Everyone has a different and unique perception of the gym. For me, I used to picture a room packed with huge body builders, all consuming unhealthy amounts of caffeine and energy drinks. As a scrawny middle schooler, I was scared and stayed away.
But over the years, physical wellness has started to become extremely popular for all age groups and I’ve been drawn back in.
Over the past 22 years, the number of regular gym attendees has almost doubled in the U.S., and now over 20% of U.S. residents belong to a health club. These numbers are definitely present among my peers, as almost all of my good friends have spent time in a gym in an attempt to stay in good physical condition, as well as to help support their mental health. This trend is extremely common with younger age groups but is also not restricted to the younger generations.
With adults over the age of 40, now nearly 15% attend the gym regularly.
All of this culminates to an active and healthy lifestyle becoming more common and accessible for all of the U.S.
A large part of this new gym culture is about using social media and sharing your progress, but critics would say that this use of social media has allowed body dysmorphia to become a common mental illness that is hurting our youth. Body dysmorphia is obsessively focusing on body characteristics that they perceive as a flaw, and although this issue is authentic, social media has also been used as a tool to help validate those who are struggling with their self-image.
In the end, even these downsides are insignificant compared to the impact that gym culture has had on millions of lives. I think it’s just another step toward a healthier America, both mentally and physically.