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‘Intimidating’ exercise culture and ‘boastful’ social media posts putting millions off exercise

‘Intimidating’ exercise culture and ‘boastful’ social media posts putting millions off exercise

Asics have teamed up with mental health charity Mind for 'New Personal Best' campaign.

People are being put off from going to the gym because they feel too intimidated, embarrassed, or feel like they don’t fit in.

Heading to the gym is hard enough - from getting your kit on to knowing what the machines do - as well as avoiding influencers and doom scrolling workout plans that make absolutely sense.

It should be simple, fun, and rewarding, right?

Progress is whatever you want it to be, whether you’re training for something specific or just keeping yourself healthy.

But when sports brand ASICS asked people who don’t exercise why they’re ducking the gym, over two-thirds (68%) say they're too embarrassed to go to because they feel they don’t fit the mould of a 'typical' exerciser.

78% of respondents don’t find typical sports advertising motivating and 33% say sports adverts actually put them off exercising. 42% admit that seeing boastful exercise posts on social media makes them feel like a failure before they’ve even started exercising.

Sadly, 40% of respondents believe the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ still applies when it comes to exercise. Even though it’s not actually true.

In response to the findings, ASICS and mental health charity Mind have teamed up to redefine a ‘personal best’ to focus on how exercise makes us feel. The hope is to make exercise more welcoming, encouraging more people to move for their mental health.

ASICS is calling on Brits to share their own ‘personal best’ images on social media - whether it’s doing a short walk, playing a game of football with friends, or making it to your first yoga class.

ASICS and mental health charity Mind have teamed up to redefine a ‘personal best’.

Every image shared with #NewPersonalBest on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or Twitter between 10 October and 10 December 2023 will raise £5 for mental health charity Mind.

Tom Durnin whose inspirational story captivated the UK when he finished in last place at the London Marathon 2023 has been selected as a campaign ambassador.

Tom, who took more than eight hours to complete the 26.2 mil race, says: “For me, it was all about crossing that finish line no matter how long it took me. I run purely because it makes me feel good, I don't worry about my time or being the slowest.

“I never thought I’d ever be the face of a sports campaign, but I’m honoured to be partnering with ASICS to encourage more people to move for their mental health. If my story can inspire at least one person to take the first step that’s all I could ask for.”

With over three quarters (77%) admitting they are aware of the mental health benefits of exercise and 61% saying they have either personally experienced a mental health problem or know others who have (e.g. family members or friends) worryingly this is still not motivation enough to get them moving, which is what the campaign also hopes to change.

Exercise has great mental health benefits as well.

Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity at Mind, says: “For people who don’t exercise, taking that first step can be daunting, especially if they’re also experiencing a mental health problem.

"When you add the pressure of performance so often seen in sports marketing or on social media, for some it can feel impossible to get started as they don’t feel like they’re ‘good enough’. On the other hand, getting active can play a vital role in helping us stay well and live well with mental health problems.

"Research suggests regular physical activity can reduce the risk of depression by up to 30% and healthcare workers are increasingly prescribing it as the first line of treatment for mental health problems such as mild to moderate depression.

Mind’s belief in the power of movement to support better mental health is very much shared by ASICS, so we’re proud to see some of our ambassadors as the faces for this campaign and we hope their stories will inspire others to start getting active themselves."

To see all the ambassador's stories and to discover more about the 'New Personal Best' campaign visit

Featured Image Credit: Asics

Topics: Mental Health, Social Media, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook