A new generation of Instagram stars is redefining how fitness is portrayed on social media, making it part of a balanced lifestyle and highlighting its impact on confidence and happiness.
On Instagram, Jake Rich lives the opposite of a sedentary life. His Instagram page is a visual feast that chronicles an insanely active lifestyle, yet there’s not one gym selfie in which he’s trying to showcase his obvious fitness. What Jake is really doing is showing you the excitement that fitness can bring to your life: an endless smorgasbord of surfing, scuba diving, hot air ballooning, travelling and camping! Jake publishes to several social media platforms but Instagram is where he likes to experiment with storytelling. And that’s where his originality draws you in. A day at the beach? Sure, but shot from a drone 100m above the beach. Taking a dip? Yep, but with pictures taken with an underwater camera. A jaunt to Wollongong? With a hot air balloon, of course! Jake says the secret to his Instagram success is no secret: you need to be prepared to put in the work. “It’s not an overnight thing. You’ll be publishing content for a year, for two years, for three years, and then you might start to find your own niche with the content that you’re creating,” he says. Also check what others are doing, he adds. “I spend probably just as much time watching other people’s stuff as I do making my own.”
Liv’s Instagram page inspires because it’s a manual for how to live a healthy, balanced and happy life. One that subtly incorporates fitness and healthy food without making them the usual social media cliches. “My Instagram in general stems from how I view health: living a vibrant, positive life while feeling the best we are designed to feel,” says Liv, a TV presenter and qualified health coach. “I try and be as authentic as I can possibly be. Every day there will be a post that documents a little snippet of my life, whether it be something I did that day that made me happy, or something meaningful to me. Being real and positive is my main goal.” Liv has vowed never to Photoshop any of her photos, and is dismissive of booty shots. “There’s only so many arse photos that you can put up. ‘We get it, you’ve got a good arse, what else is there?’ I just live wanting to have so much purpose in my life and I feel that if I gave in to my Instagram becoming something really artificial and really overthought and formulated then I would have lost track of what I’m doing.“ Her advice for a great Instagram page? “Be authentic. There’s millions of people who are doing the same thing on social media, but the only thing that they don’t have is they’re not you. If you can portray stuff that you love and that you are passionate about, that will in turn inspire others.”
Jake does post some shirtless selfies – but with a sense of humour. In one he jokes “I got no ass, but I got sass.” His posts are subtle, funny (“today I got MelBURNT”) and honest (he freely admits that when he was growing up he was always self-conscious of being the skinny kid), and that’s his secret. There’s no artifice to his Instagram posts. You get Jake as he is, his thoughts and values, his travels and his friends. Jake began documenting his life on various social platforms when he went on a world trip after finishing his studies a few years ago. The enthusiastic response made him continue. He says that the secret to his Instagram success is to think of your followers as a community. “They’re following you for a reason. You need to identify what it is. Have purpose and create conversation,” he says, and consistently cater to it. “I travel whenever I can, so travel is a huge part of my feed. But for the most part it’s just my life as I stumble through it, and sharing that comic story.” Our guess is that Jake succeeds because his followers get the authentic man. After the magazine photoshoot, Jake posted this note: “I was always self-conscious of my weight growing up. Happy tears. Hard work pays off!” He tell us: “I’m not a gym junkie, but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m comfortable with who I am and that’s how fit feels. Do you know what I mean?”
Keira’s Instagram page sums up why young women are deserting traditional women’s mags to follow new heroes on social media: just about every photo she posts could be out of a glossy mag. On the surface, Keira’s posts are about beautiful things: fashion, people, locations… but go a little deeper and Keira is also showing how important health and fitness are in her life. There’s shots of her in activewear and in the gym, but her focus, she says in one of her posts, is on how fitness makes you feel rather than look. Previously a competitive age-group skier, she says she’s often asked about her workouts, but declares that she’ll never be giving fitness advice. “It’s taken me a long time to figure out what works for my body, and honestly, I am still learning every day.” She also promotes healthy eating because she’s actually a food blogger whose goal is to make health food tasty (and she’s about to launch her own range of delicious protein balls called #krumballs). She says “I’m really trying to just convey to the audience that you can still live a really great life but with healthier options.” Being her own #girlboss she always tries to fit in some form of exercise every day, “even if it’s just walking the fur babies (dogs)”. If you want to succeed on Instagram, stay authentic and know your audience, and most of all, don’t lose sight of who you are, Keira points out.
If there was one woman who helped drive the “fit is better than thin” seachange in Australia, it’s Renae Ayris. The winner of Miss Universe Australia 2012, she runs a massively popular Instagram page which is a homage to a healthy, balanced lifestyle, in which photos of her working out in activewear reveal the work that goes into making an in-demand model today. Most of all, you get a genuine picture of Renae’s life — that authentic thing again! There’s photos of her family, boyfriend, pets, travel and food. One of her main themes is balance. “I have a really sweet tooth and I’ll post that because I think it’s very important to let people know that life is all about balance and you can eat delicious things and still have fun, and not be so strict on yourself,” she says. Renae also won’t post anything she doesn’t believe in. “The product stuff that I will post is only the things that I’ve used and tried, and actually believe in. I definitely will never promote something that I don’t think is good.” Aware that she’s seen as a role model by thousands of young women, Renae won’t post anything that doesn’t set a good example, say, drinking at a party. One of her tips for a good Instagram page is to make use of quotes. ”Quotes are a great way to get people interacting on your page, as a lot of people tag their friends in them,” she says. And don’t forget, she stresses, people judge your Instagram page in its entirety, so mix up your posts to get an overall flow that looks good.