Shaping Up

ELLE Australia|January/February 2020

Shaping Up
THE HEALTH AND FITNESS INDUSTRY IS CALLING OFF THE ENDLESS SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT BODY. IN ITS PLACE? WHAT MIGHT JUST BE THE MOST COVETED ATTRIBUTE OF ALL: ACCEPTANCE FOR EVERY BODY
Kate Lancaster

While making my daily pilgrimage through Instagram recently, I came across a post about a new Pilates studio in my neighborhood. It wasn’t the announcement that gave my thumb pause (boutique studios are hardly a scarce resource in urban centers), but the imagery. It was certainly striking, but it took me a minute to realize how the caption and the picture of two women in their underwear were correlating.

Their bodies were beautiful, but they appeared, for lack of a better word, “normal”. In fact, they looked somewhat similar to mine – there were no rock-hard abs, no almost-radiating amber tan, not a single delineation of space between the inner thighs – and yet the caption was promoting fitness and muscle strength, which caught me off-guard and prompted unexpected tears. It’s not that I believed the two to be mutually exclusive (after all, I consider myself to be relatively fit and I certainly don’t possess a traditionally lithe physique) but it was a sad jolt of cognizance about my own unconscious bias; that I could struggle to associate exercise with anything that fell outside such a singular and largely unattainable aesthetic.

It comes courtesy of an industry that has long conditioned us all to strive for and revere just one definition of beauty. “Summer is coming – sign up for our 12-week body transformation!” “Ditch the flab and get fab in 2020!” “Sweat out last night’s sins!” The advertisements promising a corporeal, and therefore emotional, renovation is leveled at us every day, and particularly around New Year. And while the fashion and beauty worlds have begun to weed out once-rampant exclusionary practices and messaging, the health and fitness sphere has yet to undergo a similar evolution.

So choosing to subvert the industry norms in favor of a more inclusive message can be quite jarring, which is why Lucy Beaumont, founder of Scout Pilates – the studio I discovered on Instagram – used it to form part of her business’ philosophy.

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January/February 2020