboo aspects of a culture – in the case of the UK and probably the USA, sexual acts, sexual organs and defecation. I personally fuck and shit – and so does everyone on the planet (well, the latter anyway). so let’s celebrate our glorious mammalian animality in our unique and wonderful human language. YAY!

  164. Everyone perceives a message differently. Golden rule of communication: There are three parts to every statement; What the communicant actually says, what the they think they said and what the hearer thinks they said. I for one have gotten an enormous amounts of inspiration form these images and quotes over the past year or so. I have lost 155 pounds in the last 14 months through diet exercise (and yes I do have a life outside of those two things!) ;-). Quotes like these have kept me going along the way. I set them as wallpaper on my phone and computers. I use them as profile images on my social media and I even share them with some of the clients I train now as a personal trainer. So while some people may see them from your perspective, I understand your concern. But not everyone sees them that way. I would not share all of them with everyone I train and I do not take all of them to heart, but I also believe that as a trainer I have a responsibility to help my clients grow and improve emotionally and mentally as well (I provide life coaching services as well. if they are open to help in those areas). This helps them to be able to discern which messages they should be letting in and which they should let slip away. One of my biggest struggles when I started was with commitment and being able to push through mild discomfort, so these messages have done wonders for me! I’m not saying your point is wrong, I’m just saying that we all perceive a message differently, so you shouldn’t condemn these things just based on your perceptions alone. Part of growing, and helping others grow, is learning what we should let form us. These messages work for some people, but not others.

    1. the problem is that those messages are like oxycontin: used by the right person, they work and they work well; used by the wrong person, the damage can be devastating.

      the avid fitness buff and the dedicated gym-goer understands the message that is intended – motivation. the raw noob or the person with self-esteem seriously damaged due to “surface” issues are going to see the message put out by the image, not the words that are written – the images that say “look at this body… now look at yours… back to me… back to you… do you look like? no. can you look like this? maybe – IF you perform, what are for you, superhuman feats on a daily business. yeah – i know, right? but that’s okay – nobody expects better from a lardo.”

    2. Actually, what the person thinks they have said is irrelevant. What is said matters, not what was intended. If I say, “Push harder, lard butt!” I might intend it as motivation, or even as sarcasm, but when I use offensive language, it matters. In addition, noting these comments as irresponsible and stupid isn’t the same as saying they are ineffective motivation. Maybe you can demean someone as a means of motivation, but it doesn’t make it right.

      1. Then I would like a refund on all of my tuition for the numerous communication classes I was required to take (and trust me, there were way too many!), because what I shared IS the standard formula of communication that is taught in every class or book I have read on the topic. And, by the way, intention absolutely does matter! If a friend says to me, “Push harder, lard butt!” I know their intention is to help me through a struggle point and I will not be offended. If some meat head at the gym sees me struggling to push up the weight on a bench press and says the same thing, I don’t know their intention and I would have a reason to be offended. But that was not the point of my comment. My point was that just because it offends someone, does not mean that it offends everyone. These images, and many like them, have POSITIVELY motivated me for over a year now, without me feeling offended or demeaned one bit. So to say that someone may be offended or demeaned by these images is correct. To say that the images are offensive or demeaning is not correct. At some point people need to take responsibility for what they internalize and what they let go, it is part of growing up!

  165. Thank you so much for this! I sincerely hope it goes viral. As the mother of 3 girls I struggle every day with maintaining a proper body/self-image mindset for myself and my children. It is a complicated issue… I appreciate you helping us make it a little clearer.

  166. Most of my life I have had a keen interest in health and nutrition. I have also, due to taking care of myself and focusing on nourishing my body, been fairly slim and in general more than happy with my body – not always happy with my face(being female we always find something that’s not good enough), but zero body issues, in fact I mostly thought I had a pretty hot bod. until two and a half years ago when I started dating a guy in the CrossFit fitness industry and have now been exposed to all this propaganda. I now feel like I am utterly insufficient, I have felt compelled to push myself so hard that I have incurred some very bad injuries (which now stop me from working out at all) as I did not want to appear weak in an environment where nothing but performance is respected. I have to agree with you, all these so called inspirational images just served to highlight that no, in fact I was not in great shape and looking good, I was a weak, ab-less toad wallowing in a ridiculously high amount of body fat. The worst part is, not only women get exposed to these impossible images, but men do too. So now there is the added pressure of men no longer being satisfied with a woman who does not have visible abs and does not look like the starving fitness model on the day of competition. Intellectually, I am aware of all this and trying to separate myself from all these aspect of this world (I found your blog via ‘the whole30’ guys… they are fairly sane and normal in their outlook), but emotionally, the damage is done. I now have to try to re-learn how to love my slim, fine-boned 52kg body, it’s ridiculous that that requires conscious effort!!!

    1. Michelle! I just wanted to comment to encourage you. You are beautiful and I hope you will find it in you to love your body again very soon! I do martial arts and I am in a good shape and strong, but I also think that I look like I wallow in ridiculously high amounts of body fat compared to people from a crossfit gym next door. Reading this article and your comment makes me realize what a load of bull this “don’t stop until you are ripped” approach is. Good luck!

    2. Michelle, your words are so strong, just like you! Keep loving your body. Your post made me realise how much more I need to love mine!

  167. This is pathetic. “Hey guys don’t try hard or push yourself past your limits!! When things get difficult or painful just give up because why would you want to achieve greatness?!!!” Hey author you look like you’re about 140lbs soaking wet, have you ever done any form of strength training in your life? What makes you think you’re qualified to criticize people who strive for success and achieve it? The lion does not listen to the opinion of sheep. Go pick up a weight and quit bringing people down who are trying to better themselves.

      1. Ah, yeah. I think you have both missed the point. As he has said, he’s not against people being fit and healthy. He’s against the marketing of “fitness” in ways that are not actually healthy. Being responsive to and responsible for your body means listening to it and differentiating between strength building exercise and muscle-destroying overexercise. It means knowing when pain is discomfort, and when it is your body saying ‘one more rep and this ligament tears in a bad way.’ And it means that ‘strong is the new skinny’ should mean that ALL those who are strong and fit are seen as successful — not just the ones who are ALSO skinny, well made up, sculpted and very waxed. You are still welcome to be fit, as is he. But being fit and healthy means acting like a grown up and recognizing that: 1) bodies have limits for good reason, and while you can push them, real athletes respect and work WITH their bodies rather than against them, and 2) the value of a person does not reside in their physical form, and sole emphasis on this is part of our national culture of shallow consumerism driven by self-esteem baiting. (Please consider this last point if you are inclined to respond with some form of insult of what you imagine my own physical shape to be. You have no idea.)

    1. The point is that if you don’t listen to your body, you can seriously damage it. Almost every professional athlete suffers from some sort of chronic injury: degenerative discs, herniation, joint problems, torn muscles and ligaments and so on. Pushing yourself is important, but knowing the difference between simple fatigue and your body telling you “hey, this hurts because it is damaging” is the most important part. I go to crossfit, but I made sure to let all the coaches know that i have lower back problems and if I say “stop” it doesn’t mean i’m sissying out, it means this exercise is causing damage. I couldn’t care less that there is a guy benching twice my body weight next to me without a problem. There is so much more to life than being ripped and benching the weight of a car. Stay healthy and know your body, thats my advice.

