There are a lot of popular fitness sites and social media accounts where pretty, peppy girls post smoothie recipes and quick little workout routines and fitness challenges for you to follow along with, like “3 easy moves for a sexy back” or “7 minutes to toned thighs.”
I’m calling bullshit on them.
It’s not that I have any beef with the girls who create them- they usually seem cute and fun; they’re just doing what they love. But the message is destructive, and I can’t stand idly by anymore. Typically I prefer to approach things from the positive, but when I see something popular that is just bad for humanity, I gotta poke some holes in it. I did it with fitspo, and now I’m doing it with what I can only call “girly fitness bullshit.” It’s a category category with a massive variety of offenses, but I’m especially looking at the Tone It Up girls, Blogilates, and other such similar nonsense.
Disclaimer: yes doing something is better than doing nothing. If these sites inspire/motivate you to get up and move, great. That shit is probably fun, I get it. Everyone is different. Each brand has their own unique strengths and weakness. But please stop reading now, if you don’t want to hear about why they suck.
Without further ado, 9 Reasons to Stop Following Pretty Fitness Bullshit:
- Inaccurate info. I very rarely see even a glimmer of evidence-based science on these sites. The girls may be “inspiring,” but they are not well-educated in exercise science, which means they are confidently sharing wrong information. Often the workouts are based around the myth that girls should do cardio or isolated dance-y moves in order to tone, rather than weight train with actual resistance. (Please don’t make me explain why that’s not true.)
I see lots of moves being performed wrong, explained wrong, and attributed to the wrong muscles. I see a tragic lack of understanding of anatomy and kinesiology being demonstrated by anyone who says an exercise will “tone up those inner thighs” or “melt those love handles.” I see a complete disregard for the principle of Specific Adaptation, and progressive overload. Because these girls have enviable bodies and are being regarded as “experts” and “gurus” however, they are helping this inaccurate information become even deeper embedded into pop fitness culture.
- “Creative” = nonsense. There is this stupid trend in the fitness industry, where trainers are pressured to look creative and original by making up new shit. It makes me want to throw myself out a window. If you invented it yesterday then you do not have a right to tell me it’s great for my triceps. WTF. How could you possibly know that? What evidence is that based on? Ditto for combining a bunch of pre-existing moves into one super complicated and less effective move. Just because you named it something sexy sounding like a “scorpian shape-up!” does not make it a good idea. Plus all that “creativity” unnecessarily confuses the shit out of people who may have heard the actual names of these moves before, but now think there is something special and magical about this one that they’ll never understand.
Effectiveness > creativity. Trying to be creative is what brought us dangerous and useless shit like single leg squats with a bicep curls on a bocu ball, which has probably been named something like the “waist-bend arm-toner!” in someone’s creative nonsense workout routine. No more.
- Body envy is not a reason to trust someone. Anything based on the theory “Well, it worked for me!” should be fucking banned. Where is the science?? (Are you noticing a theme here?) These girls don’t seem to have much accurate information or education, but they have nice bodies and good skin, so people assume what they do MUST work! The message is: “just do what I do and you can look like me!” Except they probably do different, better structured stuff for their real workouts. Or maybe not. Maybe they just do their little candy coated workouts, eat lightly, and have good genes.
But the problem here is that you are a unique fucking snowflake. You have unique limb lengths, unique sleep/stress/nutrition patterns, and a unique metabolism. There is a reason we invented science, and I’m pretty sure it was so that we never had to take one cute enthusiastic girl’s word for what works. (Not to mention you should never try to look like anyone else. Unless you’re attempting to be as deeply unhappy with yourself as possible, you should only ever try to look like you.)
- Form. God help me, the form. When it comes to proper exercise form, the aforementioned lack of understanding and information can not only be frustrating and ineffective, but it can also be fucking dangerous.
Real quick example: Don’t plank like Jen Selter. Not ever.
- They complicate the shit out of everything. When a so-called “expert” spews out a bunch of convoluted and unscientific nonsense, everyone goes “Gosh, fitness is so complicated and confusing! Good thing she knows what she’s talking about cuz I sure as hell don’t have a clue!”
But communication of information is important. In fact, it is every bit as important as having accurate and updated information to communicate in the first place. And sometimes the real problem is that they don’t even know what they’re talking about! Tracey Anderson (who is like the Grande Dame of Girly Fitness Bullshit), is a perfect example here. Watch her talk about how toning works, and then try to paraphrase her, I dare you. You can’t. She misuses like 20 buzzwords in a row and literally nobody, probably not even her, knows WTF she’s talking about. I can’t even handle her bullshit.
“Yeah, but look at her body and her celebrity clients!”
No. You’re fired. Go back and re-read #3.
- Those light-ass weights. Please. You’re killing me. We’re women, not baby jellyfish. We can handle a real fucking challenge. Put down the pink dumbbells.
- Enough with the stupid fucking fitness challenges. “30 Day Bodyweight Squat Challenge!” Do you know what is way more effective than doing 30 air squats for 30 days in a row? Heavy barbell squats, once or twice a week, paired with a full-body training program and good food and sleep habits, for the rest of your fucking life. Don’t waste your time on slow and ineffective bullshit, just because someone with a nice smile and a pretty blowout “challenged” you to.
- Condescending bubblegum language. Many of these sites use HEAVILY sugar coated pop fitness words and phrases, which continues to send the message that because we are women we need special, gentle treatment. As though we need our workouts to be non-threatening and smell like cotton candy. This message is easier to market, because it preys upon popular pre-existing fears and false beliefs. I see a lot of submissive buzzwords like “toning,” “tightening,” and “fat-burning.”
We can do better than that. We are grown ass women with the ability to do complex shit like file our taxes and fold a fitted sheet. We have highly developed language comprehensions skills. We don’t need special strawberry-scented word definitions. Call me crazy, but I believe in treating women like adult humans who can understand what words mean, and telling them the truth.
- It downplays effort. The message sent by these girls is often that you can have a great body with just a teeeeny tiny bit of extra time and effort. “Sexy 7-minute Valentine’s day workout!!” “Get flat abs in just 4 easy moves!”
But getting results requires real effort and real consistency over the long term. It requires dedication and a desire to work hard. And it sure as hell requires more than 7 minutes. So please, let’s stop supporting people who say otherwise.
I am passionate about helping women learn to love their bodies. That includes unlearning what a woman “should” be, feeling empowered and confident in yourself, embracing your authentic power, and creating a life so kick-ass and beautiful that you hardly have any time or energy left over to think about how your body looks. 😉
That’s why I created
— for women like you, who are sick of being judged for what you look like, and want to focus instead on all the amazing things you can do and be.