7 Toxic Fitness Phrases to Stop Using Right Now

Toxic language and gym culture can go hand in hand.

There’s no standard definition of toxic language. But within gym culture, you can think of it as phrases that spread the false belief that thin or muscular bodies are morally superior or healthier than other ones, says Brit Guerin, a licensed mental health counselor and a co-owner of Current Wellness, a weight-inclusive wellness center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gym culture has latched onto the idea that fitness has a distinct look, says Lauren Pak, a body-positive personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in Londonderry, New Hampshire. “The marketing and messaging within the gym often ends up completely revolving around appearance, as opposed to the hundreds of other benefits of exercise such as improved strength, bone health, heart health, and self-confidence.”

Toxic language can also be involved in the way people talk to themselves in the gym — and many don’t realize the harm they’re doing. They may be trying to motivate themselves to make healthy changes, but “it is so much harder to stay motivated and consistent with your workouts when you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re not enough,” Pak says.

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