When I first began working on my health and fitness, I decided to start an Instagram account to document my journey, keep track of my successes, and to interact with other people who had some of the same goals and aspirations as I did.
Never in my wildest dreams did I envision that I would learn so much from others, while gaining a respectable amount of followers on this account. I’m so happy at the opportunity that opening this account has afforded me – the opportunity to learn, to grow, to meet new people and learn about different possibilities.
As someone who was only working out in their basement, it was imperative that I find a sense of community somewhere, or else I knew that working out alone in my basement would not be sustainable.
So I created my account, @melbys_fitness, and with exactly zero followers, I began to post. At first, I was too shy to post actual photos of myself, so I stuck to memes and quotes.
This was my first post:
As I became more engaged on the site, I slowly started to experience the trickle effect of having a few followers add me. I was so thrilled! Much more thrilled than when others followed my personal account, since I knew all those people, and most of them were only following out of either A) sheer curiosity or B) because they know you and feel semi obligated to follow and like your posts.
But these strangers were people I did not know, and the fact that they felt my account was worthy of following gave me the motivation to keep going!
That was nearly three years ago.
Today, I post to my IG about once a day. Occasionally I don’t post, and sometimes if it’s important I’ll post multiple times. I have steadily seen my following increase, and I’m constantly trying to figure out Instagram’s Algorithm so that I can gain more followers. Occasionally I find myself more concerned that the number isn’t increasing as quickly as I had hoped, or I’ll wake up in the morning and be down 20 followers, but I remind myself that’s not what I’m doing this for. Instagram, and the accounts I follow, have pushed me through more difficult times along this journey than I can count, and the real followers are the ones that I’m interested in maintaining.
You should be using Instagram in your fitness journey too! And these are the top 5 reasons why.
1. Posting keeps you accountable
Whether it’s real or imagined, I feel a sense of disappointment in myself, that will carry over to my followers, if I don’t post my exercise or fitness related posts. As you get to follow people, you’ll notice a routine, that the people who have specific fitness-related Instagram accounts, will post daily, with their eating and workout routines. I always feel like others are waiting for me to post, they’re counting on me to get my workout in. And believe it or not, there have been times where this has been the only reason that I have done my workout, is so that I could post it and say it’s complete.
Talk about the ultimate version of “doing it for the ‘Gram”
But this is important. It’s not egotistical, and it’s not that I’m feeling self-important. It’s that I work out at home, and therefore since I don’t interact with anyone like I might at the gym, I hold myself accountable to my online community, and that has forced me to create a habit of documenting my days in my home workout space.
2. Find motivational quotes and posts
As I mentioned before, when I first started out, I was still overweight, not very fit, and slightly ashamed to be posting sweaty images of my body all over social media. So I dipped my feet in the Instagram world by posting quotes that I found to be motivating; that I could look back at my page and remember why that quote struck a chord with me, and how I could use it to push me further.
I still post inspirational quotes to my account, usually about once a week. Sometimes they are not even fitness related, since I’ve discovered so much personal growth in the past three years, along with my physical growth.
I love when I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed, and someone else has posted a quote that stops me right in my tracks, and instantly hits home for me. Usually, I will re-post that on my page so that I can share it with others, hoping they will feel the same message as me.
3. Follow hashtags related to your interests
Hashtags are a very important part of the Instagram platform – they make it easier to find things of interest to you, as well as to allow people to interact with your profile as well. The way Instagram uses hashtags is an algorithm that seems to be ever changing, and very difficult to figure out, but these are the two ways that you can use hashtags to help you in your fitness pursuits:
A) Follow specific hashtags. Fitness looks different to every single person, so in this context, you must narrow down your search to find content that is relevant to you. Search for hashtags that have meaning to you, and will show you posts that are similar to what you are seeking. For example, if you have just started running, you might search and follow the hashtag #learntorun. This way you can see what other users are posting to gain inspiration, search on individual profiles, and find people to follow. Once you follow a specific hashtag, Instagram will intermittently show you user photos within your feed who have posted with that hashtag. If the photo interests you, you can click through to that person’s profile and maybe give them a follow.
B) Add hashtags to your posts. In order to have more people see your posts, you should add hashtags to them relevant to what you have posted. Just as I mentioned above how you may be searching for likeminded Instagrammers, they will be looking for you! For instance, I always workout using videos from FitnessBlender.com and so in each of my posts I use the hashtag #fitnessblender as well as their catch phrase at the end of every video, #workoutcomplete. I love connecting with other FitnessBlender users because even though they have experienced significant growth, it still feels like the best kept secret on the fitness web!
Additionally, I have also hashtagged some of the companies I use for various workout products, and they have featured my post on their own page, which expands your reach once again.
4. Make Real-World connections online
One of the best benefits that I completely did not foresee when I created this account, is the genuine, authentic connections I have made in this community. Each and every day I see so many comments of people building each other up, cheering on one another’s successes, and helping them through tougher times with positive comments. I have shared so much more than I ever thought I would on this account.
In fact, I’m much more open, vulnerable and honest on this account to a group of mostly strangers, than I am on my main personal account.
Each day I look forward to the posts of those who I have followed for a long time. and I love seeing them engage on my posts as well, since I know the online love we share is mutual 🙂
5. Track your progress
The best part about keeping an online diary is the ability to track your progress, and see how far you’ve come. On the days when I feel down, or that I’m not meeting my goals as quickly as I had hoped, it’s amazing to scroll back through and look at all of the programs I’ve completed, the inches I’ve lost, and the strength I’ve gained. Often that is enough to help push me through those difficult workouts and feelings of frustration!
Do you use Instagram for fitness? Drop me a comment below with your username and I would love to follow you!