I think there’s always a little controversy and “two-sidedness” to this topic but I figured I’d share my thoughts on why I ditched fitness before and after images for myself, as well as my clients. What I’m sharing below is part of the way I coach and it’s what aligns with my core values. But I would like to let you know that no matter what, I totally respect everyone’s view on this topic. And overall, I hope that by the end of this article you find that it is helpful for your journey as you continue to progress and grow as an everyday warrior.
#1 reason – It’s just marketing to make more sales
The first reason why I don’t use before and after photos? Well from a fitness business perspective it’s just a marketing tactic to make more sales. Straight up. If a trainer or coach is primarily displaying these on their instagram, facebook and website it’s most likely part of their marketing strategy to get you through the door. And before I get bashed for expressing my opinion on this, I would like to make the distinction between a progress photo vs. a before and after. I believe progress photos are great! They are kept private between the client and coach and only pursued as a way to check-in or mark milestones rather than to be used for marketing purposes. I think progress photos are a bit more healthy but you can also do without if you’d like. I also don’t think you or anyone else should be pressured to take progress photos if you are NOT comfortable with it. At the end of the day, I think you should ask yourself if that’s really important for you or not. Most of the time it’s not, what matters most is your body composition results or the results of whatever goal you are trying to reach.
#2 reason – Your worth is not in how you look in that before and after photo
Culture and media will try really hard to convince you that you should look or weigh a certain way. I’m here to remind you that your worth is not in how you look. I also want you to become aware of how “the way you should look” changes every 10 years because I think it shows some proof of what I am saying.That’s some superficial bullshit that was invented by marketing experts to make you feel bad about yourself so you can buy a service or product. I have seen far too many women and men struggle with this and I say enough is enough. I am personally really excited and glad to see more coaches/trainers standing up for this message in an industry that for a long time was all about aesthetics. Unless you are a model, professional bodybuilder, or fitness influencer you don’t have to put so much emphasis on how you look. Photos aren’t everything and realistically don’t tell the entire story. Trust me, you’re awesome where you are and where you are going.
#3 reason – Comparisons
For some, a before and after can cause some negative internalizations. It might make you think that the body you had in the before photo was “fat” and the after photo is more desirable because it’s “leaner” or “more ideal”. As long as we are comparing ourselves to a version that we are ashamed of or that we can’t stand to see in the mirror, we are not accepting ourselves fully as we are. This type of comparison trap can lead to having an unhealthy relationship with fitness, nutrition and our mental health. So it’s important that we practice self-love and acceptance and not focus on comparing past self to current self OR compare ourselves to others when we are trying to make real whole changes for our mind, body and spirit.
The fitness industry is full of before and after photos and it is so normalized and accepted that it’s not even given a second thought on how it can affect us internally. Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t take photos but when we do it should be done for the right reasons and be kept privately rather than to be exposed for the wrong reasons.
Now for me, when I teach or coach I want to welcome everyone. Come as you are. Steel Mace is for every shape and form and not for a select few. You shouldn’t feel like you have to fit in or fit a certain mold. The second you begin to feel that way, it’s time to check-in and make sure you are on the right path. I want you to wake up everyday knowing that you are a warrior and a warrior doesn’t have to look a certain way.
So very true. The before pictures are usually of someone who is visually unhappy and ashamed of their image and the after will usually have a smile from ear to ear! It normalizes the thought that you should be unhappy with yourself if you don’t fit the mold of “skinny!”