Being healthy or modeling to sell an image of health are two completely different things. However, if you were to look at the world of fitness marketing, you might come to the conclusion that they are one and the same. For most people with full lives, looking like the models that sell fitness is not and should not be the goal. Wanting to look a certain way, even very fit, is not a problem. But only presenting fitness in that singular form is not helpful. The industry is setting unrealistic expectations that keep people from ever getting started. It’s intimidating to think of stepping into an environment where that perfect look is the expectation. The image that everyone at the gym is nearly perfect is, at best, very inaccurate; at worst, it is harmful to peoples’ fitness journey. This image of Tracy is real fitness because he works hard, balancing life and his health, and he does it with a smile!
There are a few solutions to this problem, but they are not going to happen at a national level. This is because marketing companies only have one move, which is: sex sells. The true healthy lifestyle is coming from local groups of people, local gyms, and thoughtful health and fitness businesses. These businesses come face to face with their members. The reality is that fitness is for everyone. Those weight loss posters may have models, but they are not models of a healthier lifestyle for you and I. In order to help someone achieve their goals, with anything in life, you have to be able to relate; to understand their challenges and to develop something that works for them.
We have many success stories at Vermont Sport & Fitness where our members take on realistic goals at any age and any ability level. Once they realize that the other members at the club are just like them, they are free to reach their goals without fear of judgement or comparison. Our tennis players, mid-day exercisers and activtrax users were all inexperienced at one time. Today they are getting a tremendous benefit out of their healthy lifestyle, exercising with out aspiring to the media’s, or anyone else’s image of fitness.
It’s time the larger fitness industry started portraying what it’s like at local clubs; where real people are striving to live thoughtful and healthy lifestyles, fitting fitness and nutrition into their busy schedules. As local health and fitness professionals, it is our job to be inviting and to show real people that we can all find success on our fitness journey. We have to look up to ourselves, not the models. When we are a healthier and happier version of ourselves, its going to look and feel amazing. In the end, our culture will become more healthy when the the local fitness industry leads by example to show what real health and fitness looks like.