I’m in a pickle.
I love what social media has done for fitness. I also hate what social media has done for fitness.
I’ve always loved writing. I’ve also always loved fitness. But, I was never really into people knowing my business, so I was a bit skeptical of social media – definitely a late bloomer. People and their lives are over exposed and this has diluted the fitness industry with murky exercise garbage and unrealistic aesthetic expectations. However, if you are actually looking for it, you will find some incredibly brave people who can use this platform to share a journey they may not have otherwise embarked on had it not been for IG or FB.
Here are my qualms.
1) Too many people on social media think they’re a personal trainer and fitness motivator. This leads to the innocent buying into their egocentric posts, quotes and blindly purchase programs, supplements and training. These people may know how to make themselves look great, but don’t necessarily have a clue how to make your body look the same, credentialed or not. Disturbingly, and quite frankly strange to me, some trainers have no idea how to move their body let alone someone else’s. But, is this really much different from the 20+ years of late night infomercials? Minus the immediate accessibility, of course.
2) Fitness-focused social media has hit a soft-core porn high. Personally? I think muscles are beautiful. They are earned and everyone should be extremely proud of the work they put in to achieve them. However, I don’t need or want to see XxCuteFitBody123ProGirl’s bare glute gains. Every. Single. Morning. Same pose, different sports bra. While a good amount of those “likes” may be coming from true followers and admirers, there’s a disturbing percentage coming from distant internet stalkers, and that’s just gross and unsettling to me.
3) #trends: ‘Trends’ make my eyes bleed. First comes obsession, then preaching, then overindulging; until the movement gravitates to the next trend. Trendy workouts may be a fun change of pace if you are looking for something new or different, but the problem with trends can be the mindless cult-like followings. Spoiler Alert: There is nothing “new” in fitness. Catchy words have just been chewed up, spit out and shoved down the throats of too many unsuspecting victims.
4) Social media is overwhelming: “Stack these 7 supplements with that recovery drink before 2 fat burners on an empty stomach during the second week of your primary cutting stage. Keep dairy out until the third week while you are pureeing grassfed lean meats and Himalayan salt. And eat breakfast. No, don’t eat breakfast! Wait, yea, eat breakfast consisting of 48g of protein, 30g of carbs and 7g of fat. But they can’t touch each other on the plate. And wash it down with local cayenne pepper, nail polish, wheatgrass, slimming detox tea. And if you mess this up you’ll be fat forever.”
I’m exhausted. And a little nauseous.
… I mean… What? Do you REALLY think that there is some magic concoction of ideas and protocols we’ve only been privy to since the implementation of Instagram? People have been strong and lean and focused for centuries. They just had better priorities than our current generations.
5) Transformation stories. I’ve said it before; I’m a sucker for a good transformation story. BUT, this wacky little internet thing has really caught on. Apparently you can lie and alter images for the sake of a good story or program sell. Imagine that?
So, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, how do we get around the above-mentioned? How do we still utilize the beauty of social media and leverage it to meet our fitness aspirations?
To be honest, when I first started using Instagram a few years ago, I just thought it was a picture-taking app that I could use to alter my own pictures. #truth
Finally, I decided to share my pictures with the people I actually knew. In real life. It wasn’t until 2014 that I thought it could be pretty cool to expose a bit of what I do to people I don’t actually know. The day I un-clicked “private” was a day of complete exposure. I knew there could be a few (hundred) that would love for me to shut up. There would be a few that may pick apart what I looked like or what I was sharing. But to be honest, it’s been awesome to connect with people with similar interests for a fleeting moment of my day. So, I started following all of these “fitness pros” with awesome bods, workouts and information. But then I realized that while a great majority of them looked unbelievably amazing, I felt a constant sense of annoyance on the regular to see what they posted for “quick weight loss”, with terrible form, skimpy shorts and an obsessive hygiene regimen. Fake lashes, picture perfect hair and an arched back for a quality derrière angle. I became…… a hater.
And because I’m not a hater by nature, I did the only logical thing that made sense. I unfollowed them. You see, there are a bunch of mind-blowingly wonderful resources I now get to follow that I may never have found or stumbled upon had it not been for social media. But I became so frustrated with the garbage I’d scroll through each morning — I acknowledged that it was my own fault. Why follow them? Why not be the exception? Maybe I should worry less about what other people are posting and just post the stuff I think I can contribute and feel pretty good about?
So why am I telling you this? For Instagram likes, obvi. 🙂
If you find motivation and inspiration from pictures, videos and supplement advertisements, keep at it. But, if you are finding yourself hating on these people or putting yourself down because you “don’t look like them”, simply unlike or unfollow and rid yourself of this negative self-reflection. People are not going to post their unflattering pictures. Who would? People pose, practice posing, then take 12 pictures until they get the right one. Then filter it. So how do I repress some of the heated Jersey moments I could have when I see a trainer strap their client to 12 resistance bands, clenching a kettlebell between their teeth during a split squat? Unfollow. POOF. Serenity.
The internet can also be a huge support group. It’s actually quite refreshing to see individuals bare their souls and talk about their weight loss and/or strength gaining glory. Yea, there may be trolls with nasty comments, but the overwhelming majority of people are rooting them on — from a few streets away to halfway across the world. That’s a seriously powerful thing. Have you ever had someone say something so nice and unexpected to you that it literally made your entire day exponentially better? Well, that’s what social media can do for people who may be a bit of an introvert. It allows them to reach deep inside and expose and embrace their true selves. I think that’s phenomenal.
But, I have the power to follow the individuals I admire and unfollow those who are just looking for likes. My hashtags allow me to reach a community of people that may be looking for something specific that I can potentially help them with. If they are directed to my page and are disappointed in the lack of glamorous bed sheet booty shots, they are free to move on and roam the creeptastic Fitness-For-Likes world. I’d like to think I’m a part of a unique world of female fitness professionals with the knowledge and morals to get ish done. And I’d like to think there are many still looking for people like us. Even on social media.
#FilterFreeFitness will be a great meeting point for real, true, unfiltered fitness. Pineapple hair included. I’d love for you to join me: (Instagram) @jessinspirefit