Stop it. Just STOP IT.

This poster and it’s variants are doing my head in. Would people just stop. Exercise, health, fitness it’s not a competition between Zumba or running or weights or swimming or the myriad of other ways you can make yourself feel healthy and alive. (Yes “Why Women Should Not Run” I’m looking at you).

We can all co-exist (even better would be to embrace) and if we have to prove the superiority of one over the other can we stop doing it in reference to LOOKS and start doing it in reference to how it makes us feel.

This poster is INSULTING to BOTH women.  Both of those bodies take time and effort and not just lifting weights. Both bodies require dedication to specific nutrition.  You won’t end up looking like either of them just because you pick up heavy weights. On top of this neither of the women probably look like that most of the time either. They have probably both dieted and water manipulated for a photo shoot or competition.

Lifting weights has a lots of health benefits for women. Looking like the women on the right is not one of them. Sorry.

What’s worse is this sort of poster can alienate people.  I say it again, fitspo is as bad as thinspo whilst the body used to illustrate fitspo 99.9% of the time looks like the woman on the right when .01% of us actually look like the woman on the right.

One last thing if you are going to have a photo of a woman using it as an example of what happens if you lift weights could you PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD put a heavy weight into her hand.


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18 thoughts on “Stop it. Just STOP IT.

  1. kat_rocket May 2, 2013 at 9:42 am Reply

    Great post Helen! The poster about Zumba really annoys me too. It shows a women squatting weights and the tagline variations are ‘Zumba? Bitch please’ or ‘Zumba? I don’t think so Bitch’. I think it’s intimidating and egotistic. Exercise is still a scary thing for a lot of women so if women want to combine exercise and dance then why shouldn’t they?

    My mum is 63 and really intimidated by gyms but she felt safe going to Zumba. It got her moving and she enjoyed it. I feel like I blame Crossfit for a lot of it. The community spirit only seems to be applicable if you do things their way and there seems to be competition between disciplines about what is the ‘best’ exercise. Well the best exercise is the one that you enjoy, is safe, that gets you moving and keeps you healthy and happy. And if that’s Zumba or swimming or anything else then it’s nobodies business!

    • Helen Rothwell May 2, 2013 at 11:08 am Reply

      I have to say I don’t understand the fascination with Zumba (or running) but then some people can’t understand my fascination with musicals. Each to their own in every area of life and as far as I am concerned if it gets people moving then it’s a good thing.

      Crossfit do seem to be fairly cultish in their thinking to my mind but again if it gets women who previously didn’t do anything doing something (safely I hope) then good for them.

      It reminds me of the saying what other people think of you is none of your business 🙂

    • Helen Rothwell May 4, 2013 at 7:07 am Reply

      My mum is an ex physio and refuses to believe squats are not bad for your knees, she is 67 and awesome I am not going to try and change her mind. She walks, garden and follows a resistance program she got from the paper. The important thing, like your Mum, is she is doing something. I totally agree the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing, that’s how to develop an exercise habit that is going to LAST and not be just for the 6 weeks before summer.

  2. MrsB @ Mind over Matter May 2, 2013 at 10:28 am Reply

    This is funny 🙂 Totally in a non-funny way of course because I agree with everything you say.

    • Helen Rothwell May 2, 2013 at 11:13 am Reply

      One of my friends on twitter inspired it (and I hope she doesn’t mind me mentioning her here!) She says she feels caught between fitness/lifting and fat/size acceptance spheres at the moment.She is a competitive power lifter. These type of fitspo posters urging woman to pick up a weight are doing all the ones who do a disservice.

  3. Caitlin May 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm Reply

    My first thought upon looking at the woman on the right was “no way did she get that body with that dinky little weight.” But yeah, I agree with every point you’ve made here. So much of the fitness world seems to be based on promoting the idea that if you do x, y and z, you won’t look like THAT person, or that you should do a, b and c because only losers do d, e, and f. It’s maddening.

    Honestly, to listen to the way many fitness professionals talk, you’d think maintaining a healthy body was the most complicated thing in the world. If that were the case, we would have all died out before the first dude crawled down from a tree. I’ve gotten to the point now that I cut major side-eye at anyone who makes this stuff seem overly complicated, because I know they are trying to sell something and I’m not interested in buying it.

