I’m disappointed in a new addition to my dance studio: a board that reads “Resolution Board” and features various magazine pictures of women. I oppose this board because I think that resolution boards featuring anorexic airbrushed eighteen year olds misses the entire point of fitness. I also in general oppose things that lower self esteem- self esteem is already a huge problem across the world. Pictures exactly like the ones on this board have been proven to lower self esteem (see here and here for instance).
In general, I try to stay away from media images of airbrushed women because of the proven links between the images and self esteem and also because I have more interesting things to do with my time. I resent that the images I have so carefully avoided are now plastered in such an obvious spot in my dance studio, where I spend most of my free time.
The even bigger issue, however, is that these images (and all of the images in the new “fitspiration” movement) completely miss the point of fitness. Fitness is about what you can do and how you can feel. Focusing on fitness for how it makes you look sucks all of the joy out of training. You will always continue to see things that are “wrong” with yourself, if you continuously focus on what’s “wrong” with you. The solution is to focus on what you can do.
Fitness is about what you can do. Fitness allows you to do things- like hiking or skiing or surfing or bowling or cartwheeling down the isles of a shoe store with a delighted four year old. Want to keep the example pole specific? Here’s a simple question. Do you feel better when you nail the jade split (or any other pole move) for the first time, or when you think about how your thighs look? The answer is obvious. Fitness is about what you can do, not what you look like.
Need more proof? Exercise makes you happier, leads to better sex, makes you smarter and boosts your self esteem. Obsessing about whether or not you look like an airbrushed model does not accomplish anything. If my dance studio wanted to inspire people to reach their fitness goals, they should scrap the “Resolution Board” and stick with what it does already: let people see what themselves and their friends are accomplishing through their hard work.