Fitness on Instagram: How I Use Social Media to Hold Myself Accountable By Jolena Scholz

Due to lockdown, 2020 has seen a spike in the amount of fitness-based accounts on social media platforms, Instagram in particular. I'm sure you've all scrolled through your feeds during lockdown and come across a few clips of aspiring influencers bench pressing their sofas or using milk cartons to make some upper body gains. It's something I don't think anyone anticipated would be consuming their timelines as the algorithm has urged everyone to keep active during this global pandemic. So, what is it that people find so appealing about posting workouts, often a very private or vulnerable part of somebody's lifestyle, to the public eye? Today I want to explore why documenting progress on social media, be that through weightlifting videos, weight loss journeys or food diaries, can be beneficial, not only to the content creator, but to the consumer and viewer.

Roughly three years ago now I made the decision to make an Instagram account where I could document the progress I had made in the gym, both physically and mentally. I was recovering from a period of time where I had a poor relationship with food and over-exercising, but hoped that a private space where I could channel my thoughts and post pictures of my achievements would help me to form a healthier relationship with diet, healthy weight gain and exercise - almost like a virtual diary. When I first started I would never have believed that future me would have the confidence to make my little account public and share my vulnerability with others. My journey is now something which I’m extremely proud of and the confidence I have gained within myself is something which I hope can also inspire in others.

A few years on and my account has turned into a platform where I can share my achievements, my growth, and my newfound passion for weightlifting. Learning any new skill takes time, dedication and lots of practise, this also applies to weightlifting. When I first started to lift heavy weights I would often push myself too hard and found it challenging to perfect my form, a struggle which fitness based accounts rarely touch upon online. However after a few minor injuries due to repetitive strains, lots of learning and significant weight gain, I’m now comfortably lifting heavy weights six days a week and feeling confident in the weights area of the gym; something many women struggle with in today’s society through fear of objectification or lack of confidence.

Upon noticing that I was often the only girl in the heavy weights area I knew focusing my little platform to become a space where I could try my best to inspire people, particularly women, to feel strong and empowered in the gym. If I can inspire just one person to get in the gym or adopt any form of exercise where they feel strong and in their element then my account has done its job.

As for me, as self-centred as it may sound, I don’t think there is any shame in being your own inspiration. On days where I’m struggling to scrape myself off the sofa or get up to cook a meal rather than ordering a takeaway (not that there is anything wrong with a takeaway every once in a while), I use my own account to look back at clips of me lifting heavy ass weights or photos of a meal I was proud of cooking (a huge achievement as my culinary talents are profusely limited) and it gives me that extra push to get up and get going. As cringey as it may sound, the quote “Dreams don’t work unless you do” really is a motto which I live by.

I can honestly say that the online fitness community is one of the most empowering and supportive things I have experienced online, and everyone is welcome.

I’m sure you are all well aware of how toxic of a place social media can be sometimes, it goes without saying that a lot of the time it really does seem that platforms such as Instagram appear to radiate more negativity than positivity. However, despite internet trolls spamming comment sections with distasteful remarks and flawed algorithms (Instagram in particular tends to prioritise a certain type of post to appear on your feeds. This often neglects more meaningful, informative posts which therefore become overlooked and receive poor engagement). I can honestly say that the online fitness community is one of the most empowering and supportive things I have experienced online, and everyone is welcome.

Choosing to make my account public, reaching out and supporting other likeminded individuals and receiving an overwhelming amount of love and support from other strong women trying to better themselves and aid others in their journeys is so heart-warming. Not only has social media enabled me to hold myself accountable, make lovely virtual friends and receive some amazing gifted products from brands I have always dreamed of working with, it has most importantly enabled me to become someone that has the confidence to share relatable content and get girls feeling confident enough to try it out for themselves.

I may not have the largest following, the most confidence, or the best most athletic physique, however I will always be thankful for the amount of personal and physical growth I have achieved, all documented in my virtual diary.

My Instagram handle is _jolenascholz_fit (shameless plug) so check it out for workout inspo, ‘What I eat in a day’ Instagram stories and general fitness-based rambles. If you have been remotely inspired to start your own progress page then drop me a follow and a message, join this amazing community and get growing.


Created with an image by Samantha Gades