    • Helen Rothwell May 4, 2013 at 7:01 am Reply

      Yeah it really does boil down to try and eat well most of the time and move more. Anything else is just window dressing for specific goals rather than health.

  4. Kim @ BusyBod May 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm Reply

    I could not agree more! I’ve been contemplating a post on this subject on my own blog. I hate the superior attitude so many people have for their chosen workout. Find what works for your body, something that you love, and do that! We should all be celebrating the fact that people are moving and doing something to improve their health and happiness. Like kat_rocket I especially HATE those Zumba hating Crossfit memes on Pinterest and everywhere else. I teach Zumba, but I also LOVE to lift heavy and push myself through intense, cross-fit style bodyweight workouts. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive and one isn’t better than the other. If anything, the actual science behind exercise tells us variety is better. People make me crazy. Thanks for calling them out 🙂

    • Helen Rothwell May 4, 2013 at 7:03 am Reply

      Blog about it. Whilst I don’t think it is actually going to stop it happening at least it may tell women they don’t have to take any notice of it and they should do what they love.

  5. samanthaangela May 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm Reply

    It’s not what you do that matters. If you hate lifting weights and you’re never going to do it then that probably isn’t the best choice of activity to keep you healthy. If you love playing frisbee then go play frisbee! Just find something you like so you’ll stay active.

    I hate that we have to pit ourselves against each other. Runners vs. weightlifters; Pilates vs. yogis; gym vs. organized sports. Whatever! Who cares? It’s all activity and it’s all healthy.

    I understand the point the image is trying to make: “Don’t be afraid to lift weights. Lifting weights will not make you bulky” which is a great point in itself and a message that needs to be understood by more women. Sadly though many women need visual proof that this fact is true but the approach of pitting one body type against another is just wrong.

    • Helen Rothwell May 4, 2013 at 7:00 am Reply

      Yup totally agree. Do what you LOVE and you have a lifetime habit.

  6. Nicola Joyce May 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm Reply

    Hear hear! Fitspo does my nut in. As do they #killingiteverdamnday #gohardorgohome #nodaysoffever hashtag brigade. Can’t we all just… chill out a bit? It’s just fitness/health/wellness, just one part of the varied mixture of things which make up our lives… 🙂

    • Helen Rothwell May 4, 2013 at 6:28 am Reply

      Totally agree, sometimes I like to come out the gym thinking I am about to die and other days I just like to wander round the place picking up weights and pootling letting my mind just have a break from day to day stresses. Both methods produce benefits!

      Are you gonna blog about the fitness media panel you were tweeting about as it sounds interesting or is it for a magazine article?

      • Nicola Joyce May 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm

        I like to leave the gym feeling I’ve worked as hard as I can – I just don’t like to hashtag the event with crazy aggressive “warrior” type labels 😉

        Yes I should blog about the UK Active Comms Forum – I’ve done it a few times now and have blogged about it in the past (but you’d need to do a search as I can’t recall the month). Not for a mag article, just something they asked me to do. I’ll try to blog it this pm 🙂

  7. Tara May 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm Reply

    OMG I love this post. I frickin’ hate fitspo and it’s so unrealistic for women to think they are going to turn into either of those pictures just by lifting a weight (and a barbie weight at that!).

    So sorry for not commenting in forever. I have now added you to my reader so I’ll never miss a post. Now off to read all the posts I missed!

  8. malevolent andrea May 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm Reply

    I hate when people try to convince women to lift weights by saying, “ooo, look at all those people in your gym doing cardio day after day–they look exactly the same as they did a year ago!”

    Um, so? Maybe they’re perfectly happy with how they look. Maybe they think they look great. Maybe they exercise for ::gasp, shock:: reasons other than aesthetics. Basically, stop projecting your own goals on other people. We don’t all want the same thing and THAT’S OKAY.

  9. Jessy May 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm Reply

    Hey, I’ve just found your blog and I love it! I completely agree with this post and many others! I looove Nia Shanks and it seems like you two share a similar philosophy, which I’m trying to believe in as well – I want to stop focusing on the looks and just enjoy whatever I do. Subscribing to your blog! 🙂

    • Helen Rothwell May 14, 2013 at 11:24 am Reply

      I love Nia Shanks. Her reply to why she doesn’t post bikini shots was awesome. Not as sorted headwise as she is but trying to get there. Look forward to your comments 🙂

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