Special Report

Most Toxic Fitness Environments

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There is no shortage of exercise options for Americans to get in shape, gain muscle mass, lose weight, or learn how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, those working out can be subjected to harassment and abuse. 

To determine the most toxic exercise communities, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the report Most Negative Fitness Communities from fitness review site FitRated. The report analyzed over 2 million comments posted on 16 different Reddit communities centered around certain fitness disciplines in 2021 as well as surveyed 1,000 active respondents who reported exercising at least once a week. Exercise communities were ranked on the percentage of comments with negative sentiment.

According to FitRated’s report, of the 16 different Reddit communities on the list, Martial arts is the community with the highest percentage of posts with negative sentiment at more than 66%. Next is powerlifting with 63% of negative posts and bodybuilding at 61%. (Find out how long you need to exercise to burn off the calories from your favorite foods.)

About one in 40 posts/comments on online fitness forums contain profanity. The exercise community with the highest percentage of posts containing vulgarity is bodybuilding (5.8%), followed by martial arts (4.0%), and strength training (3.9%).

Besides online toxic behavior, some of the abuse takes place in the exercise area, with 54% of those surveyed saying they experienced harassment at least somewhat often while exercising. Martial arts respondents cited the most harassment, at more than 79%. Crossfit and powerlifting were next at more than 78%. (These are America’s laziest states.)

According to the FitRated report, the majority of both men and women claimed they were harassed by those of the same gender. However, women were more than three times more likely than men to have been harassed by other genders. Women also were more likely to say this harassment negatively affected their exercise routine and to have stronger feelings about a supportive fitness community.

Disciplines such as pilates, yoga, and flexibility that emphasize a positive mindset and seek to relieve stress scored lower among the most toxic exercise communities.

Click here to see the most toxic fitness environments

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16. Pilates
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 41.6%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 71.2%
> Total posts: 6,000

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15. Flexibility
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 44.5%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: N/A%
> Total posts: 29,900

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14. Yoga
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 45.6%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 62.3%
> Total posts: 91,300

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12. Calisthenics
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 48.4%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 59.3%
> Total posts: 27,700

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12. Virtual Reality Fitness
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 48.4%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: N/A%
> Total posts: 3,700

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11. Triathlon
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 49.8%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: N/A%
> Total posts: 60,300

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10. Swimming
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 51.1%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 64.0%
> Total posts: 67,400

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9. Spartan Race
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 54.0%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: N/A%
> Total posts: 11,800

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8. CrossFit
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 55.5%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 78.1%
> Total posts: 103,900

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7. Running
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 56.0%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 57.1%
> Total posts: 543,800

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6. Cycling
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 57.7%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: N/A%
> Total posts: 326,800

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5. Strength Training
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 58.6%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: N/A%
> Total posts: 61,100

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4. Weightlifting
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 59.2%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 50.2%
> Total posts: 99,400

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3. Bodybuilding
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 61.0%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 60.0%
> Total posts: 356,100

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2. Powerlifting
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 63.2%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 78.0%
> Total posts: 66,700

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1. Martial Arts
> Pct. of posts with negative sentiment: 66.2%
> Pct. of respondents citing harassment: 79.3%
> Total posts: 209,800

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