Social media spoil your real life

Motivational or Dangerous? How Instagram affects our fitness

It is Tuesday, shortly after half past twelve, when I disappear into the editorial bathroom with my gym bag. Move quickly. Black, figure-hugging leggings, white sports bra with a fancy back - both from a hyped Canadian sports label.

Less than thirty minutes later I'm on the treadmill at Urban Heroes, a Hamburg boutique studio specializing in HIIT training.

Before listening to loud bass in a nightclub atmosphere Lunchtime Xpress course If I give my all for 35 minutes, I quickly take a few selfies and a boomerang in the mirror, while two treadmills to my right, Insta star Caro Daur, are warming up and to my left singer Jasmin Wagner alias Blümchen is in the starting blocks.

Instagram users are very active in sports

Even if not everyone uses their lunch break to workout, around twelve million people in Germany do sports several times a week. The number of Instagram users is even higher: almost 15 million.

However, contrary to what has long been assumed, Dr. Birgit Braumüller from the Sport University Cologne in a study:

"On the contrary - a central function lies in the improved organization of sports activities: Social networks facilitate access to new clubs, sports groups and training partners, promote networking within sporting groups and enable social contact afterwards."

The relevance of Instagram, apps and co. Is perceived differently by both sexes. "While young men emphasize the importance of social networks when organizing their sports activities, the young women report more improvements in athletic skills and increased motivation," says the scientist.

Satisfaction and appreciation

I drive back to the editorial office sweaty and comfortably exhausted. During the two stations in the subway, I share my little personal success and post the boomerang in my story on Instagram with the links #lunchbreak @theurbanheroes.

The reactions are not long in coming - and even if I'm reluctant to admit it, the recognition of my friends and followers gives me additional satisfaction.

A few years ago I would never have thought that I would voluntarily spend my lunch break doing sports. In physical education at school, I was one of the last people voted, and when I signed up for Instagram in 2014, I was also at the bottom of the list.

If I hadn't been ordered to download the app by my head of department at the time, the social media hype would probably have caught me later.

Instagrammable studios

Even if I only follow a few influencers myself, I discover new fitness studios and trends today mainly via social networks. Instagrammable boutique studios like Urban Heroes have overtaken the purely functional studios.

It's no longer just about strengthening your back or getting bikinifit for your next vacation, the studio has to offer added visual value - and ideally have a cool Insta community of its own that you want to be or become a part of. Instead of direct, glaring ceiling lighting, the light is dimmed - a built-in photo filter, so to speak.

Although trends emerge just as suddenly in the digital age and disappear almost as quickly, boutique studios have real potential to stay. Sport becomes a cool lifestyle, increases the effectiveness of workouts, is more than just a necessary evil for physical fitness.

The perfect shot in the studio

BionicFit has taken this to a new level. A studio for women that relies 100 percent on the Instagram factor. From the walls to the tiles in the changing room to the kettlebells, everything shines in "pretty in pink" - every corner invites you to the perfect shot.

Likes en masse guaranteed. So it's no wonder that the German A-League of influencers is at the start, such as Stefanie Giesinger or Anh Phoenix - and then posts their workouts.

“Many people use social networks to share their sporting successes and to exchange ideas,” explains Linda van Rennings, social media expert at Bitkom, the association of the German information and telecommunications industry:

Whoever has a photo for #medalmonday posts on Instagram or publishes his run on apps such as Runtastic, is often popular in the form of likes, comments or awards. That can be motivating. But you should also keep in mind that social networks don't always show the whole truth about sports: Success is celebrated, and defeats are often swept under the carpet. "

Personal trainers become stars

But it's not just the studios that have changed; fitness trainers have long since become more than just instructors whose first names are known at most.

In the USA, coaches like David Kirsch, Gunnar Peterson or Tracy Anderson are revered as stars, have hundreds of thousands of followers, land lucrative advertising deals, market their bodyforming programs in multimedia and even pose with their VIP customers on the red carpet.

When the New York trainer Ally Love gives her cycling class in the cool Peloton studio, the exhausted course participants queue up for a selfie with their idol - in front of a specially styled photo corner.

With us, too, more and more PTs are using Instagram & Co. as their platform to show what they can do via pics and clips and which celebrities they help achieve their dream bodies. Critical voices are increasing.

Picture gallery: How much truth is there in Instagram pictures?

Instagram has a negative impact

According to a study by the UK's Royal Society for Public Health, Instagram is the social network with the worst impact on the well-being and mental health of its users.

The photo platform is in the negative ranking ahead of Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The psyche of young female users in particular is adversely affected by Instagram, and their body image is negatively affected.

When it comes to the self-portraits of fitness bloggers, young adults are very critical. "Above all, the quality of the information available is criticized, and it is questioned what expertise is really behind the accounts," Birgit Braumüller found out during her studies at the German Sport University in Cologne.

"They perceive the social pressure for a sporty, health-oriented lifestyle, but at least say that they can distance themselves from it."

I'm back to sports on Thursday evening. This time, BodyMethod is on my agenda. A boutique studio with a casual loft atmosphere that I came across some time ago thanks to the - how could it be otherwise - Instagram account of top model Toni Garrn. If that didn't deserve a like ...

Royal Society for Public Health (2017): #StatusofMind. Social media and young people's mental health and wellbeing
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