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Queens Chronicle

HEALTH & FITNESS Social media scaring people from the gym?

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:30 am

It’s January, meaning that many who made a New Year’s resolution to get in better shape is heading to the gym.

But Nuffield Health, the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the United Kingdom, says a third of people ages 18 to 35 feel too self-conscious to join a gym, according to a new survey.

It seems like social media is a culprit, as 30 percent of those surveyed wished people took more realistic photos of themselves in the gym as opposed to staged ones.

And 22 percent surveyed explained that seeing other people’s gym photos online puts pressure on them to look a certain way.

Social media could play a positive role too, as 69 percent of those surveyed believe more realistic images of celebrities online would encourage younger people looking to improve their health and fitness.

But almost one-quarter of people surveyed said they are “worried everyone will look at me.”

Justine Orr, manager of Limitless Fitness in Howard Beach, said there are no worries like that at her gym.

“Especially here, we’re like a family. If we see somebody new, we help them,” she said. “The other members help them and teach them different things. We want to see everybody achieve their goals, no matter what those goals are.”

Orr also believes most people posting pictures of themselves are doing it to help others.

“I feel that most people put it up as inspiration, to try to motivate others to get started and that everyone starts at their own starting point,” she said. “Their goal should just be to be better than they were yesterday. It shouldn’t be what other people are necessarily doing.”

Orr added, “I think people who have accomplished fitness goals in the past just find it so beneficial to themselves, they want to motivate others into starting. Like, ‘If I did it, you can do it.’”

Michael Fisher, general manager of New York Sports Clubs on Austin Street, said he’s not surprised by the survey.

“I’m not surprised by that at all,” he said. “It can be very intimidating especially for people who don’t know where to start, don’t really know how to exercise, which is why we provide help with new members in terms of assisting you in memberships, scheduling you with fitness orientation with a trainer to learn the machines, learn how to exercise because it can be very scary not knowing where to begin.”

He said many gyms use a “no judgment” policy. “Every business knows half the battle is just getting through the door,” Fisher said. “And then the other half is putting on shorts and a T-shirt and working out.”

Fisher believes social media has been a “gift and a curse.”

“There’s lots of people on one side who have lots of positive body imaging, feel very strongly about themselves, love the way they look and how they feel and then you have the other side of the coin who’s afraid to take pictures and doesn’t want to look into mirrors,” he said.

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