Currently there is big business in social fitness, including health apps. Prime example, according to research2guidance, the market for smartphone health apps in 2012 was $1.3 billion.
Big brands such as Equinox, Under Armor, Lululemon Athletica, Zumba and Crunch Gym have developed successful approaches to social media (catch a full review of their social ways). These big brands offer a social experience beyond sales and discounts. They offer followers quality blog information, well-produced instruction and inspirational YouTube videos, shared quotes, life inspirations, health tips, and a chance to engage with a fitness community.
While sites like these promote good health and community engagement, big brands and their followers can sometimes walk a risky line when they go social. Crossfit, whose tagline is forging elite fitness, is experiencing controversy with its high-speed, high-impact approach to fitness and exercise. As Brook Ross points out, “Searching for the words “pain” and “CrossFit” on Twitter yields hundreds of results, nearly every one praising the sting the workout provides”. Unfortunately, the word-of-mouth praise is not may be doing harm to the novices who don’t understand the dangers of pushing your workouts to the limit and knowing when to quit. Most know that pushing your workouts too far could lead injury, but many don’t understand it could lead to riskier problems that could cause kidney issues.
Fitness brands and followers also need to be aware of what they are inspiring others or being inspired to do. Fitness instagrams, known as fitstagrams, are a great way to inspire those looking for a fitness pick-me-up. Brands like Under Armor, REI, Nike, CrossFit and New Balance post and encourage followers to post images of people in action and tackling fitness feats. While these images can be engaging and motivational, they also risk encouraging people to set unhealthy body image goals. Followers see other “regular” people reaching their fitness goals, but may forget what is attainable by one is not attainable by all. Example: While Halle Berry’s (image from @emilymaksoud) reveal worthy shape would be awesome to have, realistically, Queen Latifah’s (image from @queenlatifah) gorgeous new figure is more attainable for me.
Bottom line: Know your body and your limits. Fitness and a healthier lifestyle can be great for you, but pushing beyond your limits and having unrealistic goals can be dangerous.