The prom is one of the most anticipated events of a high schooler’s life, and the accompanying photos can live forever. The emphasis on image during prom season is intense for many teens.
So it’s no surprise that some might take to Google in search of quick-fix solutions for weight loss.
Trainer Karen Jashinsky of O2 Max Fitness is hoping they will stumble upon her PromFit program first, rather than dangerous weight-loss supplements or fasting guides.
Jashinsky, of Santa Monica, Calif., started offering prom-centric workouts to local girls at her own studio in 2008.
She provided students with a combination of in-person training and online workout guides.
Soon, she realised there was even more demand online than in person. She now offers four-week fitness and diet plans with complimentary dress consultations to girls around the country.
Four weeks might not sound like enough time to make a lasting difference.
Jashinsky has tried offering three-month plans, she said, but she found those plans didn’t catch on, because prom dieting doesn’t usually occur to girls until about a month before the big day.
“People don’t plan that far in advance,” she said. “It seems too long and they want quick results.”
Despite the speedy four-week timeline, quick results are not necessarily what Jashinsky wants for her students.
Instead, she hopes the four-week plan will make them feel fit and healthy and get them started with a more permanent lifestyle change.
“While they might not see a ton of results very quickly, they start feeling differently,” Jashinsky said. “So it’s more about getting them from that perspective rather than promising they will lose x-amount of pounds in this amount of time, because that’s not really a good message to send and it’s different for everybody.”
Many girls continue to use O2 Max long after prom ends and into their college years. Jashinsky makes success stories available on her website, and some of the college-aged clients volunteer to help younger clients and give them pointers.
“We want to be that safe but cool and fun outlet,” she said, “where parents are comfortable that their daughter wants to sign up for the program, but it’s cool enough that students want to do it, too.”
O2 Max’s PromFit program costs $US49 for four weeks and consists of one-on-one online consultations between Jashinsky, her licensed helpers and the clients. Jashinsky and the other coaches talk to girls about their daily schedules, their fitness goals, and manageable ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into their daily routines.
Personalisation is one of the most important aspects of the plan, because it keeps girls’ expectations realistic, Jashinsky said.
“You can do the same workout as your friends and eat the same things, but you’re built differently, so you’ll get different results,” she said.
Of course, no matter how good Jashinsky’s intentions are, some would argue that the mere existence of a prom fitness plan is enough to make some girls feel insecure.
Dr. Carol Langlois, a youth, culture and self esteem expert and author of the book “Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image,” had some concerns about the implications of a pre-prom workout.
Here is an excerpt from O2 Max’s webpage about prom season:
Girls are already obsessed with getting the perfect prom dress and many feel the need to get thin before the big day approaches. It is a time where many girls begin to either take an extra interest in getting in shape or, in some cases, even take fitness and weight-loss to an extreme. The pressure for young women today is tremendous, especially with all the selfies and social media access they all have. What they wear to prom and how they look will live online forever.
Jashinsky feels such rhetoric — “don’t crash diet, work out instead” — could cause anxiety for girls who aren’t already thinking about pre-prom weight loss.
“I think it’s really unfortunate that [the program’s literature] is putting it out there that girls are going to be binge-dieting and doing these things, because maybe they’re not,” Langlois said. “Maybe they’re just excited about prom.”
The four-week limit, she said, could also “set girls up for failure,” which is something “this age group already loves to do to themselves.”
“They’re already like, ‘oh my God, if I get my bracess off and cut my hair and lose 10 pounds, I’m going to be perfect,'” Langlois said. Easing girls into a permanent, lifelong transition by setting small, manageable goals is much healthier than promoting a four-week program, she concluded.
But according to Jashinsky, that’s what PromFit is all about. Jashinsky hopes that the four-week prom program will instill a love of exercise in clients. In fact, she said, girls will likely begin to enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of eating healthy and exercising before they even notice physical changes or weight loss.
Jashinsky is also adamant that many teens are already Googling around for weight-loss tips — whether their parents know it or not.
“The reality is because teens are so tech-driven and pretty much all of them have access to the internet, social media and smartphones, they can do their own search and come across whatever they come across,” Jashinsky said. “We’re really trying to be that positive force. You can let them find their own way, or take a proactive approach and really use it as an opportunity to really educate them on all the different facets, rather than just losing weight for prom.”
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