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This Gym's Body-Positive Message Makes Us Want To Work Out

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Video: Courtesy of Blink Fitness.
Whether they're pushing an intimate studio experience, an old-school minimal style complete with pervasive sweat stench, or a spa/nightclub/nightmare, gyms do a lot to get our attention. But the one thing they all seem to have in common is the message of an ideal body, one that (conveniently) we're supposed to go there to achieve. However, the latest campaign from Blink Fitness throws that mold out the window — and we're big fans of the result.

At R29 we write a lot about fitness, and it's easy to forget that the vast majority of us don't belong to a gym at all — partly because of the intimidation factor, explains Ellen Roggemann, vice president of marketing at Blink. "The fitness industry highlights perfect bodies and lofty weight-loss goals, but that actually turns a lot of people off," Roggemann says.

According to research from the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, about 49% of people who did belong to gyms in 2013 went to their club of choice specifically looking to lose weight. And according to our New Year, Do You survey, weight was the second most popular resolution for 2016. Of course, whether or not you actually need to lose weight is between you and your doctor. And when it's healthy, weight-loss is usually a long process with highs and lows — it's not something that always feels great, nor is it something that can be achieved instantly, no matter what club you go to.

The fitness industry highlights perfect bodies and lofty weight-loss goals, but that turns a lot of people off.

Ellen Roggemann
However, thanks to a vast array of societal conditioning, far too many of us have assumed that we need to lose weight in order to be worthwhile people, for far too long. And gyms have been only too happy to present themselves as the solution to our supposed lack of self-esteem while simultaneously encouraging us to continue buying into the idea that our physical appearance is what ultimately defines us. We go because they tell us to, and when we don't meet the unrealistic goals they set for us, we blame ourselves — and they still get our money. Honestly, it's a pretty sweet setup.

But whether or not you want to lose weight, there's no denying the importance of staying physically active, even if you haven't found a specific kind of activity that speaks to you. It's no wonder so many of us have such a complicated relationship with gyms (and fitness in general). And that's where Blink's new Every Body Happy campaign comes in. By emphasizing the way exercise makes you feel over the way it might — one day, with dedication and lots of effort — make you look, Blink is tapping into the benefits of working out that are both more approachable and immediate.

"Fitness can make you feel confident, joyful, energetic... There are so many things that are derived from fitness," Roggemann says, "but the industry always puts this physical image out into the media."
The campaign, officially launching today, includes the video above, along with illustrations and various slogans (e.g. "Every ass is a badass") designed to introduce a more inclusive image. For instance, the video showcases Blink members, employees, and actors of all kinds of diverse body sizes, shapes, ethnic backgrounds, and ages."Fit looks different on everyone," Roggemann says, "and feeling good because of exercise can be achieved by anyone... It doesn’t have to be about these polarizing, glossy images of what fitness has to be."

And that's what's really so important about the campaign — it's the beginning of a vital shift in thinking from one standardized ideal to finding and pursuing your individual goals. It doesn't matter if that goal is weight-loss, a mood boost, or just hitting your Fitbit's step count — as long as it's healthy and yours, it's great. As Roggemann says, "What we’re putting out there has attitude and positivity and it's inclusive and aspirational... That is something that doesn’t exist in the gym industry or fitness advertising at all."

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you actually feel welcome.
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