Athletes enjoying their workout despite how social media has changed fitness
Social media has not done fitness many favors. It has caused a lot of potential issues to anyone looking to get fitter. We need to take a closer look at how social media has changed fitness and discuss the effects.

Social media has not done fitness many favors. It has caused a lot of potential issues to anyone looking to get fitter. We need to take a closer look at how social media has changed fitness and discuss the effects.

Unrealistic expectations

The first manner in which social media has changed fitness is by forcing people to look up to unrealistic examples of physical beauty. And there are two different aspects to this, both showing how social media can be bad for us.

The first is the overuse of filters and editing software. Anyone can look super fit with an impossible body shape with the help of photo editing. All the super-fit girls with insanely tiny waists and guys with ridiculously wide shoulders are not real! And yet, people believe the illusion and try to get to that state of fitness through workouts and diets.

You also constantly see some of the fittest and most beautiful people globally, thanks to the internet and social media. Not everyone’s genetics are the same. Some require minimal effort to achieve near-peak physical fitness and rock a six-pack. For some, trying to achieve the same is nearly impossible. Or, at the very least, physically dangerous to attempt.

Fads and problematic practices

It can be dangerous to try and reach a certain level of fitness. Take those six-packs, for example. You see fitness models posting photos of them all the time. However, what you do not realize is that not all of them can keep up that level of appearance. Gaining a six-pack is difficult. And losing one is extremely easy, even for guys.

For girls, this problem is even greater. The female body is genetically not predisposed for such a condition. You can absolutely look fantastic and have a toned body. But keeping up a six-pack can push your body to a dangerous state of nutritional deficiency. For a woman to get to that point, they need to push their body to near starvation. And the way social media has changed fitness is by promoting this dangerous physiological state as normal!

Similarly, many ‘health fads’ promoting a diet or lifestyle regime have surfaced on social media. They may encourage you to do things such as eating very, very little for two meals and then gorging during the last one, or even eating nothing but a single food group for an entire month or more. All of this can be extremely dangerous for a person’s body and is not one of the good ways to use social media.

The desire for quick results

Another way social media has changed fitness is by making people yearn for quick results. The ‘I’ve lost ninety pounds in two weeks!’ stories dominate social media’s fitness content. And this, naturally, makes people want to achieve the same thing.

What they tend not to realize is that this is not normal. You cannot just buy fitness equipment online, work out a little, and then have the body of your dreams. While shopping online is a way to make a smart purchase, it won’t help you reach quick results. It takes time to build up muscles and properly get rid of body fat!

In fact, losing extreme amounts of fat quickly is a shock to your body, and it can have severe physical repercussions. You would put yourself at risk and likely fail to achieve your goals all at the same time. Not to mention the fact that quickly lost weight tends to bounce back just as quickly, thereby putting you back to square one.

The intimidation

Going to the gym used to be about working to better yourself and your body. It was even an excellent way to make new friendships at any age. Nowadays, however, it’s all about posting photos of yourself and your progress on social media.

It even seems that going to the gym is perceived as something almost reserved for those already fit. The sheer pressure of the idea of going to the gym and being surrounded by model-like individuals is paralyzing to somebody with a ‘sub-par physique.’

Of course, the reality of the situation is that hardly anyone in a gym is in perfect physical condition. Social media has artificially created the picture of models strutting around a gym. If people constantly only show off when at their best, it is easy to imagine they always look that way. However, this has made it harder for people to want to work on themselves.

Lacking motivation

Social media has made one’s motivation to exercise almost entirely external.

Looking at all the beautiful, fit individuals on social media makes you want to be one of them. And, when you inevitably fall short of the picture-perfect vision of physical fitness, you will likely feel discouraged.

If your motivation was your own and you wanted to be healthier and fitter in your mind, you would quickly recover. However, since most people only do it to be ‘cooler’ and more ‘Instagram-worthy,’ it is no surprise that their motivation would falter when faced with difficulty.

Everything we’ve discussed so far then comes together to make it seem impossible for them ever to improve. And this, of course, makes people turn their backs on fitness permanently!

What to do

If you want to become fit, you need to ignore how social media has changed fitness. You need to find the motivation to work on yourself from within. Do not try to chase after impossible heights of physical perfection since they’re not real. Or, at the very least, they are months of work only to be able to enjoy that state of perfection for a week before your body finally reverts to something more natural. Just be yourself, and do your best within your physical means!

Melani Taylor is a long-time fitness instructor and marathon runner. She loves working on getting herself into a better version of what she used to be but knows there are many problems to tackle along the way. She enjoys writing blog posts that help aspiring athletes and those who want to be fit.