An advert by a fitness company has sparked a Twitter backlash with men accusing the personal trainers of ‘body shaming’.
LDN Muscle’s poster campaign across London’s Underground stations features the four founding members showing off their ripped abs alongside equally-toned Instagram star Alice Liveing, who works with them.
But the advert – which promotes the company’s downloadable lifestyle guide – has spawned negativity among other men who have accused the group of putting pressure on them to achieve ‘unrealistic’ bodies.
The ad by LDN Muscle ad, which has appeared at 25 Tube stations across London, has been accused of body shaming other men. As well as the four men who founded the business, the poster also features Instagram star Alice Liveing who has more than 200,000 followers on her Clean Living Alice account
The LDN Muscle team, which launched in 2013. From left, Max Bridger, James Exton, Lloyd Bridger and Tom Exton. The team has been dubbed Britain’s ‘boy band of fitness’
Brothers Tom and James Exton, both aged 28, launched the business with their friends in 2013. Tom has defended the advert, saying their physiques are entirely achievable through diet and exercise
The reaction has, however, left the business founders – brothers Max, 24, and Lloyd Bridger, 26, and 28-year-old twins James and Tom Exton, all from South West London – baffled.
The personal trainers – who met when they worked together at a large outdoor pool – pointed out that they are not models, despite being dubbed Britain’s ‘boy band of fitness’.
They insist that their physiques are ‘entirely achievable’ as they ‘practice what they preach’ after starting the venture from scratch three years ago.
The boys also work alongside Instagram star Alice Liveing who has more than 200,000 followers on her Clean Living Alice account.
Speaking about the poster campaign, Twitter user Charlie Brown said: ‘This is offensive and you know it is. Body image issues apply to men too’.
James Wallis said: ‘You guys are about as low as it gets to make people feel good about themselves.’
The advert drew a lot of criticism from other men accusing the LDN Muscle team of ‘body shaming’ – but the men said it should not be acceptable for them to be trolled for being healthy
Fitness Industry Xpose tweeted: ‘My commute’s been made worse. Maybe I don’t want to look like that? Stop this cr*p and get out of my face.’
Spinneroonie also said: ‘How can we meet these unrealistic body expectations? You’re saying I can’t have a takeaway every night?’
Tom Turner was also incensed. He said: ‘Stereotypical male image rubbish and a painfully thin girl too. Appalling.
Flyknit1 added: ‘Enforcing idealised male body image issues anyone? Disgusted to be greeted with this on my commute. Shame.’
But RealWorldFitness93% waded into the debate, questioning why people had found the advert so offensive.
A tweet read: ‘Ppl found this offensive? If that’s “fat shaming” you, I’d suggest getting a grip…and a good psychiatrist.’
People slammed the company for promoting ‘unrealistic’ body images, but the campaign has also had some positive feedback – and RealWorldFitness93% waded into the debate online to defend the advert
Joint founder Tom Exton, who combines personal training with his City job in the finance sector, said the boys had been shocked by the feedback.
He said: ‘There’s been a lot of positivity in the feedback but others have been saying it’s inflicting unnecessary pressure on blokes to look a certain way.
‘And then there are commuters who don’t want to see our half naked bodies on their way to work, which is a bit more understandable.’
Tom acknowledged that there was growing pressure on men to look lean, however he insists the image is ‘by no means extreme.
He believes he is living proof the sculpted look is ‘entirely achievable’ through healthy eating and exercise because he works full-time in a different profession himself.
All the men met when they worked at a large outdoor pool just outside South West London, and trained together too at the on-site gym. They also competed in a triathlon together
Tom is one of the co-founders of the company but has retained his finance job in the City and fits his other role and the exercise that goes with it in around that
He said: ‘I think there is a huge emphasis on woman looking a certain way, and that has been widely reported on. But the male side of it hasn’t really thoroughly been looked into.
‘There is a massive amount of pressure on men to stay lean and it’s a pressure that’s just as big – if not bigger – than that on women. It’s leading to all kinds of problems, such as increase in the use of steroids.
‘But we are a company promoting healthy lifestyles, and a body image that is sustainable with attainable results. I’m living proof of that and we’ve helped thousands of people get results the same as this.
‘We couldn’t have done this advert in a different way, we couldn’t have had a photo of us looking like cr*p on there. It’s an eye-catching image to aspire to. We’re in no way apologetic for that.’
While Tom said he didn’t agree with some extreme images of muscle building, he said it was unacceptable for people to criticise those who are in shape.
He added: ‘I think it’s the same as telling someone off for being overweight, which isn’t seen as okay. Body shaming is body shaming, you can’t be criticised for promoting a healthy lifestyle.’