I have a confession to make. I take a lot of gym pictures. I take them from different angles, of different body parts, flexed, unflexed, in clothes, bare...the list goes on. I take some in the privacy of my own home, I take some sneakily in the briefly-vacant gym locker rooms, and occasionally, when I'm feeling particularly brash, I'll snap one on the gym floor, where I'm surrounded by mirrors from every angle.
The mirrors in the gym are there to allow you to watch yourself and monitor your form and posture, and to remind you what a total rockstar you are for being at the gym and working out! Their constant presence during your workout allows you the opportunity to literally watch your progress happening right in front of your eyes. I remember one workout, very early in my health and fitness journey, when I was watching myself on the elliptical and feeling very discouraged by how much of my arm was flopping around in rhythm with my strides. A month later, the scale said I hadn't lost any weight, and I was back on that same elliptical, looking in the same mirror and feeling even more discouraged. But that's when I noticed something: there was a new, gentle curve in the upper part of my arm. There was a tiny hint of muscle, a whisper of a deltoid looking back at me from that mirror that wasn't visible before.
The scale said I hadn't made any progress, but that mirror certainly did. That day, I went home and stood in front of a mirror, looking for that little muscle again, and I took a picture. From that day forward, I relied on my "selfies" to track my progress more accurately than my scale ever could. The concept of "body re-composition" (lowering body fat percentage and building lean muscle rather than simply losing weight) changed the way I viewed my progress, and how I viewed my body forever. Suddenly, the scale didn't matter. My weight was truly just a number. The way my body changed and developed over time in those pictures became all the indication of progress that I needed.
However, like all things, it's important to be mindful of your surroundings and considerate of others before whipping out your phone and taking a selfie, especially in public. Here are a few things to think about:
1. Be aware of who and what is around you.
If it's a busy day in the gym, perhaps sitting on one of the weight benches, trying to get juuuuust the right flexy pose in the mirror instead of completing your work out and freeing up that piece of equipment may not be the best plan. Hogging equipment for the sake of your selfie is not OK.
2. Make sure your selfie truly is a SELFie.
This is especially important if you're snapping photos in the gym locker rooms. Locker rooms are a safe space, and not everyone may appreciate having a camera around, especially if they just stepped out of the shower. If there's someone else in the background of your selfie, don't take the picture.
3. Be sure to truly monitor your progress.
Designate a weekly "gym selfie" day. On that day allow yourself to take a gym selfie right before or after your workout, so that you can truly monitor your progress. This limits the amount of awkward situations that taking photos of yourself in public can sometimes cause. Your body doesn't change overnight, so allowing for some time between gym selfies makes it easier to see the changes reflected in the pictures as well!
Be proud of your progress, and be proud of your pictures. Just remember to be considerate, be mindful, and keep up the excellent work.
Dani Russell is a freelance health and fitness lifestyle writer living in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is currently working to complete a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a practicing student therapist. In her free time she can be found playing in the ocean, hiking and weightlifting. You can keep up with her daily quest to balance multiple jobs, fitness and graduate school via her tumblr.