Why Do Gym Mirrors Make You Look Better? (4 Mirror-Smashing Facts)

You’ll never guess how many people ask, “Why Do Gym Mirrors Make You Look Better?”

Everyone knows what I mean by this.

You’re working out in the gym and suddenly you notice that you look more muscular than you ever have before.

Then again, perhaps you’ve spotted that you look svelte, slim, and toned.

You finish your gym session on a high.

Then you go home, shower, and decide to take one last look at yourself in the mirror at home.

Oh the horror!

Who is that flabby, out-of-shape, and hideous person looking back at you?

We’ve all been there.

Allow me to explain what’s going on here.

Why Do Gym Mirrors Make You Look Better?

The main reason gym mirrors make you look better is because they have either been manufactured or aligned specifically to do so. The weight’s area of the gym will typically have convex mirrors or they will have a slight forward lean. This will make you appear bigger and wider. However, the fitness studio and cardio area will generally have concave mirrors or they will have a slight backward lean. The result of this is that you’ll look thinner and perhaps a little taller too.

1. The Convex Effect

The Dumbbell Rack in the Gym & it's Reflection in the Mirror

This is all going to sound a little, “house of mirrors”, but this is just how gyms (and many other public establishments) work.

You’ll generally find that the mirrors in the weight’s area of the gym are either manufactured or aligned to make you look bigger.

Basically, while you’re performing your bicep curls you’ll find that the mirrors typically make you look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (or so you hope).

However, by the time you get home you’ve downgraded from a Rock to Pebbles (Flintstones).

The mirrors are typically manufactured to be convex, so slightly curved outwards.

You’ll actually be able to spot this if you look at either the top or the bottom of the mirror, as your reflection will be slightly distorted.

A convex mirror will make you look bigger and wider.

It may also make you look a little shorter, although the difference is minuscule.

The weight’s area could also have mirrors installed with a slight forward lean.

Once again, this is the tiniest of angles, but it can make all the difference to your physical appearance.

That slight forward lean will definitely make you look a bit bigger and can accentuate that muscular look.

Many gyms may also have the same types of mirrors in the changing rooms, although more specifically for the guys.

The aim here is to simply make you appear slightly larger and more muscular than you may actually be.

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2. The Concave Effect

Time to look at the flip side of the coin.

So, whereas the mirrors in the weight’s’ area are designed to make you look ripped, buff, and huge (well, sort of), the mirrors in the cardio area will have the opposite effect.

In fact, the mirrors in the cardio and stretching area, plus the fitness studio will typically be concave.

Therefore, the mirrors will be slightly curved inwards.

What this does is to create a thinner, and often slightly taller, version of yourself.

Clever, ha?

Once again, you’ll be able to work this out by either checking the very top or very bottom, as your reflection will be slightly distorted.

With that being said, the mirror may have a slight backward lean, which will create the exact same thinning effect.

Believe it or not, the very same types of mirrors are usually installed in the changing rooms of malls and shopping centres.

The aim here is to make you look slightly thinner, feel more attractive, so you’re more likely to purchase the item of clothing.

Have you ever noticed that this same item of clothing often looks very different on you by the time you get home?

Furthermore, without wishing to be sexist, the mirrors in the ladies changing room at the gym will also typically be either concave or leaning backwards.

This also explains why you may appear to be a different size in various gyms, or even in a separate area of your gym.

You’ve been mirror conned.

3. Hit the Lights

The lighting in the gym will also have an impact on how you look in the mirror.

Firstly, you’ll notice that gym lighting is typically some of the brightest you’ll come across all day.

Initially, this has much to do with the impact this will have on the brain.

Bright lighting in conjunction with physical exercise will boost your production of serotonin.

This will make you feel much happier, almost on a high.

So, while you’re seeing nothing but flowers and fairies you’re more likely to feel confident about your appearance.

Furthermore, the bright lights in certain areas of the gym are overhead.

This will create a slightly distorted image of how you look.

Basically, the shadows from the light will give you a fuller and more muscular appearance.

With that being said, you may find that in certain areas of the gym the lighting is actually dimmer.

The aim here is creating a different effect with shadows, typically one that hides or conceals your imperfections.

A lot of thought has gone into gym mirrors and lighting, all in an attempt to make you feel happier and more confident about your appearance.

Once again, the exact same can be said about lighting in clothing stores.

You have to look at this from a business perspective.

A gym wants you to come back over-and-over again, while renewing your gym membership on a monthly basis.

And if this involves slightly distorting your physical appearance, then so be it.

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4. What a Pump

Okay, I guess this is what you were hoping to hear.

While you stare at yourself in the gym mirror there is a possibility that this isn’t just an illusion.

You may in fact look much better than you did an hour ago when you left home.

Let’s not forget that you’re working out and you’re creating a pump in the muscles.

Additionally, your blood is coursing through your veins at breakneck speed.

Plus, you have released some powerful muscle-building hormones into the body.

With all this going on it is perfectly feasible that you are actually more muscular, or slightly slimmer, than when you first started.

Okay, it may not be a huge amount, but you will still generally look slightly different from when you walked in.

The “pump” you get from exercise will typically last for up to an hour until you eventually return to “normal” size again.

This could also explain why you look so fantastic in the gym mirrors, and not so much once you get home.

However, don’t forget that consistent exercise with proper recovery and nutrition will eventually get your physique to where you want it to be.

Final Thoughts

So, hopefully you now understand that gym mirrors will purposely make you look better.

This could create the appearance of a wider and bigger physique if the mirrors are convex or slightly leaning forward.

Then again, the mirrors can make you look slimmer if they are concave and leaning back ever so slightly.

Plus, gym lighting in conjunction with the mirrors can also create a far more appealing physique.

And let’s not forget that you may actually be slightly more pumped or toned straight after your workout too.

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