By: Lacey Thacker
Social media, once just a way to keep in touch with friends and share photos, has now crept in to almost every part of life. We use it to share events, log where we’ve been, and get discounts on retail. It’s even become part of our workout routines.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of notifications on Facebook letting me know “So-and-so is on a run with (fill in the app). This app will speak your comments to her.” In other words, my friend downloaded an app and then logged into that platform with her social media account. She simply opens the app, starts her workout, and without missing a beat, she can start sweating while her friends cheer her on from the digital sidelines.
Then there’s the ubiquitous sign or suggestion at the gym or studio: “Tweet your workout and receive ______.” Often, the reward is in the form of a discount, a particularly delightful treat for those of us who hit up specialty classes on a regular basis.
Or, what about that crazy new workout your friend tried and loved? How many times did she share it before you finally asked or agreed to join her for a free class—and, what did she receive when she brought you in?
Once upon a time, we went for a run or to the gym and could be relatively assured that, for an hour or so, we could leave behind our work, our personal lives, and our constant need for connectivity. This compartmentalization was, in many ways, a benefit for our minds while we worked out our bodies. Relaxing mentally, an important part of health, was conveniently worked into another routine.
Now, it is more and more rare to hit the stacks without unlocking a reward, sharing our progress on a social media site, or stating proudly the location of our activity. Instead of time for mental relaxation, we have turned the gym into another potential for social interaction.
Luckily, when the goal is to get in shape, any healthy means to achieving to that goal is great. We’ve known for years the positive impact of the buddy system on workouts, and the trend of including our social network in our gym time seems to be just an extension of that trend—as long as you make an active decision to use it to your benefit.
When using social media and apps in fitness, be conscious of the decisions you are making. If downloading an app that tracks your workouts is helpful, use it. If that same app can share your stats, and that motivates you, share away. When it comes to posting where you’ve been and how much you loved it, well, do it if it makes you feel good. However, if utilizing these tools doesn’t make you feel more motivated, or if they distract you, don’t force it. As with anything health or fitness related, the key is to work with yourself, not against.