What is Body Positive Fitness?

Fittness Marketing and its Harmful Message

I love fitness. I loved it so much that I made it my career. I used to be a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Yet my perspective on fitness has changed.

Have you stopped to think about most fitness marketing and what metaphors are underneath its messaging?

  • Crush your goals.
  • Burn calories.
  • Get rid of unwanted fat.
  • Earn your body.

These statements seem benign because we’re so used to hearing them yet they can be incredibly harmful for both men and women. They say we must rid ourselves of parts of our own bodies. They imply that we should be making every effort to change our bodies. They make us feel ashamed of our bodies unless we have “shredded abs” and X percent body fat.

Traditional fitness marketing is based on the premise that we are not OK as we are, and that exercise is a corrective tool reinforced by violent metaphors.

Needless to say, there’s a lot wrong with this picture.

Shift How You View Fitness

I used to be part of the problem. I used to buy into this harmful messaging. At the beginning of my career as an exercise professional, I believed that if clients just worked harder and smarter, they could have the body they desired. If they did the “work” and weren’t getting results, then it must be due to poor nutrition.

But nutrition messaging can prey on our self-worth too, with the terms “good foods” and “bad foods.” It’s no wonder so many of us think healthy eating has to be stressful and restrictive. Many of us don’t know how to eat “normally,” (which I discussed in a previous blog). If you missed it, be sure to check it out here: What is Normal Eating?

So what created this shift in how I view fitness (and nutrition)? After working with hundreds of clients in both fitness and nutrition, I’ve found that both of these strategies are wonderful ways to nourish our bodies. But they don’t guarantee an “ideal” body.

Did you know that less than 5% of women naturally possess the body type that media portrays as ideal?

Fitness and nutrition are two self-care choices we can choose to engage in to feel good. Not because our bodies aren’t enough. Not because we don’t have a flat belly or a thigh gap.

Many of us want to feel better but we’re tired of the seemingly never-ending struggle to maintain or attain this unrealistic ideal body type. We’re tired of having to avoid “forbidden” foods that bring us pleasure in order to change our bodies. We’re tired of trying to live up to culture’s standard of being fit, and what marketers have determined all of our bodies should look like.

One way we can create a cultural shift is to take the focus off exercise as a means to change our bodies appearance and instead exercise for the ways it makes our bodies feel.

Body Positive Fitness

Body positive fitness promotes fitness as one way to care for our bodies.

It promotes health, not needing to change your body size or shape. It does not use shame tactics and language that preys on our insecurities.

As a culture, let’s move to a body positive fitness perspective.

We can do this by changing the language around fitness. Instead of believing we should “shred our abs” and “cut fat”, or we have to “earn our bodies,” we can value exercise as something that is adding to the quality of our lives.

If you want to change your body, I want it to be your choice instead of feeling like you must in order to be accepted, by yourself and others.

Interested in supporting a shift to body positive fitness?

As a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador,

I offer these 3 tips to support a shift to body positive fitness messaging:
  1. Start noticing the messages. It starts with awareness.
  2. Show your support for fitness businesses that promote with positive messaging – with your wallet and your voice!
  3. And finally, enjoy all these incredible benefits of exercise:
Reduce stress. Improve sleep. Increase energy. Improve mental health by boosting endorphins. Improve self confidence. Reduce anxiety. Boost brainpower and sharpen memory. Increase strength. Improve flexibility. Improve balance. Improve coordination. Improve agility. Improve heart health

As a Non Diet Nutrition professional, I have seen too many tears and an enormous amount of stress around body image, which is the way we perceive our own bodies. The messages that we hear and see every single day are producing an epidemic of body dissatisfaction.

We have the power to make a change.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya
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