Fitness in The Social Media Age: Are People More Fit Now?

#InstaFit -- wait, what?

Lets focus on the second part of that word first, FIT. Back when we were much younger or during our parents' time, when we think of fitness you would think of just our time outside, sports, gyms, magazines, and later on those home workout videos. Now, it's almost impossible to keep track of the varying forms of fitness routines, exercises, videos, and people we see online advertising them.

InstaFIT photos: are they helping you at all or do they just look good?

So, what changed? You already know this, Instagram or rather Social Media, which leads us to the birth of the word, InstaFit. We now live in a time of constant gym selfies, posting our routines, diets, before and after photos, and yes--the always popular new years resolutions with the caption “new year, new me.” And now at our fingertips, we believe we have the easiest and fastest way to access how to hit our fitness goals. But easiest and fastest doesn’t always mean safest and better.

With so many gyms and workouts to choose from, does access to all of these make our fitness better?

This leads me to as: how has Instagram and YouTube affected fitness? Now, with all these selfies and gym posts also comes the other stuff online--the food posts, travel shots, and now YT or IG coaches. I took to Instagram and raised the quick question, how has social media affected your health and fitness goals?

Here are a few answers:

Answers ranged from 'lazy' (because of food posts) to being inspired by others!

Honestly, reading the answers was the highlight of my day while writing this article. The answers were relatable, funny, heartwarming, and inspiring. From people saying all the food posts make them lazy, to being inspired by the people they follow online, the person answering could be your sister or your friend you were just talking to. People are also delighted by the many options at their fingertips and the ability to express themselves.

But having said all of that, we have to take a look at the flip side. Are people more fit now? Are they doing the workouts properly? Because for some, just taking a look at a post could easily intimidate a person or deter them, make them feel left behind, and someone could get hurt by trying to mimic a stunt or a workout routine online without being guided properly. Yes, we see some amazing feats and we can talk to just about anyone, but is it safe to just follow a video with no one there?

A few fitness enthusiast and experts chimed in:

Mike Jiang
There’s so many different types of fitness and social media is bringing more of these types into the light. Don’t like lifting weights? Go kickboxing. Don’t like that? Do yoga. Don’t like that? Try swimming. Social media helps people explore different things. The body is meant to explore different movements and so long as people are curious to explore, I think it is a great thing. Ideally, people explore with proper coaching and guides, but for those who want to get started, social media is a great platform to get exposed. Just be aware of what your body can do to prevent injuries.”

-Mike Jiang, Suns out fitness Coach, Spartan Race ambassador, Business Owner

Erin Azores
“Yes, because people share their fitness journey on social media, other people get inspired or motivated to workout as well. In addition to that, it exposes various fitness studios which other people may be interested in and can encourage them to try it out. However, they become fit through guidance of others. Because they don't know much about it, it requires a trainer or a coach to be able to achieve their fitness goals.< I prefer to have a one on one session in person with a fitness coach, than through social media. You want to make sure that you're doing the exercises correctly. Incorrect form can lead to injury and not being able to target the muscle you specifically want to work on.

-Erin Azores, Student, Flyweight Coach

Both Mike and Erin raise very good points, but first lets start with a key word Mike said; explore. Most of us given the opportunity and accessibility would like to see what is out there, try new things, learn and discover. And one of the best things we can do for our personal development is our self-exploration, because finding out what our bodies are capable of doing is very empowering. I’m sure you remember that feeling! Laughing after finding a workout difficult but rewarding, enjoying the experience with your friends, pushing yourself, and yes, knowing that you feel better about eating (which is a daily struggle since there is so much good food out there!).

Explore! It is time to feel what your body can do.

Erin now also makes an important reminder: interest without proper guidance most likely won’t lead to the results you want. Time and time again I’ve heard people get discouraged about their efforts, only to find out the smallest changes would make the biggest difference. We shouldn’t be shy and afraid to ask, we live in such a beautiful time of connection and growth that it would be a crime not to make the most of it to better ourselves.

There is nothing like that feeling of empowering yourself and finding out what you can do with the help of others!
(The author is pictured with his Flyweight group boxing class)

As someone who has been in the industry for a while, I want to answer first with absolute certainty that Instagram, YouTube, and online connections have made a positive impact on our fitness. I myself--who was once almost 200 pounds, who wasn’t eating right, and wasn’t exercising--am thankful for the encouragement and help I got. It has given fitness enthusiasts, coaches, and more a platform to share with each other a create business. Yes, there are possible downsides such as people not doing the exercises right or even getting discouraged. But I believe all of the benefits and positives outweigh any of them.

Take the first step! Small steps every day lead to big results!

As friends, Coaches, or loved ones, the pride we feel in seeing other people want to better themselves is tremendous. So start your journey now, and enjoy it! There’s no need for that one big feat or that instant loss of 10 pounds, because as cliché as it sounds, there is nothing like your first. Your first time doing an exercise, sharing the memory with your friends, that first gym selfie, hitting that new PR, or even something as simple as that first feeling of “Hey, I can do this.”

So go take that gym selfie, share those photos and videos. 20 pounds stronger, 10 pounds lighter -- just go for it! Vanity? Progress? It really doesn’t matter, because it's for you! Sure, the game is changing, times are changing, but you know what, so are we. If it is making you a better person, then by all means--go be InstaFit.

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