Photo: Olena Yakobchuk (Shutterstock)
Social media is full of gym selfies showing people beaming in sweat after a good workout. It’s also full of people complaining about fitness selfies. Are those who take them self-obsessed? Starved for attention? Have a negative impact on how you as a viewer think about your body? Should everyone stop taking them?
I want to propose a revolutionary alternative: maybe people should do what they want. Perhaps fitness selfies bring more joy to the world than they take away. If they bother you, the problem may not be with the selfie-takers at all.
Curate your feed
I find some types of gym-related social media content really inspiring while others bore me or annoy me. If your social feeds have things that are driving you crazy, unfollow or mute those accounts and see what you’d rather see.
For example, I don’t follow a lot of people who take selfies posed at the gym – not because there’s something wrong with that, but because I want to see people do things. I follow people who show their impressive lifts or illustrate the daily routine of their training. See somebody dedication reminds me that I can be that dedicated too. If a selfie is thrown in here or there, I don’t mind; If I’m not in the mood to see one, I’ll scroll by.
Once you can see what bothers you about fitness selfies in your feed, you can make smart decisions too. Don’t follow someone who makes you feel bad or whose social presence doesn’t add to your life. If someone is posting ab-flexing selfies every day and you’d rather not see that many, the problem may not be theirs at all.
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Other people’s selfies aren’t about you
The truth is, people take selfies at the gym for themselves, their friends, and their followers and they have their own reasons for doing so.
Lifting up videos and body photos is useful for assessing progress over time. Form check videos may or may not fit the definition of a fitness selfie (depending on who you ask), however You are a valuable tool For anyone working with a remote trainer or wanting to analyze their own elevators.
Gym-related social media posts are also a way of seeing how many people participate in a community. Maybe you work out at home or go to a commercial gym where the other guests don’t share your specific fitness interests. But you want someone out there to know that you are working toward a big goal every day – whatever that may be – so that you don’t feel quite so alone. Often times, you are more likely to find someone on social media than, say, endlessly telling your co-workers about it.
I got to know many other lifters through this method, especially during the pandemic. I see them exercise and they see me; We cheer each other and feel sorry for the days that don’t go well. We could work together to plan how to overcome an obstacle or discuss where to buy the best pair of knee sleeves. These people are my fitness friends, whether I ever see them in real life or not.
Other benefits of fitness selfies
Fitness selfies, lift videos, and everything else can also be beneficial for those who watch them. When I learn a new lift – let’s say Log Press – I follow its hashtag on Instagram and watch people reach it. I watch their shape, but also pay attention to where and how they settle in their gym or at home. That’s how I discovered that a pair of tires, for example, under the end of the log can make good crash pads.
These posts can also help you locate a new gym. I have reviewed gyms and competition venues by looking for posts tagged in those locations so I know what to expect when I go there or to overcome your fears of trying something new. It’s also inspiring to read people’s captions as they talk about overcoming their own fears or setting or reaching a new goal.
Gym selfies are almost always about more than just narcissism. And in those cases where it’s really just someone thirsting for a few likes, what’s so bad about that? Wanting to be liked is part of being human.