You've either taken one yourself or watched someone else do it: gym selfies. They're happening, but do they need an entire dedicated room?
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You just completed the final knockout round at your favorite boxing class, and you kicked some serious butt. Then you head into the locker room to grab your things and catch a glimpse of yourself. ["Hey, look at those triceps!"] You grab your phone and decide to document those gains because if it's not on IG, did it even happen? Ah, the gym selfie. Whether you'd never be caught dead taking one, or you regularly flex for the camera out on the gym floor, taking progress pics is a trend that's here to stay.
And The Edge Fitness Clubs is trying to take the sweaty selfie to a whole new level. The brand decided to give members access to a Gym Selfie Room at their Fairfield, CT, facility—an entire space dedicated to the post-workout photos. The initiative was fostered from results a survey Edge Fitness Clubs commissioned, which showed that 43 percent of adults who go to a gym have taken a picture or video of themselves while there, with 27 percent of those photos being selfies.
With this new selfie space, gym goers would not only have a spot to take all the post-sweat pics they want without gawkers wondering what they're doing, but the room would be stocked with hair products, fitness accessories, and even photo-friendly lighting to ensure the best social-worthy pic. (Related: Fit Bloggers Reveal Their Secrets Behind Those "Perfect" Photos)
You probably have a lot of thoughts right now. Doesn't the photoshoot-level magic kind of take away from the gritty, "I'm strong AF" sweaty selfie appeal? And is it healthy to dedicate an entire room in a gym to celebrating aesthetics when fitness is so much more than just how you look? Could a safe space for selfies encourage gym goers to feel more comfortable in their skin and about taking progress pics that act at motivation?
Turns out, you aren't alone with these mixed emotions. The gym's announcement brought so much backlash on social media—a lot of which was from its own members—that it decided to halt the launch. (Related: The Right and Wrong Ways to Use Social Media for Weight Loss)
This debate got us wondering about the pros and cons of a selfie space in local gyms. "In an ideal world, posting gym selfies on social media could be a positive experience," says Rebecca Gahan, C.P.T, owner and founder of Kick@55 Fitness in Chicago. Those people who might need outside support to maintain their workout motivation could benefit from posting workout check-ins and process pictures online, says Gahan. "When you post, your friends and family cheer your efforts online, comment on your changing physique, and reinforce this positive behavior," she says.
The reality of a gym-selfie room might be a little different, though, as Gahan says scrolling through social media fitness posts can perpetuate negative self-esteem if you feel you don't measure up. (This is probably why Instagram is the worst social media platform for your mental health.) It's all too easy to compare your body or your skills when you see a pic of perfectly chiseled abs on that friend-of-a-friend or a video of your favorite fitness influencer squatting 200 pounds.
And what about those people taking and posting the pictures? If you start spending more time in the selfie room than in the weight room, you could lose touch with the real reason you're at the gym or in class in the first place—to work out, not just for the 'gram. "When posting, people are watching their views and likes to further validate whether they look good," says Gahan.
Furthermore, some would argue that the idea of a selfie room equipped with hair and makeup products and mood lighting implies there's a certain standard of beauty or body type you should be striving to achieve. This can be extremely discouraging, as not everyone has the genetic makeup to have or even work for this "ideal" body, says Melainie Rogers, M.S., R.D.N., founder and executive director of BALANCE, an eating disorder recovery center. "This can lead to obsessiveness and perfectionism and ultimately takes away from what going to the gym and exercising should truly be about," says Rogers.
Bottom line: You shouldn't be ashamed of taking a selfie, at the gym or otherwise, but just make sure your goals have more to do with lunges than likes.