Ethical crisis here.
I have a tendency to over-analyze things, and I’m certain this issue is no exception…However, for months, I’ve felt that it’s time to take my fitness career to the next level, expanding my training services to the online community and my former/long-distance clients. Friends and acquaintances ask me weekly for workouts and/or fitness advice. I love to help people on their fitness journeys and am grateful for their trust. I consider it my calling; my ministry. (I’ll be launching my online training site very soon, so stay tuned!) A sure-fire, convenient way to promote myself is through social media. Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, YouTube and Twitter offer free marketing and easy access to thousands of potential clients.
Here’s my dilemma: I’m prideful.
In the fitness industry, my body is my advertisement. I wouldn’t train to become fit with someone who isn’t fit. Sorry; that’s common sense. The most obvious way to show your fitness progress via social media is through pictures. But these are snapshots of our outcomes, not our processes. An Instagram of the twist-iest, most beautifully silhouetted yoga pose, a Facebook before/after bikini pic, or a #fitmom ‘s blog post doesn’t give you the whole story. It’s a glimpse into the person’s proud moments, not their failures along the way. Not the hours, months or years it took to reach their goal. Cellulite is filtered out. The crow pose blunders are deleted. I show you my best angle.
Flexing and posing and flaunting are normal for my industry, and it’s what my flesh desires to do. I’ve craved attention and been a show off since the glory days of my neighborhood rollerblade girl band. I see this desire in Finn as he pops wheelies and zooms fast for strangers. Or says things so others will laugh, like, “Hi. I’m Finn Joseph Applesauce.”
We like to do what we’re good at and we want others to notice. I took a picture of my flexed back in the gym locker room about a month ago. Embarrassed by my vanity, I deleted it the next day. No one cares about my back.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)
I want to be praised for my faith, not my flex.
Don’t get me wrong…visual exposure is not all bad. Maybe these pictures inspire someone–motivate them to get off the couch or eat a cleaner diet. It’s encouraging to follow others’ journeys and to know that a six-pack is possible after babies. Or that there are people out there rejecting processed foods and losing hundreds of pounds as a result. Many of my close friends follow (or post as) fitness fanatics via social media.
But for me, social media can be dangerous because it feeds my desire to self-promote. This is my own conviction. It shouldn’t necessarily be yours. I get addicted to your “likes,” enticed by your compliments and encouraged by your following. If I’m not careful, my workout becomes about you and not about my health. I run so I can take a picture of the impressive distance on my watch, not so I can keep my heart healthy, declutter my mind, or pray.
Last Tuesday, I fell victim myself. The weather was nice and several clients were on Spring Break so I got to go on a long road ride. All alone. It was heavenly. At the end of the ride, I took an exhausted picture of my helmeted self (actually I took three and looked like a 12 yr old boy in all of them), then checked Map My Ride so I could boast about my stats online, but the app was blank. I must not have “started the workout.” Distance: 0:00. Average MPH: 0. Bragging Rights: 0. I smirked. It would be just like God to teach me a lesson in this way.
Is it possible to blend fitness and social media (particularly photos) in a manner that glorifies God and not me? Probably. I just haven’t figured it out yet. I guess a lot of it depends on my motives–and a purpose beyond my own love for affirmation.
1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
I’m passionate about my physical health–and yours. But as a Christian, I’m acutely aware that my spiritual health (and yours) is so much more important. More valuable. And I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of spiritual training two-a-days.