We were pretty sure Circuit Factory’s Auschwitz-themed boot camp ads would win the award for most controversial gym advertisement in the first week of 2012, but Equinox outdid them with a Terry Richardson campaign that had many of their members up in arms last week. The ads are hyper-sexual, as fits Equinox and Richardson’s reputation, but Equinox members were pissed off because the models were too thin. And most of our readers agreed: 43% said they found the ads insulting, and than super-thin models were most likely to inspire eating disorders, not workouts. But Equinox ads aside, the truth is that aspiring to look like any model is a misleading way to get motivated.
I asked Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S, founder and CEO of Peak Performance what kind of “body type” he thinks best represents fitness, and he had some interesting food for thought:
Just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they are healthy and/or fit. Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of models that were “skinny-fat.” In other words, even though they were 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighed 125 to 130 pounds, they were relatively “fat” with 23 to 25% body fat. In my opinion, women should be more concerned with their body fat percentage rather than the number on the scale. There’s a tremendous visual difference between a 5’8”, 130 pound woman who is 15-16% body fat, and another woman who is the same height and weight but is 23-25% body fat. The bottom line is that women should strive to be strong and lean, rather than simply thin.
The moral of the story? Aspiring to look like any model or actress—even one you know is fit—just shouldn’t be a health goal. Luckily, a lot of you seem to realize this: 35% of you just thought the Equinox ads were another stupid marketing campaign that was irrelevant to your goals. Another 22% said the ads were inspiring, but also that we shouldn’t be so easily offended by other women’s body types. But Dowdell gives all of us a good reminder that we’re much better off setting fitness goals by measuring the health of our own bodies, instead of other women’s.