The influence of social media, in particular Instagram, on the fitness industry has been dramatic! The industry has seen exponential growth over the past few years, credited in large to the rise of social influencers, bloggers and fitness professionals using the popular platform to inspire, motivate and educate. Whether you are looking for workout ideas, supplement recommendations, healthy recipes or motivation from your favourite fitness icons, never before have avid gym goers had so much information at their fingertips.
The growth of Instagram has driven the growth of my business in ways I would never have imagined. Starting out as a struggling part-time trainer - I used social media to tell my clients stories, show off their results and advertise my services (for free!), which ultimately led to the rapid expansion of my part-time ‘hobby’ into a lucrative business!
But it’s not just my business which have been influenced…
It’s hard to ignore the millions of amazing physiques on social media. Whether you are interested in bodybuilding, booty-building, CrossFit, sports or weight loss etc. there are thousands of influencers catering specifically to you - creating imaginative workouts, posing with their most recent culinary creations or uploading the motivational gym selfie! Even as a fitness professional, I often find myself admiring the ‘Insta-bods’, striving to emulate their incredible physical creations and naturally comparing myself to these ‘digital’ physiques.
Which leads me to the flip side…
I highlight the word ‘digital’ because we must remember that is what we are looking at. Although there are many amazing athletes on the platform, with truly incredible physiques, we should sometimes take what we see with a pinch of salt. Instagram profiles are ultimately digital-avatars, a selective reflection of what we want others to see in a constant bid for online gratification - hence the growth of editing apps, practised posing, production tools and is my belief, the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Most of us know this, yet we still eat it up. The demand to be ‘in shape’ is progressively rising with every ‘refresh’ - driven by the millions of profiles showing off year-round shredded abs, 24/7 pumped arms and gravity defying ‘squat booties’ – these ‘icons’ continue to push our perception of what is normal, healthy and ‘fit’ to new and sometimes unrealistic extremes. This constant exposure to what is actually a very small population of fitness fanatic leads us to place huge pressures upon ourselves in attempt to mimic what is actually quite an extreme way of life - and if we swallow too much, can actually lead us down a detrimental path.
Do our idols care about our welfare? Are they real, inspiring, motivating and trustworthy? Do their posts share knowledge or are they just trying to sell us a ‘Detox Tea’? It is in our nature to be influenced and there is no escaping it, especially as platforms continue to integrate with every aspect of our lives, however in the end, it is up to us as individuals to decide what and who we want to be influenced by.