How Instagram Created My Sustainable Fitness Journey

Recently, I’ve had some realizations about my once favorite platform Instagram. It’s been just over three years since I created my fitness Instagram… how time flies! Since reflecting on those years, I figured I would share with you all how I got started using the platform for fitness accountability and my candid thoughts on how the use of Instagram in the fitness community has changed.

Let’s start at the beginning. 

6 weeks prior to creating my Instagram, Conor introduced me to using the weight machines at the gym. I had played sports growing up, but had never really known how to do anything at the gym other than use the cardio machines.

Funny story about that… we started a weightlifting guide and before then, I had no idea what “swole” meant. When I did my first arm workout with him, I told him I didn’t want to continue using the weight machines because I didn’t want my arms to get “buff.” We now laugh hysterically at my ignorance!

Anyways… back on topic. One of my best friends Taylor (@_hustle.and.heart) was visiting me at college and we were at the gym walking on the treadmill when she told me I should look into Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guides (BBG). She shared that she was doing her workouts and they were so killer, she could barely sit down on a toilet… LOL. She also showed me her “secret fitness insta” she was using to hold herself accountable and gain support from other girls following the guides.

So I looked into it and figured heck, if she can barely walk down stairs or sit on a toilet from a workout, it’s gotta be good for you, so I decided to give it a go. I also decided to jump on the “private fitness insta” train so I too could hold myself accountable and get support from other girls.

For shits and giggles, below was my very first Instagram post!

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So I started partaking in the BBG workouts and holy hell… I literally felt like I was having a heart attack each workout for the first 4 weeks of workouts. I continued to post pictures on my Instagram before or after the workouts along with pictures of the healthy meals I was making. From the constant love and support from the community, I was hooked!

From there, I kept up with posting on my Instagram. It took me three tries to get through the 12 weeks without a slip up, but I have the fitness community on Instagram to thank for that. If I was feeling unmotivated one day but saw a fellow BBG-er hitting the gym, you best believe I was lacing up and getting my ass to the gym. It was also comical to share on the platform how hard a workout felt for me only to receive comments saying “OMG that workout was DEATH!”

What really became magical with the platform was when Taylor and I started to attend “BBG Meet Ups” in Philadelphia. Through this app on our phone, it brought a ton of BBG-ers together each month to workout together. The best part was we all started to become friends and it was a great way to meet likeminded people! That was when I really understood the power of this fitness community.

I’m sure you all know what’s next.

Taylor and I thought… if they can create these meet ups in Philadelphia, I wonder if there is something in Baltimore! We did our research and low and behold, no one was coordinating meet ups in Baltimore, so we decided to begin hosting ones there!

Our first meet up was in March of 2016. We had 13 total girls in attendance (see below). Since then, we’ve hosted these meet ups nearly every month, having 30+ girls every time, many of which attending a BBG meet up for the first time. Taylor and I would feel such gratitude at each meet up, watching girls who had cheered each other on through Instagram meet for the first time, becoming instant friends.

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So let’s fast forward to today. 

We still do our meet ups, but the online fitness community has changed drastically. Sweat launched new guides and many girls picked up those or moved on to others. For me, I got hooked on running races and in 2017, I never really touched the BBG guides so I could focus on preparing for my first marathon this past October. It wasn’t until I recently decided to pick up the first BBG guide again I realized just how much the platform changed and what I felt like I got sucked into.

I was reminiscing on “the good old days” of when I was posting while following the BBG guides. I realized I don’t use the platform for what I (and many others) used to use it for… accountability and support.

What do I mean by that? 

(Disclaimer: What I’m about to share is not meant to shame or offend other popular fitness accounts, you do you!)

I’ll flat out say what I’ve been feeling… the Instagram fitness community has turned totally fake. For example, the purpose of using the platform for accountability and support has turned into what kind of following can I build and what kind of passive income can I create for myself. 

What was once feeds filled with #postworkoutselfies and #sweatyselfies are now feeds filled with curated professional photography and photos to make our feeds look a “certain way.”

There is now this pressure to having an appealing feed, to post something every single day, to share every moment of our lives through Instagram stories, and heaven forbid I want to share my delicious brunch on my fitness feed! If you want a successful fitness account, how dare you share anything other than fitness!

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve given into this pressure. I’ve compared my account to other accounts. I’ve paid attention to the number of followers I have and frankly, gotten frustrated over my following not growing. I’ve felt “behind” if I didn’t share something every day. I’ve criticized the way my feed looks. I’ve felt upset for not creating a successful blog that creates a steady stream of passive income. I’ve researched headlines that will get more clicks instead of just sharing candid thoughts.

I’m done feeling this way. 

It’s time to get back to the purpose I began using this platform for… Accountability. Meeting likeminded people. Support. Motivation. 

At this point, I am going to post what I want, even if it’s a post workout tomato-faced selfie in my gym bathroom. I am not going to care about the number of people that follow me anymore, just developing relationships with the people that genuinely care about what I have to share through the platform and this blog. And lastly, I’m letting go of the pressure to post something every single day. There are days where I am uninspired and busy with more important things and that’s okay.

If you’ve fallen victim to this pressure, I encourage you to do the same. An app on our phone should not dictate our happiness. We need to stop comparing ourselves. It’s time to start using this platform not for profits but for relationships. To hold ourselves accountable. To lift each other up instead of bringing ourselves down.

I could talk about this days, but I’ll spare you all and end my rant. 🙂

Bottom line, I’m excited to focus on other areas of my life and to get back to using this platform how I used to, developing relationships. If you like this blog post or agree, let me know and comment your thoughts below! 🙂