Remember the days when the only way people knew you were in to fitness was when you actually got fitter...or showed up places in a Gold's Gym tank top and parachute pants? Gone are the days of the world wondering what your butt looks like after #LegsDay or how much chicken is in a #PlateOfGains. Some say that Instagram and Twitter have taken the intrinsically rewarding soul of fitness, clean and jerked it high overhead, and dropped it to the floor with a deafening thud of look-at-me-ness.
But was a self-pat on the back really that great? Was nothing more than a check mark beside your last set to commemorate a workout well done that satisfying? Do you know what's wrong with 146 likes of an ab shot with your underwear so dangerously low that it's almost pornographic (#FitnessPorn)? Nothing... if posting these pictures or following these posters is what motivates you to be the fittest and healthiest version of you that you can be, then there is nothing wrong with it at all.
What is wrong, is shaming people for it. I believe that any kind of shaming is wrong: fat shaming, fit shaming, race, height, sexual orientation, religious belief, etc. Find inspiration in everything and be inspirational to other people. In a time where our knowledge-base, the nutrition, medication, and opportunities that are available to us are at an all-time high, our collective struggle with health is inconceivably off the charts. Anything that brings health, wellness, and fitness to the forefront of pop-culture is a good thing.
The Biggest Loser has been monumental in bringing the obesity epidemic to mainstream conversation. Yes, the methodology and psychology of the show is questionable, but if nothing else, it is showing John and Jen couch-potatoe how to workout, that they can workout, and gives good tips on nutrition. The explosion of community-minded brands like Livestrong, Lululemon, and Nike are based on the fitness and health lifestyle. Yes, they are trying to sell you something, but they are also selling you a lifestyle, and if you buy in to that lifestyle, instead of just buying the clothing, your life will be better for it.
Social media is a good thing for fitness. Yes, there are some egotistical reasons for posting #ProgressPics. We all want kudos for a job well-done and some of us are less shy about putting ourselves in the public eye to get what we need.
The soul of fitness is stronger than ever. Like anything in life, the industry must evolve or die. The evolution to a more public movement can only be good for future generations. Role models are no longer un-reachable stars on a stage or field, they are people. They are people with twitter accounts who do real things, eat real food, and can be interacted with, simply by hitting "like". The heart of fitness will always be forged in the iron of gyms, but the soul of fitness lies within social media, and it is now available for the whole #fitfam to enjoy.