    2. I think body-shaming the author as you rant against his article that focuses attention on, among other things, the problem of body shaming in fitness marketing was a brilliant choice, demonstrating for all who read your comments the presence of the kind of ignorance that is drawn to these irresponsible “fitspiration” posters. I think you should say more. In particular you should continue to demonstrate your lack of knowledge and understanding of physicality as you suggest that a slim man is a weak man, considering that at 5’7 and 146 pounds a bad-ass like Bruce Lee would have no problem taking apart a loudmouth gym rat like, say, you.

      Progress is made when the body is pushed past where it’s been before, but pushing it beyond its *limits* is where weakness and injury are created. What qualifies the author to speak with authority on this subject? Well, that would be his education and experience with hundreds, if not thousands, of successful fitness clients. And you? what you you, other than ignorant hyperbole and pithy phrases to offer the discussion?

  168. One last thing. None of these posters are saying you aren’t good enough unless you look like the people in the pictures. They are saying keep pushing yourself until you achieve your own goals. I see nothing wrong with any of the posters. Don;t stop until you’re proud of yourself is somehow a bad thing now?

  169. I like how my comments have been deleted when all I did was voice my opinion on the subject in a mature way. I’m sure there are many others that disagree with this article but their comments have been deleted as well

  170. Great article! Bravo!

    That being said, I ask that you reconsider this sentence: “Getting mad at your own limbs sounds less like the behavior of an Olympian and more like the crazy-eyed hobo who lives behind my building’s dumpster.”

    It’s true that many homeless individuals struggle with mental health issues. This, however, is a very real social crisis that should be considered with the same sensitivity and critical assessment that you use to discuss dysmorphic ‘fitspiration’ images.

  171. I agree that the first four and the last one have no redeeming qualities whatsoever but I do think that the sixth is just a classic case of hijacking. If my memory serves me correctly, the woman who came up with “Strong is the new skinny,” wasn’t particularly skinnyl, is strong, and seemed to care more about the strength and health than her looks. I think that it was, and still is, a good fitspiration that was too good for the people we generally despise to ignore for advertising purposes. They fucked it up.

  172. This was a good article. I read it yesterday and was really inspired by it. I also appreciate that I don’t even have the body type the women in these pictures have, but I’m 40, and young women may not be that self critical yet. When I started to try and find a body like mine I was closer to female strong man competitors and those images were inspiration for my “ideal” not the women in the posters on the gym. Mind you I fell off the wagon 4 years ago, but I’m trying to catch up with it and hop back on, at the moment.

  173. I’m a Crossfitter, I’m also an advocate of “health at every size” although I am not officially part of that movement because I believe that some amount of rational, slow, sustainable weight loss is healthy if you are obese. Boxes differ. Not every box has that same kind of machismo. I currently train alone, but I have personally seen really supportive, non-abusive environments at properly run boxes. Shouts out to Hollywood Crossfit and Golden State Crossfit Sherman Oaks. Good people. Hopefully the Crossfit program at Universal Fitness Club in Panorama City will be similarly supportive of everyone who works out, no matter their skill level.

    One thing not mentioned in the article…some of those “fitspiration” models JUICE. And I’m not talking orange or carrot. Women cannot get “ripped” in the same way men do…testosterone is amazing stuff, and it helps men shed fat and gain muscle like nobody’s business. Women’s metabolisms tend to be thriftier than men’s, too, because of the fact that women bear children, and must keep more fat stores for the purpose of gestation, birthing and lactation. One sure-fire way to change all that is to flood the body with anabolic steroids. Not healthy at all, actually I’d call it insane, but it happens.

  174. You are the first man I have seen take such a strong stand.. Thank you!! And also as a parent of a young girl who is trying to navigate through society’s and media’s F*ucked up views of women’s bodies, I have to say #2 is my favorite response. And I love number 5 for myself… I am a 45 year old mother of two teenagers… my body has changed over the years, and I have refused to comply to society by depriving myself of my husband’s amazing talents in the kitchen and our love of wine.. so guess what… at 5’7 I am 157lbs… and love my life… AND as a yoga practioner and teacher.. I can also bench press many of my students. AND I am able to show many of my male students yoga isn’t for the faint of heart or 125lber and your big ol biceps are going to get in the way…. AND I am not talking about power yoga… but real yoga.. Iyengar yoga…

    1. Real yoga? That’s funny, since yoga is about non-dualism, but yes, yes, dear, I’m sure your way of doing yoga is better than everyone else’s. Too bad for reality – dozens of senior Iyengar teachers are currently undergoing hip replacements. The last Iyengar workshop I attended, I was informed that successful home practice requires me to stand on my hand for close to 6 minutes, that successful home practice is in fact a testosterone and hormone fueled circle jerk. It is completely illogical to think that pain in the physical body is required for health in the human body. I think this article is excellent.

      1. You don’t have to keep that reply. I get tetchy about the yoga snobs (and this is not for posting either.) I did think your article was right on. Hard work and pain are not the same thing. It makes it really hard for the 85% of Americans who will have a major back pain episode in their lifetimes – that idea that the gym = pain to get rid of pain. It doesn’t have to, but these messages say otherwise.

  175. I love this!
    Thanks for posting… I’m a runner and the running industry is also notorious for pushing weight loss and dieting..

  176. I LOVED this article!!! Although some of these could be inspiration to some very well adjusted people to get healthy, to most it is demoralizing and the message they are sending is that we are not good enough (almost no one looks like this) and especially to impressionable children and teens it says that they need to do whatever it takes to look like these models or else they are not worth anything. I see this every day I go to work, so don’t tell me that it isn’t so. I work in an eating disorders center for teens!

  177. Thank you for writing this. I lost over 100lbs and have struggled with body image since becoming a trainer. It’s so easy as a former obese person to get caught up that if you take a day off you are weak, you must look ripped to be good enough, etc. Women struggle with these thoughts all the time and I’m glad more people are making it clear we don’t have to fall into these falsehoods. I sited your blog in my blog, too, because your’s is so well written.

