Op-Ed: Why Gym Memes Make Me Cringe

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a mildly amusing meme about pre-workout. You chuckle, maybe like the post, and move on. You keep scrolling, and you see that another gym meme page has shared the exact same meme. The strength community is saturated with memes and meme pages right now, and I am not here for it.

You may think, “Sarah you’re no fun.” That’s not true, I’m tons of fun…my favorite emoji is the disco man. I’m all for a good laugh, and I do find some memes to be funny (mostly @frustrated_strengthcoach). I’m not here to try to tell people what they should enjoy, or to rag on a difference in sense of humor. What I am here to do is tell you why meme pages make my blood boil.

Unoriginal Content and Over Saturation

In my opinion, content stealing is rampant. Some pages credit the creator of the meme and/or leave their watermark, while some cover it up and don’t credit the creator because they’re often too weak to admit they’re not creative enough to come up with their own content. Not only do these pages steal memes that have already been created, but they often steal pictures and videos posted by others and use them out of context or “create” their own posts using other people’s content.

These pages may be using someone’s likeness with a message, but often the person in the image doesn’t agree to being attached to it. Pages are repeatedly sharing the same memes. You may see the same mediocre meme five times in one day. I’ve seen multiple pages that used to post advice or impressive lifts start to add memes (likely because they see that memes generate traffic to their page). Can’t we all just stay in our lane?

Trolling Disguised as “Motivation”

Memes that are trolling in nature, that make fun of people’s form, women, other sports, new lifters, or people’s bodies can turn those who are unsure about starting a strength sport away from the sport. If you can only be funny at the expense of someone else, you’re not that funny. Pages that claim to be “motivational” have no business posting trolling memes. Trolling is not motivation. These posts can come in the form of: “Gym fails”, “gym lols”, “gym memes”, and “powerlifting memes”. If you’re going to troll, let’s call it what it is.

Closing Remarks

Realistically, I know that memes are here to stay. They generate tons of traffic and engagement to pages, and people seem to like seeing them. I may be in the minority here, but I want to see more badass lifting and less of the same memes over and over.

Feature image screenshot from @sarahskwaats Instagram page. 

Sarah Brenner

Sarah Brenner

Sarah is a powerlifter who competes in the 84+kg weight class. She holds the USA Powerlifting open American record for the deadlift in her weight class. She is a state referee and a Girls Who Powerlift athlete. She trains at the Warhouse Gym in Reading, PA.

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