Why don’t gym and fitness ads show real people?

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Have you ever looked at a gym and fitness advertisement? Most of these ads show people who are in amazing physical shape. Many of them have achieved this because it is their full time job, and they have devoted their lives to fitness. Some of them, uh, are big fans of, uhm… High level pharmaceuticals that are designed to enhance your physique?

These are not your everyday, normal, average people. These are not the type of results that most “regular” people will attain, and I think it’s terribly misleading. Have you ever asked yourself, “why don’t gym ads show real people?” Where is the mother of 3 who only has time to take that one kickboxing class with Angel in the evening? Where’s that father who goes in for just 30 minutes on the elliptical? How do these real people fair off at the gym? Why don’t the marketing ads show them? I propose that they should!

These are my personal results after about a year and half of consistent training. I work a full time technology job, have a family, and also happen to teach at 3 gyms. How did I do it? Can’t you relate more to someone like me than to one of those models? Notice reality here, I’m still working on it! I’m not shredded or perfect, that’s reality. You have to keep working on it. It’s not easy, it’s not fast!

My body is not perfect, and it’s certainly not at the same level as this guy! But I’m working on it, and I will be the best version of me that I can be. That’s what you can do, that’s a real goal, and that’s what gyms and products needs to start promoting!

Does that make my progress any less impressive? Does that make my work any less meaningful? Does my saying this take anything away from him? I hope the answer is no on all counts. Here’s what I do know, I’ve never, ever, ever, ever, seen that guy, or anyone who looks like him at ANY, and I mean ANY of the gyms that I have ever attended over the last two and half decades! So why should he be used as the representative of any gym?

What about this one?

She’s amazing, but once again, never in my over two decades of using gyms, have I seen a woman like her at the gym. Not dressed like that, and definitely not at that level of fitness. Granted, perhaps they have been there, and actually dressed up? I don’t know, but the point is, why market this as the reality of going to the gym, when the majority of gym goers do not look like this?

Realistically speaking, no matter what they do, (barring drug use) your average gym goer will never have the discipline, drive, will or capacity to look like these people, and that’s real talk. So let’s show them what they can actually attain! Having realistic, attainable goals makes happier people! Stop selling a fantasy that will not come true!

In my opinion, this sets people up for failure. If you go to the gym, and you expect to look like either of these two people, or even me, within 3 months, you will fail.  The gyms needs to set a realistic standard, goals that are achievable. Put up real people on the posters, the ones who actually frequent and use your gyms, not stock footage from some advertising agency! Let the members meet us, learn from us, and see that we are flawed, limited humans just like they are.

Help people create realistic goals which are actually attainable and I think you will create a healthier AND happier America.


The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.

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Also published on Medium.