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Home » News » Weekend Life » Selfies, the gym and social media

Selfies, the gym and social media

Publishing Date : 04 July, 2017

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Joining the gym in this era has more to do with gloating online than it has to do with health and lifestyle. Posting gym selfies is no longer a preserve for the spornosexual, and has little to do with whether you are a millennial, ANGELA MDLALANI writes.


Although having grown popular recently, embarking on a healthy lifestyle appears to be more about rubbing it in others’ faces on social media. A growing number of people who are adapting a healthier lifestyle are making sure that everybody hears everything of it-from what they eat, which Nike they are wearing, and just how flexed their muscles are.


It sounds all too familiar; the small portion vegetarian meal with an avocado overload, the ‘health shake’, the exposed abs selfie in front of the gym bathroom mirror, a screenshot of the running app, the post workout sweaty picture- we all have a few on our Facebook timeline, Twitter or Instagram pages.


Perhaps social media was created to show it all off anyways, right? Except a group of researchers in London last year concluded that people who post their gym activity online have psychological problems- narcissism in particular! But that was subject then…
The term spornosexual surfaced back in 2008, coined by cultural commentator and journalist Mark Simpson, describing men who go to the gym in order to post selfies of their beefy bodies on social media.


These men, it was said, use their bodies as the ultimate accessory and also enjoy tattoos and having waxed, tanned skin. They can often be seen wearing skinny, tight-fitting shirts with plunging necklines in order to show off their inkings and bulging muscles. The term is a combination of the words sport, porn and metrosexual. Simpson also coined the term metrosexual. The rise of the metrosexual was charted in the late 90s. They were described as men who were image-conscious and weren’t afraid to spend time on their looks or buy beauty products.


In 2008, Simpson said he believed that the behaviour was a response to austerity facing the lives of young men when the recession started. According to him, many young lads turned to transforming their bodies as a way of feeling valuable to society. In 2014, the rise of the spornosexual was noted, and the media reported then that the metrosexual man was dying out and giving rise to the former.


Fast forward to 2017; social media is awash with images of both men and women who document their gym lifestyles online. It is no longer about just showing off the buff body by particularly spornos, but a desperate need by a whole new crop of individuals taking heed of the healthy lifestyle call to show off gym activity as well as a new adapted ‘meal plan.’ For many, the fitness journey is more than just a hobby but a lifestyle-and it seems with it comes the need to keep up with the social media fitness police on guard.


Validation or motivation


The gym selfie war has been ongoing for a while now; with the other side arguing that taking a selfie in the gym turns the point of being there into a façade; as it means one is only there to validate themselves to the social media world, while some are saying that taking the selfie does not in any way devalue the workout itself, or its results. For some, gym selfies serve as a motivation tool. Posting online gives posters the urge to push for results given their followers’ cheering as well as the amount of likes and reactions they get.


According to a local media personality who frequents the gym, people who go to the gym should focus on their fitness and get their feel-good rush the old fashioned way (endorphins) and not through digitalised pats on the back. The young lad, who preferred anonymity, said that people should understand that going to the gym, or leading a healthy lifestyle is already a pleasing thing in itself and people should not seek out social media to praise that decision.


Further, he reckons that people should be sensitive to others’ right privacy. “Some people use the gym as a getaway from the busy ‘outside world’but they don’t get to enjoy their privacy because they get to work out with selfie obsessed individual who just snaps away without even considering the next person.”

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