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Is Social Media Squashing Our Self Esteem?

We can't cruise the gym floor these days without the sight of a selfie being taken. It seems that the trend for being in the gym has extended into the realm of fashion and style, with Instagrammers in their millions keeping us updated on their daily regime. Though, for many, the images they see on social media can be intimidating and create unrealistic ideals of what 'healthy' looks like. Social media leads us to believe that a healthy body has minimal fat, bulging muscles and flawless skin (‘Smooth’ filter anyone?). However in reality, unless we have the time to dedicate to achieving the bodies we see online every day, that washboard stomach isn’t going to come easily. Tricia Burke, an assistant professor of communication studies at Texas State University and Stephen Rains from the University of Arizona, surveyed 230 people on social media, about their thoughts on their own health, fitness and weight. They looked at how often fitness posts appeared in their timelines, the people they considered to be influencers and how they compared themselves to their fitness idols. The results, published in the journal Health Communication, revealed that compared to those that don't follow fitness-related posts, social media users were more likely to be concerned about their weight, which may translate to a dip in self-esteem. Many social media users have a tendency to compare themselves to others in terms of body size, fitness levels and physical ability. Seeing a series of selfies on a daily basis makes us question where our own fitness efforts may be going wrong, when in fact, we're the ones doing it right. Though on the flip side, a high number of fit-fanatics found social media to be motivational in their fitness efforts. They follow fitness influencers to gather tips, advice and even fashion trends to try on the gym floor. The average social media user isn’t consciously aware of which camp they fall into, Burke says. The point is more than what people see on social media does have an impact. “A lot of us just kind of scroll through and see things passively,” Burke says. “We might not realize that we are internalizing it and that it can be affecting our attitudes about ourselves. We should be careful about the way that we’re phrasing things and try to have a proactive, pro-health, positive message that makes people feel capable of engaging in these health behaviours.” Qualified Personal Trainers have an understanding of why the body functions in certain ways, and what it needs to perform. It’s these in-depth learnings that enable professional Personal Trainers to effectively train others, with a more realistic approach, rather than simply trying to look like those they see online. The same can be said for foodie fans using social media. We take inspiration from the snaps we see of what a 'healthy diet' looks like. Though the poster isn't always qualified to know. Focus Training’s Diet and Nutrition Specialist, Sarah Boyd says: “This is dangerous for a number of reasons. Seeking nutritional advice from those not trained or qualified to dispense it, means putting your body at risk based on hearsay, rather than fact. Unqualified ‘fitness experts’ have no solid basis for the advice they offer, other than that it worked for them. This doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work for you.” We would always advise seeking the opinion of a qualified Personal Trainer before embarking on a celebrity-endorsed or Instagram-inspired diet plan, that could leave you feeling far less than fabulous. If you're considering becoming a personal trainer, and are ready to add a more realistic side to social media, speak to the team about our upcoming courses coming to a venue near you. Personal training courses for your career. If you’re a fitness enthusiast who wants to share your passion for health, love of fitness and help others in their quest for the body beautiful… a career as a personal trainer may just be for you! Our popular courses relating to this blog post is social media squashing our self-esteem? include our personal trainer courses, gym instructor courses and the ever-popular sports massage courses. As with any career change, it’s important to consider what it will take to get there and make a success of your shiny new fitness career. So we’ve put together a few pointers on how to get started. All our courses are designed to give you the necessary tools to become a fully-certified fitness professional. Alternatively, via our home page, you can find personal trainer courses.