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Fitness influencers are inspiring thousands online but there are concerns some are peddling dangerous advice…..

When Danielle Knox had her son two years ago, she found the motivation to exercise at home from a small but mighty contender in the fitness space.
 
Danielle Knox says fitness influencers are a huge part of what motivates her to work out.
“I have really come so far in the last two and a half years with my training, getting into fitness and trying to live a healthier lifestyle, all through social media,” Ms Knox said.
 
She is one of the thousands of Australians who are turning to fitness influencers for health and wellbeing content to implement in their day-to-day life.
 
A “fitness influencer” creates content — including work-out inspiration, food blogs, “day-in-the-life” videos, and product promotion — often getting paid for posts on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
 
Ms Knox said that, through the influencers, she had found a community of other down-to-earth mums and women from across the world who had kept her inspired.
 
“I find that it helps me to juggle my fitness and being a mum, through that accountability and that motivation and inspiration that these influencers give me,” Ms Knox said.
 
“It’s amazing where we are today and the access that we have online, everything is at our fingertips and it’s one of the positives of social media.
 
“I would have to say I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for following these influencers and following their programs.”
 
Danielle Knox says she would not be where she is in her fitness journey if it were not for influencers.
The number of online creators in Australia has grown by nearly 50 per cent to six million since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Australian Computer Society.
 
That’s nearly one in four people in Australia.
 

‘Everyone can come out and claim to be an expert’

Curtain University internet studies professor Crystal Abidin says some fitness influencers’ content is concerning.
While the experience has been positive for Ms Knox, experts say the dangers of unrealistic ideals and unqualified information-sharing can be harmful.
 
Curtin University professor of internet studies Crystal Abidin has dedicated the past 15 years to understanding social media and, more recently, influencers.
 
She said that some content available online was concerning.
 
“We’ve now come to the point in a very mature influencer industry, where some fitness influencers, unfortunately, are also peddling rather unrealistic ideals results, or even very harmful types of behaviours,” Professor Abidin said.
 
“Anyone and everyone can come out and claim to be an expert of something and then promote a cause or a message.
 
“Body enhancements — whether through drugs, through traditional means, through injections — are also becoming a health concern when the body image you have in mind does not match what’s happening as an outcome of your efforts.”
 

‘There’s so much valuable content out there’

Maurine Magka — known as @fitness_unicorn on Instagram — says fitness influencers can help people feel more comfortable going to a gym.
However, Canberra’s Maurine Magka says her Instagram presence, and many others like her, can help not hinder.
 
With more than 13 years in the fitness industry as a qualified personal trainer, she began sharing educational content online as a way to reach more people.
 
She said that the main goals of her Instagram page — which has nearly 63,000 followers — were to be realistic and to inspire those followers to step into the gym.
 
“[Going to the gym] can be so scary. So, I think, we — as influencers — have the power to create an access point for people,” Ms Magka said.
 
“If we can show what it’s really like, and be positive and be inviting, then someone might feel comfortable enough to actually start [going to the gym].
 
“The way that the industry is moving, in terms of body acceptance and body image, there’s so much valuable content out there.”
 
That’s a sentiment that Ms Knox agrees with. She says her fitness journey is unlimited, thanks to online platforms.
 
“They are a huge part of what keeps me going and keeps me motivated.”