The burgeoning Instagram genre celebrates mishaps by Lycra bros clanking iron. But its popularity shines a light on our conflicted relationship with the gym

For most people, the most common #gymfail is merely the failure to turn up in the first place. For a precious few, however, it might be the sexually suggestive way they are misusing the rowing machine. Or how they’re lifted clean off the ground by putting 980kg on to the lats machine. Or that inevitable comedy staple, the pull-up bar malfunction.

These mishaps and petty vanities form grist to the mill of the #gymfails subgenre, in which strange, unseen humans with phones take videos of calamitous gym accidents. On Instagram, IG Gym Fails boasts 1 million followers. IG Gym Fails and its many competitors do a lively business in pushing the flip-side to Instagram’s body-beautiful culture. They are joined by a YouTube community where gym-fails compilations can easily hit millions of views.

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