If you’ve spent much time on Pinterest or health and fitness blogs, you may have come across the obscure terms “fitspo,” and “thinspo.”
“Thinspo,” derived from the combination of “inspiration,” and “thin,” has notoriously become known as a negative term used to inspire people to be thin. Its images and phrases are often used by people suffering from eating and exercising disorders to push themselves towards an unhealthy or unattainable weight.
“Fitspo,” derived from the combination of “inspiration” and “fitness,” is a less controversial term used to encourage people to exercise, and its images and phrases are generally less harmful. However, a recent Today article warns that some images used under the guise of “fitspo,” can display harmful messages.
Why is this an issue? Since the advent of Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, many health clubs and fitness companies (including Club Solutions Magazine), post inspirational images to social media on an almost daily basis, with the intention of inspiring others to work towards their health and fitness goals. Jodi Rubin, the creator of Destructively Fit, believes that as a whole, “fitspo” itself isn’t an issue. Instead, she believes it can be negative when images boast unrealistic, untrue or unattainable messages. “Not all ‘fitspo’ is negative, but there is a lot that is negative,” she said.
Rubin suggested clubs stay away from posting images that make assumptions concerning why people attend your club. “What is negative depends on the person that’s reading it,” she said. “I’d stay away from assumptions that everyone’s at your club to bulk up, or lose weight or body fat.”
Unrealistic images are, for example, images that say, “If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.” In many cases, if an exercise hurts, you should definitely stop.
Rubin cautioned that people suffering from exercising or eating disorders might interpret images differently, which is something to be conscious of. Rubin offers a continuing education course for personal trainers and instructors endorsed by ACE and NASM that addresses eating and exercising disorders and how to approach a member or client you think is suffering. “Messages that encourage just moving or moving your body in a different way are great messages,” she continued.
Rachel Zabonick is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach out to her about exciting events or programs your club has implemented, or to share the amazing accomplishments of a member.