Before & After Pictures Suck.
By Coach Chris
You won’t see Before & After pictures on our social media. We’re sick of seeing these as the “gold standard” of marketing and social proof for exercise & nutrition programs. Aside from the fact that they’re VERY easily manipulated, there’s all sorts of ethical problems with these comparisons.
There’s very specific societal norms of what a “perfect” human body should look like. In this day & age of photoshop, literally not even the professional models hired for the photos have a “perfect” enough body that they remain untouched by touchup software.
Here’s what the world tells us we should be:
Women should be thin & slender, with perfect skin and no cellulite or blemishes. They should be fit, but not TOO fit, or they’ll “look like a man.” Oh, and not too tall either, because that’s “intimidating.”
Men should be tall, strong, muscular, have a perfect six-pack, and not have a single bit of body hair anywhere except their head. When’s the last time you saw a male fitness model with chest hair?
Go literally any public place and take a look around. How many people do you see who actually look like that?
We’re shown time and time again that this is what people are supposed to look like, despite the impossibility of everyone looking that way. We’re told over and over again that we should do whatever it takes to get there, and if we can’t get there, we’re just weak-willed. This constant comparison to an impossible ideal contributes massively to body dysmorphia, disordered eating, yo-yo dieting, and a host of other awful things.
There’s an insidious part of the health & fitness industry that preys on the fear, insecurity, and shame people feel for NOT looking like those impossibly perfect humans on Instagram and in magazines. The mainstream fitness industry is constantly telling us that we need to get thinner. Go take a look at the rack of fitness magazines in your local store, and see if you can find a single one that doesn’t mention losing weight on the cover.
The reality is, there’s an incredible amount of variety & diversity in human bodies. It’s truly a beautiful thing. All different shapes, sizes, skin colors, and expressions.
The reality is, we could all eat the exact same food and do the same workouts, and we’d still all look totally different.
Before & After pictures almost exclusively focus on showing people getting thinner. Losing weight.
“Look how much smaller we made this human!” could be the caption for all of these. Or maybe, “Look how sad and pathetic this person was before, but now that they’re skinnier they’re so happy!”
Big whoop. Is making people smaller what the fitness industry should be about? Do we really want to sell the idea that happiness is contingent upon your waist size?
Hell no. Our purpose is supposed to be to help people get healthier. Happier. Stronger. More capable in their everyday life. Better quality of life. Less chronic pain. Yes, there are correlations between health outcomes and body fat. But we’re not here to look at the entire human race. We’re looking at one person at a time.
These things will look different for every single person who walks in our door.
Healthy looks different for every single person who walks in our door. We all have a unique spectrum of possibilities based on our genetics and environment, that dictate what it’s possible for our bodies to look like. For most people, “Greek God/Goddess” is not on that spectrum. At least, not without insanely restrictive, miserable lifestyle choices.
We’re so tired of seeing people making really great strides in their health, only to quit because they don’t see the number on the scale they think they should see, or because they didn’t get the same results as a friend.
We can’t control what other gyms and nutrition companies do. But we are doing everything we can to make sure we’re not part of the problem. From our marketing, to the way we write workouts, the way we talk to each other in the gym, to the way we constantly find non-scale victories for our members — we want folks to know that exercise is about so much more than just the number you see on the scale.
The hard thing is, fear & shame-based marketing works really well. Those before & after pictures often get the best results in advertising. But we think it’s more important to stay true to our values, even if it means having to try harder to bring new folks in. Part of being a values-driving business is that we have to stick to those values even when it’s not convenient.
The moral of the story is: We believe fitness & nutrition should serve your body and mind. Your food & exercise routine should be based on building you up as a person, not shrinking you down (physically, or emotionally). We hope that someday this will be the norm in the fitness industry.
If you’re making your New Years resolutions this weekend, keep that in mind!