I Tried Living Like a Fitness Influencer for a Week
The online world of smoothie bowls and post-gym selfies isn't the glamorous #fitspo it was cracked up to be.
Like many millennials, I spend a lot of time eating, sleeping, exercising, and wasting countless hours on social media. But I've always kept my runs and rides separate from my Instagram addiction. My workouts are a way to get away from constant online communication, so I find it both confounding and impressive that people make careers out of combining the two.
But by chronicling their breakfasts, workouts, and gear, fitness influencers inspire people to kick up their fitness and athleisure game, and often rack up brand sponsorships in the process. Just how do they make everything look so pretty? The whole lifestyle seemed too good to be true-and it sort of is-so I thought I'd try it out for myself. I mean, how hard could it really be?
That's why, for one week, I tried living like a fitness Instagrammer. I'd emulate some of their tried-and-true photo ops, such as unrealistically pretty post-gym selfies, getting an exercise video at the gym (by way of IG husband or tripod), food stylist–level smoothie bowls, perfectly angled shoefies, and a yoga pose in the middle of a picturesque location.
Would I come out of this endeavor inspired to publicize my fitness routine? Or would I be more certain than ever that my burpees should stay behind closed doors?
Day 1: Smoothie Bowl
To begin my quest, I'd ease into the fitstagram game with a smoothie bowl. Not adhering to any specific recipe, I took fate into my own hands by blending a combination of frozen mango and strawberries and a banana with some coconut protein powder. To top it off, I tried to steady my hand while meticulously placing slices of pear, almonds, toasted coconut, and raspberries. From prep-to-final product, including breaks to upload my progress to my IG story, the whole process took about an hour-and I wasn't even hungry for my half-melted creation anymore.
Day 2: Yoga In Precarious Locations
As someone whose center of balance is similar to that of a toddler, pulling my body into tree pose in a snow-covered wooded area was so challenging that I drew blood. Luckily, my sister, who I forced to be my makeshift photographer for the day, maintained patience and art directed the afternoon photo sesh with profound seriousness. It felt a little selfish to subject my family and dog (gotta get those likes, right?) to the cold just so I could get a decent enough Instagram snap. But hey, gotta do it for the 'gram.
Day 3: Post-Run Selfie
Another day, another fitstagram. How do these women look glistening with braids that are just messy enough to tell they've been working out? Why aren't their faces red and sweaty like mine? Hoping to merely glisten this time, I went for an easy 5-mile run outside with minimal layers, dabbed off my forehead, and snapped a quick selfie in my dirty mirror.
Day 4: Badass Exercise Video
A mild sickness that left me in a fog, physically and mentally, for the last few days had come to a head, and as a result, my personal training session was a hot mess. It's frivolous to tell your trainer to take videos of you squatting while in the same breath exclaiming that you are going to pass out. The videos are embarrassing. I look like a soft piece of unathletic Play-Doh hurling a medicine ball into the air. So far I have asked two people to capture me looking strong or fit and both times I felt the need to apologize. Do fitstagramers ever get sick? Do they ever have a bad workout? Oh! Or do they have a stockpile of photos and videos for a rainy (stuffy) day like this? I have a lot of questions today.
Day 5: Smoothie Bowl Attempt #100
I attempted another smoothie bowl, this time with blueberries and spinach to create what I thought would make a pretty blue hue, but midway through the process, I started to think that I should probably have followed an actual recipe instead of just throwing things into my Magic Bullet. Perhaps then I'd get a mixture that wasn't a sad shade of murky greenish purple. I threw some fresh fruit on top to cover it up.
Day 6: Expert Use of the Self-Timer
Today was the most ~authentic~ I've felt with this project so far. I threw on my best black workout clothes and headed to the gym for a HIIT circuit. Luckily, the gym was pretty empty at 10:30 on a Thursday morning, so I could prop my phone against the wall and set the self-timer without fear of judgment. Maybe I'm starting to get the hang of this.
Day 7: Shoefie
The week is over and I've got to admit, I'm kind of relieved. Friends have caught on to my swift change in Insta-style and have begun questioning my motives. Can't a girl love a good burpee? It will feel nice tomorrow when I realize I can leave my phone securely in my FlipBelt when I go for a run. But for now, I leave you with a picture of my road-worn shoes in my barren South Philly neighborhood to cap off the experiment.
In the end, the biggest thing I've learned is that being a fitness influencer is hard work. Perfectly staged photos require a ton of planning. Knowing what you're going to eat, how and where you're going to work out, what you're going to wear, and how you're going to capture and share it are essential to this lifestyle. There's no such thing as lacing up your sad old running sneakers and pulling on your college football t-shirt. I was naïve enough to think that taking a picture of a smoothie bowl would only take a minute or two, or that I could seamlessly snap a pic during my workout without being mortified or interrupted.
Maybe it's best to leave the fitspo to the pros. I'm totally OK with concentrating more on my long runs than my likes.