  178. I really appreciated this article. I have an Instagram and follow many fitness related pages for inspiration. Over the course of the past two years I’ve lost 40 something pounds and 27″ total, I’ve changed my eating habits and very recently began a three day a week weight training routine because I want to build muscle to be healthy and prevent injuries as I age. I have no desire to be a size zero, and thankfully my man loves me deeply no matter what my size is; but it has been an emotional journey and whenever I see things like the images above I have to check myself. I have to stop and remind myself not to compare myself to the women in the photos I see, that instead I have to compare me to me only. It’s challenging for sure! And even though I try to be strong of mind, when someone says a rude remark to me about my size or fitness level, it still hurts and haunts me for a few days before I can finally dust it off. It is especially frustrating when you’ve come so far from where you once were like I have, only to be treated like I haven’t done a thing and “what do I plan to do to get into shape?” Can I tell you how angry that question makes me? Very! And I know, often times the ones asking have no idea where I am on my journey or how far I’ve come; but nevertheless it’s so damned depressing to have someone ask you that as if you just sit at home all day long chomping on chips and glugging down sodas and have done nothing at all to better yourself. Just yesterday I went to the gym I have access to through my work. Two people were in there the same time as me, but when it comes to my work out I’m not a conversationalist. I prefer to blast music into my ears to keep me pumped and focused. When I had completed my hour long work out I was heading out the door the same time as a past colleague. As we left he said to me, “getting back into shape huh?” I just paused a second and decided to just politely reply with “yeah, I was doing mostly cardio but now I’m adding weights.” But even this morning his comment has bothered me. Again, it felt as if losing and keeping off 40 plus pounds for the last two years was nothing because I’m still not a fitness model. Comments like that are a reason I sometimes don’t want to set foot in a gym at all. And I know I can be alone here. I’m sure plenty of others out there are too scared to go into one because they don’t want to be looked down on by all the people already toned and buff and skinny etc. Anyone who is trying to improve their health and generally take better care of their bodies doesn’t deserve to be talked down to or stared at while working out. They don’t need to feel bullied; like how dare they set foot into a gym without being fit already first. Everyone starts somewhere. Do people who have already reached their fitness goals forget that they didn’t come sliding out of their mother’s vag with giant muscles and a tan? Sheesh.

  179. I think this article is very good. I also think you can add to #2 the way they have cut half the woman’s head off because of course all tht matters is how her body looks…why would she need a head? Subtle but pervasive sexism which we see a lot in adverts. Women are their bodies and nothing more.

  180. Things like that are actually demotivational for me rather than motivational. If getting healthy and fit means torturing myself and making myself ill and in pain I’d just rather not do it at all.

  181. As a mother of a little girl I completely agree with this post. We should make this a global f***ing big fuss – in Finland there was recently a wave of normal sized (most of them kinda small) women taking pictures of themselves in undies and publishing them online. You can guess that the comments were harsh – things like “I quess you’ve never done sports in your life!” People are so distracted from the media image. I get it – they want to sell fitness centre memberships and protein shakes but what is the price? I got fit because of this influence. Then at 25 I realized that my fantasy world is photoshopped. (I realize I was more stupid than average 😀 )

    The fact is that a person can be hardworking, healthy and valuable without visible abs. You don’t feed your baby with your abs, do you? You don’t get masters degree with your abs either. Running a marathon or having those abs won’t make you happy. They can be part of it, it’s ok, but it’s not for everyone.

  182. I read this post and immediately went and did another ten reps, Just because you want an excuse to stop doesn’t mean the rest of us will.

  183. This is hilarious. You’re offended because people want to get motivated to work out? Maybe you should try it. You may enjoy it a little bit.

    Here comes the “Comment waiting moderation” or “Author is too afraid of different opinions”

      1. Does that mean you would recite this article to a stranger in a checkout line? Anyways –

        1)Most people that haven’t spent their lives in competitive sport genuinely don’t know how hard they are able to push themselves and probably because of that don’t work hard enough (or know precisely how hard they can). Pushing your body is as much a skill as anything (thinking included).
        2)The statement does not force anyone to only be proud of one particular image of themselves as you insist.You can be proud of your body in any state and it’s reasonable that the ad would choose an individual that can widely be acceptable as fit/attractive/whatever.
        3)Is a largely true statement. You try to dismiss statement with one of the worst possible associations to ‘obsession’ to prove your point. Does not make the argument stronger to only point out worst-case-scenarios.
        4)See #1. While I agree that exercising to the point of vomit and tears on a daily basis =/= healthy, it’s not a bad thing to push to your limits once in a while if not just to see where those limits are.
        5)Those are 3 different ads juxtaposed to suit your argument. Regardless they are in fact 3 skinny (by American standards, probably average elsewhere) that also have good muscle tone which is in line with the message. C’est la vie.
        6)See #1. And for F sake I hope you were the only one who immediately thought of rape after seeing that ad.

  184. Reblogged this on Sly Fawkes and commented:
    There is a difference between trying to be your best and trying to live up to an impossible standard.
    Sadly, many lives are damaged or even destroyed by the impossible standard. Hence the increase of steroid use in athletes, including at the high school level. Hence the increase of dangerous weight loss surgery and the use of questionable methods to achieve the “perfect” body.
    It is not about getting healthy, it’s about looking a certain way. These tactics are not healthy.

  185. I suffer from Anorexia Nervosa. I am on the road to recovery, and I work out quite a lot (for the right reasons…Like..You know…Health, and rebuilding the body I destroyed). It gets really annoying when I see this bullshit (along with the thinspo we are exposed to in every day life) all the while trying to battle the demons in my head that will me to workout on an empty stomach, become as small as possible, and remain undeserving of love, happiness, or success. This blog post is genius. Over exercising and equating what fitspo sees as “health” is just another form of self-harm. People need to read this, this needs to go viral. It’s awesome, keep doing what you’re doing.

  186. This would make a wonderful “Cracked” article, and may even reach a wider audience. Which would help get this rather important message out there. I didn’t know hypergymnasia even existed until now.

  187. I really wanted to like this article, but I don’t think I can.
    I get the idea that one or two of them might make someone of a weaker mind buy into the idea that you need to be puking on yourself in order to call yourself a hard worker. That happens, and I get it. But I think it is a little dramatic to say that you are downright “shocked” and “f*ck whoever made this” for posters that just encourage people to try and be their best. Too many people stop when it gets hard, or before that even, and I think that most of those posters are great reminders to push yourself beyond what you think your limit is. I see people in the gym all the time who stop because “I think I’m going to be sick”, get pushed to keep going and never become sick but walk out feeling accomplished. That is not everyone, again I understand, but still.
    Yes, should the “strong is the new skinny” include Powerlifters and StrongWomen? Yes. But you have to deal with the fact that if a toned and sexy woman will entice more women to pick up a DB, and honestly, anything that will get more women in the weights area is a good thing if you ask me. Maybe if this article held less explosive contempt, I would like it more.
    And for the “father of a young girl” side of you, trust me…these posters aren’t going to mess with her, its all the magazines that exclude the women above that will.

    1. LWhen we were young we ruined our own self images by skimming magazines. Girls don’t buy magazines anymore and they dsont have to because the one type of woman that is acceptable is pervasive in our culture. She is everywhere, on billboards, the internet, movies, television and fitspiration posters. The point is the diversity of what a woman looks like is nowhere and none of these places is too sacred to attack for not representing all bodies.

