Motivation or body shaming? Controversy over fitness billboard

Several mornings out of the week you can find Brandy Hasabnis at Elite Fitness in Hoover. Hasabnis says she played sports growing up and always tried to stay in shape. Then things changed. "And I was doing really, really well until child number three trying to find time to do everything," she said. {}{}{}

That's right, a mother of three. Ages seven, five and four. Five months ago she joined Elite Fitness and decided to kick up her fitness routine a notch. Fitness director and owner of Elite Fitness, Brad Bearden, was so pleased with Hasabnis' results and commitment to fitness he decided to use her in his latest advertising campaign. "She met with us one on one. We explained to her what we're about, what we could do for her. She kind of gave us a good idea of what her goals are, and what she wants to accomplish," said Bearden.

People driving along John Hawkins Parkway just may get a glimpse of what some would call a controversial billboard. The billboard for Elite Fitness features Hasabnis and her three children with the caption "What's your excuse?".

This same message caused a wave of controversy back in October when California mom, Maria Kang, posed with her three children, asking the same question. Many women accused Kang trying to shame them into getting in shape.

Hasabnis says that is not her intention. "I want the moms out there to know that you can have it all. You can still work out, you can still get all the things done that you need to get done. So that was the message behind the billboard. It's not unobtainable because I'm not some movie star out there who has somebody training them all the time. You can do this even if you live in Hoover," she said.

Not only is Hasabnis a mom. She's also a working mom. She is a critical care nurse, and she's studying at Samford University to become a nurse practitioner. "We wanted to put up something that would number one catch people's attention, but number two give them someone that they can relate to on a real level that understands what they are going through. That understands that it is tough, there are a lot of things, but it's not an excuse," said Bearden.

While Bearden and Hasabnis say their intentions are good, some people out there may not see it that way. So how do mom's in our area feel? do they think Hasabnis is body shaming?

"I think that they are just trying to motivate women to get to an exercise program, to make themselves do it, because the benefits of it outweigh any excuse you could find staying at home and it's certainly not every single day . Things are going to come up. But I really think her intentions were to help women, to help moms," said Kelly Jackson, a mother of three."I don't have problem. I think that it's great that this mother is encouraging women to be fit and she wants to be fit as well," said Janice Stoll, a mother of one.{}

"You can do it. It's just getting past that first step," said Hasabnis.

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