Social media now plays a huge role in the fitness industry.
For many, social media has been the foot-up to building a lucrative career as an influencer, coach or trainer.
For others, it has provided inspiration that has led to crazy transformations both physically and mentally.
Unfortunately though, many see social media as toxic to the industry. They believe it breeds unrealistic expectations, forcing individuals to compare themselves to one another.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, so here’s my two cents.
A highlights reel
Arguably the most popular platform in fitness is Instagram. The visual nature of fitness makes the image sharing app an obvious choice for those looking to make their voice heard in the fitness space.
One of the main criticisms amongst social media naysayers is the ‘highlights reel’ nature of the platform. Many influencers will openly admit that they’ll take hundreds of images, only to delete most of them and publish the chosen few.
These chosen few photos will exhibit the perfect lighting, angle and filters to make that individual look their very best.
Many have criticised this, blaming it for creating unrealistic expectations. For me, this belief is slightly naïve.
See, I don’t find it surprising that people only ever share their best pictures – especially those who are using it for personal branding or marketing purposes.
Since when did anyone share bad pictures?
Rewind to the days of film cameras. Your mum would take hundreds of photos of you and your cousins at centre parcs. Funnily enough though, the ones where your face was blurry or where Dad accidentally put his finger over the viewfinder didn’t make it into the family photo album.
Now, there does need to be a line. I can accept filters, tweaking and colour grading, but when it comes to actual image manipulation – this needs to stop!
I’m talking girls editing images to make their waist look smaller or their butt look bigger. I’m talking guys warping the size of their arms, legs or shoulders.
In most cases these individuals get called out thanks to dodgy photoshopping, but it is still happening and it is a problem.
My rule of thumb is; if a photo looks too good to be true, it probably is. If it’s not then you’re looking at someone who is genetically more gifted than 99.99999% of individuals. In which case, it’s foolish to even think about comparing yourself to them.
A word on genetics
Genetics are something that don’t get talked about enough on social media.
See, I don’t want to flatten dreams. I also don’t want to attribute success purely to genetics Hard work and consistency is unavoidable if you want results.
But the thing is, these people at the top of the game in social media are most likely genetically gifted compared to the rest of the population.
Fundamentally, the interpretation of an ‘aesthetic’ or ‘ideal’ physique is based on someone with good genetics.
For males, this means broad shoulders, small waist and defined, even abs. For females, this is a little more subjective. Generally though, a small waist and toned stomach are on the list.
The problem is, many of these things will be defined by your bone structure and muscular insertions. Someone with narrow clavicles will struggle to attain the ‘V taper’, especially if they have a wide pelvis. As for calves, let’s not even start!
Equally, those at the top of the game in powerlifting will be perfectly built for that.
That’s not to say that only the genetically gifted can build good physiques or get have success in strength sports, it’s just to say that it’s never worth comparing yourself to someone else.
Using social media for the right reasons
I truly believe that social media can be a great source of inspiration and motivation.
It’s full of success stories, amazing transformations and general positivity. There’s also tons of great, free information from some of the best in the business.
I personally feel like social media is one of the only places where I can truly find inspiration. No disrespect to the people you see in your local gym, but there’s not always a huge amount to aspire to.
I feel like its raised by personal standards. I remember the first time I saw abs and thought I was shredded!
At that point, I could have got satisfied and sat back on the results that I’d attained. Fortunately, I started to discover people like Matt Ogus, Chris Lavado and Cristian Guzman on YouTube and I quickly realised that I wasn’t satisfied with my abs!
By all means, use social media to build your knowledge, document your journey and seek motivation. Just don’t use it as a comparison tool.
I’m not really a fan of the typically fitness clichés like “it’s you vs. you”, but there is undeniable truth behind many of them.
Learn to focus on yourself and fall in love with the process – then you really win.
Image Source: Jason Howie