There are many different factors that affect how well you workout at the gym. Energy levels, your current state of fitness, what you’ve eaten that day, how stressed you are, whether you got a good night’s sleep last night, how busy the gym is. But I bet you never thought that what you’re wearing could also be making a difference?
Well according to a recent Gym Perception survey carried out by the clothing wholesaler and t-shirt printing company Buytshirtsonline, it really does make all the difference, and not necessarily in the way we would like. The company, who specialise in gym and fitness club t-shirt printing, questioned over 1500 gym goers in the UK about their perceptions of going to the gym and whether how they look when they’re there matters to them or not.
Physical V’s Mental Health
The results are a real insight into today’s body conscious society. With 84% of those questioned admitting to taking selfies while at the gym, over 1/3 claiming they would be happy to share their workout progress on social media, and 54% confessing to actively choosing to exercise in front of a mirror it’s clear image is important to us. But while our bodies are apparently reaping all those physical benefits, what is it doing to our mental health and what kind of message does it send out to those of us who aren’t so happy with how our bodies look?
In the same survey 44% admitted that their body image had prevented them from exercising in the past, and this was considered a bigger problem for the women (53%) in particular. Perhaps how we look is actually detrimental to our workout. Perhaps we’re spending so long worrying about what we look like, how others will perceive us, and stressing about our make up running if we sweat, that we’re not actually working out at the gym at all. Our gym membership fees are nothing more than a vanity parade!
As with everything in life, it is of course about balance. No one’s saying you should rock up to the gym in baggy trackies and a skanky stained vest, but then again if that’s what you want to workout in then hey no judgements here. There’s a lot to be said about the power of beautiful, shiny new lycra and how it can make a girl feel great about themselves. And if that is the driving force in helping you get on out there and gives you the confidence to workout at the gym, when you may have otherwise felt self-conscious then I say go for it.
As for mirrors… well it’s tricky to avoid them at gyms these days so there is very little you can do about it. That being said, there really isn’t any need to be fawning over your reflection, especially when it’s affecting your form and workout technique. But then we come to the question of why it is you go to the gym?
With such a high number of people confessing to taking selfies during their time at the gym it would suggest that social media image is a big element in all this. And is it any surprise when our feeds are inundated with celebrity gym goers like Kayla Itsines, Grace Laid, Heidi Summers and Hannah Fallis Bronfman. The pressure to look good is immense, so of course we want to look good at the gym, otherwise what on earth are we going to post on Instagram later!?!?!
In my opinion, and admittedly this is coming from a 40 year old woman who literally has zero fucks to give, the gym shouldn’t be about how you look. Honestly, who cares if your hair’s messy, if your mascara’s run or if your top doesn’t match your leggings. It literally doesn’t matter. And the only reason you really need to be sharing your workout on social media is for your own benefit to help you keep track of progress or to help inspire others. Posting ‘perfect’ pics that have been staged, styled and have got more filters than an office coffee machine is not helping anyone. Firstly it’s not real and therefore deep down cannot be making you happy. And secondly it is only adding to and making worse the pressure that young girls feel when they try and live up to this crazy ideal. Working out is as much to do with the mental as it is the physical and ultimately you should be going to the gym because you want your body and mind to be healthy, to be strong, to maintain functionality both now and in the future and to work in the best possible way for you; nobody else.
What Matters Most
So going back to the question, does how you look at the gym improve your workout?, no I can honestly say I don’t think it does. If anything it does the complete opposite – it takes away the very essence of what exercise and fitness should be about, it places too much emphasis on a person’s appearance rather than who they are and what they are capable of, and it definitely does your mental health no favours whatsoever.
Embrace who you are, love every bit of you, workout for you, for your health, for your fitness, for your mind, for YOU!