A CLICK AWAY FROM FITNESS
Jessi Mechler didn't believe people who said they loved working out. She says she used to hate exercising and finding new ways to be healthy — but then, Mechler started to look to social media for inspiration.
"If I'm feeling unmotivated to work out, I'll go on Instagram, I'll scroll through their accounts," Mechler said. "It's reminding myself of what I'm doing what I'm doing and why I want to live a healthy lifestyle."
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Mechler is talking about Tone It Up (@toneitup), a fitness program designed by two women, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott. Tone It Up archives workouts, meal plans and lifestyle habits, and the bulk of their marketing is conducted through social media. That's how Mechler found them, and she felt inspired by their outlook on fitness.
"Karena and Katrina introduced this fun, kind of girly, but also a little bit badass, way of living," Mechler said. "I saw how happy they were and they looked healthy."
Dawn and Scott are one of many fitness and lifestyle instructors that have established themselves on social media. Cassey Ho (@blogilates), Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) and Emily Skye (@emilyskyefit) are all up-and-coming household names of a new kind of personal trainer in the digital space. The term is "social media influencer," and in fitness, the title is usually held by women.
Social media influencers are people who are able to connect to their followers over various platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. They market to a niche audience and influence them to make lifestyle choices in things such as fashion, travel and fitness. According to Mechler, a fitness influencer is "someone who is relatable" with an easy-to-follow workout regimen.
"With Tone It Up, the girls just made it seem really fun and they didn't make it seem like a chore," Mechler said. "I feel like they're my friends."
Tone It Up's most popular video is a 'Total Body Tone Up.' They start off with a series of squats. "For this workout, you'll need a pair of dumbbells, a mat, a water by your side — maybe a friend?" Scott says as she smiles over at Dawn. This is the kind of content that draws in female viewers like Mechler.
Relatable content is one of the reasons why female influencers seem to be raking in followers at a faster rate than their male counterparts. Tone It Up had a 53 percent increase in Instagram follower count from July 2016 to August 2017, bringing their total reach on the platform to 1.27 million followers. In Forbes's top 10 fitness influencers of 2017, eight influencers are women, and they had a total reach of over 25 million people. To be a woman in the digital fitness world is simply easier.
Mechler is an unapologetic follower of the movement. According to Mechler, the difference boils down to following women who understand women.
"It's OK when you're having a day when you look bloated — everyone does — it doesn't matter," Mechler said. "Women know what it's like to be a woman. Guys don't know that."