  188. Great post! I particularly enjoyed your deconstruction of “strong is the new sexy”… For a while, I was somewhat taken with this phrase (as a not-too-skinny but very active cyclist who enjoys crunches as much as ice cream as much as dancing in stilettos) after receiving it in the form of a tee shirt as a gift. But something didn’t sit right. It’s the same thing that doesn’t sit right when people say, “Confidence is sexy.” Why can’t confidence simply be healthy? Or cool? Or awesome? Why does sex have to be brought in to it? And there’s a certain sexual economy that goes on. Sex sells. Therefore strong sells. Therefore confidence sells. Why would you want to “sell” yourself at all? Confidence and strength are ends in and of themselves. Not means with which to “buy” some sort of social credibility or acceptance.

  189. Some really interesting and thought provoking points. Loved the banter back an forth about swearing. The bottom line is, if you leave it out, your information appeals to and will be spread to more people. But hey, its a free country! Do what you want.

  190. Why pick it apart if it doesn’t inspire or motivate you? The reality is that these do motivate people like me who have lost 100 lbs or more and feel amazingly confident, strong an empowered by the physical and mental strength gained in their process to transform their body but ended up changing their entire frame of mind! If it is not for you, bypass it, but please don’t discourage people from becoming what they want to be!

    1. The point is that it *can be harmful* – the messages may “inspire” people to push to the point of injuring themselves. Congratulations on losing 100lbs, I’m glad these images actually motivated someone to do something healthy. IMHO they are still body shaming and potentially harmful, but i’m entitled to think that just as you are entitled to your own thoughts.

      1. I agree with Jaime. I am about to totally hyperbolize, bear with me: it’s kind of similar to spinning in quick circles, blindfolded, holding a gun, and then shooting. You have no idea who you’re going to hit. You could hit a street sign or an empty parked car (minimal effect / consequence). You could hit a serial killer or rapist (not that I’m enforcing capital punishment – that’s an entirely different matter). OR, you could hit an innocent bystander.
        I am telling you, these kinds of “fitspo” and “thinspo” pictures can be DEADLY for someone who suffers from an ED, and I say this as someone recovering from Anorexia & Bulimia Nervosa, as well as Hypergymnasia. When I first started recovery, I wasn’t allowed to go to the gym, but seeing things like this were HUGE triggers for me. There are people in even worst stages of their ED who are NOT seeking treatment, and seeing those images could lead to a chain-series of life-threatening events. And people who are not ready to seek treatment often go out looking for these pictures. I know I did.
        I’m not trying to downplay your accomplishment, S. McFadden; I think it’s terrific, and you should indeed be proud. However, I believe that motivation to do something similar to what you did should come from the knowledge that you are a GOOD, IMPORTANT, and BEAUTIFUL person, just because you are. Knowing that you are a human being with value should help you to also know that you deserve to be happy with what your body can do for you. If exercising a little more and eating differently will help you to do this, then it’s something to consider.
        Just had to emphasize: Fitspiration and Thinspiration can be deadly, and I really wish they didn’t exist.

    2. I have to say i agree. yes these messages are often seen as over the top and too excessive, suggesting people to push themselves beyond their physical limits, but instead of suggesting (like at the end of this article) that if you end up sore from a work out that you change your routine, keep on going. sore is normal after a workout, puking is not, collapsing is not, but sore is. i have to say that these kinds of statements found in the images don’t work in a negative way but actually help a lot of people achieve their goals, whether it is loose weight or gain muscle. The recent movement/trend for people to turn to fitness, sports, running, and things such as nike+, i have to say are some of the most positive trends that i have ever seen. so please, consider rephrasing some statements, yes, accepting who you are is of the greatest priority, but don’t discourage physical improvement.

  191. Really, THIS is why I don’t even try. I recently saw an ad for a weight loss product that featured a skinny woman on her shoulders/elbows, feet in the air, trying to put a pair of jeans I can only assume are in a child’s size because they were not going to fit over her butt. The message: even if you are skinny, you still aren’t skinny enough, so use our product. I guess? I found it offensive. I was fat-fit for a long time but the culture and the stares at the gym and my body just not going below a certain size or weight – I just gave up. I’m just going to live with being me. I really don’t care what my body can or can’t do as long as I can still get up the stairs, take my kids to the park, have fantastic sex, and wipe my own ass.

    1. If this is why you “don’t even try”, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you want to be more fit, be more fit. Don’t let anything (on either end of the spectrum) sway you.

  192. Great article. I couldn’t agree more. A few years ago I had several friends who got into Crossfit on a very large scale. Now it seems like that’s all they want to do; work out. Talking to them is very similar to talking to someone who has joined a cult. I have a degree in human biology and have worked in a body/health industry for twelve years so when I saw them doing things with weights that were troubling I said something. You would have thought I tried to shoot the Pope. Suddenly I was a wimp (I was a competitive Muay Thai fighter for years by the way), I was unhealthy, lazy, etc etc….basically every underhanded attack you can think of all because I pointed out some ways their work out could impact their cervical spines. I really think some of this new wave of gymaholics are in for some surprises as they get older and their joints, backs, etc begin refusing to play along with them anymore. Pictures and propaganda like these certainly don’t help. Thanks for drawing some attention to this issue.

    1. Well said, I have recently had back surgery (45 years old) and to watch people in Crossfit or just in the gym doing ridiculous damage to their bodies and especially their backs is disconcerting. They will be paying an unbelievable price one day soon.

  193. Omigosh, the comments of all the gym rats are so funny. Good for you for doing another ten reps after reading the article, yo. After I read this article I spent some time cuddling with my toddler, made dinner and checked the school work of my three homeschoolers, then went and did some work in my home office for the successful business I own. Oh, and went for a walk, since the only important thing someone can do is squeeze as much physical activity into their day as possible. Gimme a break!

  194. I’m not offended by the cursing, but I am offended by the stigmatization of mental illness and the use of the mentally ill as an example of all that is grotesque and horrible. Really not helping, dude. I like the body-positivity, but could we get that sort of respect for people in general? Not cool, not acceptable. You’re making fun of mentally ill people. EVERYONE deserves respect, especially people who are fighting their own battles with diseases the same way anyone with a physical malady does. We don’t exist to make you feel better about yourself by comparison, and we sure as hell don’t exist so that you can dehumanize us by comparing all your enemies to us.

    1. A few people have mentioned this, Jesse, and I want you to know that it was in no way my intention to disrespect or downplay the struggles of the mentally ill. I appreciate your feedback and will take it into consideration in my future writings.

      1. I didn’t think you were insensitive You were just pointing out how dangerous this kind of thinking could be. If anything its these ridiculous posts that are insensitive to people’s metal health and praying on their insecurities.

      2. I retread this, I don’t think there is anything offensive in here – maybe it is how you read it? Bipolar girl here, 100% supportive of this article.

    2. He is not at all making fun of mentally ill people. He’s saying that what advertising is doing is just exacerbating their illness. He is saying that their illness is a very real problem, and that things like hypergymnasia and anorexia are not to be taken lightly. These advertisements make it worse for people that have these disorders, making them think they have a logical reason to do what they are doing. I thought what he said what extremely sympathetic.

    3. Thats the thing, he’s not making fun of mentally ill people, he’s making fun of the advertisements which are provoking people to become mentally ill.

