My Problem With Your Fitness Motivation

Warning : More than a few cuss words sprinkled around some honestyI just can’t take it anymore. I can’t take one more “fitspiration” screen shot sent to me or instagram photo tagged with my name. Let’s be honest : This shit sucks.

“But Jessica, you teach fitness. Don’t you want people to workout?”

Yes, but for the right reasons. Do you know what happens when you as a fitness professional (group ex instructor, personal trainer, studio owner, etc) or that token fitness-friend share this crap on social media? You convince those in your life (clients…) that the only use for exercise is for changing how they look, what size they are, and encouraging weight loss. Hell, as a fitness professional you should know that exercise alone CANNOT do those three things. But what if those three objectives are NOT your clients’ idea of healthy? What if, like me, they don’t want to be a fitness model? What if they don’t want to be a size 2, like their size 8 frame, and just want to feel better? By sharing some horrific photo of “don’t stop until you die” you have lost us. What about that client who is just starting their journey? You are telling them that their workouts aren’t hard enough for results, so why bother…

When people start training with me, I never allow them to set a goal that deals with weight. Why? As we know, the scale is crap. But a “goal weight” or dream size is utter bullshit. Sure, you weighed 130 pounds in high school, but guess what? You aren’t 18 anymore. Get over it. 

Working out should not be a milestone in your vanity obsession. Exercise should not be about looking “good” in a swimsuit, being on the Chive, or how many likes you get for showing off your body in those non-existent booty shorts ( check out Summer’s article: Is Social Media Killing the Fitness Professional?). Exercise should be for helping you live a happier life, whether that means soaking up some vitamin D, socializing with your friends, or a simple release of endorphins. If you are ONLY working out so you can take more selfies to post, then you are doing it wrong (PS the application for PornHub is on their site, not Instagram). Surprise, reaching a goal weight is not going to solve all of your problems. Oh shit, did myfitnesspal not tell you that? Oops.

And as a fitness professional, my overall goal should not be to help you obtain a higher level of vanity. I will help you feel better, move easier, and hopefully, be happier. But seriously, fuck your high school jeans.

Our bodies are all different and we are all dealing with different hindrances. I am so sick of people assuming that the general population should be told to crawl, cry and puke during their training session. That’s bullshit. You know what you should do during a workout? Smile, at least one. If you aren’t having a good time, if you aren’t having fun, then what are you doing?! Life should be enjoyable. Sure, some exercises are going to suck. Some reps are going to be ugly and painful. I am not saying you should smile during those moments, but rather the overall feeling of your workout should not be misery. And as someone who spent years puking, trust me, that shit is not fun.

And you know what? I have regretted workouts. I have pushed past my own physical limitations (i.e. see fainting, etc) and regretted it for days afterwards. And we aren’t just talking about the post-leg day wobble.

You may think you are helping me by sending me a photo that tells me “there are no rest days ROAR” but what you are actually telling me is that I shouldn’t be listening to my body. By not listening to my body, I am pushing through stress that IS going to trigger one of my “spells”. Please remember that YOU don’t know me and you certainly don’t know my stress-response. What you are encouraging is injuries, burn-outs, and unhappy participants. In a society where we need to be encouraging movement and life style change, every person you scare off is another one lost to the cause.

Sure, there are people who aren’t working out because they are “lazy” or it is not a priority, but you know what, that’s their choice. You cannot motivate those people by sending them a screen shot of a fitness model or your own abs (please for the love of all things good, stop sending clients’ pictures of your body!). You know what would motivate them more? Ask them to go for a walk with you. DO NOT talk about weight during that walk. Talk about spouses, children, books, or the new Captain America film. Just do not talk about how excuses don’t burn calories or any other Instagram inspired bullshit quote.

Yes, we have an obesity problem in America, but we also have a vanity problem. We are so obsessed with our bodies and shaming others that are not our definition of health. Do you really want to help the weight problem in our country? I promise sharing a photo that says “do it for the : Holy shit you got hot” is not going to help people get moving. It’s not going to help people make a lifestyle change. If anything, you just created more yo-yo dieters. WHOOO congratulations.

While I am ranting, let’s talk about the fake fitness professional and all the harm this new breed is causing. Just because you are slamming down the protein shakes, have a 6-pack, or look like Jamie Eason, does not mean you are an educated fitness professional. Sure, I played “Operation” growing up and could remove the funny bone like a boss, but that doesn’t mean I am educated enough to give people surgical advice. Do not offer advice to people, even on social media, unless you are educated. And by educated, I certainly do not mean that you completed a Spartan Race. Get a primary certification. Collect a lot of specialty certifications. Read journals, not magazines. Learn how to read a scientific study, not BodyBuilding.com forums. Attend fitness educational conferences, not just consumer-driven trade shows.

No, I don’t have the body of a fitness model. My thighs touch when I walk. The only 6-pack I have is in my fridge. I am not “fitspiration” material. But that’s not the health I want. I want to be able to climb an 11.a route by my first year climbing anniversary (goodbye fear of heights!). I want to be able to chase after my three year old all day. I want to be able to share a glass (or bottle) with my hubby. I want to be able to laugh at my friends’ hilarious text messages. I want happiness and to me happiness is not puking in between tire flips. My goal is not to be on stage in a bikini, or to have washboard stomach, or “guns”. If those are your goals, awesome. You rock it. I will support you, but only if you are having FUN while accomplishing those goals. However, that is not the lifestyle for me, so please stop assuming that I need to be reminded that my workouts are not as hard as yours.

To summarize, stop sending your clients and other fitness friends this load of crap. Stop tagging them on social media on posts that encourage them to think of only the physical ramifications of a workout. And please stop sharing this shit on social media.

Remember, only you can stop the spread of stupidity.


Problems with Fitness Motivation & Social Media

“I hope we make you challenge the status quo, rethink what you know, and discover new group fitness experiences”

-Summer Sides,
Founder of GXunited

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My Problem With Your Fitness Motivation

by Jessica H. Maurer Time to Read: 5 min
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