These days, time and money is an issue for everyone. As college students, that problem is often multiplied. With a busy class schedule, who has time to go to the gym? Even summer doesn’t give us a break, since we need to make money to prepare for the upcoming college semesters or an internship instead of classes takes over all our free time. Maybe you just don’t feel comfortable working out in the gym. Perhaps you need some extra encouragement, but your friends can’t put in the effort. An online fitness community might be the right choice for you.
Whether you want to lose weight or tone up, there are lots of options online to target your needs on a personal level while you also engage with a community working towards similar goals. People seek fitness help online more often than ever before. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found 80% of people online are searching for health related issues, with 52% looking specifically for information on exercise or fitness. Ted Vickey, a PhD researcher studying the connection of social media and exercise at the National University of Ireland, believes social media could change the health industry forever.
“I believe that social media can be one of most important pillars to fighting the global obesity problem,” he said. “Report after report suggests that the number one reason people don’t exercise is time. Now that technology has given us more time, what if we could create a tool that could persuasively assist a person in finding the time and motivating them to exercise? That would be a great step in the right direction.”
Communities like Blogilates (I personall recommend this as a popster myself), founded by Cassey Ho in 2009, have video workout routines available. Ranging in length fro 10 to 30 minutes, and in targeted zones of the body, you’ll have the opportunity to change your body gradually with a little effort each day. The videos are easy access, posted on YouTube and Ho can be found constantly on Twitter and Facebook, posting workout commands, updates and inspirational quotes to keep you going. The other popsters are also on Facebook often, posting about their success and asking each other questions.
Katy Widrick, another popster, started #FitBlog Twitter chats in 2010. Every week, there’s a new topic, a new discussion leader (usually a health or fitness professional) getting the conversation flowing, and hundreds of participants interacting with one another. If you prefer to blog about your struggles and interact in a more private forum, Roni Noone’s BlogToLose might be the motivator you’ve been searching for. Noone started the platform after she found blogging about her fitness journey in 2005 helped hold her accountable and ultimately got her into shape faster—the community gave her the support she needed and kept her on task with her fitness goals.
Even though this all sounds dandy and fun, you have to be weary of the sites you turn to for help. Anyone online can post about whatever they want to, whether they’re an expert or not. Some people will take it to far, to an extreme of being unhealthy; avoid looking at images of super skinny models as a weight loss goal or blogs focused on thinspiration. Also steer clear of any negative comments. If people come into the online community talking smack about being overweight or unhealthy—especially anonymous comments—you have to keep in mind these people feel good by putting others down.
Ultimately, being online is a balance of the good and the bad. You have to inform yourself and keep on top of the legitimate sources. The best aspect of online fitness is accessibility, time management, and the community, but there’s also some harsh commenting and bad imagery out there. So use your best judgment, put on your sleuthing hat if necessary, and have fun while you get fit.
Happy exercising, friends!