As it turns out, social media (SM) is rather ideal for spreading awareness about a fit and healthy lifestyle. Facebook is the perfect place to brag about your latest run (including a map of your route). You can show off a yoga pose you’ve finally mastered or post a pic of your new workout outfit on Instagram, maybe post a Vine video showing a tricky free weight lift or show off your abs on Pinterest.
But we weekend (and weekday) warriors aren’t the only ones who have bought into the hype of social media. Health and fitness professionals from around the world have commandeered platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to share their wisdom as well as make a few bucks. Using social media to drive customers to a website with all of the bells and whistles has allowed the pros to monetize their expertise without even leaving their home gym.
No Heavy Lifting Required, Just Open Your Browser
For a reasonable monthly membership fee, usually around $20 or less (many are free), you can join a group of like-minded folks who share the same interests and goals. For example, check out these popular apps/websites:
- Fitocracy Allows users to ‘follow’ other users, view and comment on their workouts and join groups for specific interests.
- Daily Mile Find training partners, share photos, local events, and routes.
- Strava Lets you track your running and bike riding with GPS, join Challenges, share photos from your activities, and follow friends.
The beauty of social media is that we can all have access to experts all over the world as now anyone can have a social media presence. The detriment to social media is, once again, anyone can have a social media presence (like me, for example). Just because someone has a social media presence, it does not mean that they are an expert in the field. Most reputable online health and fitness bloggers will disclaim if they are not professionals. However, many do have various personal training certifications through associations such as NASM, ACE, or ACSM, while others are Registered Dieticians (RD), or have degrees in exercise science or physical therapy. If someone has been on social media for a few years and has thousands of followers, they are probably legit, as the SM world can sniff out fakes quickly and mercilessly.
Accountability, motivation, advice. It’s all about sharing.
I think we have only seen the beginning of social’s media’s influence on fitness, health and nutrition. The obesity epidemic and societal pressure will drive more and more of us to seek advice and support on our personal journeys to wellness, and if there is money to be made, you can be sure that there will be no shortage of apps and websites for peer-to-peer interaction. The public health system has certainly taken notice, as the online forum has supplanted the in-person support group in many instances, and researchers are diligently trying to measure the effects of social media on health behaviors.
Do you belong to a workout or nutrition forum or used online training? Has it helped you reach your goals?