    4. I’m mentally ill as well (Borderline Personality Disorder) and have a close friend who used to be anorectic. And I don’t regard anything in the article as insulting towards us. In fact I find it brilliant, as in my eyes it’s a bit like a warning sign or a raised finger saying: “Careful, may cause harm.”

      I’ve been VERY close to being a gymaholic myself. One hour intensive training 3x (or more) a week wasn’t enough. I raised it to 2 hours per sitting, until I sometimes felt like puking…. I can tell you: NOT a pleasant feeling (add to that 2 damaged knees from an accident). I didn’t lose the weight I wanted to, I was constantly hungry. Luckily I got out of that habit (partly thanks to my knees shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”) and yeah… all the adds with pretty, slim, “well-proportioned” and muscular people does NOT help one’s self esteem. One day I’d like to see a fitness add with a NORMAL person.

      THUMBS UP for a brilliant article 😀

      1. i posted this comment on my facebook page when this article was shared. figured i’d post it here too.

        good article, but his stats on anorexia are wrong. he cites the morality rate for Anorexia Nervosa the DSM diagnosis, then cites the prevalence for EDNOS. So, once again, amateur writing misinforms. If you took his stats seriously there would be, for instance, 800,000 women in the US alone who will die of anorexia in the next 20 years. This is preposterous.

        The actual prevalence of anorexia nervosa–the strict DSM diagnosis–is something like 0.3% for women. He is correct about the morality rates for this strict diagnosis.

        1. These statistics are taken directly from the The National Association for Anorexia and Associated Disorders:

          Here’s a quote from the page that explains the variability of reported mortality rates: “Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that compromised a person’s health.”

    5. How on earth did you decide that the author was making fun of the mentally ill, when it was obvious his message is “mental illness is a serious problem, fitness marketing should not be doing things that might contribute to it”?

    6. I am not sure what makes you feel that this article is insulting to the mentally ill. Could you point to anything specific that gives you that impression? It would help me avoid inadvertently hurtful statements.

  195. Dude. You need to go do some yoga and relax. We are all adults, and even children have a common sense ability to understand the ‘bigger picture’ here. I won’t go through your six examples or argue, however this is all opinion; yours. Do you believe we are all idiots?

    1. I believe that a lot of people don’t have the education or knowledge to differentiate between what is real and what the media is launching in their face every second of every day. Pre-teens and teenagers don’t have that ability to analyze and judge and these types of messages mold their confidence and body image, sometimes they grow out of it and sometimes they don’t. Yes these are opinions but it has been proven time and time again that media affects people, especially young people and the uneducated.

    2. Advertisers wouldn’t create manipulative messages like these if they didn’t prove to be successful at manipulating a significant number of people.

  196. Your offer a bunch of perceived problems but no solutions.

    Most Americans are obese and health care costs are astoundingly high.

    What would you have them do?

    1. Uh, certainly not turn into hyper-fitness freaks until they’re puking all over themselves.

      How about start to feel like being obese makes them no less of a person, which leads to self love, which THEN leads to wanting to take care of oneself? Rather than shaming them into pushing past their realistic limits, and feeling like shit when they can’t keep up with the fitness freaks?

      This is irresponsible marketing. There are positive, responsible, HEALTHY ways to promote HEALTH. These examples are, as this blogger articulates, horrifyingly psychotic.

    2. Walking, moving every 20-30 minutes, restorative exercise, gardening, dancing with friends, housework. Participating and engaging in life without being made to feel that unless you’re an Olympian you’re nothing.

    3. I’m pretty sure these adds aren’t helping them either…perhaps these adds are suggesting that they just stop eating and buy a set of weights and all their problems will be solved. Save money and lose weight. Healthy success. Not.

  197. man i can’t stand this type of click bait.
    it’s so ridiculous to take a bunch of posters with short phrases and then torture their interpretations till they’re semantically unrecognizable from what they said and then profess to be righteously angry about them!

    saying ‘get angry that you are tired’ is exactly NOTHING like setting your house on fire because you’re cold. no reasonable person would interpret that to mean that they should push themselves to their absolute ultimate physical limit on any given wednesday when they’re in no danger. suggesting that is just silly. backing it by saying that stressing your body routinely is a ‘massive problem’ in the fitness industry and not citing any data is equally disingenuous. you know what’s a much bigger problem than overtraining? obesity and heart disease! like, several orders of magnitude larger!

    saying ‘don’t stop till you’re proud’ is not equivalent to saying you should be ashamed. i agree that the picture is suggestive to set next to these words but i actually think it’s just as foolish to get mad about the fact that sex sells. sex sells! you’re not brilliant for pointing out that a sexy model often accompanies advertisements for psychological effect.

    intimating in an add, that obsessed is a just a word other people use for dedicated is not tantamount to passively accepting anorexia. again this is a totally disingenuous and tortured interpretation of an eleven word ad! and it’s doubly phony to cite stats about anorexia as if your real concern is women’s health. i agree that anorexia and body image is a problem. a huge problem. but to act like these 11 words endorse it is just stupid. and again, if it’s a problem, it’s an order of magnitude smaller than the problems associated with obesity and heart disease. should i take this blog post to mean that the other doesn’t care about those problems? that he condemns people with those afflictions to their lot and would never encourage them to change through their own actions, which may be difficult or may be considered obsessive? i probably shouldn’t, but that’s just because i don’t believe in attributing a bunch of attitudes to someone that they probably don’t have just cause i read a couple words online.

    number, same as number one.

    number five, same as number two. and again, the author says he’s ok with skinny people, but seems to be doing some hard core snarking on these women. who cares if they’re skinny and sexy and strong? as before, you’re not brilliant for recognizing that sex sells.

    number six. geeeeze this is the perfect example of just torturing text so you can get mad at it. if this sounds ‘rapey’ to you then i think it’s a rorschach test that says way more about you than the ad. what is the implication in the argument too? stop every time your body hurts? this is just unmitigated bullshit! every athlete knows that there is at least some value in pushing through pain and that it’s physically and psychologically satisfying to do something you didn’t think you could do. would the other author of this post suggest that that’s not true at all?! never push yourself when your body wants to quit? you are obsessed and psychologically unfit and even a little ‘rapey’ if you want to push past your body’s limits? there is no way that kevin moore as a fitness pro and a martial artist has never ever felt the joy of pushing past his limits. if other people are more into that pushing than you, so what? you think that there is an exact prescribed amount that you should push and you know it but no one else does?

    and just on this contemporary practicing of feigning indigence by getting mad at sound bites that comes straight from the playbook of a fox news pundit: to me it would be exactly the same as if i took reembody’s byline and got real upset.
    ‘you are stronger than you think’? should i be mad at this? does that mean i should value strength? what if i’m not strong? should i be ashamed? why doesn’t it say you are smarter than you think? why does it have a picture of a thin, in shape white male on there? i can’t identify with that! i can’t compete with the standard of fitness this guy has, nor do i have the professional photography gear lighting and photoshop skills to make myself look that good in a picture. should i be enraged at this?

    only if i need to write a click-bait blog post.

