Lauren Licatesi, MS, RD
Physical exercise is indeed positive for mental well-being, especially with improved mood, focus, and decreased stress. Yet, studies show that exercising with mirrors could lead to poor body image and increased body dysmorphia.
While there are benefits to exercising in front of a mirror, such as correcting form and better visibility of the teacher in a large workout class, there are also negative effects. A study published in Health Psychology found that sedentary women who exercised in front of a mirror for 20 minutes felt less energized, less relaxed, and less positive and upbeat than women who performed their workout without a mirror. Women who exercised without a mirror also reported that they were less physically exhausted at the end of their workout, while those with a mirror reported no change in their level of exhaustion.
Practicing without mirrors can help minimize visual distractions and encourage individuals to tune into their bodies sensations rather than focus on their external reflection. Getting away from the mirror during a workout may not be as difficult as it seems. Instead of opting for a workout with a mirror, consider mindful movement without the mirror. This can be anything from walking and biking to an online class. Online classes also have the option to turn your camera off, to avoid staring at your image.
Walking, hiking, or biking outside is a great way to increase physical activity with the benefit of getting in some vitamin D. Research shows, exposure to sunlight increases levels of serotonin, the body’s natural mood stabilizer. Serotonin also helps to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research also shows that walking at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes a day leads to long-term health benefits, including a reduced risk for heart disease. If walking or biking outside is not an option for you, the treadmill, peloton tread or peloton bike are great ways to get in some movement without the disadvantages of looking in a mirror.
Stroller classes for moms are also a great way to enjoy some sunshine, spend time with your baby, and get in movement without a mirror. Stroller classes are available in most cities and some are listed below:
Momleta: Located in California, New Orleans, North Carolina, and New Jersey. Their 60-minute mommy and me stroller fitness classes state to cater to moms of all fitness levels: pregnancy fitness, new mom fitness, and moms with one or more stroller-aged children. https://www.momleta.com/
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Mommy and Me Fitness NYC: Local NYC mom and certified personal trainer Meri Treitler offers an energizing stroller workout class for new moms that varies every time: The workout includes jog, squat, lunge, jump rope, using resistance bands and the city as your personal playground
NYC Pilates Movin’ Mamas: Located in NYC, Postnatal Pilates instructor and mom Randi Stone offers an hour-long stroller class for moms to move and sweat together, where babies are welcome. Stone states she has created a whole-body workout that aims to rehabilitate the core, heal the pelvic floor, improve posture and flexibility, relieve aches and pains, and release stress.
Here are 5 online classes that allow you to ditch the mirror and enjoy a workout from the comfort of your own home:
1. Joyn: Online
If you cannot get to the gym or prefer online classes, Joyn’s website offers a bunch of body-positive classes such as yoga, dance, kickboxing, meditation, and more.
2. Body Positive Fitness: Online
Body Positive Fitness believes in the anti-diet, gender-affirming, and 100% size-inclusive group that currently offers over 100 virtual classes for you to choose from, provided by 6 different trainers. These include virtual personal training and group classes including Zumba, boxing, bodyweight training, weight training, HIIT, Pilates, core, and yoga.
3. The Road Om Yoga: Online
The Road Om Yoga practice focuses on sharing the benefits of Hatha Yoga as a peaceful yet powerful way to reconnect mind, body, and spirit. The founder, Natalie Umbar, focuses on body-positive, all-inclusive yoga, for all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
4. Yoga in Bold: Online
Yoga in Bold’s mission is to instruct yoga students and teachers to value inclusivity and honor the diversity of practices, bodies, and people that yoga reaches on a global scale. Owner and founder, Susan Somers-Willett has evolved her business into yoga classes, private instruction, workshops, international retreats, and teacher training that take a trauma-informed approach toward people of every size and ability https://www.yogainbold.com/
5. Radical Body Love
Creator and founder, Laura Burns, created Radical Body Love Yoga to help individuals learn about embodiment, honoring themselves, and living a full life. Her mission through restorative yoga is to help people be more present in their bodies, more loving toward themselves, and to move forward toward advocating for themselves and living the life they deserve
Here at Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services, we strive to help our clients honor, respect, and love their bodies. Before COVID-19, Laura opened up her own lifestyle yoga studio without mirrors. Although we are no longer open, we are committed to finding body-inclusive spaces throughout the United States without mirrors. If you know of any gyms or yoga studios without mirrors, please email us at email@example.com with your recommendations and we will come up with a fun and exciting blog post advertising these spaces.
20 fitness spaces dedicated to inclusivity that are changing gym culture for the better. Good Housekeeping. (2023, February 6). https://www.goodhousekeeping.
Body positive and size inclusive fitness trainers. Superfit Hero. (2023.). https://superfithero.com/
Connolly ML;Bowden SC;Pascoe MC;Van Dam NT; (n.d.). Development and psychometric validation of the mental health-related barriers and benefits to exercise (MEX) scale in healthy adults. Sports medicine – open. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.
Internicola, D. (2011, May 11). NY Studio Plus-sizes the pleasures of yoga. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/
Martin Ginis, K. A., Jung, M. E., & Gauvin, L. (2003). To see or not to see: Effects of exercising in mirrored environments on sedentary women’s feeling states and self-efficacy. Health Psychology, 22(4), 354–361. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-