Name: Alex Carneiro
Occupation: IFBB Olympia Pro; Optimum-sponsored athlete; Kinesiologist; Nutritionist; Coach; Pro Fitness Cover Model
Enter any gym these days, and you'll see as many people lifting a smart phone as a dumbbell. Watches that once told time now look like they could launch space flight. In this digital landscape filled with fitness apps, selfies and "Which Protein Powder Are You?" quizzes, social media and fitness are such snug bedfellows that they've spawned a new term together: "fitspiration."
Posts from friends, quotes, a simple picture, or article can sway someone or move and produce some old-fashioned perspiration. Social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter make it possible to share workouts, training videos, inspirational stories, or even gym selfies with people throughout the world. Rather than fight against the deluge of digital information at your fingertips, here's how to use it to get ahead in your fitness and wellness goals—and a few pitfalls to avoid.
The Pros of Social Media
Follow your role models
Most of your favorite athletes and celebrities are active on the various social platforms. They'll post drool-worthy photos of their meals, gym photos, and basically offer a looking glass into their daily lives. By monitoring their activity, you can emulate their healthy habits, workouts, style, and favorite foods. Following a registered dietitian or fitness expert on Instagram, for example, can be a treasure trove of valuable information on healthy foods to eat and exercises to try. Plus, watching your favorite athlete make regular progress can motivate you to want to push harder than him or her.
Improve your nutritional habits
A majority of fitness-minded social media users constantly show off their new recipes. They even show you the appropriate portion sizes and how frequently they might eat those meals. Learn about the various things they eat and drink throughout the day, before and around their workout, and even at night to help guide you toward sustainable eating habits.
Get workout ideas
If you ever find yourself admiring someone's physique, use media to find out more about the workouts they do to attain their shape. Once learnt, either incorporate these new movements into your current routine or adopt an entirely new one to breathe new life into your training. Sometimes people come up with creative ways to train a specific muscle group that you may never have considered.
After a long day's work, sometimes that couch looks far more inviting than a gym commute. Social media to the rescue! The rise of fitspiration has allowed people to find and provide motivation via quotes and images meant to ignite the fitness fire in you when you think it's gone kaput. When you feel like skipping the gym today, spend a little time on social media to read some motivational posts or scroll transformation pictures. Get yourself pumped and then destroy some weights at the gym!
Increase your worldly knowledge
Since you'll be able to connect with people from all over the world, you'll also be able to share knowledge on—as well as learn from—differences in training, cuisine, habits, and cultural beliefs. Although these things may vary by country, we all aspire to be as healthy and fit as we can be.
The Cons of Social Media
Not everything fitness-related on social media is rainbows and unicorns. Some posts on social media can be downright toxic. Take these steps to protect yourself!
Many users on social media make a living by promoting lifestyles or eating habits that are solely for entertainment value. Driven by clicks, likes, follows, and of course, money, they don't necessarily have your well-being or best interest at heart. They might promote how you can lose incredible amounts of weight simply by eating what they eat, all in order to sell you a program or plan. Be aware and question some of the things you see or watch; they're not always meant for you to follow.
Social media has fads, too
When a post or video goes viral, it may have a huge impact on who sees it and whom it may affect. Like an uncontrollable wildfire, some fads spread out of control to the benefit of a few and the detriment of many.
The truth isn't easy to find
The trend of news and studies breaking on social media and then proliferating makes it difficult to sift through what might very well be a hoax or could simply be untrue. Just because something is popular, it doesn't mean it's been scientifically proven to work or is necessarily good for you. Be skeptical of the information you come across; sometimes "easy," "fast," or "best" are little more than marketing-speak.
Everything on the Internet
Social media is a digital soapbox for anyone and everyone to express their opinions if they so wish to. This is great, but people sometimes forget that they are not speaking within a vacuum. Anything posted on the Internet lives forever. You have a reputation to uphold; don't waste it by spreading lies or ruining others with libel or slander.
As with everything you come across on the Internet, social media networks are a phenomenal resource when used correctly. They can be used to improve, motivate, and change people's lives for good—assuming you use it correctly.
Do you have favorite form of fitness social media—or a pet peeve, like the guy or girl who tweets every single trip the gym? Let us know in the comments section below!