Everyday Advice · Fitness Advice

Image Obsessed: The Relationship between Instagram and the Fitness Industry

With 200 million current active users, it’s no surprise that Instagram is dominating the social media sphere, and is playing a huge part in the driving force that is the fitness industry. Through Instagram alone we have seen an astronomical surge in fitness movements, communities, and self-made influencers. Last year, it was reported that Facebook lost almost 2.8 million users under the age of 25, so it’s no stretch to suggest that they have more than likely turned their interests to Instagram and Snapchat instead, but why?

To put it simply, we live in an image obsessed society, and I don’t mean body-image right now, I mean visuals. Pictures, filters, quotes, selfies, screenshots, albums, stories, you name it. We love visuals because it’s relatable and it excites us, and this shows in the very basic of social media analytics. Although this content is viewed through a filtered and often photoshopped lens, statistics do show that these videos and pictures are getting our attention. Young people are image obsessed in both senses of the word, and it seems the only way to find a huge chunk of this demographic is by delving into the beautifully organised chaos that is Instagram. The password? #fitfam.

The Power of Fitness Communities

Instagram has given us the incredible opportunity to create and grow communities, whether you’re a sponsered influencer, or a standard follower. The best thing about it, is that it is completely free. Hashtagging #fitfam #bbg #crossfit, instantly plunges you into an entire feed saturated with content that’s geared to you. It’s empowering, it’s motivating and it’s reassuring. Positivity breeds like wildfire in this environment because it is a fantastic support system. Say what you want about Instagram, but you cannot fault it’s communities; they are uplifting and works to keep those who are lagging on some days, stay in the game!

Visuals & Sense of Attainability

Photoshop and filters aside, Instagram shows us real people, with real progress. It gives us a sense of business authenticity because we are getting marketing straight from the customer. This authenticity gives people like you and me a sense of attainability. We don’t buy celebrities weight-loss and workout DVD’s anymore, because Instagram is saturated with them, and they’re not celebrities, they’re just like you and I. We realise that actually, we can achieve our goals because so and so did (and she probably has the transformation picture and self made videos to prove it). It’s reassuring and so motivating. Once we know that the goals are achievable, the next step is discovering how.

#thinspo vs. #fitspo

Okay, I’m sure you’ve seen both of these circulating over the past few years, but for the sake of clarification: #thinspo is a hashtag typically occompanied by thousands upon thousands of pictures of abs and thigh gaps, and #fitspo by girls with thick thighs and flexing new back gains. Both look attractive, but they leave the door open for some toxic behaviors. Fitspo came about years ago, as long as I can remember joining Instagram and Pinterest and before long I was inquistive enough to stumble across some sensitive areas such as the pool of pro-ana and other ED pages, with quotes such as ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ being thrown around. Thinspo for me is a seemingly innocent surface with extremely dark undertones I wouldn’t want to stumble across again. Fitspo is relatively newer, brought about by the sudden influx of female lifters and interest in pro bikini models. It is a community that aims to be an influencing and motivating community for women who want to lift and build, but it’s origins are not something so innocent. There is of course the obvious hitting back at the thinspo community, with the intention to show that ‘strong is the new skinny’, but with that comes a wave of arrogance and self-riteoucness. There is equally as much body shaming and it’s messages are equally as misleading. It’s important to take these communities with a pinch of salt and refrain from becoming too invested in either.

We Live in a World of Instants

Turn on your phone, click on Instagram, check out your feed. How long did that take? 2-3 seconds? Instagram is instant. Want to see what pastel pink hair looks like? #pinkhairstyle. Want some new decor inspiration? #bohodecor. Search a simple hashtag and within seconds, you have your answer in the form of thousands and thousands of photos. Top searches save in your search bar, liked posts save automatically. No detective work, Instagram is efficient in it’s search options and optomises this process by refining your searches to you and your recent logs. It’s clever and so ridiculously fast. This, then, gives us an answer to the over used excuse of, ‘I have no time in my day to workout’, because actually, Kayla Instenes just uploaded a 15 minute ab blast which after a few seconds of uplaoding, will probably be top of your discovery feed. Instagram is instant and therefore PERFECT for on the go people, and the everyday user living in the age of instants.

Desperate for Fame

The most disheartening I see on Instagram, is women and men putting themselve through hell getting their dream bodies just to post about it. I’m not against showing off progress, I am against showcasing it purely for followers. If you’re working out and dieting for Instagram, then it’s not the right reason. I believe in making changes for you and for your wellbeing, not because you want to hit 12k overnight. Soon you will realise Instagram is saturated by sucessful people hitting 12k every single hour and getting fit for followers is not the way forward. Get fit for you whilst promoting something positive and you’ll find support from new followers before long.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post for today,

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8 thoughts on “Image Obsessed: The Relationship between Instagram and the Fitness Industry

  1. Excellent piece. Agreeing with all of it. Have you heard of Jean Kilbourne or Susan Bordo? Two pioneers in the field of media images of women and the impact it has on culture and health. It amazes me how much power the media has and how little power we seem to have on changing standards of image. The bopo movement is making strides but the paradigms of what’s acceptable or right have big hooks.

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  2. Very interesting, Hannah! It’s funny, I’m on Facebook much more than Instagram, maybe because I’m 47. πŸ™‚ Anyway, I appreciate what you share about getting fit for you. So Self-honoring. ❀ Blessings, and thanks for the follow! Debbie

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  3. Awesome post! I just recently started an Instagram for health,fitness and business purposes. Its crazy out there! I am hoping to really succeed in that industry. However I am concerned about certain aspects of the fitness industry. Some that goes against what I am trying to accomplish. I want to represent a positive image for women and men trying to accomplish health and fitness goals in a natural way.

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