What the Fitness Industry Should Endorse More (and Less)

Guess who’s going to be attending next year’s L.A. Fit Expo! 👈 I could not be MORE excited to meet all of my favorite YouTubers and brands at this convention once again. I’m not entirely sure if I will be able to post a video of it this time, but I at least hope I can document it in a future blog post!

Speaking of fitness, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been observing a lot of occurrences in the fitness industry as well as the overall fitness trends regarding health and fitness lately, both of which are beneficial and detrimental to our culture. While it is also a community, there are so many individuals and areas that profit from the popularity of starting diets and exercise regimes, which can be dangerous if these influencers abuse their power negatively.

Fortunately, there are a few patches of the fitness industry that can or are currently turning the culture in a positive direction. Below is a list of compiled factors from the health and fitness world that I believe should be promoted more to the public, whether they are secretly dormant from the oversaturation of everything else, or aren’t even existent at all.

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  1. Recovery: Just as how I’ve been working on incorporating more stretching and flexibility-building exercises into my workout regimen, I’ve also noticed that there are more video demonstrations, photos and articles online that emphasize the importance of stretching and exercise recovery. Have you ever seen a foam roller? You probably have, because it is currently one of the most popular pieces of workout equipment in the market as of now due to its amazing properties for massaging muscles, identifying trigger points and releasing tension from the body. Post-workout recovery is something that should never be missed, otherwise you’re more likely to injure yourself through over-exertion in the future. In my opinion, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you want to get started on researching stretches and recovery exercises, there are plenty of YouTube videos and articles online that show the best kinds of exercises for cooling down after a tough workout, reducing muscle pains and stretching tight joints if necessary!
  2. Baby steps: I’ll admit that I have an extremist personality. When I see something appealing, I try to master the feat as quickly as possible. Most people who first step into health and fitness dive headfirst straight away, eliminate all of their current habits and turn their lives upside down with early morning workouts and green juices on the daily. The truth of a matter is, most of us can only stick to such a regimented lifestyle like this for so long. However, the problem is that many parts of the fitness industry portray the “fit” image as an extremist one, aka the completely shredded six-pack baring person who kills it at the gym daily and eats steamed broccoli and chicken breast from meal prepped tupperware. I don’t know about you guys, but that looks like a life of complete misery, which is why so many people turn a blind eye from fitness and live oppositely, which only hurts their physical health. What should be broadcasted much more widely are simple feats, yet can make a heck of a difference in the long run. No matter how small, our goals should be realistic, whether to visit the gym once a week, increase daily steps by at least a thousand or incorporate more greens into your daily diet. And when you’re ready to take it up a notch, then by all means, go for it!
  3. Mental transformations: Okay, we all know that weight loss is amazing. Seeing changes in the number on the scale is amazing. Defined abs, leaner legs and protruding muscles are totally amazing. But do you know what’s even MORE amazing? Gaining a higher sense of confidence and mental quality in your life, and that’s something that is just way too overlooked. It’s extremely unfortunate because fitness is seen as a pursuit of vanity. In actuality, people who start adapting healthier habits simply want to feel better in their own skin. At the very start of my weight loss journey, everything encompassing me and my life were at the bottom of the barrel. I absolutely despised each part of my body and the fact that I did little about it, and once my dad prompted me to take action, I followed with his suggestion and never felt better about myself. Without losing weight, I would never, ever gain the courage to make the friends I have today, to establish my social media platforms that enable me to thrive, and to undertake my current goals with independence. I’m not saying that you have to use fitness as a tool towards happiness, but that fitness is not just used for losing weight and looking great. Fitness is like a paper clip. It was invented for a singular purpose, but when weaved and manipulated a certain way, can serve a multitude of tasks.
  4. Recreational sports: Wakesurfing, skiing, beach volleyball and frisbee aren’t the first depictions of exercise that come to mind, yet they can be extremely effective ways to incorporate more physical activity! Crossfit, HIIT, bodybuilding and Pilates aren’t the only means of fitness. During my first few weeks of college, I got to enjoy some really fun activities that I thought wouldn’t be too physically demanding. However, I underestimated the impact of hiking and archery–you need some serious stamina and hand-eye coordination (reason #3068 why I can’t partake in sports)! Introducing recreational sports is a great option for those who cannot afford a gym membership due to lack of time and money as well. By simply exerting more energy into other daily physical hobbies, then you will incorporate fitness in your routine in no time. Hey, maybe we can make vacuum cleaning its own category of exercise!