  198. Don’t dis the “strong is the new skinny”. You do understand, as someone who used to struggle with disordered eating, I wasn’t a size 14 but it sure wasn’t healthy being an underweight size 00 (for me – not good). Yeah, those women are “slender” (we don’t like the connotation of the word “skinny”) but they are most certainly strong. People should embrace the body they were born with and work to achieve the healthiest, strongest state for them. People are different, and as much as you think they are judging the strong women who don’t have six packs, you are judging them for having one.

    I don’t have a six pack but I work for what I have, and am proud of the progress I have made to put on 25 pounds of muscle. I am also proud of the “mental toughness” that transcends the weight room into my daily life that I get from pushing through when my mind tells me to quit. Not overtraining, and not going past my limit (my coaches keep an eye on us to make sure of that), but not letting myself say “I can’t” when I just “don’t want to” is where progress is made.

    Allowing people to be who they are and strive to be the best version of themselves is all we can ask, and is all those “motivational quotes” are trying to say.

  199. With the 2 personal trainers I have ever had, I have puked, cried and sobbed uncontrollably for 20 minutes after the session. I just assumed it was all me, my weakness and my crap personality that was stopping me from getting fit. I didn’t acknowledge how much fitness I already had, the unrealistic goals I was setting for myself, and the unchecked power I was allowing this fitness crazed person to exert over me! Thank you, thank you, thank you for debunking the power of these kind of slogans, bodies and philosophies – they still fill me with shame when I read them, but now I can have a little chuckle because yes, “crawling on the floor weeping while you puke all over yourself is not healthy.” And I’m not a failure if I get the shakes just thinking about going back to a gym, because the gym represents a place where I either go hard to the point of puking, or go home ashamed for not trying hard enough. Not any more – I’m proud of just looking after my body. You’ve done a great service here, thank you.

  200. Finally. An article that makes me laugh at these types of “motivational”/”inspirational” image-messages. It is so hard to get RID of messages and images like “strong is the new sexy” when the women in the photos are typically fitness models who have been surgically enhanced and photo-shopped. Like many others have posted, I am a healthy young woman, standing 5’5″ and coming in at 155 lbs, I love my body for the first time in my life (I’m in my mid-twenties) and I still struggle on a daily basis with body image, and LITERALLY plan every single meal/calorie around what my physical routine will be that day, and that comes from the societal pressure I have felt since I was 11 years old to be skinny because that’s what was valued. I’m not skinny, but I’m an athlete. I’m strong, muscular and lean and I’m happy that way.

  201. If these fitspo statements were honest, they’d say “Better yourself through self abuse and by abusing others!” The fitspo people I’ve met tend to be extremely emotionally abusive towards anyone who suggests their lifestyle might not be healthy.

    1. Indeed! A point I make. They also post pictures of those they consider to be ‘fat’ or ‘lazy’ to mock them. Or post fb status updates about the fastfood joint they just drove fast. Their obsession about what other people are doing is scary. And yes, it’s like a cult. If you leave, or indeed don’t wish to join, you are ‘lazy’, ‘unmotivated’ etc.

  202. I see your point and dont at all think you are disparaging or making fun of the mentally ill. As a pediatrician who sees young girls struggle with these issues and constantly have to battle the mixed messages they get from society – I have to say, This is truth. Those behaviors are indeed abnormal and should not be encouraged or ignored. We work hard to embrace, reaffirm our patients and let them know that while the behaviors are unhealthy, they are not their behavior. They are so much more than that and can rise above. Also thank you for pointing out all the nonsense that we have as a culture become so desensitized to.

  203. So every time I’m doing an exercise, I should stop as soon as it starts to hurt? Hmm… I wonder how anybody could ever work past that pain and get any better.

    1. I have started jogging half a year ago and couldn’t even run half a kilometre back then. That was no problem as I just took a break when I was exhausted and just walked until I could run another half a kilometre. I didn’t work out more than half an hour per session and never more than three times a week.
      There were times when I wouldn’t work out for 2-3 weeks but I did never really quit.
      But now, because I worked out slowly and steadily, never hurting myself and always stopping when my body said “come on, it’s enough for today!” or even “you’re too tired today, just rest!” I can now run 5km in one go, within 40 minutes on a hilly route.

      You really don’t need to overexert yourself to achieve something.

      Now within the next six months I just want to get faster and I know that I will achieve it because I run 3 times a week the same route and in my online statistics I can already see that I get automatically faster. Then, when I have a good pace I will do longer runs until I can hit the 10km in a healthy way :)

      All this with about 2 hours per week training my body. (okay, well, soon I’ll hit 3 hours)

  204. I’m not too familiar with #fitspiration but I dig the article. Only thing I really disagree with is #6. To me it only sounds “rapey” or “creepy” because of your own translation of it. Maybe the “shut up” part sounds aggressive. If we’re strictly talking about obsession issues, and body image issues, then I get it. Otherwise I don’t think it fits. As an athlete, moving beyond the mental and emotional blocks that arise when exercising hard is a meditative experience, and certainly not much else more fulfilling than knowing you’re always capable of at least a little more. It’s empowering. Pushing yourself doesn’t mean you’re necessarily crying in a puddle of puke or that you’re a “poor sucker”.

  205. I really enjoyed this critique. It’s great to see I’m not the only one who thinks exercising to and even past the point of pain, tears and vomit is unhealthy. The issue of media manipulation of women’s self-image is nothing new, but these examples are particularly heinous. Thanks especially for the “ripped is the new skinny” discussion. Great humor in here too–had a good chuckle over the bikini wax comment and am still laughing out loud over “confused about how to wear pants.” I often see teenage girls imitating this style with their shorts, and it makes my stomach turn.

  206. Thanks so much for this excellent critique. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks exercising to or even past the point of pain, tears and vomit is unhealthy. The media’s assault on the self-esteem of women and girls is nothing new, but I appreciated your attacks on the particularly heinous examples here. Still laughing out loud at the bikini wax and “confused about how to wear pants” comments. Sadly, I often see teenage girls wearing their shorts rolled up and down to the point wear there is little left to the imagination. Thanks also for the pic of Kristin Rhodes. I have to wonder, though, if she vomits when she works out. Could you get to be that freaking strong and not?

  207. Every inspirational speech, every inspirational image won’t be seen through the objective view of yours. Instead you will see these images, read these text and associate them with your subjective view of the subject. For some it’s inspirational, for others it’s insulting and offensive. Reading or viewing any type of image requires that you look at it with a nip of salt, read between the lines and use your critical thinking to find the inspirational meaning behind it.

    In the end, all of these inspirations allows people to gain the strength to keep pushing, this also means to push within reason. Health is about pushing the right amount. People who writes these understands this, that is what I would assume anyway.

  208. I’ve been underweight my whole life, and on my road to recovering from MS attacks that put me on crutches (and occasionally in a wheelchair) I have started doing progressive calisthenics/bodyweight training. Training by myself, I have been able to go at a healthy pace, gain muscle/strength/stamina/balance/coordination and I’m now the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life (at 30, and only getting healthier). . .but I’ve not seen this element of training culture, aside from some “REAL MAN! RAWWR!!” chauvinism in “Convict Conditioning” which I thought was just a little silly.

