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Photo: Equinox
Photo: Equinox
Photo: Equinox

Most fitness ads feature a very specific type of woman—one with a six-pack and a C cup.

But two of the nation’s biggest gym chains are realizing that, in our current climate of body positivity, attracting new clients requires a different approach (and a lot more diversity).

Yesterday, budget brand Blink Fitness unveiled its 2017 “Every Body Happy” campaign, featuring 16 real members discovered during a social media casting call. Models of all shapes and sizes were chosen based on their self-confidence and dedication to a healthy lifestyle—not because of the heavily-filtered sports-bra selfies that usually beget fitness modeling contracts.

According to a Blink survey, 69 percent of Americans are discouraged by the unrealistic body ideals they see in the media. “As consumers, we’re constantly inundated with images of so-called ‘perfect’ bodies, and the fitness industry can be particularly heavy-handed with this,” says Ellen Roggemann, VP of marketing for Blink Fitness. “At Blink, we want to redefine the aspirational image of ‘fit.’”

Blink’s parent company, Equinox, chose a different attention-grabbing tactic for its latest “Commit to Something” campaign: shock value. Admittedly, most of the new photos do feature chiseled, oiled-up bods (I mean, this is Equinox), but the most compelling shot stars artist Samantha Paige, who underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and the BRCA1 gene mutation. She’s since removed her breast implants and is depicted topless, looking powerful and proud while a tattoo artist inks her chest.

“The overall theme of this year’s campaign revolves around the notion that what you commit to is who you are—it is your identity, you don’t have to defend it, you just have to own it,” says Elizabeth Nolan, Equinox’s executive creative director. “As soon as we met Samantha in person, we knew she was our woman. So strong, so brave, so empowering, and with a story we felt deserved to be shared.”

Both of these ads make me want to go kick some ass in the gym—but do they resonate with you? Tell us in the comments!

The yoga community is also pushing for a body image change, as are celebs like Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham. Even Bikini Body Guide creator Kayla Itsines is turning her back on the term.  

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