How Social Media Can Help Your At-home Fitness

During my 20-minute commute to my morning workout at Barry’s, a boot camp style class that marries treadmills with weight lifting, I thought about how much easier it would be if I could work out at home.  It would be much more affordable than the outrageous $30 a class price tag attached to Boston fitness classes and I wouldn’t have to waste 20 minutes commuting to and from each class. However, would working out at home be as effective as my beloved Soul Cycle and Barry’s classes and would I be motivated enough to actually do it?  Apparently, the answer to both of these questions for many people is yes.  However, it turns out that the key to success for working out at-home is Social Media.

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I did some initial googling to see what kinds of options there were for at-home workouts. During my research, I found a number of different online methods that many people use to better reach their at-home fitness goals – apps, online fitness communities, and live classes on YouTube.  However, I have recently become intrigued by one in particular – online fitness communities.   Over the past year, I started to notice this growing fitness movement because it has been flooding my social media feed.  More and more people have been posting works out from groups like Tone It Up, Kayla Itsines, Beach Body, and many others.  For those of you who are not familiar, I’ve provided links to a few of the communities below, but basically, for a fee, they offer a combination of nutrition plans, weekly schedules, daily workouts, and membership to their online community of members.  Some have even become so popular they now host in-person fitness retreats and events where thousands attend.  One common theme in all of these communities is to connect with your trainer (i.e. Karena and Katrina from Tone It Up) and other members through posting your meals, workouts, and successes.

Tone It Up

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Kayla Itsines

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Beach Body

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What I’ve found most interesting about these communities is the ripple effect that I’ve seen occur.  Currently, Tone It Up has over 1.2 million followers, Kayla Itsines over 8 million, and Beach Body 1.4 million.  Each of them starting with basically nothing and in only a few years, Tone it Up is reportedly a multi-million dollar business and Kayla Itsines has been praised by Bloomberg Businessweek as generating more revenue than any fitness app this year, besting Nike+, and Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal.

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Social media is what attracts most of these members to these groups.  People join these communities because they have seen a friend on social media doing it or they follow one of these trainers on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Snapchat.  They go to their website, purchase a package and then they start posting workouts, and quickly encourage others to follow in their footsteps.  In any industry – this is a company’s dream! Customers raving about their experience and results and soliciting others to join!  While these communities and social media are the keys to success for these companies, they are also the keys to keeping you motivated and helping you reach your goals.  The network of members keeps you accountable, gives you the support you need to stay motivated, challenges you to push yourself, and celebrates your success. The social media platforms allow everyone to seamless connect to one another without having to meet up in person.  Together, they are what keep you coming back and staying engaged.  And the most fascinating thing about all of this is that most (if not all) of is via online and no in-person contact!

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Most people join gyms or different fitness studios in order to feel like they are a part of a community, but in a large city like Boston, it is difficult to feel connected or member of a community even when you are there in person. Isn’t ironic that in some cases, it is easier to develop a deeper sense of community through social media platforms?!

All in all, I think it is quite amazing that over the past 7 years, in true social media fashion, these online fitness communities have appeared and changed the way we traditionally think about fitness.  At-home workouts have been around for decades, but having a support network of millions of people (most of whom you will or have never met) while working out at home is pretty revolutionary.

Although I still have not given up my in-person classes for an in-home workout, it might be something in my near future – especially as the weather gets colder!  I’m curious about your workout preferences – does anyone have any positive or negative experiences with the at-home work outs I’ve mentioned?  Do you think it is possible to feel supported and motivated by a huge fitness community that you have never met? Given their growing popularity, do you think they could one day completely take over in-person classes?

9 comments

  1. The first thing I thought of when I saw your blog post’s title was Kayla Itsines! I found out about her BBG program last year, since it was all over my newsfeed on Instagram. Somehow she was able to use social media (mostly Instagram) to create this crazy large and supportive community of BBG girls. They encourage one another, go to meetups, and are posting inspiration and motivational posts. And that’s great for Kayla, since if people stick to the BBG and see results, they’ll keep using BBG and start telling their friends about it. The before and after photos are also fantastic marketing for Kayla’s program. It’s insane how big of a phenomenon she’s been able to become thanks to Instagram (and of course her own hard work)! I actually did try her program for a few weeks and had fine results, but had to stop because of a foot injury. I didn’t participate in the online community, but I can definitely imagine how that would be encouraging.

