Social media can be a huge time suck. It’s easy to waste an hour skimming Facebook or falling down a crafty Pinterest wormhole. But, as much as social media can be used to put off exercising, it can be even more useful to motivate a workout.
The other night, I had a challenging run on my calendar. I’d already done a tough swim early that morning, and work had gone a little late, and all of a sudden, it was after 6 p.m. and I was really tired and, man, I did not want to run. So, I put out a call for help on Twitter and Facebook.
Mere moments later, I had a whole slew of people offering every type of encouragement a gal could possibly need. Some reminded me that I never regret going, but always regret skipping a workout. Others told me to get off my lazy ass and take advantage of the gorgeous Florida weather. Still others mentioned that after I run, I could have a glass of wine as training for my upcoming half marathon.
I went out and had one of the best runs of my life. And I want you to have that sort of experience, too, so, I present to you Kristen’s Guide to Using Social Media for Motivation in 3 Easy Steps.
Step 1: Find Your Community
Whatever type of exercise you like to do, surround yourself (virtually, anyway) with like-minded people. For example, if you’re a runner, do a search on Twitter for #run, #running, #5k, whatever suits you best. Don’t just follow anybody, of course, but try to find a few people whose Tweets you like—if you want positive and funny or hardcore and serious, follow people who seem to fit that mold. Then, see who they interact with, and when you see a conversation that’s interesting, follow the other person, too.
Better yet, jump in with your own witty comments and encouragement! Before you know it, you’ll all be Tweeting each other like old friends. Shoot, I even exchange holiday cards with some of the friends I’ve made this way.
If you have trouble finding your kind of peeps, try our list of Fellow FBGs—we know there are some super cool people on there!
If Facebook is more your style, make sure you’re friending folks with similar interests. This might mean liking your local track club/running store/Zumba class’ page and trying to get to know some of the folks there. Of course, you might be surprised by some of the friends you already have—it’s not just my fellow runners who step up when I need motivation!
Step 2: Ask for Help
This part is pretty obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. If you don’t like admitting you could use a hand, well, you have two choices. Get over it and take advantage of the generosity that’s out there, or, uhh, don’t. There’s nothing wrong with feeling uninspired once in a while, but make sure you’re not relying on other people to get you out the door for every single workout. Fab as the virtual community is, getting the work done still comes down to you.
Step 3: Stay Involved
This isn’t just a one-way street. Make sure you’re giving back, giving encouragement when your online friends ask, and congratulations when people share their results. And that’s another thing! Follow up and let people know that you did the workout, and thank them for the help. I love knowing that something I said got someone to do something awesome; sometimes that in itself inspires me to exercise.
Feel weird about just writing an update? Use a tracking tool like Daily Mile or RunKeeper to automatically post your workouts. Hey, you never know. Someone might read about your bike ride and be struck with a sudden urge to hit Spin class!
Do you utilize social media for motivation? What else would you suggest? —Kristen