In Defence of Gymstagram
It’s hard not to see Instagram as an outlet for vanity and narcissistic behaviour. Especially when it comes to the gym selfie. But it’s not all bad. Natalie Morris investigates the deeper side of ‘Gymstagram’.
Gymstagram. I may have made that word up – but you know what it means. Social media updates of your every fitness move. Suspiciously un-sweaty mirror selfies. Humble bragging about setting an alarm for your 6am run. Bafflingly complex yoga poses that took 19 attempts to get right.
The workout selfie is the 2017 edition of the bathroom selfie – and clean-living millenials can’t get enough. Open any Instastory pre-8am and you’ll find an onslaught of dumbbells, squats and spin classes – but why does this have to be a bad thing?
There is a tendency to scoff at anyone being overtly fitness-focused on social media – ‘no one cares that you went to yogalates this morning Karen,’ – but this kind of derision is needlessly snarky and, I think, borne of nothing more than personal insecurity. Karen doesn’t need that kind of negativity. Karen is bossing life.
I get it – daily updates about the exact number of bicep curls you managed is unarguably mind-numbing, but there can be real benefits of sharing your fitness progress online. Not least that it can help lift your self-confidence. So why do we so often shame women who do it?
Before posting selfies or tweets I’m often struck with a deep fear of appearing to brag or show-off, and I think women are particularly susceptible to this feeling. We can be incredibly self-deprecating as a gender.
As little girls it’s drummed into us that showing-off is bad – it’s something boys aren’t taught in the same way. Boys are praised for being loud, confident, decisive – girls with the same traits are attention-seeking.
This can leave us with a tendency to shrink, to minimise self-promotion at all costs in order to avoid the cardinal sin of being a ‘show off’. But why can’t we have our moment of glory?
Is it really so heinous to celebrate personal achievement? Celebrating your progress in the gym or hitting your fitness goal doesn’t have to be about bragging or seeking approval. It’s about pride, confidence and self-worth.
Another plus of Gymstagramming is the instant connectivity. Creeping out of your flat in the dark to drag yourself to an early morning class can be brutal; it can also be pretty lonely. Unless you have a huge and flexible network of uber-sporty pals, getting your fitness fix can mean a lot of solitary hours in the gym.
Social media can help keep you connected.
At 6am, Instastories are your only friends – knowing there are other people working out at that ungodly hour can stiffen your resolve and make you feel less like a total loner.
It probably looks like I’m slacking, but when I’m sprawled on the gym mat scrolling through Insta – I’m actually looking for inspiration. When you’re stuck in a workout rut, those 30-second hiit videos on your Instagram feed are perfect to help you mix up your tired routines.
It’s like having a free personal trainer in the palm of your hand. Inspiration is a huge part of Gymstagram for me – it’s a space to share new ideas, collaborate and inspire creativity. I never would have tried yogalates if it wasn’t for Karen.
Next time you deliberate over posting about your epic workout – just go for it. You deserve to feel awesome about smashing your PB and you shouldn’t be made to feel as though you can’t celebrate your achievements.
We spend too much time down-playing ourselves and deflecting praise. Let’s make fitness the place where we can congratulate ourselves and bask in the glow of our sweaty amazingness.