  5. Long-term changes: By human nature, we constantly look to the future. Question is, how far are we looking? In regards to what we’re doing right now, most of us usually make decisions and actions based on where we see ourselves a few weeks from now, even months or years, but maybe five to ten years at the most. But what about thirty years or forty years from now? Believe it or not, if we look that prospectively, our decisions and actions would be extremely different. Just look at the habits of centenarians–for instance, we would be flossing and walking outside way more often, consuming much more whole foods and getting more shut eye, all while living more in the present moment, reducing meat intake, following a healthy routine and adopting a positive mindset. Would we really be obsessing over six packs and calories when we’re sixty? As mentioned before, if fitness is about improving the quality of life, then long-term changes should most certainly be promoted just as often as losing that extra belly fat, if not more.
  6. Balance: Face it, there are plenty of times when we just don’t want to go to the gym, and there are plenty of times when we just want that slice of chocolate pumpkin cake. Especially since it’s the holiday season, people want to snuggle in a blanket, eat lots of comfort food and not move at all, which is totally fine so as long as they’re active and healthy at least 80% of the time. The problem is that some fitness brands and influencers can demonstrate a lifestyle that portrays being healthy as a completely rigid and discipline one–no breaks, no off days, no splurges and no slack-offs whatsoever. Unfortunately, that’s how most slip off the wagon because they end up binging from deprivation or getting injured from over-exercising. It’s okay to take some time off the gym and indulge when you want to. Fortunately, there are so many gurus promoting more balanced approaches of health and fitness rather than starvation diets and excessive workout routines.
  7. Disease prevention: Health isn’t just powerful–it is preventative. By incorporating plenty of exercise and consuming whole foods, you reduce your risk of all kinds of life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer-related fatigue and even Alzheimer’s. While there are few in the youthful demographic of the fitness audience with chronic illnesses, the majority of us should still be aware of these medical conditions, their consequences, and what we can do to steer as clear as possible from falling into their traps when we grow older. Stories of people who have reversed their heart disease, hypertension, obesity and many other diseases by transforming their lifestyles through diet and exercise can be incredibly motivational because they don’t focus on any aesthetics, which can be polarizing for some. We all come in different shapes and sizes, but we all need to have the strongest shields against disease for our bodies.
  8. Being truthful: If the fitness industry has 99 problems, dishonesty is the worst of them all. We are bombarded with deceitful advertisements of fat burning supplements, photoshopped weight loss transformation photos, greedy trainers who only care about money rather than the well-being of their clients, influencers who don’t follow the routines and diets they publicize on their platforms, and domineering corporations that use any loophole to make their products more appealing (which usually ends up in these companies getting sued). However, there are more and more brands and individuals who hold mantras breaking away from deception by showing honest customer service and posting photos of physical imperfections, which is absolutely wonderful for eliminating deceit. It’s okay to only show the most flattering angles of oneself, but never at the expense of fooling others.
  9. Ending stigmas (specifically plastic surgery): One too many aspects of the fitness world are received in an overly sensitive manner. Take plastic surgery–it is very common for female fitness icons to get breast implants or botox only to be judged and shamed by other people. It’s the same case for bodybuilders and steroids (I personally don’t have a stance on steroids because I don’t know enough about them). But to be honest, certain procedures and ideas are not as dramatic as they seem. It is ultimately not anyone else’s business to criticize, either. Some women just do not have the physical capacity to develop the breast size they find attractive, and undergoing a boob job is simply taking action to change what they cannot accept. Yes, it is important to love yourself, but if there is just one feature of yourself that is holding you back from finding your most confident self, then wouldn’t you want to change that feature so as long as it’s safe and healthy? In short, there are certain parts of the health and fitness community that shouldn’t carry such a burdensome stigma. There’s enough wasted energy in other aspects of our lives, so why drop more on the load?
  10. Experimentation: Try and equate a penny for every Internet comment or message that says, “Hello, I am X pounds, Y feet tall and Z years-old. Will this exercise work for me/How many calories should I be eating/How can I lose this much of weight?”. You would probably be in the Top 10 Richest Individuals in the World, right? What I like about many coaches, trainers and other influencers in fitness are that they don’t boast their way of living as a one-size-fits-all. Truth be told, a 1500 calorie diet may work for one person, but may be too much or too little for others. Same with exercise–people gravitate more towards endurance, aerobic exercises like running or cardio, other people are more talented at resistance and anaerobic exercises such as CrossFit and weight-training, and some prefer a mix of both. It is important that newcomers experiment with different workouts and diets, listen to their bodies and embrace challenges in order to create their own healthy lifestyles to thrive. Doing so also helps them build character by teaching them to problem solve and improvise plans when they hit a plateau or anything goes awry.

