THE NEW (Fit­ness) Class War

Ex­pen­sive mem­ber­ships, in­vite-only classes and self­ies in the gym… When did work­ing out be­come so ex­clu­sive, asks Lucy Devine

Look (UK) - - LIFE -

Let’s be hon­est: in the dark depths of win­ter, we think just get­ting to the gym is an achieve­ment. Af­ter all, if we had our way, we’d be hi­ber­nat­ing right now.

Whether it’s leav­ing the house while it’s still dark out or hav­ing braved the ridicu­lous cold (and snow!), we feel pretty chuffed when we drag our­selves out of bed for a work­out. That is un­til a post-ses­sion In­sta­gram trawl, when see­ing end­less gym self­ies and ab pics makes us feel, well, a lit­tle empty.

Turn to so­cial me­dia post-ex­er­cise and the in­evitable work­out shame en­sues. Sun­day morn­ings are made for fit­ness In­sta­gram posts: a sea of fresh faces, Sweaty Betty leg­gings, poached eggs and Barry’s Boot­camp hash­tags – and, if you’re re­ally un­for­tu­nate, an In­sta­gram story con­firm­ing our worst fears: nope, it’s not just good an­gles; they re­ally do look like that. Abs and legs ev­ery­where. We’re pretty sure be­ing col­lapsed on the sofa in Pri­mark py­ja­mas just wouldn’t have the same ef­fect.

Over the last few years, fit­ness­re­lated posts on so­cial me­dia have snow­balled. De­spite them be­ing rated as the most an­noy­ing type of up­date (fol­lowed by those who post pho­tos of ev­ery meal), it seems we’re ad­dicted to show­cas­ing how we’re work­ing out, where we’re do­ing it and what we’re do­ing it in. It’s easy to see why. With cer­tain brands and classes be­ing en vogue, seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity to be part of an elite fit­ness com­mu­nity is mo­ti­va­tion to ex­er­cise in it­self. Show­cas­ing this on so­cial is all part of the fun.

Glenn Ma­son, a psy­chol­o­gist and cog­ni­tive be­havioural psy­chother­a­pist, agrees. He says: ‘Many peo­ple live and share their life through so­cial me­dia. Hit­ting the gym in the lat­est fash­ion trends and shar­ing this with our so­cial net­works is no ex­cep­tion. So­cial me­dia is an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble plat­form where peo­ple can live out ide­alised lives and por­tray cer­tain per­cep­tions to oth­ers on­line.’

But could this be caus­ing a deeper prob­lem? In 2014, a study by Sport Eng­land found that three quar­ters of women were put off ex­er­cise for fear of what other peo­ple would think, for be­ing judged over their ap­pear­ance and their abil­ity in the gym. Elite train­ing wear can cost up to £100 per item, while pre­mium gyms are pop­ping up all over the coun­try, charg­ing up­wards of £30 a class – that’s as much as a month’s gym mem­ber­ship for some.

Stan­dard classes at the lo­cal gym had their mo­ment, but now they’re be­ing re­placed by fash­ion­able branded work­outs. Tori Hal­man, a PR ac­count as­sis­tant from Lon­don, reg­u­larly at­tends spin and HIIT classes that cost £20 per ses­sion. She says: ‘I think they of­fer a bet­ter qual­ity of work­out. That, along with the at­mos­phere – which is usu­ally much more en­er­getic and pumped – mo­ti­vates me more to work out than an or­di­nary class; I of­ten find those lack­lus­tre and slightly dull. There’s a cer­tain el­e­ment of self-right­eous­ness that comes from go­ing to a branded class you of­ten see celebri­ties go­ing to, but I think the train­ers are gen­uinely ex­cel­lent and re­ally in­spi­ra­tional.’

Phoebe, a nurse from Sh­effield, doesn’t agree, ‘I’d love to be able to try th­ese ‘celeben­dorsed’ classes but I can’t af­ford it,’ she says. ‘I guess it makes me feel a bit in­fe­rior.’ While it’s hard to stop the on­slaught of posts, it’s worth tak­ing a mo­ment to put things in per­spec­tive. Glenn Ma­son says: ‘So­cial me­dia rep­re­sents peo­ple’s vir­tual lives, which of­ten can be far re­moved from the re­al­ity of their off­line lives.’ Re­mem­ber that next time you’re por­ing over glam fit­spo shots, eh?

So­cial me­dia is of­ten far re­moved from re­al­ity

Some typ­i­cal #fit­spo found on In­sta­gram

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