Fitspo. Motivating, clever, ever-trending fitspo.abs2

As a fitness professional and avid worker-outer, I find myself drawn to fitspiration. It’s hard to resist. Super witty quotes about not giving up paired with hot bodies – yep, I want every last image for my fitness Pinterest board.

Do I want to look like the women in those pictures? Yep.

Will I ever, regardless of the fitness regimen and nutrition plan I follow, look like these women? Nope.

THIS is me. Laughing so hard I’m crying with my phone by my side and a bag of chips on the table.

You know why? Because I’m ME. I’m not them. And that’s ok.

It’s ok even if society tells me it’s not.

It’s ok even if another other woman has the goal of looking like that.

When I look at fitspo and then I look at myself, though, it is REALLY hard to believe that it’s ok to be me. It’s REALLY hard not to compare myself to these super lean, six pack abs-having, big-boobs-even-though-they-appear-to-have-less-than-five percent-body fat-anywhere-else-on-their- bodies images. In the end, the message seems clear: You’re not good enough unless you look like this.

You’re not thin enough.

You’re not muscular enough.

You don’t have enough cleavage,

Your thighs touch.

Your hair and make up never look this good when you’re all dolled up, let alone when you’re working out.

You. Don’t. Live. Up.

I ask you to really look at all the fitspo out there and tell me it doesn’t perpetuate the belief that  the goal of every woman who works out and eats “well” (insert “clean” or ” on plan” if you so desire) is to look like this:

fitspo iagine your dream body

The caption alone makes me a little nauseous.

  1. Because it’s just so incredibly offensive on a million levels.
  2. Because yeah, I really do want to look like that and I so, so, so wish I could say my dream body was MY body, as is.

That’s why it “works,” though, right? It plays on our insecurities. It sells us an image of what we’ve been told for a lifetime is “ideal.”

How about this:


Her tiny top-top says the right thing. It says, “Let’s celebrate strength, not size.” Though, it could be argued that it also says, “Strong is better than skinny,” and “You no longer make the cut by just being skinny. Now you need to look strong, too.”

The rest of the image, however, says the opposite, doesn’t it? The rest of the image says:

You should have visible abs and a clear thigh gap.

And also be tan.

And also wear next to nothing to show it all.

The implication is, “Be strong, but you also better be skinny ans a supermodel.”

I am not an expert in the societal pressures put upon women.

Or am I?

If you are a woman reading this, you’re probably an expert, too. What I mean though, is that I don’t have 100 studies to back up my thoughts. These are my ever changing, ever evolving opinions and I write this to help myself figure it all out just as much as I write it for the four of you other than my mother who read my blather. Well, I write it for my mother, too. Read on, Ginzo, read on!

I believe that we don’t have to be at war with our bodies and that maybe fitspo, as it is now, is more harmful than helpful to improving how women see themselves. Why is it less motivating to see a 5’3″, 165lb woman in these memes? My assumption is that it is less motivating because we never see it. It must not “work” the right way, right?

It works for me. This is a video a client of mine shared on my FB page and I have to say, I find it extremely motivating.

I think comparing ourselves to the frequently airbrushed, oiled up images in fitspo is doing women everywhere a disservice. Women of all shapes and sizes are getting it done in the gym or pool or roads…and that is a far more positive message than, “Look like this because it’s the best way to look.”

I say this not to take away from the incredibly lean and a super fit “looking” women out there. Go on with your bad selves!! Good for you! I know plenty of women who have the “perfect” body. Some of them work really hard for it. Some of them don’t. Either way, it’s all good! But I wonder what they would say if you asked them how they felt about their bodies. Would they see them as perfect? I wonder…

So for all you ladies out there (guys too!) who are working on their fitness goals and struggling to love the bodies they are in, I’ll leave you with the video below. You’ve probably seen it. You’ve probably “liked” it. Now I ask you to believe it.

Change. The. Tape.

What do you think about fitspo?

Would you be motivated by pictures of “regular” looking women, too?

Do you find yourself trying to live up to “the ideal”?

3 thoughts on “#takebackfitspo

  1. Perhaps the best blog post you’ve done, ever. Bar None.

    At UCLA I took a class on marketing where they mentioned that many times the best motivation to get people to consume your product is fear. For example, Nightly News tries to make you afraid of EVERYTHING. “What you are eating for dinner just might be killing you, tune in at 11 for more!” That is why the nightly news always leads with the scariest things, whether it be child predators, diseases like Sars and Avian Fl, and Ebola that affect .0001% as many people in this country as diabetes and heart disease, etc.,

    What I didn’t realize until reading your post is that Fitspo uses the same strategy. It scares you into working out because you don’t look like the women on the poster so you are not good enough and not pretty enough and no one will ever find you attractive so you are pretty much worthless. The only way you can remedy the situation is by working out three hours a day and going on a crazy diet and maybe then you will be good enough. What a Machiavellian plan!

    Maybe we should start our own line of positively oriented posters… They could have “normal looking” people and say things like, “Work out because it will make you feel better!” or “Work out for yourself, not to impress shallow people who probably aren’t your friends anyway!”

    Although, they probably wouldn’t sell very well given what we’ve learned from the news and Fitspo:(


    1. Joey, first of all, thank you for the compliment 🙂
      Second, you are DEAD on about the fear tactics.
      Third, the #takebackfitspo is a real movement with lots of great motivational images and marketing. I do think we need to be careful not to end up body shaming the thin and/or uber lean. I just want there to be room for everyone. I want motivational posters that have women of all shapes and sizes lifting heavy or lifting light; racing or walking; Jamming or Zumba’ing. Maybe mostly Jamming 😉
      I don’t want to feel so bad that I can’t get my body to look like *insert woman with favorite body type here.* And I DEFINITELY don’t want to be made to feel that way by the subliminal societal standards that bombard us daily.
      First we need to love our bodies. THEN we can change them. Using fear to motivate is craptastic and only leads to decreased self worth. IMHO.


  2. I think this also goes back to how we define success in our workouts. Someone could kill themselves doing the same workout linked to a certain image every day for a year, and still never look like the other person. Does that mean their workout wasn’t successful? Did it make them stronger? Feel better? Better able to keep up with their kids or get through a day focused and attentive to detail? Sleep better? After 2 years of fairly consistent GRIT, I don’t look like most of the people in the GRIT images online, but I can do pushups on my toes, bust out 10+ tuck jumps in a row, have more than doubled a vertical jump, and have my cholesterol at a manageable level. I’m still looking for the right combination to get some physically noticeable changes to happen, but I’m pretty happy with the results I’ve seen so far.
    Success is going to look different for everyone, and that’s something I don’t think Fitspo does.
    Thanks for the blog post, EB!

    Liked by 1 person

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