This Gym Is Hiding Its Mirrors For Body Positivity, But How Does That Help?

by Emily Arata

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fittest of them all? To answer that, you'd have to be able to see the mirror. Fed up with post-workout selfies and social media narcissism, budget gym Blink Fitness has pledged to cover up its mirrors every Monday.

The monthlong campaign, called Monday Without Mirrors, will take place in Blink locations across New York and New Jersey, according to a press release. Instead of watching their bicep curls, weightlifters will be greeted by brown paper printed with motivational slogans like, “Do it for the mood, not just the mirror.”

With so-called bikini season upon us, Blink's management says the program is a way of promoting overall wellness instead of just a number on the scale.

Ellen Roggemann, Blink's vice president of marketing, told InStyle,

We want to change the rhetoric around fitness. To focus on the emotional benefits of exercise and encourage our members to take a break from the mirror and concentrate on working out to feel healthier.

Blink is far from the first gym to roll out a body image-friendly program. Competitor Planet Fitness, for example, blares a “lunk alarm" buzzer when weightlifters drop their heavy dumbbells or grunt. It's all in an attempt to create an environment that's friendly for people of every fitness level, and it works to some extent. However, the chain is often mocked for its “Judgement-Free Zone” motto and in-location Pizza Mondays. Why burn off all that cheese, just to chow down on more?

As a number of gyms seek to promote overall wellness in place of fitness, the situation has proved frustrating to some regular gym-goers. Racked brings up one particular Blink member who wrote on Facebook,

It's kind of hard to make sure one is using proper form without a mirror. And considering that your gym actively markets to beginning lifters, it's really odd that you'd make an issue of this.

I can't see the point of covering up mirrors. For me, the journey to a regular fitness routine has taken a handful of years -- more than one type of workout I quit right as it got hard and endless sweat drops on my brow. So much of wellness and exercise lies in holding yourself accountable, whether for the drunken cheese fries last night or the mile that wasn't as fast as it could've been.

If you'd rather look around the gym, comparing your own stomach chub to everyone else's abs, that's your own choice — with or without the mirror. Brown paper can't stop insecurity if you're already eaten up by it. The goal should be to cope with insecurity and develop individual goals, not simply conduct PR campaigns and tape paper over mirrors.

What's more, fitness should be a challenge to both mind and body. If you want to stay just active and take a 20-minute walk once a day, I'm all for that. But I think that's a different goal than athleticism, which requires overcoming both mental and physical obstacles. It's not for everybody, but it probably is for the people who bother signing up for gym memberships.

And as for the mirrors, what's wrong with liking the way your body looks? If the only thing that keeps you coming back, day after day, is the post you regularly upload from the gym locker room — what's wrong with that?

Moreover, mirrors make sense in the world of fitness, where the only person who can truly make you stronger is yourself. I like to sit in the front of my classes, looking my reflection in the eyes and challenging myself to push through that last 30-second interval. There's something powerful about making a promise to no one but myself, then keeping it.

Blink Fitness should realize mood and mirror aren't mutually exclusive. It's all part of the same challenge.