• Richard Albert

Is Fitness Only About Looking Good?

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

I recently finished an interesting article about AI-based personal training, shared by a friend in a group for personal trainers in Mont Kiara. With the current quarantine measures implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people not only in Malaysia but across the whole world are no longer able to attend gyms for their work out, leaving many to search online for alternatives they can do at home. Although the article provided some very impressive and useful developments that have been taking place recently, its first sentence was one that highlights an attitude I thoroughly dislike within the fitness industry: ‘Everybody wants to look good’. Is this sentence actually true?

If you peruse fitness accounts and their associated hashtags on social media you’ll find that the most popular posts are often those of people with the least amount of clothes on, the subjects of such posts tending also to be conventionally attractive. It takes hard work, discipline and dedication to build and maintain a body like these influencers, which definitely deserves some serious respect. Sharing tips and ideas of how to achieve body compositions like their own can also be helpful for many people who are also working towards the same target. However – is this the only message these posts send out to their readers? Not really! They also send the subconscious message to their audience that confidence comes from showing off your body to the masses, and thousands of likes and comments on each post provides confirmation of this fact. I know people that train hard and post great pictures of themselves on social media, but if they don’t pass their desired amount of likes they lose confidence, leading to them deleting the picture. Many other people are not comfortable even posting pictures of themselves, because they are afraid of being judged or rejected. This may provide insight into why ‘everybody wants to look good’ – so many believe it will boost their confidence and empower them so they can avoid negative attention, particularly on social media. Some personal trainers in Kuala Lumpur are just as responsible as the so called ‘fitness influencers’ for sending out this hidden message. Achieving high level of fitness and a desirable body will not necessarily solve a person’s confidence issues in the long term. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everybody who wants to look good necessarily struggles with confidence issues, but through some introspection and thinking it may be worth uncovering the real reason why one wants to improve our body image.

working out to be healthy
What's your main reason for working out?

As a personal trainer in Mont Kiara and Kuala Lumpur Central I feel it is very important to help clients uncover their true motivations behind getting fitter, while also making them aware of the issues that surround chasing their ‘ideal body’. Looking good, for me at least, is just one slice of the ‘fitness cake’, and is a slice that is often highly overrated. It is difficult not to look good when one lives a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise and healthy ways of dealing and recovering from stress. Additionally, looking good indeed correlates with, but does not necessarily guarantee, good health. The world is fortunately becoming more and more health conscious, and so training for long term health and the improvement of one’s quality of life is becoming a more common fitness goal across most of the world’s populations. What is the point of looking great when someone is a regular guest at the local physiotherapy centre, and continuously struggling with joint problems and injuries? For me, the real fitness influencers are not the ones with popular Instagram accounts, but those aged over 40 or 50 or even 60, who have full time jobs and look after their families while still managing to lead a healthy and active lifestyle without struggling with any health or joint issues. It’s great that many personal trainers in Kuala Lumpur nowadays agree with this sentiment, and help to educate and coach their clients towards living a better life, rather than just focusing on looking better. It’s easy to look good when you’re in your 20s or 30s, but working out and staying healthy throughout old age is the real challenge ahead for all of us.

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