At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of our daily routines underwent a major shift. We all bid farewell to the structure of in-person school, work or organized activities – such as going to the gym.
One of the only stable routines left for me to control was exercise; so, every day, I would lace on my sneakers and go out for a run. I by no means call myself a runner. I initially took up the hobby simply as a short-term replacement until the gyms reopened. However, March turned into April then May then June, and it eventually became clear I needed a long-term replacement.
Fortunately, the pandemic created a unique opportunity for gymfluencers on Youtube, Instagram and TikTok to create exercise routines suited to home living. Exercise videos with names like “apartment friendly exercise routine,” “weightlifting at home,” and “ at-home pilates workout,” bombarded my phone every time I opened TikTok. I experimented with various influencers until I found ones whose content and personalities I liked.
Influencers recommended I buy an Apple Watch to track the intensity of my workouts and hold myself accountable through notifications. Consequently, I bought an Apple Watch. From there I also bought a new yoga mat, jump rope, stackable weights, and resistance bands. I was not the only one inspired by TikTok to buy new products: seventy-four percent of users admit TikTok motivated them to find out more about a product or brand online. Additionally, sixty-six percent of users agree TikTok helped them decide what to buy. TikTok fostered the perfect platform for businesses to target profitable customer groups. I fit the #fitness group – the sixth most popular category of videos on TikTok with over 150 billion views. The endearment I developed by continually watching certain influencers built my trust to buy what they recommended.
Unlike reading distant reviews and comments from user “gymluver4309,” I could see physical proof of users’ improvement, hear their words, and get sucked into the emotion of their journey. COVID confined connection to the four walls of my bedroom, but social media opened up a new world of possibility for connection and community while maintaining the health and safety of myself and others.