    Thanks for this article. It seems to illustrate Mr. McKenna’s sentiment “culture is NOT your friend” very well.

  209. I agree that unfortunately many female fitness models present themselves overly and unnecessarily sexually, which is due to the fact that most of them don’t get paid and therefore need to attract sponsors by attracting as many “fans” as possible. And on the internet, the easiest way for an attractive woman to make a quick buck is to get naked. That’s a shame, but it’s a whole other debate for another day.

    Now, I can’t help but shake my head at how quick you are to both generalize and over-analyze. You simultaneously imply that most media users are incapable of viewing these images critically while you dissect a general message into its negative bits and pieces with no regard for the good aspects of it. Yes, one CAN interpret the above images the way you did. But messages/quotes of motivation tend to be “broad brush strokes”, not just regarding fitness. Life, death, love, whatever – google quotes or images thereof and some will be just as inappropriate to some people. These kinds of images/quotes actually NEED to be somewhat over the top in order to appeal (or not appeal) to a mass audience. That is because they’re meant to allow every single person who views them to take away from them whatever applies to them personally, whether it’s inspiration or disapproval. I’ve looked at hundreds of the “strong is the new skinny” kind, thinking “I want abs and legs like that!” but they never ever made me want to get breast augmentation surgery or pose provocatively. THAT kind of self-confidence and ability to reflect is what PARENTS need to plant and nurture in their children, which I’m glad you do. However, you cannot collectively parent the internet by condemning fitspiration. I mean, you can, but it comes across as little more than a rant.

    Moving on, there is a significant difference between “I can’t physically do this exercise, but I’m gonna do it anyway even though it will hurt me” and “Meh, I don’t want to do this exercise because it pushes me out of the comfort zone that is my couch.” The former is bad, but the latter is all too common in our obesity riddled society.

    I appreciate and share a lot of your concerns regarding how the fitness industry works and even manipulates at times, but I’m not a fan of being all “anti” about it.

  210. I love THIS ARTICLE, I have shared and added the link to my own. My husband has been involved in the fitness industry for 30 years, and had successful businesses in it. So I am speaking from experience and my knowledge of the people when I make my comments here: I know women who compete who have replaced one eating disorder with another. Whose hair is falling out. Who don’t have periods. Who take so much caffeine they are up all night with panic attacks. The comment about a ‘cult’ is correct.

    I completely agree that these negative attitudes exacerbating mental; health problems. I was once addicted to dieting and these diet supplements. Now guess that? I am happy, I am not aiming to look like a plastic ideal. I want to be fit and healthy within my range (I have chronic pain and M.E to name two conditions). I was told by an idiot with a ‘personal training’ certificate to do more weights and cardio, and eat clean to ‘cure’ myself. My husband has 30 years of experience! I think I would ask him not a 20 year old!

    Why do we never see the powerlifting woman, the size 16 yoga expert, the size 14 runner? The industry is about ££££ and image. The constant selfies placed on twitter and instagram. The constant surveillance of their own and others eating habits.

    I look forward to reading your future blogs. This one is great.

  211. thank you! as the mom of two daughters i’m offended by all the ‘strong is the new skinny’ crap – guess what? what they are saying is “it’s still skinny, it’s all about the skinny, be skinny, be skinny” …i’m fit, i run, do strength training, have a resting heart rate of 43 but nope, i’m not skinny. i’m like most 45 year old moms, i’m just average. thanks for taking the time to go through these messages – i’m showing this to my girls as it sheds light in such a dark, scary area…

  212. Found this from a FB link on Love, Life, Surf and I’m going to share it too. As a mother to two daughters, I want them to grow up with REALISTIC expectations about what it means to be fit and healthy. BS like just continues to undermine all of the truly positive, inspirational messages out there.

  213. You’ll see what you want to see in these ads.
    I find them motivational as with many people I know
    Others will find it insulting
    Others will find it refreshing
    In the end the only person who you have to answer to is yourself and if you want to bash other people’s way of life and mechanism of motivation, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it.
    I’d rather strive hard in a passion such as fitness whether cross fit, running or weight training than sit with my thumb up my ass bashing people who followed what they believe to the point they can flaunt it. Good on them. Shame on you.
    Also ‘strong is the new skinny’ is not ‘skinny skinny skinny’. I feel bad that you’ve had to live through being put down, I’m sure, but while these women have low body fat they also have a great amount of muscle that was hard earned through nutrition and exercise UNLIKE the ‘skinny skinny skinny’ movement which pushes a lack of nutrition and being thin by any mean necessary – muscle and athletic ability having no bearing in the skinny skinny skinny movement.

  214. I see and agree with your point, but I think you’re leaving out a little bit of grey. Which (turning things into black and white) is basically what these fukkerd-up “motivational” posters do. The grey is this: sometimes it depends on WHY you’re working out, or WHAT you’re doing. If you are a professional or aspiring performing athlete (vs. someone who just wants to “look good”), or if you’re in a race/competition (and you’re competing at a competitive level), sometimes you do have to talk yourself out of, or ignore that voice in your head that is saying it’s too hard, you should quit, etc. For example, the couple of times I dropped out of a bike race because I was feeling intimidated, or “just not having a good day”, the first thing I felt when I put my foot down on the ground was regret. This taught me to a) push through these feelings and counteract them (which sometimes worked by getting mad at myself), but also to b) learn how to read my body and recognize when it was something beyond just a bad day– i.e., sickness, overtraining, or, in one case, heat exhaustion. It was good thing when I stopped to avoid heat exhaustion. Same thing in the gym or doing intervals. Especially intervals. Riding a bike up a hill a a pace with the single purpose of putting out as much energy as you absolutely can for 5 minutes is NEVER fun, and whatever self-talk or self-abuse it took some days to complete that workout was what it took. But it was worth it (to me) because it minimized the “not having a good day, in fact this sucks” feeling during races. And puking. Yes, glorifying puking is silly. But it did happen to me once, after I finished a time trial (which is you against the clock, so, whatever self-encouragement and/or trash-talking or chasing telephone poles is what gets you to the finish line). I wasn’t proud of puking, and I wasn’t going for that goal, but I WAS proud that I had pushed myself as hard as I absolutely could- while I didn’t win the race, I was satisfied with my effort. THAT made me feel good.
    But, with that competition caveat, I completely agree with you– in general, these posters are not being hung up to encourage athletes to work harder, but to send messages to people who are exercising for health/fitness/”skinnyness” that they need to try harder because they’re slackers and they suck and “if these people can do it, you can, too.” And more failure to reach silly/dangerous goals is not going to improve anyone’s health, either physical or mental. Thanks for the thoughtful essay.

