Saturday 18 June 2016

The Body Confidence Debate: Why The Gym That’s Covering Up Its Mirrors Has Got It All Wrong

So, those of us who work out a gym are self-obsessed narcissists who spend our time staring at ourselves in the mirror and taking selfies rather than training?

I jest but the suggestion did occur to me as I read last week that a US gym group is covering up its mirrors on Mondays in support of body confidence.

Mondays Without Mirrors is an initiative just launched by Blink Fitness. Every Monday (I have no idea if this is a permanent move) its gyms in New York and New Jersey will be covering up their mirrors as part of the parent group’s Every Body Happy campaign.

The campaign is based on the idea that everyone, regardless of size, deserves to be healthy. It says working out is ‘not just about what you see in the mirror’.

While I applaud the sentiment behind Blink’s campaign, covering up gym mirrors isn’t the way to go. Firstly it’s potentially dangerous and secondly we should all be encouraged to feel comfortable in our skin, not shy away from our image.

There’s a safety aspect to having mirrors in gyms. Mirrors allow you to check form. Incorrect technique when performing an exercise can result in serious injury. It’s the reason why I prefer to train with free weights in front of a mirror, particularly when I’m lifting heavy or doing moves that require me to stand on one leg.

Then there’s Instagram. While I’m no big fan of the selfie culture that has developed on social media, there is a positive aspect to it when it comes to fitness, hence the reason why I take and post gym selfies on my page (you can follow me here). Far from being a hostile and boastful environment the Instagram fitness community is one of encouragement and friendship. Gym transformation pics are applauded.

Working out at a gym makes you fit and strong – where’s the harm in spreading that message through the use of gym selfies and hashtags like  #strongnotskinny?
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