One of the most inspirational, motivational, and controversial movements to ever happen to health and fitness was created by a kid from Stanford College who knows just as much about the gym as the Average Joe. Yet, he created an application that changed the culture of fitness forever and didn’t even mean to do it.
That application is “Instagram ”
Before I founded Quantum Leap Fitness (QLF), I’d toyed with the idea of making a cameo reappearance in someone’s college classroom for just one more semester, just to finally write a thesis on the idea of Instagram as a force that has shaped the future of fitness for better or for worse.
But y’all didn’t know me back in college. Let’s just say, Thank God I started QLF instead.
“Take this Picture of me for the ‘Gram “
Now let’s be honest; Instagram’s lifeblood is vanity and the need to be ” liked” (see what I did there?). So, the fact that it has pushed the culture of fitness forward but is so deeply rooted in what is arguably the basest of human desires is incredible.
On a host of levels, from what we wear and where we go, to what we eat and how the food is plated, Instagram was imagined as a simple application that would essentially allow regular folks to have a place to turn their regular life into art. But somehow, the student became the master, and now, Instagram’s idea of ‘life as art’ has created a culture of ‘Instagram art as (the blueprint for) life.’
Picture it; your local gym…
Right now a young is lady taking a picture of herself in a mirror of the locker room. She didn’t workout hard enough to break a sweat, doesn’t know how to do a proper squat, couldn’t tell you where her triceps are located but… her tights are colorful and her body could sell any magazine. So she’s going to ‘smize’ and hashtag her vanity:
Then, she’ll post this picture to the tune 100 likes and 80 comments on how hard she works.
She took these pictures to help increase her follower count but that same picture is officially a catalyst for change in her followers. The physiological aspect of that picture will trigger emotions in someone she will never meet in ways she didn’t intend or anticipate.
On the other side of the world (hell, maybe on the other side of that same gym)…
There’s another young lady—she could be any age or any body type. But she struggles with self-image issues–self-hate, a host of potential health risks due to inactivity, poor nutritional choices or perhaps a challenging family medical history. She sees this picture, gets inspired and imagines that “One Day’ her positive self-image can be something she wants to glorify.Nevermind the fact that a half-dressed lady is on her Instagram not showing one actual exercise. So, she joins her local gym in the hopes to one day look like her Instagram Idol. She goes to the gym regularly and changes her life for the better! All because one person wanted to see how many heads she could turn and praise she can get.
Q: When have you ever seen so many people care about health and fitness?
A: When they were able to be ” liked” for it.
Even your favorite celebrity has to find a way to show you he or she is working out hard. So by nature you are going to find a way to perpetuate that image too. Let’s face it , rappers like The Game hosting fitness challenges , models secretly taking trips to DR then reappearingwith glutes that ‘only squats can create’ and even Diddy likes to show us that he can count reps just as well as Benjamins.
It’s clear that the culture of fitness is changing for the better but not necessarily for the right reasons. But the question is, should we really be upset about this? Because someone might have ‘done it for the gram,’ but it could have inadvertently saved someone else’s life.
And yes, I hate that my passion and expertise as a fitness professional has become diluted because of filters and clever hashtags. BUT.I appreciate the fact that someone, somewhere is going to use the inflated ego of many as motivation enough to live a healthier life. We live in a country where 1 out of 3 people are classified as overweight and many of our more devastating health risks can be suppressed with increased physical activity.
The solution to a hard and pervasive problem is a simple one: Download Instagram and let the vanity inspire you.
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