False advertising in the fitness industry

The months leading up to the summer are amongst the busiest for the health and fitness industry. As summer holidays approach, the panic to be ‘bikini body ready’ increases. During this time, the first thing so many people do is turn to the latest fitness trends on the market to help them get slim quick.

However, are these fitness and weight loss companies just showing us what they think we want to see? Should a body builder be our motivation, or does this often-unrealistic image have a negative impact on our insecurities?

false advertising


After browsing some of the most popular online fitness retailers and fitness magazines, for example, Men’s fitness, Protein World and Gym Shark; I found myself unable to decide what the companies were looking to achieve through their advertising. Are they trying to show us what we need to look like to wear their clothes? Their advertisements frequently show super toned men and women with muscular six packs, which, let’s be honest, isn’t normal for the average person wanting to lose weight or tone up for summer.  Are these brands putting off someone with the ‘average build’ who may want to wear this clothing, but feel silly due to the way it is being advertised?

This also seemed to be the case with many health supplement sites; are they trying to show us what we could look like if we took a certain tablet or supplement? Many of us know that these results would be unrealistic, but is this misleading advertising aimed at getting impressionable people to buy a certain product? Perhaps these advertisers should be asking themselves: Do potential customers really want to see a slender, toned woman taking a tablet to lose weight? Or, would the customer prefer seeing an average sized woman taking ‘fat blasting’ tablets as this may show anyone can try them and still see results?

The market  has been growing rapidly and is estimated to reach 22.8 billion pounds by 2020. A lot of people are looking for a quick fix when it comes to losing weight and there are more and more options out there. However, it is not easy to know what really works, with the likes of some of the biggest businesses like Protein World getting busted for their carb content in their shake products, and their ‘beach body ready’ campaign not going down well with consumers. It’s hard to believe what’s right and what’s wrong for the average person, as we don’t get to see many true ‘before and after’ stories across our social media feeds, just a lot of skinny and muscly models.

With the continuous growth and popularity of social media, it is becoming the main source of motivation and inspiration for those looking to get fit. As such, fitness and weight loss brands should be using social media advertising correctly and sensibly to reach the right audience, without damaging the way we see a ‘health and fitness’ lifestyle.

Working in the consumer marketing recruitment industry, I source candidates for some of the most popular health and fitness brands. Commonly, I’m finding I have the challenge of selling working for these companies to candidates who are often reluctant to work in the industry due to the negative impact these brands are perceived as having on self-esteem, and a healthy lifestyle.

As this industry and the promotion of its products continues to grow, would you want to contribute to this market? Do you feel that if you took on a role marketing a fitness company, you’d be contributing to the false messages that these companies may promote? I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.

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