Bodies of all shapes and sizes can be fit, and these Instagram accounts spotlight that. Who’s most inspiring to you?
Have you ever turned to social media for workout inspiration? The hashtag #fitspo (short for “fitspiration,” or fitness plus inspiration) is attached to more than 74 million posts on Instagram; videos with the same hashtag have racked up over 1.4 billion views on TikTok.
Do these posts capture what fitness really looks like?
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in March 2017 examined 415 social media posts tagged with #fitspo and concluded that the majority of the images promoted a narrow, gendered view of fitness: Female subjects tended to be thin and toned, while male subjects tended to be extremely muscular.
But Jacque Crockford, an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer based in San Diego and a senior product manager at ACE (where she focuses on some of the organization’s education efforts), says if those mainstream #fitspo images are the only ones you’re seeing on your social media feeds, dig a little deeper. There are plenty of fitness professionals (including fitness influencers on social media) whose bodies don’t look like that, and who are doing a lot to highlight what it actually means to be fit. “Health and fitness professionals do have the power to continue to shift the tides toward more inclusive, positive ideas around fitness,” she says.
So, how can you identify which influencers are getting it right? Accounts that foster a healthy relationship with fitness tend to focus on topics that aren’t necessarily related to size or weight, Crockford says. For example, they might encourage followers to “feel great and get better sleep” rather than “lose weight to fit into a bikini.” She recommends following social media accounts that support body confidence, self-care, and positive relationships with food and exercise.
If an account suggests that food or exercise is some kind of punishment, there is a good chance they’re contributing to stigma and bias around weight and size — which isn’t good for the fitness industry or society as a whole, she adds. Also be wary of accounts that try to sell you a program, piece of equipment, or meal plan that equates getting fit with losing weight, Crockford says. “Every body is different,” she says. Weight loss is not always the goal, and it isn’t necessarily a marker of fitness.
If you’re looking to add some positive fitness inspiration to your Instagram feed, consider following these nine workout pros, who prove fitness can look different for every body.