As a personal trainer working in the health and fitness industry, it’s hard not to notice the boom of social media fitness stars idolized by millions, with their perfectly curated fitspo lifestyles, that inspire others to follow suit. While on one hand, it’s motivating to see people wanting to change their lives and find a sense of community online, on the other hand, the darker side of the social media fitness craze is the promotion of unrealistic beauty standards and questionable health goals.
What does fitspo mean?
So, what is “fitspo” exactly? It’s fitness inspiration in the form of photos and videos on social media, all underscored by hashtags such as #strongnotskinny, #healthspo, #fitspo, #girlswholift, etc. These common hashtags often accompany pictures of slim, toned people (predominantly women), happily lying on beaches, working out, or sipping protein shakes.
Such fitspo messaging tells us that if we train really hard and stick to a strict diet we too can achieve rippling abs, a perky butt and toned arms. After all, excuses don’t burn calories, right? Wrong.
Social media and mental health
When confronted with images of what a “healthy” body should look like on a daily basis, our perception of what healthy looks like becomes warped, making us susceptible to clever marketing ploys by companies who profit from us feeling inadequate so they can sell us their solutions/products/diets. The cruel irony is that diets don’t work.
In addition, with social media platforms such as Instagram, Youtube and Snapchat geared towards a younger audience, the impact of such unvetted fitspo imagery can have a lasting effect on impressionable minds, triggering disordered eating, body image concerns, and low self-esteem.
The truth behind the filter
We’ve all become so used to photoshopped images, that it’s easy to lose sight of what goes into creating those perfect pictures. Often, fitness models dehydrate their body before shoots to get those rippling abs while some of our other favorite social fitness influencers have spent hours perfecting their poses. The majority of us don’t have enough time to spend hours at the gym nor have the money to invest in a personal trainer or makeup artists. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t be healthy, happy and perfectly content in the body that we have.
Keep things in perspective
With all that in mind, now I want you to take a moment to contemplate just how amazing your body is. Really think about what it enables you to do every day. Feel grateful for everything it does for you from getting around to sensing and interacting with the world around. Our bodies are amazing, yet most of us will push them to unhealthy extremes to meet societal physical standards and, in turn, expect that looking a certain way will make us happier.
I want you to know that you’re enough and always have been enough. There’s no one like you in this world. Moreover, your health is priceless, so take care of it by nourishing your body with wholesome, fresh food and exercise so you feel fitter and stronger.
I can’t stress the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle enough. Nutritious foods and regular exercise help prevent disease, boosts energy levels and strengthens and tones the body. When we treat ourselves with care and respect, the knock-on effect is we start to l feel better inside and out.
Curious about body positivity? Check out our article on the body positivity movement for 8fit's take on the subject.
It’s all about balance
I regularly tell my clients that a healthy lifestyle is also a balanced one. Striking a balance means not feeling guilty for not exercising that one occasion or indulging in life’s little sweet/savory treats from time to time.
Also, a moderate amount of exercise regularly is preferable to intense periods of over-exercising, which can lead to fatigue or even injury. I recommend you aim to do four 8fit workouts a week to feel your best self and integrate activity where you can. Take the stairs, walk to work – all these small changes make a huge difference. Above all, if you enjoy what you do, you’re more likely to stick to it, rather than focus exclusively on the physical changes.
Feeling great beats looking good
Finally, it’s important to begin this journey towards a fitter, healthier life for you and no one else. You’ll start to notice that consistent exercise and improved eating habits will lead to better movement, feeling stronger and increased energy. I’ll leave you with this: know that your body is beautiful and don’t let anyone’s Instagram profile make you feel otherwise.