We're all about going after our best bod in the gym, in the kitchen, and even right in our own living rooms. But our fave fitness DVD's may not be the way to go, according to a new study published in the Sociology of Sport Journal—at least not when embracing body positivity is part of your fitness goals.
Researchers at Oregon State University looked at 10 popular, instructor-led exercise DVDs and found that some of their explicit and implicit messages actually tested as pretty discouraging. Looking at both the imagery of the videos and motivational language used, the researchers pointed out some worrisome traits: The main concern is that a lot of the slim, super sexy bods we see from our favorite fitness influencers aren't actually realistic for those of us who don't make a career out of looking ripped in a bikini (read: most of us), and the majority of DVDs are based on aesthetic outcomes rather than actual fitness. (It could have something to do with The Rise of the Personal Trainer Slash Celebrity.)
Secondly, the researchers from OSU also found that one out of every seven motivational statements in the DVDs were actually demotivational. Statements like "you better be sweating" or "you should be dying right now" are at best are likely to make the user feel inadequate and want to fall off the fitness wagon and at worst potentially psychologically damaging. (We prefer these 10 Motivational Fitness Mantras.)
The other major issue is that the $250 million fitness DVD industry is seriously lacking in any kind of body diversity. Most covers feature skinny, sculpted, white, female fitness instructors with megawatt smiles and booty shorts. And last time we checked, not all of our fitness role models (hello, Ronda Rousey and Robyn Lawley—and even inspirational yogis like Jessamyn Stanley and Valerie of @biggalyoga) fit that bill.
The bottom line? Getting into a workout routine that's both enjoyable and effective is hard enough without feeling discouraged by unrealistic expectations. Your workout routine should reflect your best body goals, not someone else's. Might we suggest you try our Shape Slim Down Challenge instead?