  2. francoismba · ·

    As you know, my sister-in-law is a Beachbody coach and raves about this program. She lent me a few DVDs to try and they were surprisingly super hard – was sore for 4 days. Although I got a great workout in, I found it harder to push myself when I was 4 feet away from my couch. Personally, I prefer fitness classes such as Pure Barre where I can escape for an hour.

    It is amazing to see how these online fitness communities have spread like wildfire. I orginally thought the programs were just a trend that would come and go; however, that’s definitely not the case. My Facebook and Instagram feed continues to be flooded with more and more of my friends joining the movement. Do you think online fitness communities will continue to grow or do you think they will eventually fade away?

  3. I’m even more extreme. I just can’t justify the 20 minutes it takes to get to the gym. We invested a treadmill and adjustable dumbbells a few years back and I’ve never regretted it. Of course the biggest motivator for me has been the Apple watch. Once it showed how little exercise I got when I didn’t intentionally do it, it made me more intentional about it. Of course, then we got a dog and now I get plenty (by Apple watch’s standards)

    1. It’s interesting you say your Apple Watch motivates you because I recently read about a study that said when people were trying to lose weight and they wore a fitness tracker, they actually lost less weight than someone who wasn’t wearing one. (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/20/494631423/weight-loss-on-your-wrist-fitness-trackers-may-not-help) This seemed backwards to me and I would think the case would be more similar to yours where having a fitness tracker makes you more accountable.

  4. Great post!! Social media has become such an important platform for fitness fads. I personally love working out at home/by myself. When I lived back home in high school our at home treadmill was all I needed, and it worked really well for me. The only exception to this for me has been spin class, which is fun, fit, and better in a community in my opinion. Although I do not follow or use social media platforms for my physical fitness, they defiantly keep me motivated. It is hard to not see them or avoid them in anyway. I will be scrolling through my insta and a workout will pop up a couple times in a day. Although I do not do that workout, it reminds me repeatdly to make time to go the Plex and get in my run for the day. I defiantly appreciate this factor of fitness related social media!

  5. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Great comment about people feeling more connected and part of a community online versus in person! Such an interesting outcome. I agree that one of the benefits of social media fitness is the personal testimony. Free advertising of customer success stories is amazing for companies. Have you seen any cases where this has backfired? Where customers see no benefits and “slam” the company on social media?

    I personally feel motivated when I feel like I have to answer to someone else. It almost forces you to exercise out of a responsibility to someone else. I doubt that online fitness will eventually phase out in person classes. Sometimes its nice to get out the house, take a class with friends, or try something completely new.

  6. sandytanny · ·

    As someone that actively avoids the Plex and chooses the elevator over stairs far too often, this topic was definitely interesting learning more about. Documenting one’s fitness journey on social media has been prevalent ever since the rise of Instagram. Who doesn’t love a good before and after photo and motivational captions? What makes social media great is that it creates a community that is able to support and motivate each other and is a natural platform to share updates on our fitness progress. I never realized how huge these social media trainers, but it’s incredible how they’re able to reach more people than established brands like Nike or Under Armour like you mentioned!

    1. I wonder if big brand names like Nike or UA are capable of learning from these smaller fitness brands. I doubt that Nike would be able to post such personal photos like a customers progress because it wouldn’t follow their sleek marketing campaigns.

  7. What an interesting topic! I follow a few fitness bloggers on Instagram who quit their full time jobs to start their own businesses. Your post reminded me of one in particular, @emilyjgoodman, frequently posts “unglamorous” photos to show the hard work that goes into being fit. She created her own business of personalized 30 day workout plans that you can do in your home, but also know that there is a community of other people out there on the same journey. Emily shares her own before/after photos, videos of herself making healthy smoothies, and pictures of her meals — both healthy dinners, and “cheat” meals out with friends! In a world of perfectly curated Instagram profiles, she’s extremely real. This unexpected transparency makes being healthy and fit seem more attainable, which I love!

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