Some news out of the glorious country that is New Zealand made me smile yesterday.
City Fitness, a gym in Christchurch, has decided to put a stop to members who take photographs inside their premises.
A whiteboard sign in the gym clearly states:
“Due to unhappy members ending up in the background of Facebook posts and YouTube videos, taking pictures and video is now prohibited. If seen you will be asked to stop.”
Boom. While the sign has since been removed following instructions from the gym’s head office, I for one think they were onto something. Gym selfies should be banned.
Image: Facebook/Ru Deus Ex Machina.
You might this is a little extreme, but let me explain. Selfies captured in public are an accepted part of our culture now. Friends send me Snapchats of themselves on the train. We take self portraits at work, shopping, at dinner, partying, in bed, on the toilet — you get the drift.
And that’s fine. That’s life. I can deal with that. Hell, I do it myself. But the gym feels a little more sacred to me. Exercising is something I can do that’s hugely positive for my mental and physical wellbeing, while paying zero attention to my appearance. Why would I?
You can often find me in garish tights, one of my partner’s old T-shirts, crappy old sneakers and my regional cross country hoodie from 2003 (represent), the only adornment to my face being acne scars and tired eyes. And that’s acceptable, because fitness is not synonymous with glamour.
Or at least it wasn’t, until the prevalence of damned gym selfies.
Yes, friends, exercising — once something many of us undertook solely to improve our physical health — has now become a competition of the most improved, most stylish and most chiseled. It's now “on trend”, as some might say. It’s hip to proclaim your love for exercise, for working out and for the gym. The only way you can prove this? Constantly document your escapades in the form of a gym selfie, or 72. (Post continues after gallery.)
This is fine. Power to her; I’m a big believer in doing what makes you happy. But, Khloe, your statements and gym selfies are ruining it for the rest of us.
“When I buy a cute outfit, I’m super excited to go to the gym the next day… I also always wear hoop earrings; they’re like my security blanket,” she recently told Shape magazine.
“Just because you are going to work out, you don’t have to look like a slob.”
Khloe Kardashian spoke about her recent weight loss on Live with Kelly and Michael. Post continues after this video.
Ouch, Khloe. On behalf of fitness “slobs” everywhere, that hurts.
But what about the many people like me who might relish looking less-than-done while working out? I’ll tell you what, we’re now firmly in the minority.
The selfie below is testament to that. The caption is simply “fitness”. But I don’t see the telltale symptoms of one who’s recently engaged in exercise — you know, sweating, a shiny beetroot red face, that sort of caper.
Khloe's hair is out and is perfectly coiffed. Her nails are flawless and her pose and outfit are oozing with glamour.
And so the gym has become another place hijacked by selfies, by our obsession with always looking primped and perfect should a photo opportunity arise. Where gratuitous shots of tensed abs with captions like “feeling so great about my gym progress” are revealed to be a shallow "humble brag".
Author, presenter and personal trainer Blake Worrall Thompson has similar feelings about the obsession with gym selfies.
"The health and fitness industry has lost sight of what is important — a workout," he explains.
"For many, if they didn't get a selfie at the gym the gym session never happened. Funky photos of you working out every now and then are fine but the real badarses of the industry who are really dedicated just get the job done, whether there is a photo to accompany it or not."
When I expressed my disdain for over-the-top gym selfies to colleagues and friends, I was met with differing retorts.
Some said that if you’re able to take a sexy gym selfie, you’re clearly not working out hard enough. Others mentioned that they want to immortalise feeling and looking great by taking a selfie.
And one mentioned that other people’s gym photos make her anxious: “While I was getting changed after my swim recently, two girls were taking selfies in the changerooms and it made me really worried because what if I was accidentally semi-nude in the back of their selfie?”
Fair call, no?
For some, gym selfies that document their body’s “progress” are a source of pride and achievement; a way to stay on track with their goals.
I get that. But 99.9 per cent of the time, using your body and your physical appearance as the barometer of your success is a slipperier slope than a sweat-soaked incline treadmill. How you feel — now that’s where the true progress kicks in. And there's not a selfie or hoop earring that can help you out with that.
Plus, spare a thought for the poor slob behind you who's now caught in your photo with mid-pump class face.
What's your take on gym selfies? Yay or nay?