If you regularly use social media such as Facebook and Instagram, you will have noticed posts plugging fitness by way of body-conscious photos and memes meant to get people moving. For example: a picture of a gorgeous bikini-clad woman with the caption, “Today I will love myself enough to exercise.”

Both fitness pros and people outside the industry currently drive fitspo messaging. Some of it promotes positive body image through sensible fitness practices; some of it perpetuates body dissatisfaction and archaic ideas about exercise. As a community of conscientious professionals, we can do our part to elevate the fitness-related content that’s peppered across social networks.

Using common sense and instinct helps differentiate between messages that foster healthy relationships with fitness and body image and those that could be distressing to prospects and clients. And, yes, what works for one audience may not work for another.

Positive Body Image Posting Guide

  • Why am I posting this message, meme or
    photo? Is it for my own gratification or to
    inspire, help and connect with my network?
  • Will the majority of my followers and/or target
    audience perceive this post as positive or negative? Motivating or discouraging? Neutral or sexualized? What’s the intention?
  • Would a person who’s new to fitness and/or concerned about body image feel intimidated, dissatisfied or ashamed after seeing this post?
  • Does this post degrade or make fun of others, particularly people who don’t exercise and/or are overweight?
  • Does this post represent my philosophy on fitness? Does it reflect the kind of fitness professional I want to be?

For more information about social media and body image, plus a much wider discussion of the topic, please see “Social Media and Body Image: A Complicated Relationship” in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

Amanda Vogel, MA

Amanda Vogel, MA, is a fitness professional and the owner of Active Voice, a writing, editing and consulting service for fitness professionals. She writes for IDEA, Health, Prevention, and Self, and has co-authored books on postnatal fitness and yoga. With a master's degree in human kinetics, Amanda has worked in the fitness industry for more than 15 years, including time spent as a program director and vice president for a chain of all-women clubs in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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