Is going to the gym nowadays LESS about well-being & body building and MORE about getting the perfect Instagram picture or sponsorship?
The fitness and wellness market has been growing exponentially over recent years and is expected to reach £22.8 million by 2020. Not only are these figures representative of the increase in demand on the fitness industry, but the rise of social media influencers has had a huge impact on the industry – both for businesses and for the consumers.
We all know how popular Instagram has become to our society nowadays, and both businesses and consumers recognise how effective the platform can be when promoting a product or finding the newest #fitspo. It can be said that there are over 180 million fitness accounts on Instagram today, with the hashtags #fitfam and #fitspo pulling over 270 million impressions each month. With this in mind fitness is clearly a growing trend, however it does pose the question whether or not the industry is being affected negatively by social media.
THE IMPACT OF INFLUENCERS
Of course, any fitness related trend is a positive one as its encouraging people to be healthier. However, the industry is changing and becoming more about how we take photos for the gym instead of promoting the healthy lifestyle itself. Before social media, going to the gym meant spending an hour working out, sweating, and knowing what you were doing and why you were doing it. Nowadays, many people use Instagram to dictate how they exercise and why they do.
Social media fitness ‘Influencers’ have hugely changed the industry in many ways. By definition, an influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach. For the fitness industry, many influencers use their accounts to share gym selfies, breakfast pictures, ‘belfies’ (bum selfies) and video clips of them exercising. Many of these influencers, such as @GraceFitUk, @Taylorkayteee and @Kataelisehenry provide their consumers with such content, but actually don’t hold any specific fitness qualifications. These influencers are seen by the consumer as more personable and relatable because they are ‘real’ people just like them. With the epidemic issue of obesity throughout many societies now, these influencers promoting exercise through social media is an ideal way to get others to be active. In this sense it is a positive to our generation.
WHY FITNESS IS TRENDY
I have been going to the gym for around 6 years now, and of course I can recognise a change in the industry. Probably the biggest change is the impact digitally and how the world promotes certain lifestyles and ideologies. As someone who personally uses Instagram on an hourly basis and has my own fitness account, I can say my decision to start the account was very much motivated by these fitness influencers.
One of the main things I can notice about why fitness has become trendy is due to certain fitness brands using influencers as their marketing strategy. From my own knowledge, the iconic Instagram tagged brand ‘Gymshark’ was one of the first fitness companies to employ social media influencers as a way to promote their products. The constant posts from these accounts about the clothing and them showing the free clothing they receive from the company creates excitement, as well as envy amongst many consumers who crave this desire.
Not only is it the clothes these influencers show, it is how they post the pictures and the images they chose to use. I would definitely argue that the idealised perception of a woman’s body has changed from ‘thigh gaps’ and low carbs to big bootys and heavy lifting. This shift in body image is definitely postive, promoting a more curvy idealised body. However, social media still causes an issue when influencers are only promoting the images that they look best in or edited/photoshopped ones as they promote a false perception.
This year has seen more and more influencers reinforcing this fact that social media is just for show, and that these images are not reality.
With this in mind, many people are now starting up their own fitness accounts on Instagram as they are inspired by their favourite influencers. Whether this is because they want to show off their workouts, healthy food, or because they want to gain social success like those influencers – it is clear to say that social media has impacted the way we perceive ‘going to the gym’.
Is fitness just becoming another way to make money for individuals and businesses ?
Or is fitness online a positive to our society?
THE REAL QUESTION …
The question or debate that I am posing really is whether this ‘fitness trend’ has just become a show for social media or an avenue to get instant gratification online through gaining followers and free clothing from brands… OR do people actually want to get fit and healthy and change their bodies?
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