I am very excited about this weeks 5 minute juice as I caught up with PT and fitness blogger Ban Hass. You might remember the #UKFitfam totally loosing their s**t a couple of weeks ago over Ban’s controversial blog post ‘FITSPO: THE RISE OF THE FITNESS PORN STAR’.
Considered by some as a personal attack, Ban makes a very valid point and I wanted to speak to her directly on the topic!
For those of you who don’t know, Ban is a…(inhale) female, London based, health & fitness professional, personal trainer, blogger, cycle instructor, clown, positive cynic, peanut butter addict (exhale)..and she likes to make people feel good about themselves!
So, you can invite 4 other people to dinner and they can be real, fictional, dead or alive, who would they be?
My mum, my best friend, Dumbledore and my gym crush.
What’s your favourite kind of nut butter?
You can’t beat the original: Peanut Butter. The stuff with palm oil, additives and all the nasties.
Ban, you haven’t always been a PT, can you tell us a bit about your journey from working in the city and why you decided to change course?
I thought about being a PT for years before I actually went for it. I never thought it could be my job and I never thought it could be my reality. Back then I thought I had to have a ‘normal’ Monday-Friday 9-5 in the City. I was in the process of excepting a job offer at a competitor when I realised that I was making the wrong decision. A new job doing essentially the same thing wasn’t going to make me happy. A higher salary, flexibility, and the security of an ‘office job’ wasn’t what I wanted.
My mum told me to do Personal Training ‘part-time’ but I didn’t listen. The next day I walked into work and handed in my notice without telling any of my friends or my family because I was confident it was the right decision. The following week I started my course at Premier Training.
What is your philosophy when it comes to health and fitness?
Fitness is about bettering yourself for yourself and no one else. It’s about pushing through when you want to give up, it’s about getting uncomfortable, it’s about making yourself proud. Your 45 minute workout is just practice for the real world.
Your recent article ‘FITSPO: The Rise Of the Fitness Porn Star’ went viral as far as social media is concerned. What inspired you to write the post?
My explore page.
I actually agree with many of the things highlighted by your article. What do you think are the dangers of this kind of fitspo and young girls?
Whilst it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, an Influencer has every right to post whatever pictures they like (with or without clothes) Fitness inspiration or not.
But an Influencer should be smart enough to acknowledge their power and responsibility as a ‘role model’ for younger girls. Young girls look up to these women. If their favourite #fitspo is posting pictures in their underwear 6 out of 7 days a week they might assume that is OK. If their favourite #fitspo is posing with their bare ass they might start thinking that’s what people who are into fitness do. If #fitspo’s keep taking half-naked pictures young girls might start thinking that’s what you need to do in order for people to like and accept you.
In my opinion, whilst the fitness industry is promoting #strongnotskinny which is perhaps more positive than a thigh gap, I believe this equates to a greater focus on achieving a certain aesthetic rather than say a personal best, what are your thoughts on this?
Agreed. #strongnotskinny #gains #gainingweightiscool, these ‘movements’ have been a breakthrough for the industry and body positivity. They have helped hundreds and thousands of individuals recovering from disorders and negative body image. But, ultimately, the focus is still on the physical appearance. Whether it’s ‘healthier’ or not they’re still reinforcing the idea that worth is determined by the way you look.
In June I graduated from university with the hope of perusing a growing instagram account. Speaking to people in similar positions, or who left their day jobs to peruse a career in health and fitness, a recurring theme is that people have been left with a huge amount of pressure and anxiety and unable to be paid properly for their work. What are your views on this and how did you make your own transition work?
I was lucky that I had saved money before I quit my job. That kept me going for some time. I think aspiring Personal Trainers need to understand that they’re not going to be making money from day 1. At the beginning you’ll probably be losing money before you break even. I would advise holding down your regular job and teaching classes in the morning/evenings/weekends. Take on clients around your regular job for a while. Accept you’re going to feel tired. Accept you’re going to have days where you hate it, question yourself, wonder what the hell you’re doing but do it anyway. If it’s your passion it will be worth it.
In regards to social media I have always used it to enhance my day job as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor. I have never relied on it for financial security because social media isn’t my job. I feel lucky to have social media as ‘free’ marketing. Older PT’s didn’t have this luxury.
For those creating content and hoping to make it in the blogging world KNOW YOUR WORTH. If you are creating content, if you are partnering with brands, look at how much time your investing into each post. Time = money. Don’t be afraid to talk about cash. Free food is great but it won’t pay the pills or get you on the property ladder. Companies are fully aware of the power of the ‘Influencer’. You wouldn’t expect someone to work in an office without a salary so why should you?
What advice would you give any young women looking to pursue a career in health and fitness?
Go for it! If motivating and helping people is what you want to do you have to find a way to do it. Even though it might feel like the market is saturated with fitness bloggers and Personal Trainers that shouldn’t stop anyone. There’s always room for good people.
In all honestly, do you think you have to get your clothes off as a fitness blogger to make it?
Nope. But I think it makes it easier.
There are plenty of clothes girls who are killing it whilst remaining fully clothed and that just makes me rate them even more.
At the end of your post you say ‘and we all do it’, what did you mean by this?
This was a point that was overlooked by many. I was acknowledging the fact that I’ve taken (and will continue to post) photos in swimsuits and in my underwear too. Although, I’d sooner die than post a crotch shot or have my t*ts on display.
I’m not stupid. A half-naked selfie of me attracts a ridiculously larger audience than what I had for dinner. So, you could argue that if you’re looking to grow your brand in order to help, motivate and inspire others, it would be logical business decision to give people what they want (half-nakedness) in order to draw people into your philosophy.
But I personally don’t want every single post to be a picture of me. So I don’t do it.
When I read the comments under the post, I was majorly taken a back by the amount of hate a cruel comments between those of differing opinions, is there more to be said for a dark side of fitness blogging than the sexualisation?
I still haven’t read every comment and I won’t ever read them. I consider myself a strong person so I was shocked by how much it affected me.
Firstly, I learnt that girls are very mean.
Secondly, I learnt that people are sheep. People follow people.
If an ‘Influencer’ decides to either agree or disagree, others will act according to the Influencer’s opinion.
People who are on the fence will suddenly make a decision.
Those who had a different opinion to that of said Influencer will delete their original comment and go against their own belief system.
The power lies with the Influencer.
Is there anything you’d like to say here in a safe space back to those who took the post the wrong way?
My post wasn’t about any of the girls who attacked me.
It wasn’t about any of the girls who chose to abuse their power on social media to drive hate towards me.
I love everything about women. Women should have the right to show off their bodies with no judgement from any man or woman. My post came from an overprotective place. Not from bitterness, resentment or hatred. Tbc.
To finish things off, I’m interested, what would be your last meal on Earth?
12 Ben’s cookies (If you live in the UK TRY THESE) straight out of the oven topped with Nutella and made into 6 Nutella Ben’s Cookie Sandwiches.
I think about this a lot.