Wait, Why Is Everyone On Instagram Filming Their Workouts?
Is it just me, or is everyone on social media working out like they’re training for the Olympics/the Super Bowl/ the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?
On any given morning when I wake up and lie in bed scrolling through Instagram (yes I am aware this is scientifically the worst way to start your day), I am met with a flurry of celebrities, Instagram models, regular models, influencers and fellow peers who are all at the gym. And I know they’re at the gym because they’re documenting it. They’re documenting the location. The equipment. The resistance bands. The TRX ropes (does anyone actually know what “TRX” stands for because I do not). The incline on the treadmill. The slippery circular pads used to glide your foot along the floor in much the same way you would if you stood on a face cloth while stepping out of the shower onto a wet bathroom floor. All of it. Aesthetically presented in tiny squares with various captions and geo-tags.
And I do it too! I’ve posted images from the changing room at yoga to The Twenties Club’s Instagram Story, usually with the time of the day pinned to the corner as if the reader is completely incapable of looking at the time to establish whether it’s 6:32am or not.
If 2017 was the year of the food-gram, then 2018 is the year of the training-gram.
Like most things born out of patterns of excess, we can probably trace this movement back to the Kardashians. Kim, Khloe and Kourtney first pioneered the work-out-over-share in 2016 and have maintained it so rigorously over the years that I’ve often wondered whether they pay their personal trainer a separate fee for videography. At this point the girls could fire their trainers and hire any one of their 127 million followers to take them through their paces because I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’ve seen them do more sit ups on a swiss ball than millennials eating avocado.
But why do the rest of us suddenly feel the need to do it too? And more importantly, who are we doing it for?
Let me be clear, this is not me denouncing the “humble brag”. I love the humble brag. It’s a vital tool in a woman’s tool kit and we literally never celebrate anything about ourselves (ever) so if you’re coordinated enough to do side plank abdominal hip raises while filming it on your iPhone as Drake’s “God’s Plan” plays in the background then you have already exceeded anything I will amount to in life and I salute you. But this new obsession doesn’t really feel like a celebration of self. It feels like a crisis of self.
It is behaviour that is, at once, empowering and alarming. Motivating and misleading. What do we hope it says about us? That we’ve got our life “together” enough to carve out 60 minutes in the day for health? To show an ex-boyfriend that we’re thriving? To publicly exonerate the dumplings we ordered on UberEats last night?
If Nike Master Trainer (and my forever girl crush angel hero) Kirsty Godso has taught me anything it’s that it is a God damn privilege to move our bodies. We should use them and honour them any chance we get. The relationship you have with yourself is nurtured through the way you use your physical body, so unless you’re exercising to improve that relationship – the single most important one you’ll ever have – then broadcasting it on Instagram seems worthless.
When the action of squatting or foam rolling, documented ad nauseum, is only executed to shape other people’s perception of who we are, does anybody really win?