MESA, Calif. — Kevin Levit works out in a Costa Mesa gym
without any mirrors. It’s a design feature that surprisingly
allows him to see more clearly that he’s becoming stronger
of watching the reflection of his every move, Levit notices
how his endurance has increased and how his clothes fit more
you see yourself every day in the mirror, you’re only seeing
the negative," said Levit, a 34-year-old bartender who
belongs to Innovative Results. "People want to work out
to feel better about themselves and you can’t do that if you’re
always looking in the mirror and judging yourself."
gym walls grew out of the 1970s bodybuilding movement, when
lifters would watch themselves flex and pose. After years as
the standard decor, some Southern California gyms are
discarding mirrors like a sweaty towel over concern that they
foster counterproductive self-criticism.
studies have found that mirrors can diminish exercisers’
sense of well-being and don’t appreciably improve
Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University,
published research in 2014 showing that exercising in front of
a mirror increased tension levels among college students
riding an indoor cycle compared with those pedaling without a
you’re looking at yourself and thinking, ‘Maybe I don’t
look as healthy or as fit or as good and there’s somebody
exercising next to me who is all glammed up or all fit,’"
Plante said. "It just adds a level of stress to the
average person that’s just not needed."
noted that people who score high for narcissism most enjoy
working out in front of the mirror.
live in a selfie culture," Plante said. "The fitness
facilities and the gyms are going to appeal to that kind of
narcissistic cultural trend.
also makes these facilities look bigger," he said.
"If you put mirrors all around, it looks like this big,
gym, the tall walls are covered with large photos of outdoor
activities such as surfing, snowboarding and hiking.
there’s no mirrors," said owner Aaron Guyett. "We
want our clients to be able to get lost in play. When you were
a kid and you played on the playground, you weren’t worried
about what you looked like; you weren’t worried about your
occasions when a mirror would be helpful for precise
adjustments for advanced kettlebell lifts, Guyett shoots video
with his phone. He said his staff reflects back to clients how
they look, without the critical filters that mirrors might
what we get to do as coaches, is be those loving people and
say, ‘You’re looking good. I can tell you’re feeling
better because you’re smiling more,’" Guyett said.
"The biggest component is mindset. If people are worried
about looking fat, it’s really going to hurt their
performance and hurt their progress mentally."
Doyle, owner of Long Beach Kettlebell Club, mirrors are
expensive, breakable and unnecessary with proper training.
type of training we do is very technical and
position-based," Doyle said. "You should be able to
go by the feel. If it’s really described and shown
correctly, I feel the mirrors aren’t necessary."
some dance studios have gone mirrorless.
Sheila Kelley S Factor pole dancing studios in Costa Mesa, Los
Angeles and Encino, Calif., the lights are dim and candles
provide a warm glow. Ashley Colón, an instructor at the Costa
Mesa studio, said that when women dance without seeing
themselves, they can express their sensuality while removing
any suggestion of a performance.
lack of mirrors allows you to have a little bit more
permission," she said. "It takes away the idea of
voyeurism, where someone is watching. You can really get
intimate with your body and how it works."
said mirrors also distract from the workout.
something that stops you from reaching your full potential,
the full stretch or exertion of your body, when you add in a
mirror. If you’re looking at your body from a mirror’s
perspective, you’re not really going to tap into the deeper
muscles to tone and get fit."