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Alternatively, there are some not-so-bueno parts of the fitness industry that are currently being spread quite widely across the media, which unfortunately end up hurting so many people and positive messages. Below are some personal observations that I find should not be endorsed nearly as much as they currently are, and even not at all.

  1. Cliches: How many times have you seen those fitspiration posts of motivational and empowering quotes that are meant to drive people to start making a change? While for some it may only take a single quote to hop on the fit wagon, for most of us, it takes a much more dramatic revelation to do so. Yes, fitspiration is a great way to help somebody start their regimens, but the repetition of the same mantras over and over again no longer provides the same stimulation as before. To be blunt, cliches are unoriginal and boring. It’s time to really start thinking about our problems from another point of view and come up with different messages that way.
  2. The algorithm: Nothing irks me more than structures of platforms that keep top influencers at the top and smaller users unknown. The bad news is that with the growth of any community comes a hierarchy because everybody needs to be organized in a collective manner. It’s true that if I truly don’t care about being popular on social media, I shouldn’t mind that there even is an algorithm. Of course, I’m not looking to make money from social media or anything, but I can admit that I want to meet more people online and get to know more like-minded individuals, which does equate to reaching a wider audience. Even though the algorithm applies to pretty much everything, the fitness hierarchy has made everything a competition for the best body, the highest revenue, the largest following or whatever, and it’s using competition as a driving force for people to either join or stay in the community rather than actual passion.
  3. Skinny teas: Everybody has seen at least one Instagram photo of a young, thin and beautiful woman posing with a pink and green bag of detox tea that she claims helped her lose weight and give her the perfect physical transformation. However, how many of these skinny tea advertisements are not sponsored? Again, it’s completely dishonest. What’s worse are the consequences–women can become extremely ill, even hospitalized, from relying on skinny teas. Luckily, I do see a decline in these posts, which means that most people are moving on from these gimmicks. There really is no other explanation: the only optimal route for weight loss utilizes a combination of a healthy diet, exercise and adopting smarter habits, which can all be done sans the excessive caffeine intake.
  4. Body parts as selling points: I think the last time I posted a shot of myself where I subconsciously intended to use my body as a means of promotion on my Instagram was when I shared a bikini photo on Earth Day. Ever since, I haven’t posted any other shot of myself where I intentionally used my body to receive likes and followers. Personally, I just no longer find any value in using body shots for my platform. It might be the most effective way for certain people in the fitness industry to gain popularity, but it is also a way of objectification, as if achieving the perfect body is the only way to be healthy and fit. Flatter abs, toned arms and slim thighs are definitely confidence boosters, but so is knowing that our daily exercise and food choices contribute to a healthy and nourishing lifestyle.
  5. Relationships as selling points: Unless if you and your significant other are guaranteed to stay together forever, then you don’t have to display your relationship in every single photo or video. Breakups are usually very messy and end up polarizing the audience extremely dramatically. They are also very difficult to announce in the media because words can be twisted, plus nobody knows who is being honest or not. It’s great if people are happy in their relationships, but it should not be used to increase popularity in the media of fitness.
  6. Click-bait: Mainly found on YouTube, one of the worst things I come across on the Internet are misleading thumbnail pictures and titles on videos or posts. I understand that like any other social media influencer, fitness gurus want to guide more traffic towards their platform, because it’s a way for them to make money. On the other hand, what they’re doing disappoints a lot of their viewers who end up disliking their videos, leaving mean comments or unfollowing/unsubbing these accounts, and for valid reasons. Seriously, I personally think that deceptive YouTube videos and web articles are getting redundant. The more click-bait used, the less effective they are. Honesty is the best policy.
  7. Quick fixes: Consumers are attracted towards instant gratification, but how many of us can really lose fourteen pounds in less than two weeks? It’s so common for us to get impatient with ourselves, even though it’s common knowledge that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint (sorry for the cliche, but it’s true!). Those with the desire for instant results turn to weight loss programs with countless red flags. However, these fad diet programs usually recommend dangerous procedures, such as meal replacement bars and shakes, fasting, severe carbohydrate/fat deprivation and liquid dieting. More often than not, followers of these regimens end up breaking away from their restrictive habits and gain more weight than they have lost. Nothing about quick fixes are sustainable, nor are they healthy or pleasing. Does the program endorse a certain product? Does the program provide only a broad overview of evidence that it indeed works? Does the program restrict or eliminate certain foods or food groups? And does the program promise results that seem just too dreamy to be true? Then it’s most likely a quick fix that you should steer clear from.
  8. Bulking and cutting seasons: Get shredded for the sun, put on a little fluff for sweater season. It’s relatively traditional for much of the fitness community to lean down or “cut” during the summertime in order to bare their slim bodies on the beach and transition into a phase of putting on some weight, termed “bulking”, in the winter since everybody tends to cover up in the cold. While it’s perfectly healthy to put on some muscle and burn off excess fat while retaining that muscle mass, why is it necessary to constantly be in a “diet” mindset? On one hand, people can have an extremely healthy relationship with food and their bodies, accepting them thick or thin no matter what. On the other hand, they are still thinking about how many calories they should be consuming/burning, what they should and should not be eating, and how dramatically the number on the scale changes. Most of us just don’t really want to switch from one to the other every year. Rather that, many of us want to live a balanced lifestyle all year-long. Besides, a donut in the summer shouldn’t be a reason for panic if a donut in the winter is a reason for success.
  9. Shaming others (MOST of all): Truthfully, you can’t impress everybody. No matter how positive an audience may be, we will all come across at least one person who doesn’t like what we have to offer. That’s perfectly fine until feelings get hurt. Most of the time, shaming comes in the form of rude comments such as, “This person looked better in the before photo”, “Still too fat”, “You eat WAY too little”, “You don’t eat enough”, “Probably using steroids” or “You obviously Photoshopped this picture”. There really is no benefit to being mean–all it does is put a damper on the subject and make the hater look foolish. I bet that many people who find my Instagram and website have more than plenty of terrible things to say: pancake butt. Too much food and not enough selfies. I already know that my personal image is far from the ideal, so why rub it in my face? Fitness is supposed to be a place of welcoming, empowering other people who want to improve their lifestyles, not to be judged or condescended because they are just beginning.

