The gym can be an intimidating place. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a cardio queen, there always seems to be someone fitter than you, which can be a deterrent from lacing up and hitting the gym. According to Ellen Roggemann, VP of marketing at Blink Fitness, “The fitness industry highlights perfect bodies and lofty weight loss goals, but that actually turns a lot of people off.”
The truth in that statement is apparent both on social media and IRL — when your Insta feed is filled with fitspo and your gym is filling with weightlifting bros, it’s hard to feel like your own goals will ever measure up.
Social media inherently encourages us to compare ourselves to others, and after seeing dozens of photos of washboard abs and toned legs, suddenly your new weightlifting PR or fastest mile time doesn’t seem like such an accomplishment.
Guess what — the majority of women don’t look like fitness models in their gym clothes. In fact, due to genetics alone, only 5 percent of women can have the lean, muscular body type of someone like Kayla Itsines.
Want to see people that actually look like you (and most women worldwide)? You don’t need a six pack to be healthy or fit — check out these gym pics to see what strong looks like, unfiltered.
1. Balancing on a bumpy tree stump
That takes core power.
2. Strong arms, strong abs
And definitely strong heads.
Just keep swimming, ya know?
4. Nike ad?
Tap. It. Back.
6. Want to kick ass before the sun rises?
Check out The November Project in the city near you to get more cardio before 8 am than most people get in a day.
7. More spinning
8. Ahoy, mateys
We think putting on sailing clothes might be a workout in itself. #respect
9. DC chillin’
With the National Mall as your gym, who wouldn’t want to hit the pavement?
10. I’m on a boat
Boats ‘n badass women.
Those triceps, tho.
12. On top of the world
An endorphin high, that is.
13. Upside down
That’s some monumental balance.
14. Serious pong
Not the kind of pong we’re used to, so we’re extra-impressed.
15. Bump, set, spike
Volleyball team “Who Spiked the Punch” is ready to lose, but look fierce while doing it.
Swimming leg of the triathlon is going just fine.
17. Road racin’
Sisters who sweat together…
18. Buti (no, not booty) yoga
Check out this super-intense variation on yoga to get strong and a stretch.
19. Reflecting Pool vibez
20. Heads in the clouds
Fam hike goals.
21. Feel the burn
Pro tip: smiling makes the burn hurt less.
When you lax too hard…
23. And I see you, you’re runnin’ cross the campus…
Dragging your roomie is great motivation to finish a 5K.
24. Happy trails
Take your girl squad to the trails for a more fun way to get your sweat on.
23. Row, row, row your boat
2K Tuesday, here they come.
We scrutinize the way we look enough on a regular basis — the gym should be a no-judgement zone, self-directed or otherwise. You’re at the gym to work out and push yourself — you don’t have to look like a fitness model while getting your squat on.