If you’re starting a new fitness routine, what made you start? For most people, the inspiration comes from the myriad of models that spam Instagram with their workout or beach bod selfies. You’ll see the comments full of exclamations of admiration with hashtags like #goals, #inspo, or even a simple heart-faced emoji.
While it’s fine to have role models, it’s problematic to put these staged photos on an “ideal-body” pedestal. A personal anecdote: I remember when I first started at the gym, I had a photo of Paige Hathaway as my phone’s background. Her chiseled abs were meant to stare right into my fat-self’s soul and inspire me to run that extra mile and continue that plank for just 10 more seconds. But what we see on Instagram are filters, flattering poses/angles, and in some cases, even Photoshop or editing. We’re warned about catfish in online dating, but what makes the fitness industry so different?
It’s unfortunate that fitness is yes, an INDUSTRY. Without people desperate for results, supplement companies would collapse. Supplements are meant to do just that: supplement your active lifestyle while paired with a balanced diet. No supplement will get you an Arnold physique in 30 days.
Looking back, though, I was impressionable four years ago. I had no idea how this fitness thing worked. I do the cardio and then I do the weights. What else? Now I know that maintaining a lean physique extends from the gym into your overall lifestyle. You need to kick the junk food and nights out drinking and instead lift weights with good form and do cardio as needed. My fellow gym goers know that no 30 day Squat Challenge will take you from pancake butt to Kim K. Sculpting and building take time, but I can see from my own experience how tempting it was to look for the easy way out.
Adobe GainZ: SHREDZ as a Case Study
Okay, so if you’re involved in the fitness online community, you probably know who SHREDZ are. If not, here’s what you need to know:
Since 2012, SHREDZ has been supplement-focused fitness company based in the US. You won’t find any of SHREDZ’s ads on late-night infomercials promoting the next revolutionary fitness contraption. Instead, SHREDZ dominated the social media sphere by pairing with fitness models/athletes and (using? not using?) their collection of fat burners. Elaborate photoshoots act as strong, visual rhetorical pieces and allowed SHREDZ to quickly permeate the timelines of many Instagram users.
While their initial intentions were to help people reach their physique goals, even the CEO of SHREDZ admits that they are more of a marketing firm than a supplement company. Shifting the focus of your company from self-betterment to pure profit sure does wonders for your credibility and reputation (#saidnooneever).
And yet, people continue to be hypnotized (myself included) by Paige Hathaway’s washboard abs. SHREDZ is now a multi-million dollar fitness company, and it’s all because of their digital marketing and
con artists sponsored athletes.
Recently, SHREDZ did some damage control by firing one of their athletes, Devin Physique. Devin photoshopped and maneuvered his way to becoming one of the most followed fitness accounts on Instagram… but at least he apologized:
“I just want to say sorry to all of you guys if I let any of you down by touching up my photos.”
Whether this will create a fraudulent fallout is unknown. Paige Hathaway continues to gain followers and lure customers into her 30 day challenges (which cost $200 to just participate). And while no one can maintain a flawless physique year round, it’s no doubt that Adobe helps these athletes make their living.
Have someone who is an inspiration to you, absolutely! But do your research: what are these people promoting? Is fitness to them only achieving a dream body? To me, fitness is much more than that. Fitness should be making you a healthier and happier person – the bangin’ bod is just an awesome bonus. I much prefer supplement companies and athletes that recognize that. I’m a normal person. Just a regular human being who goes to work every day and goes to the gym. I don’t want to funnel all of my hard-earned money towards Paige Hathaway’s next surgery or software renewal. I might not ever compete in powerlifting or bodybuilding, but I’m using supplements to fuel, not magically sculpt, my body.