A newfound interest in health and fitness has been on the rise since the growth in popularity of social media.
With social media, a new job title ‘influencer’ has been introduced. One of the major ones being fitness influencer.
A ‘fitness influencer’ is someone who post their workouts and meals, to encourage others to live a healthy lifestyle. Many followers see this as a personal trainer in their pocket, to use at home or at the gym, that they can get for free.
But it is not always clear if the workouts suggested are effective or even safe.
Many of these influencers are female. Major female influencers like Grave Beverley (1 million Instagram followers), or Linn Lowes (2.1 Instagram million followers), post photos and videos of themselves daily, working out or, living a lavish lifestyle.
A little unknown fact about the influencer world is that many of these people are not actually certified trainers, nor certified nutritionists. Yet, online, they still have the ability to be people ‘trainers’, by posting their work out of the day.
This not only puts a false idea into followers’ heads, but it also can lead to injury, as dealing with weights and machines can be dangerous and if movements are not done correctly someone can get hurt.
Not all influencers are not certified or pretend to be, Linn Lowes is a certified personal trainer and advertises that. Grace Beverley is very open about the fact that when creating her fitness and meal plans, she works with a personal trainer and dietician.
Brandi McDonald, a nutritionist and competitive weightlifter, spoke on this issue, saying that when it comes to following anyone’s workout plans or diets, people should always do their research.
“Educate yourself, follow them, read up about it, ask questions. People have to ask more questions,” McDonald said.
Everybody needs to be educated
When it comes to social media influencers, McDonald has seen the positive and negative to them.
“I have nothing against people who want to use social media to influence, it actually does probably bring some clients,” She said. “I think it’s great for inspiration, and I even think it’s great for when you’re just getting started even if you find someone whos certified, at least you know they know what they’re talking about, so the program is legit, but I don’t know how many results you’re going to get, I don’t know if you are going to get the results that people want to get, without some type of personal training.”
Understanding that following one workout, or one meal is not going to change everything is another part of this issue McDonald wants people to understand.
“A lot of the time people are looking at these people with the six pack abs and they don’t realise what it takes behind the scenes. Going to the gym is not going to get you six pack abs, guaranteed. Going to the gym will help but it’s all nutrition. So if its inspiration, totally” She said.
“You’re seeing, and you’re thinking ‘oh it’s working for everyone else, why is it not working for me?’ I would never want people to feel that way. I’m sure its not working for a lot of people.” She said on following an influencers workout plan in an attempt to look like them, “You’d have to follow someone’s entire lifestyle, you’d have to eat the way they eat, drink the way they drink, sleep the way they sleep, and that’s probably their only job too.” “you can’t compare yourself to other people.
McDonald in her interview talked about an Instagram account that she follows, and likes by the handle @theflexibledietinglifestyle, an account for Zach Rocheleau. Rocheleau has a new cookbook out, which he has recipes for low calorie, or high protein cookies, cupcakes and other fun treats. With a new book, he has to promote it, so recently all his photos have been of these treats, leading his followers to believe that he eats the ‘fun’ food all day. This is a misconception. He eats fruits and vegetables, and he is on a calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit is when you consume less calories than you burn in a day. McDonalds says.
If you want to lose weight you have to move more and eat less.
McDonald wants people to understand that there is no quick fix to lose weight, “People are always looking for the quick fix, nobody has the patience for it, myself included, you want it to happen, you want it to happen faster than it does, it doesn’t happen that fast it really doesn’t.”
Knowing who you’re following, what their certifications are, and understanding that nothing is a quick fix like people want you to believe is one of the biggest things people have to acknowledge.
Knowing your own body and lifestyle is also a major factor. Many of these influencers, this is their job, where as their followers all have other things to take into account. Personal stress can also affect your health, positively or negatively.
When it comes to social media influencers, do not simply follow them blindly. Do some research, and understand that it may be great to look like these people, it will take a lot more than following a workout.