Do Fitstagrams Do More Harm Than Good?

Before heading to the gym, I sometimes catch myself spending upwards of an hour just scrolling through fitness instagrams, aka Fitstagrams. Sometimes I’m looking for workout ideas, sometimes I’m searching for motivation, sometimes I’m just procrastinating.

I follow a wide variety of fitstagram accounts, ranging from yogis to marathoners to weightlifters and everything in between.

So, I thought I’d write an article highlighting my favorite accounts. To get some more inspiration, I asked my friends what their favorite accounts to follow are. Almost immediately, one said that she had unfollowed all of the fitstagrams because they made her feel insecure. This made me pause and reconsider my story angle and my outlook on these accounts in general. Are the fitstagrams doing more harm than good?

Some of the workouts that have pushed me the hardest and made me the most sore the next day have come straight from these fitstagrams, but other times I’ve just felt embarrassed about the complicated, funny moves I’m doing.

These accounts are often run by women who seem to always be in the best shape of their lives and who promote strength and empowerment. Sometimes, their energy is contagious and I feel motivated and ready to take on anything after looking at them. But sometimes they’re discouraging, because I know I’ll never look like them.

Even just as one person interacting with just a handful of these accounts, I’ve had some very different experiences.

I think one of the best things about the accounts is that they show how many different avenues to fitness there are, and how fit can look different on everyone. Yes, most of the fitstagrams are run by women who fulfill (sometimes unrealistic) social beauty standards, but no two look the same or advocate for the exact same type of training. Jessica Olie and Morgan Haley are best friends and both run yoga-centric accounts. However, they both look and flow differently than one another. Whitney Simmons and Kayla Itsines both train with weights and HIIT, but their bodies don’t look very similar.

That being said, out of all the fitstagram accounts I’ve followed, a very small minority of them do not fit into some sort of social beauty standard. While this is discouraging, it doesn’t surprise me. The fitter you are, the more credible your training tips will seem, and the more followers you’ll have. As with most issues of internet popularity, it is a feedback loop determined by the consumers.

I think we could all benefit by stepping back and reevaluating the accounts we follow. We’re in control of what appears in our Instagram feed, so why not choose to follow fitness accounts that you find inspiring and empowering all of the time, instead of just some of the time.

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