Fitness Industry + Social Media = Good or Bad?
In an age where social media has become the most powerful tool for marketing, the health and fitness industry has used social media to target its audience. Be it a large corporate gym, a small box gym, a park personal trainer or even someone going to the gym by themselves, social media posts happen every second. Back Yourself Fitness is included in those groups. We post information about upcoming events (e.g. challenges or fundraisers) but mainly post about our clients moving forward in their quest to achieve their goals. The question is: is social media good or bad when it comes to the fitness industry? This is a broad question, and we need to assess what we’re talking about. A more poignant question would be: how do fitness posts on social media make you feel?
Let us look at the major positive that comes with social media posts: appreciation.
Once again, no matter what size or scale of fitness institution, social media can and is used to share client’s stories about how far they have progressed or what hurdles they have overcome to get to where they are. This is a great way to give recognition to someone’s efforts and is a nice public “pat on the back” for people who’ve worked for it.
Another positive: education.
Now this is little tricky because we as a whole industry can overcomplicate information when we are trying to educate. When personal trainers or gyms talk nutrition, they may not even have the qualification required to pass on such information. Black and white: if you want nutrition plans or more in depth guidance, see a nutritionist…..but I digress.
Education around your specific knowledge is fantastic! Posting workout ideas for your audience is an awesome way to share your knowledge (side note: if it’s not a workout you’re willing to do, what makes you think it’s good for you audience?).
How to master the basics or if you’re a crossfit coach, passing on your knowledge around the more complicated movements in crossfit or a swimmer giving swim technique etc. These are great nuggets of information that the audience can take in, re-watch and if more information is required, they can reach out to you.
Let’s be real. This is why everyone is on social media – marketing. Marketing either themselves, their product, or their service and that’s great but even this depends on your audience. Every single post you see on social media has an element of marketing to it and don’t think otherwise. Obviously without social media all industries would lose a massive point of exposure but you as a consumer needs to read into what exactly is being pushed (see my final thoughts for a bit more explanation).
And now, the major negatives: vein posts.
I understand the feeling of “I look good in this photo so I want to share it” however, is this something that your business should be sharing? How is your audience feeling about those photos? If you want to share that on your personal page, go for it but, taking a photo of you with your shirt off or in the smallest crop top etc is more because you felt you looked good not “this post will be positive for my audience”. You can put as many wanky metaphors under the post as you want but at the end of the day it’s a self-indulgent post. Personal page – go for it, business page – is it needed?
Now this may be a personal thing but hey, it’s my blog. When trainers post selfie photos or videos with their clients training in the background. 2 questions:
1. Why did you feel the need to be in the photo?
2. How are you paying attention to the client if you’re taking a selfie?
And the major negative that I see with social media and the fitness industry: OVERCOMPLICATING NUTRITION
This more so relates to nutritional information but can be applied to all aspects of our industry. I posted a poll last week to our audience asking a few questions around nutritional information and here are the 3 main responses that stood out to me:
1. Almost all responses believe that the fitness industry overcomplicates nutrition.
2. It was an even split when asked if you eat based on your energy levels.
3. It was an even split when asked if you eat based around your training.
Basically, almost all responders feel confused or overwhelmed around nutrition. Only half the responders listen to their body (more likely to base off calorie intake) and only half base their nutrition around their training.
The fitness industry should be about helping people move forward on their fitness journey. The health and fitness industry incorporates the nutrition and rehabilitation side of things. Yes, the fitness industry can educate themselves in certain areas to help guide their audience more on the health side of things but once again: if you need nutritional help, seek out a nutritionist.
If your gym or personal trainer is hell bent on pushing macro tracking or calorie tracking, what they’re actually doing is creating a relationship with food that is unrealistic. How are clients meant to track macros or calories on nights out? If your clients miss their macros or calories is that going to create a negative mindset’ or will it encourage them to do better the next day? All your macro and calorie targets ARE GUIDGES, not gospel.
My question is: why is there not more emphasis on how to eat for energy? Or what does a “healthy plate” look like? Instead of: “Here’s how many calories you must eat” or “here’s how many calories are in this food”.
A mentally unhealthy relationship with food will do more damage than anything else and in my experience the people who do have unhealthy relationships with food are the ones who are confused with the abundance of rubbish information the fitness industry churns out every day for “healthy eating”.
· Share your clients progress
· Be educational (about what you know)
· Help create healthy relationships with food and exercise
· Share your positivity
· You became involved in the fitness industry to help people so make every post revolve around that
· Post vein photos or videos. Keep that for your personal accounts.
· Try and educate on topics that you yourself are not sure of.
· Push the macro/calorie lifestyle.
· Look at the posts from the page, what are they based around? Clients, education, or the trainer/facility?
· Stay in your lane. If you see a page sharing progress or results, use it as motivation but just know your journey is different from anyone else.
· Just because the trainer has abs, doesn’t mean you have to be like that.
· Just because the trainer has abs, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good trainer.
· Ask questions! If you see educational posts about training or nutrition don’t be afraid to ask for more info or clarification instead following it blindly.
Social media is a powerful tool. Is it positive or negative – it has moments of both, but you have the ultimate power to decide what you buy into and follow and what you don’t.