One Instagrammer shares exactly what goes into all those gorgeous #fitspiration pictures you see on social media

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
February 09, 2016

Oh, what a difference a pose makes! And no one knows that better than pro fitness model Alyssa Bossio. The 23-year-old New York native recently made a splash for posting a picture of her wearing a sexy bikini...that did not look at all sexy. Normally, she looks enviably tight, tanned, and toned, but in the shot below, you can see all the flaws and imperfections that are normally hidden by good angles and proper lighting.

And she did it on purpose, as part of a before-and-after demo to show her readers exactly what goes into making all those effortless-looking gorgeous fitness photos we see scrolling through our feeds every day. Hint: There's nothing effortless about it!

Bossio first started using Instagram four years ago as a way to track her own healthy journey but she quickly found others looking for a little fitspiration. Her mix of stunning snaps, doable workouts, and healthy eating tips has earned her a following of 1.6 million (between her @FittLyss and @how2mealprep accounts). She realized that she loved being able to connect with people and make a positive impact in their lives through social media, so the fitness fanatic decided to turn her passion into a full-time job. (But beware: Not all "fitspiration" Instagram posts are inspiring.)

But while she may be living every girl's Insta-dream, it's not all sunny pool decks and free designer workout wear. A lot of work goes into every single picture she posts-a fact she is very open about.

"People assume I have this amazing body at every possible angle, and this is so far from the reality of it," she says.

Make no mistake, she does have an incredibly fit body, honed by daily high-intensity circuit workouts and a clean diet. But a great body doesn't automatically make it easy to get a great picture, and she's happy to spill her secrets about getting that perfect shot. "My pictures are rarely snap and post," she admits. For starters, she invested in a professional camera, instead of relying on her phone, and she tries to take all her snaps in the morning when she's not bloated. Then she takes between 50 and 100 shots, varying her pose slightly each time. Once she's picked the one she likes best, she uses several different editing apps and filters to really make them pop.

All said, it usually takes her about an hour to get a single, Instagrammable shot. Not all of her posts are this time intensive however, as she'll also post shots of a meal or progress pics from her followers, adding up to 2 or 3 per day. Her other major time investment: her body, as she is, essentially, her product. So she spends about an hour a day in the gym with an extra hour prepping three healthy meals per day.

It's a lot of work but it's worth it, she says. Not only is getting a great picture fun, but it's also how she markets her brand and makes a living. When she first started, she accepted ads and paid sponsorships, but now she says she makes all her money selling her custom 8-week workout guides and doing fitness modeling for companies on the side. The guides, she says, are what really gets her excited-she designs them based on her own workouts and, because she's still studying to get her personal training certification, has them vetted by a representative of the National Academy of Sports Medicine to make sure they're safe and effective. (P.S. Your Gym Selfies Might Actually Be Helping You Lose Weight.)

But all that perfection can come with a price. Bossio says that she does feel some pressure to live up to the perfect image portrayed in her shots, particularly when she first started modeling on Instagram. "I have days where I'm not motivated and don't want to work out or eat healthy, and I feel like I'm letting people down," she explains. But she has learned that it's okay to let go sometimes and show her human side-and that people find that just as inspirational as her killer workout selfies. "I want people to know that it's okay to edit your pictures as long as you're confident with who you are unedited too," she adds.

"The other day my waitress served me a plate of fries for dinner and she was like, 'Wait...aren't you @Fittlyss?!'" she shares. "A couple of years ago, I would have felt like I had to explain myself for eating unhealthy, but I'm much more comfortable with who I am and I'm so happy because I have finally found a balance with this lifestyle."

It's this balance she tries to sell now rather than perfection. "I used to obsess over other people's feeds and wish I had their lives, but a picture is almost never what it seems," she says. (Some Instagram stars have even opened up about how far their feed is from reality.) "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you look like, all that matters is what you feel like," she says. "Always make yourself your number one priority because the only person with you is you. You shouldn't have to depend on anyone or anything to be happy."


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