before-and-after-2012-2016

Although these are only so many of what I believe should be reduced and what should be heightened in health and fitness, none of these factors diminish my passion for them. Choosing a lifestyle that integrates making wholesome decisions has gotten me to a place that I wouldn’t trade for anything at all. It’s simply up to us as a community to alter certain parts of the fitness culture that degrade positive values with over-saturation of meaningless and even harmful ideas or actions that only hurt the image of what fitness and healthy is. Simply by enjoying exercise, eating wisely and caring about your well-being, then you are indeed healthy and fit. Nobody, and certainly not you, needs a six pack or a bubble butt to prove that.


2 thoughts on “What the Fitness Industry Should Endorse More (and Less)

  1. But do you know what’s even MORE amazing? Gaining a higher sense of confidence and mental quality in your life, and that’s something that is just way too overlooked. It’s extremely unfortunate because fitness is seen as a pursuit of vanity.

    So well said. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that YOU struggle with things like this. You are so beautiful and carry yourself with such a sense of self-assuredness and ease that I picture you as the epitome of a fit foodie! You are amazing so it would make me so sad if you were to beat yourself up about anything 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much! Our society just fuels off of weight loss–which is not always a bad thing given that a lot of Western countries are dealing with serious health crises, but it can steer the focus towards a physical, superficial goal that we lose sight of why we started on our fitness journey in the first place.
      Ah girl, you are too sweet and have the best words to say! But truth is, I deal with these struggles constantly, and yesterday I actually discovered that I have a pretty serious health issue that I need to address ASAP, which I’ll elaborate on in the future, but it goes to show that nobody is perfect! 💛

      Liked by 1 person

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