Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Using Social Media to Get Fit

There are many critics that regard social media as the biggest evil since the discovery that atoms could be split.  Throughout history many inventions have changed the way we live, act or think.  Nearly any invention can be used negatively just as easily as it can be used positively.  Many times, social media is used as a time-waster, as a way to procrastinate from doing those important things we should be doing.  I do this a lot.  Sometimes its hard not to comment on a cute, thoughtful, funny or crazy picture from your old junior high pal you haven't spoken to in person in years.  I am not big on this, but I have been asked a trillion times to save someone's baby cabbage in Farmville or load someones sweet tooth in the Candy game.  Other times, social media is used as a time-filler.  Scrolling through Instagram pictures can make those long grocery story lines fly.  I prefer to use social media to promote the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.  One of the ways to do this is by hosting online challenge groups.

A challenge group is a neat way to get some focus in your workout routine.  Challenge groups keep you accountable to your specific health and fitness goal at your own convenience.  Whether you have a consistent workout routine or not, you will find that interacting daily with a group of people will get you consistent.  Well, if the daily interaction doesn't do it for you, the fact that you took your pre-challenge weight, measurements and pictures will give you enough motivation to get you through at least the first checkpoint.

One of the best things about being a part of a challenge is that the workouts can be done on your own time.  We all live busy lives.  I think about the numerous emails my friends and I send back and forth trying to narrow down an evening to get together.  It is a true alignment of the planets if we all can actually determine a date and time that will work for all of us!  These scheduling nuances would only add fuel to the fire of excuses for those that will use anything to keep them from breaking a sweat.  I really felt empowered during my first challenge group that I could get a great workout in first thing in the morning and still get my son to his 6:45 AM football practice.

Not only can these workout be done on your own time, but they can be done in your location of choice.  This is preferably your home where your workout attire does not have to match or even fit well.  However, for those who are not on the first floor of a multi-family residential complex, another location is highly recommended.  Especially if you are doing a workout like Insanity or Turbo Fire and want to keep the peace with your neighbors.

Since the travel time to my workout location of choice is under a minute, I truly notice the stress I feel on those days when I chose to do a gym workout and have to travel 8-12 full minutes in each direction, only to find out that the class I was planning to attend has already started or the signup sheet is already full or I forgot my water, towel, spin shoe (yes cause you only forget 1), lock or who knows what?!  Believe me, it is hard enough to get up first thing in the morning to go workout.  Even if you're not a morning workout person, how many times have you planned to go to the gym after work only to get home to change your clothes or shoes (or shoe) and never make it back out again?

The challenge group leader, or coach, keeps everyone together on a private Facebook page, through Skype sessions or YouTube videos.  He or she motivates the group with daily posts, pictures and tips keeps everyone on track towards their individual goals.  Since the groups are online, the challengers can exist anywhere.  The interactions of the challengers on the private Facebook page during their journey helps everyone to grow together as a group.  Participants are supportive of one another and sometimes, lifelong friendships are formed during this time.  Isn't that what social media is all about?  Using social media to get fit is a great way to get and stay healthy and get to know other individuals working towards a common goal.

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