So Where is This Going?
By Regan Talley
Have you ever been really bored and for some mindless entertainment, you begin scrolling through Instagram’s “explore” page? Next time you find yourself in this situation, I invite you to check out the “Fitness” section of the explore pages. One of two things will happen: either you will drop everything and run to the gym, or you will crawl into your bed and NEVER want to leave. In an effort for the average user to find new pages and posts, platforms like Instagram have organized its content into different categories like Fitness, Food and Comedy. This allows users to explore other public pages and find inspiration for a variety of interests. As you begin scrolling through the “Fitness” explore page, users will find photos of extremely fit people posing for full-length selfies, sharing their journey or videos of their gym routines. But is this content actually helping or hurting our goals?
One study conducted by Dr. Tricia Burke and Stephen Rains as published in the journal, Health Communication, found that people became increasingly self-conscious about their own weight when exposed to fitness-related social media . This self consiousness increased significantly when subjects were shown posts of people that were fitter than they were . Experiencing this self-consciousness myself, scrolling through these posts of anatomical perfection often leads me into a dark hole of negativity. I will neverhave flat abs or squat 130 pounds, so what’s the point?
The point is that motivation and inspiration only make up PART of the fitness inspiration community, or “fitspo” and not the whole. The fitness community on these major social media platforms have transformed into a reliable source for education and wellness tips (Arnold, Forbes). One of the major reasons I got into fitness was because of Whitney Simmons, a fitness addict and influencer who posts workouts and tips on YouTube and Instagram. Watching her videos made the gym appear less confusing for me because she provided an entire routine to help target my legs, arms or chest. Another user who has changed the game around my perception of nutrition is Maryana Dvorska, whose weekly posts on snack and meal ideas serve up foods that are super healthy but full of flavor. Before discovering her videos, I was convinced that healthy food could not actually taste good. Dvorska helped introduce the most essential concept to anyone’s health journey: balance. Health and fitness shouldn’t be seen as a destination. Instead, it should be viewed as a journey. If we continually believe that all food should be bland, we won’t stick to our wellness goals and form a negative perception of health. Influencers like Simmons and Dvorska help clarify all misconceptions surrounding healthy lifestyles because they are sharing effective tips and tricks that have worked for each of them personally. This makes them both reliable and relatable to their followers.
Looking ahead to the future of social media, I see an increasing need for brands to find new and innovative ways to reach consumers, thereby flooding the networks with with advertisements, as opposed to original or informative content. As Regina Luttrell stated in her book, Social Media: How to Engage, Share and Connect, “This presents a unique opportunity for public relations professionals to establish ourselves as credible and reliable sources using owned channels to convey truth, honesty and accuracy" . While I don’t see myself staying active on Facebook or Instagram, I want to stay active on my website and blog. Utilizing my own little corner of the Internet, I hope to educate users on the myths of health and fitness, as well as share my own strengths and fallbacks throughout my wellness journey.
 Arnold, Andrew. "Fitspiration on Social Media: Is It Helping or Hurting Your Health Goals?" Forbes, 26 Nov. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/andrewarnold/2018/11/26/fitspiration-on-social-media-is-it-helping-or-hurting-your-health-goals/#63522efd47f0. Accessed 14 Apr. 2019.
 Burke, Trisha, and Stephen Rains. The Paradoxical Outcomes of Observing Others' Exercise Behavior on Social Network Sites: Friends' Exercise Posts, Exercise Attitudes, and Weight Concern. 24 Jan. 2018. Taylor & Francis Online, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2018.1428404. Accessed 14 Apr. 2019.
 Luttrell, Regina (2019). Social Media: How to Engage, Share and Connect (3rdedition). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Photo Original taken from Spot Life Asia’s article, “Social Media Fitness Motivation,” and edited with PicStitch.
Original Image: “Social Media Fitness Motivation.” Accessed March 14, 2019. http://www.spotlifeasia.com/social_media-fitness/