How to stay body positive in the age of ‘fitstagram’


 

Zumba classes at the FIU Wellness and Recreation Center.

Brittany Baldwin is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor who currently works as the assistant director of fitness at the FIU Wellness and Recreation Center at MMC. This article is the first in a new FIU News series, featuring Baldwin’s perspective on health and fitness.

As I pass through the locker room at the FIU Wellness and Recreation Center, I see numerous students posing and snapping photos in the mirror trying to get the best possible “gym selfie.”

Much like myself, these students look to social media platforms, such as Instagram, to provide them with “fitspiration,” and unique takes on traditional workout formats.

However, when constantly comparing one’s self to social media fitness influencers, this additional motivation can quickly turn to discouragement.

As assistant director of fitness, I often meet with students requesting a personal trainer. During our initial chat, many students pull out a picture of their favorite fitness influencer and say, “I want a trainer to help me look exactly like this.”

In these situations, I encourage students to be realistic in their goal setting and focus on making positive personal improvements. For example, although you may not look as lean as an Instagram fitness model, take pleasure in the fact that your clothes are fitting better and your energy level has increased.

Remaining body positive in the age of “fitstagram” also requires a healthy dose of skepticism.

While it’d be nice to accept everything posted on social media at face value, the reality is that some popular fitness influencers may not actually look the way they appear online.

Filters and other photo editing software can enhance physical strengths, remove flaws and create an image of unrealistic perfection. Therefore, instead of striving to look like them, I aim to improve my overall health and strength.

Many fitness influencers falsely credit supplements and fad diets as the origin of their toned physiques. Believing this information leads others to seek expensive, ineffective and unhealthy means to achieve their body goals.

Remaining body positive also requires maintaining a healthy relationship with food. Our bodies need proper fuel and nutrients to perform at their best.

If you’re a student seeking professional advice on your nutrition, the Healthy Living Program at FIU can help. Healthy Living offers a multitude of nutrition-related services approved by a registered dietician, many of which are free to FIU students.

I encourage anyone struggling to remain body positive in the age of “fitstagram” to personally define what health and fitness looks like in your life, instead of looking to an Instagram fitness influencer to do so.

— Brittany Baldwin