The advent of social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok has seen the proliferation of online personalities. This trend has created a generation of people who make a living (or a side hustle) to promote a particular brand of lifestyle that is tied to their image. The age of the “influencer” was born.
In many ways, the global Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021 has bolstered the growth of the “influencer” concept. As the world went into lock down, many turned online for both practical support and social interaction. In addition, people started to turn to online channels, en masse for activities that they would ordinarily not have – an example being fitness and exercise.
Prior to the pandemic, “influencers” were largely lifestyle driven. While some ventured into wellness and uploaded posts on meditation and relaxation, the idea of virtual fitness only really went into overdrive with lock down.
Suddenly, there was an influx of online workout videos with accompanying merchandise to buy. The “influencer” in question will be plugging a particular type of exercise while wearing a particular piece of apparel. Alternatively, certain wellness “influencers” started plugging their own work outs.
This is of course fantastic for an audience that is now spoilt for choice. Given that most of this content is free as well, all the better for the wallet! Why pay for a professional trainer when you can follow an “influencer” for free on YouTube or Instagram?
Somehow, the line between fitness and wellness has become blurred.
There is now a whole host of people to follow and they all range in professionalism. There are professional trainers who understand the body and different levels of fitness. These trainers would be by and large responsible, posting health warnings on their different workouts and instructing their audience from the perspective of the professional.
The problem arises however when an “influencer” who may be fit but does not understand the nuances of body types and different types of workouts uploads workouts that may not suit everyone. With a lack of understanding, such “influencers” may not be able to adequately support their followers in their fitness regimes and end up causing more harm than good.
While the “influencer” may not intend to promote harm, their lack of understanding or training could lead to injuries or unhealthy body image issues.
While the choice out there now is wonderful for the general public who want fitness for free, one does have to be selective about who they follow.
Questions to bear in mind would be:
- What training does this “influencer” have in this area?
- Is this “influencer” presenting the full picture of the workout?
- Is an “influencer” promoting an unhealthy body image?
- Is this a presentation of an image or a genuine exercise video?