Like so many women I spend a lot of time flicking through Instagram. A lot of men do the same but women are more critical of each other. We compare ourselves to others and we see gorgeous pics of beautiful women in sunnier climes, frolicking about on the beach after they've done their daily workout and burned about a million calories. We instantly feel inadequate. Instagram can make or break your day. It's filled with people pushing their unattainable goals - the classic side pose which makes your ab muscles more pronounced or the old favourite of sticking your arse out to make your legs appear slimmer. Everyone does it yet we all still look at these photos and wish that we looked the same. What if Instagram didn't have to be like this? What if there were women out there pushing achievable goals and being real and honest. Wouldn't that be magic? It doesn't have to be fantasy because there are so many women doing exactly that. Once you sift through the nonsense and the get slim tea diets (you may as well set fire to your own money) there are so many amazing girls out there just trying to help us get that little bit fitter.
In the age of social media, the fitness industry has seen a boom. From everything to the trendiest gym gear, or the best protein shakes you can bet there is an account dedicated to pushing it. There are countless apps all trying to promote their plans or routines. Are any of them actually any good?
After 2 years of sticking to my trusty Jillian Michaels DVDs, with occasional trips to the gym, I was a little stuck as to where to go next on my fitness journey. We all get to these points in life. Everything ticks along nicely but you just fancy a change. I needed to mix it up a bit, I was getting a little bored. One evening I was doing the usual trawl through Instagram when I came across Chloe Madeley. A no bullshit personal trainer and writer promoting the importance of lifting weights. I, like so many other females, probably hadn't lifted anything heavier than a 3 kg Dumbbell - surely lifting heavy things wasn't for women? Wrong. Chloe looked amazing in all her photos and the standout was her honest captions about her fluctuating weight, her love of wine and how she was looking more 'fluffy' because she'd been on holiday for a week and eaten whatever she fancied. She spoke my language. I would love to be someone who can eat a 'clean' diet constantly and never stray into the biscuit tin but unfortunately that's never going to be me.
I instantly signed up to Chloe's programme but felt trepidation about entering the weights section of the gym. I think so many women can relate to this. I've also spoken to men who feel exactly the same. It's unnerving to walk into the weights section in a gym, especially when you're not 100% certain of what you're doing. I felt shy and embarrassed and had that constant niggling feeling that everyone was looking at me - they weren't. I failed at my first attempt to lift weights. There were too many people there and I didn't know what I was doing so I just jumped on the cross trainer instead. I did this every day for a week. I had my lovely programme there, waiting to start but I was too embarrassed to get into it. My new routine consisted of going to the gym and hoping it would be empty only to wind up doing boring steady cardio for 45 minutes. This was not what I had in mind.
After sharing my issues with my boyfriend he volunteered to come to the gym and go through all the moves in my plan with me so I knew what I was doing and didn't feel so embarrassed but not everyone is blessed with a professional sportsman for a boyfriend.
I'd gotten over my anguish with weights and was so immersed in my new programme. The feeling when you lift that little bit heavier than you did a few weeks ago is addictive but I couldn't help feeling bad for all the girls I would notice eyeing up the weight section before plumping for the cross trainer. There had to be a way to make it less nerve wracking for people to start lifting weights.
I had so many friends asking me to show them what to do but my busy schedule meant I was constantly fobbing people off. I felt so guilty because I knew that feeling of wanting to start but being too afraid to do so. Yes, there are plenty of personal trainers in the gym but I sometimes find they can be a bit too pushy and just want people to book sessions. Thankfully these were problems that Chloe Madeley was aware of and released her wonderful Weights4Women App.
Weights 4 Women is one of the true fitness gems of the social media age. It simply shows you exactly what to do for practically every body part. You no longer have to be worried or anxious about starting a weight lifting programme. Once you've mastered the moves on the app then it's easy to make up your own plans and routines, you've already covered all the staples of lifting.
What's amazing is that over the past year I've noticed so many women and girls in the heavy weight section in the gym. A year ago it was a totally different story. The benefits of lifting weights are immeasurable, a quick google will lead to thousands of articles explaining just how important it is.
Every time I visit the gym now I wonder how I was able to spend so much time simply doing cardio. I actually really enjoy doing a good weight session and that is something I never thought i'd say about visiting the gym. For anyone who finds themselves in the same predicament that I was, trust me, there are literally thousands of wonderful social media accounts all willing to help. You just have to find them.
For all the downfalls of social media there are so many upsides especially when it comes to health and fitness. There are so many great people out there just trying to make us that little bit better, trying to promote healthy and attainable goals. Trying to show you that it doesn't have to be hard or take hours out of your day. Small changes can make a difference. We no longer have the excuses of the past. There's always someone willing to help and to this day it will always make me smile that someone on the other side of the world can change the life of someone sitting in soggy Scotland without ever even meeting them. Now that is amazing.