Body image concerns among personal trainers


Body image refers to an individual's thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviours towards his or her own body, including both its appearance and functioning. Given that negative body image is associated with poor health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and steroid use, it is important to determine who is at risk of body image concerns. Individuals working in the fitness industry, such as personal trainers, may be at risk as this environment emphasizes the body's appearance and function. On the one hand, they may feel increased pressure to meet the ideal; however, since they are exercisers they may experience fewer body image concerns. The present study investigated differences in body image concerns in personal trainers compared to regular exercisers. Forty-one personal trainers and 84 exercisers (n = 50 men; n = 75 women) between the ages of 18 and 52 years self-reported body-comparisons, social physique anxiety, body appreciation, investment in appearance, and drive for muscularity. A MANOVA examining differences in body image between trainers and exercisers, controlling for gender, was non-significant F (7,116) = 1.71, p > 0.05, indicating no differences in body image between groups. Results from this study provide evidence on that personal trainers may not be at risk for negative body image concerns. It is likely they engage in high levels of physical activity, which may serve as a protective mechanism. They may also place more emphasis on health and function of the body, and thus be good role models to their clients.