  215. Basically? F*ck “fitspiration.” You know what real fitspiration is? Seriously, I just found this today, and the first thing I thought of was this post:

    That’s fitspiration. When someone runs because it clears her head and helps her diagnose problems with machines she’s building, that’s what it sounds like. When a pretty blonde woman says she keeps going at mile 21 because she doesn’t “want to be a quitter,” that’s what it looks like. It does not look like a porno shot of someone’s assh*le, okay? It’s what it gives her above the neck that matters, not below the neck.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t care how anyone spins this in some pro-feminist way, there is just no way to care so damned deeply about what other people think of you and call yourself “strong.” And that’s what most of this “fitspo” bullsh*t is: “I’m a stwong woman! And I put myself through hell to make boys like me!” Yeah, aren’t you just Eleanor f*cking Roosevelt. These are nothing but quotes about strength plastered over photos that — sorry for the inconvenient truth — communicate very clearly that nothing matters more to a woman than appealing to men.

    Nope. Can’t have both. I’m sure that that astronaut likes appealing to her husband, of course. (Although that’s not why she runs, is it?) One can be a strong woman and enjoy that.

    One cannot be a “strong woman” and care more about what shows up in the mirror than anything else. One cannot be a “strong woman” and put oneself through hell to look like porn. One cannot be a “strong woman” and care so f*cking much about what men think of you that you’re willing to put yourself through hell.

    Whoops, am I being judgmental? Too damned bad. The emperor has no clothes, people. If my “fitspiration” consists of choosing between an interview of a (pretty blonde) astronaut with more degrees than you can shake a stick at who is currently flying around the planet in low-Earth orbit or a closeup of some nameless idiot’s assh*le, I’ll take the first, thanks. I’m not a proctologist.

    Anyhow. That was quite a rant, but oh well. “Fitspo” is f*cking pathetic.

    1. “One cannot be a “strong woman” and care more about what shows up in the mirror than anything else. One cannot be a “strong woman” and put oneself through hell to look like porn. One cannot be a “strong woman” and care so f*cking much about what men think of you that you’re willing to put yourself through hell.”

      This is quotable, my friend. Brilliant!

      1. I wonder how many people will see this and deliberately distort what I said so that they can conclude that I’m saying only weak women like to look nice.

        “Enjoying looking nice” is not the same as “putting yourself through mental and physical hell because what shows up in the mirror is all that you think matters about you.”

        1. Probably sooner than we might wish. The meaning I take from this, however, and what I thought you were saying, was that real strength, which extends well beyond just physical, but includes the intellectual and emotional, means that a person is not driven by a need to be externally validated or judged by our most shallow aspects. It was the right thing to say, and you said it well.

  216. How about some ads that show women and men with real bodies that are actually healthy? I think the only one that does it right:

    These women may still be photoshopped a little, but at least they have real bodies! I even found my body on there. 😀 I’m not saying all women are beautiful, or all women are perfect as they are, but that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. I’m surprised you didn’t cover this one: Which I think is worse. I love how that make it sound like if you skip the pizza, you’ll have hipbones and collarbones like that. In whose f*cking universe? My body isn’t built like that. I have an @ss that goes on for miles, and I’m 6’0″ tall. I have child-bearing hips. I will NEVER be a size zero unless I’m dying. A healthy weight for my body is 165 pounds. I am at 185 pounds. I am working hard to change my diet and exercise routine to lose about 15 of those pounds. Why? Because I feel the extra weight since I’ve put it on. Because my back hurts when I don’t exercise enough. Because I like my bowels to work properly.

    Not because some jackhole on the internet told me my definition of my own body isn’t what society finds sexy. My boyfriend finds me hot. I find me hot. And that, ladies, is all that matters. This isn’t a change the world campaign, this is changing how you view yourselves. You moms may hate your cellulite, but I bet there’s a little girl or boy in your life whose “definition of beauty starts with the word mom.” I bet you hate that your hips are a little too wide, or your skin isn’t perfect. I bet you hate that the girl on the bus next to you has perfect hair and yours is not.

    You’re forgetting how many people find you beautiful, not because they are blind to your so-called flaws, but also because they accept and love you, flaws and all. If you think you are fat, you may be, but you may not be. Next time you look in the mirror, don’t think “I wish I was skinny,” but think, “I wish I was healthy. What can I do today to be healthier?”

  217. Thanks for writing this! I totally agree – even though these pictures can inspire people to get fit, they are irresponsible. I don’t understand why people who lose a lot of weight suddenly find that they’ve “been through it all” and that everyone must be able to do it since THEY were able to do it. It is a holier-than-thou attitude I would be glad to stop seeing.

  218. I was excited to read a funny tear down of this phenomenon, but I’m disappointed by your “crazy-eyed hobo” comment. Many people with mental illness are homeless due to the effects of their illness. “crazy” and “hobo” are both really stigmatizing choices in language and I had a hard time getting past that to enjoy the rest of the writing.

  219. Loved this! Thanks for posting. With so many people with body issues, the last thing you want to hear is that you aren’t good enough, and, that if you aren’t barfing, you are doing it wrong. I think they should have inspirational posters saying ‘you are enough’, ‘you are doing great’, ‘keep it up’, ‘you are beautiful inside and out’. Just because someone can get their abs looking like a ham or have turkey thighs doesn’t make that the ideal look. Yes, a healthy body is a great thing. Put good foods in, cleanse your system, exercise daily. Awesome. But, what about the inside? While they might look good on the outside, on the inside is a hot mess…someone who hates themself, Start with the inside and work your way out. Feel good about yourself first, not ‘I will feel good when the results show up’. Everything will fall into place when you love yourself before anything else. I’m a healthy 40-something year old. I don’t need someone telling me what to do. I know my limits and what feels right for me. If this crap gets you motivated, then great. But work on your inner self too. Otherwise, you will find yourself at ground zero again.

    I have a friend who runs marathons, eats healthy, works out…but she’s an Amazon woman. She doesn’t have a runner’s body. Amazon is her body type. That’s who she is. But, as a paramedic, she could do a lot more than any of these women could…lift a stretcher with a 600 lbs man on it; get into the corners of the deepest of darkest alleys and intubate a stabbing victim; save, not one, but two hypothermic children. That’s what we need: people to be happy and loving of themselves, and be of great service to the world.

  220. That massage artist’s essay was beautiful, I teared up. Thanks. But YOUR article is effing awesome. Smart, direct, witty, and best of all–completely true. After 24 years of bodybuilding, I’ve witnessed every single thing you listed. (I’m only guilty one of them, overtraining, but in my defense I was stupid. Plus, you know, endorphins.) Now I teach people how to leverage energy and power before they even pick up a weight…or a keyboard, or their car keys, or a credit card.

    You wanna be badass strong? Learn how to listen to the slightest nuances of your own body and mind, obey your intuition, ignore everyone else, and in short order you will be a Marvel comic superhero compared to most. Funny punchline: the ones who push the hardest are usually the ones who have no other choice because they overlooked the smart way of doing it. Duh.

    1. Now I teach people how to leverage energy and power before they even pick up a weight…or a keyboard, or their car keys, or a credit card.

      Brilliant. You and I are on the same page.