Open up Google or Instagram and search for “Women’s Fitness”, “Female Fitness”, or even “Women’s Health and Fitness” and have a look around. How does it make you feel?
I don’t know about you (although I can have a good guess!) but I find it so frustrating. There are literally thousands of images of beautiful, slim – and usually caucasian! – women working out in very little clothing, or taking posed selfies of themselves.
Or, on the flipside of the coin, there are all those memes saying things like “Pain is Weakness Leaving The Body” and “Sweat Is Your Fat Crying”.
What message is this sending out to women and young girls about health and fitness?
For me, all I see is an obsession with appearance and the suggestion that fitness should be a punishment. It screams, if your regime isn’t intense enough, just don’t bother… As a friend of mine jokingly commented the other day, “People used to be impressed if you were planning to run a marathon. Now you’re weird if you haven’t.” And he kind of has a point! We seem to be using fitness as a way to push ourselves to extremes, to prove ourselves worthy.
This mixture of “Fitspo” and extreme fitness is the exact opposite of what women’s health and fitness should be all about.
Findings from a 2014 survey conducted by British Social Attitudes showed that only 63% of women aged 18-34 and 57% of women aged 35-49 are satisfied with their appearance. And research from Body Confidence Week in 2014 “found that almost 10 million women in the UK “feel depressed” because of the way they look. Fast forward to 2017 and 91% of women surveyed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that they are “unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting”.
These are horribly depressing statistics, and I can’t help but think social media and “Fitspo” are to blame. Especially with figures that suggest, “almost 70% women feel the media drives their appearance anxiety” according to The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report.
We spend hours pouring over Instagram feeds where the world is carefully selected, filtered and curated to generate as many “likes” as possible.
And the problem is, we follow these models and “influencers” and watch what they eat, what workouts they do. Or we study the minute details of the lives of professional bikini models and bodybuilders, and it affects our view of reality.
It makes us feel that if we aren’t working out every hour of the day, doing HIT workouts, weight training, drinking protein shakes, and eating clean, looking flawless at the gym, having a tiny waist and huge ass, we aren’t doing it right. We can’t be fit and healthy if we don’t fit into that box.
Women’s health and fitness, I say enough! The time has come to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror (without taking a selfie!) and consider if what you are promoting is truly good for us girls.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Health” means: the condition of the body and the degree to which it is free from illness, or the state of being well, and “Fitness” is: the condition of being physically strong and healthy.
So instead of obsessing over how we look, if our abs are showing, or whether we are following the latest diet trend, let’s take women’s health and fitness back to what the definitions really mean – and that’s being free of illness, and healthy inside and out.
If you’re unhappy with the way you’re currently feeling – if you’re constantly under the weather, lacking energy, or just plain sick of the gym, you need a change of regime!
Instead of obsessing about your appearance, I’m going to invite you to start working out in a way that will make you feel happier, more energized, and less anxious. It’s a workout that focuses on both physical and mental health – so there’ll be as much calming, stretching and meditation as high-intensity exercise. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll get access to some handy hints on eating to feel your best.
Sign up by popping your details in the box below, and once you confirm you’ll get instant access to a 20-minute dance workout, a 5-minute meditation, plus those food-related goodies.
Start your journey to true health and fitness today: