Transformation pics. Sharing before and after photos of clients online is the go-to marketing strategy for personal trainers.
While there’s nothing particularly wrong with this, they aren’t for everyone. Nor are they required of every fitness journey.
PT Siobhan O’Hagan took to Instagram to explain the reasons why she doesn’t share transformation photos of her clients, and why the photos should be viewed with a grain of salt.
1. Dramatic transformations can be unhealthy
This certainly isn’t the case for all transformations you see online, but a rare few could be unhealthy. Drastic changes in physical appearance can be attributed to unsustainable behaviors and unrealistic ways of meeting goals. Always consider how change was achieved, and put your support behind healthy, sustainable habits.
2. It’s not you
So, you shouldn’t take images at face value. In fact, Matt Morisa broke down how to take the ‘perfect’ Instagram picture – and he doesn’t just roll out of bed.
Well the same applies to transformation photos. Every body is different – they store fat in different ways, certain muscle groups are stronger, metabolic rates differ, energy levels and energy expenditure are completely different. In other words, don’t strive to achieve someone else’s transformation – just focus on yourself and what your body needs.
3. Pressure of ‘perfect’ transformation
After achieving an ‘impressive’ transformation and having it captured, pressure clients feels to look a certain way can increase, which can result in poor body image and negative self-talk.
4. Before photos get labeled ‘bad’
Transformation photos rely on the second image looking different than the first. However, the connotations behind this suggest the first photo was ‘bad’. Again, this can perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes, and in some cases promote damaging body images. Motivation is always better when it’s about loving your body, not punishing it for falling short of a subjective standard.
Goals aren’t always physical. Working out to just feel better can’t be captured in an image.
Take home message
There’s a couple of key takeaways to bring home. Firstly, transformation photos are optional – they can be a great way of measuring progress, but if they aren’t the right fit for you then don’t take any. Second, take any transformation photos you see online with a grain of salt – it hasn’t necessarily been achieved sustainably, and it isn’t necessarily possible for your body to look the same way. Finally, the benefits of fitness and nutrition aren’t solely physical, so don’t get too caught up on this.
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