My 2013 New Year’s Resolution was to lose weight. So original, right? I had been overweight all my life, and though I had lost nearly 30 pounds since 2011, I wanted to take back control of my health, after doctors telling me for the better part of eight years that I needed to do something about my weight.
During January and February, I began an exercise routine—three times a week, I headed to my apartment gym for an hour. 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the arctrainer helped me lose 10 pounds in 2 months. I was ecstatic. But I wanted answers to a lot of questions I had about fitness and nutrition. So I did what any college student would do; I turned to social media. I started following any fitness-related account I stumbled across, and retweeted a few things here and there. Eventually, I came across a group of anonymous accounts who were just girls tweeting about their lives within fitness. I wanted one of those accounts.
On March 17, 2013, I created my own anonymous fitness Twitter account. These accounts have been labeled by many as the “#fitfam”—an online community constructed mainly through social media for fitness junkies worldwide to share the fitness side of their lives. I kept it a secret from friends, family and even my boyfriend for the better part of (at least) six months. It was a diary of sorts; if you scroll all the way back to the beginning of my feed, you’ll see the crazy things I tweeted out to my insignificant following. I tweeted the food I ate & workouts I completed, posted progress photos and goals that I was too nervous to share with my family and friends (how weird is that, right?), and I interacted with other “anon” accounts through @replies and direct messages. I formed a small community, all for myself, based around my increasing love for fitness.
Today I have over 1,500 followers on @alyssafreyfit and am slowly growing the same brand on Instagram. Though nowhere near the following fitness celebrities Katy Hearn and Zoe Rodriguez have—combined, the two 20-somethings have over 1 million Instagram followers—I am able to connect with friends (both IRL and virtual), show off progress photos, get critiques on my powerlifting form (did I mention I’m training for my first powerlifting competition in May?) and share recipes I create in the kitchen, all using two separate social media channels from my personal, more professional accounts.
But wait, Alyssa, I thought you said earlier this semester you were against having separate accounts for personal and professional life. Why the separation?
Yes, that’s right. I don’t think there’s any need to create separate personal and professional identities on social media (sorry to all those who created a new Twitter account for #IS6621). I was taught in journalism school that the most important thing a writer can have is his or her voice. Social media allows people to curate their voice, both personally and professionally. KU men’s basketball, politics, cheerleading and pop culture all comprise a part of my identity, and my identity does not change when I walk into Campion for work each day. I want employers to see my abilities managing social media as well as what makes me unique.
When I created my no-longer-anonymous “fit Twitter,” as many of my friends now affectionately call it, I sought privacy from the real world. I didn’t want my employers to see my stomach, my arms or my breakfast. (Personally, I still would rather not, which is why the channels remain separate.)
I also wanted to make sure I didn’t overload my friends with content they didn’t want to see. Only recently did I create a separate Instagram account when I was participating in #FEED25, a friend’s 25 day social media fitness challenge (which I won!). A friend mentioned to me that “they liked my posts, but it was getting to be a little much.” So I created the account, posted one notification on my personal Instagram account notifying my followers of the transition, and that was that.
I would never hide these accounts from a potential employer (hi, potential employers!) because fitness is an incredibly important part of my life—ask anyone who’s close to me, and they’ll tell you. But I’ve found utilizing these separate channels specifically for fitness has proven successful in cultivating both my “Higher Education-Social Media Junkie-Master’s Student” and “Powerlifting Princess-Donut Diva-Egg Extraordinaire” brands.