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Reimagining Health & Fitness Goals

Yesterday I shared a post on Instagram which I found resonated with so many of my friends and has got me thinking about these ideas further. For the past 18 months post second birth, I have been striving to look like the right photo (12 months PP, 65kg, size 8). I have been so frustrated and upset - why can't I get back there. Sure I have had two beautiful (and very large babies), but I train super hard - I just don't understand why I can't look like that anymore? But is skinny really the goal or has the focus shifted to healthy? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves as mums to ‘bounce back’ to our pre-baby body? Whether we have had our first, second or third child - your body will never be exactly the same and we should be okay with that. Even for those who may not have had a baby, why do we put so much pressure on finding and discovering these miracle numbers on the scale that seem to be synonymous to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow - you can keep chasing the end, but the goalposts always change and it never seems to happen. There always seems to be a birthday, a social event or a work lunch that disrupts chasing that pot of gold. Every morning, stepping on those scales and seeing the miracle number not appearing is disappointing and often can make or break your day. After my first baby, I found the weight ‘fell off’ and I was even skinnier than pre-baby. I tracked every single bite, I went to the gym every day and after 12 months, I was at my goal weight and I was still not happy. I looked in the mirror and I wanted to lose “just five more kg” and then I’ll be happy. I look back on photos now and I am literally a stick. There isn’t an ounce of fat on my body and I still wasn’t happy. After my second baby, I found the weight has been slower to move. For 18 months, I have been chasing that pre-baby body that I so easily made the first time around. On social media, you can often find me sharing nasty workouts that have a lot of running, or high reps or heavy loads with a picture of me in a crop top and shorts. You’d think I was happy with where I was and shocked at how “fast” my fitness has come back. However, for months my goal has been that 65kg mark. I am discouraged every day that I don’t see those numbers. I have consistently seen the same numbers for the past 6 months and that was frustrating me. How can my body - that I have put so much work into (training multiple times a day, following the same path as 2017) be so disloyal to me? It was only recently while I was listening to some audio transcripts for a research project that I came across the notion of transitions. As females, we are consistently transitioning in life - whether it be into motherhood, into a new career, a new relationship or simply getting older. Therefore, why do we put so much pressure on our bodies to go back, when we are moving forward? I found myself reflecting on my fitness journey over the past 18 months in comparison to my first post-baby journey. I am now reconsidering how we present ourselves on social media and how do I personally define “health & fitness”? Previously, had you asked me this question, it would have been weight-related. My goals have always focused on being a certain weight and fitting into a certain size of clothes. Why? What use is fitting a size 8 pair of shorts and seeing some magical numbers on a scale that only you see every morning as a measure of success? Is that happiness? What if we reimagined health & fitness to be just that - fit and healthy? In 2017, I could barely bench press the bar (20kg). I struggled to press a 7kg dumbbell and I absolutely hated running. I may have looked skinny on the outside, but was I really healthy or fit? I dreaded going to the gym, but I forced myself to move - walking multiple times a day, turning down family dinners and breaking my own meals - just to reach my "goal weight" I finally saw these magic numbers on the scales, in fact, I even took a photo of them. You'd think I would be happy and want to maintain however, straight away thought about my next goal - 60kg. It is now 2020, and I have decided I will no longer be chasing the above image. I am not the same person as I was in 2017. I no longer have one baby to look after, I don't sleep through the night, I work full time - we live our life at home. My life is not the same, so why should my body be the same? I am fit, I am strong and I am healthy. Those goal weight numbers are simply that - numbers. Why does my weight matter if I feel myself getting fitter? I have changed my goals to be focused on increasing my health and fitness, rather than chasing a pot of gold - the numeric figure on the scales. I can now deadlift over 100kg, squat over 65kg, smash a WOD with a good time and in fact, I even enjoy running. I have found a love for discovering new “moves”’ in the gym and perfecting my technique. I found that once I shifted my mentality from comparing myself to “old me” but focusing on the “future me”, the journey has become so much more enjoyable. If I don’t work out, or If I decide to have a large burger and fries for dinner, I am no longer stressing about the numeric figures raising on the scales. I am happy. You are more than those numbers and you can’t always compare to yourself to who you were. If we are constantly comparing to our old selves or someone else’s journey that you may see on social media; you will never move forward. Be kind to yourself. Find something you love doing and work on new goals. Whether that be increasing your weight on a squat, running 2km without stopping or just going to the gym every day. I hate those quotes floating around social media “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Ahhh? that is a lie - you clearly have not had a steak and cheese pie or a cookie on your weekend. Be kind to yourself, let’s put less focus on creating our 'perfect' aesthetic goal and focus on being fit, healthy and happy. Let’s focus on becoming strong, fit and the best version of YOU. End of the day - you are you and the only goals that should be made are for the future YOU. We transition every single day, no day is ever the same and goals should be adjusted accordingly. In the words of Natasha Bedingfield; "Feel the rain on your skin, No one else can feel it for you, Only you can let it in. No one else, no one else, Can speak the words on your lips, Drench yourself in words unspoken, Live your life with arms wide open, Today is where your book begins, The rest is still unwritten."

I am a Fitness Professional, Not An Influencer.

I am currently working on a book chapter titled "I am a fitness professional, not an influencer: An analysis of fitness professionals’ perceptions of social media". As I put this chapter together, I would love to share my thoughts and ideas in a casual forum to understand others perceptions of fitness professionals use of social media. Social media has facilitated a change in the fitness industry, with a shift towards fitness and health. Many people are now turning to social media platforms such as Instagram to follow and engage with personable faces who are willing to share personal insights into their own journeys through health, fitness and wellness. Boyd (2010) suggests that social media is the ideal marketing medium for fitness professionals as the searchability of information allows individuals to search for their ideal fitness trainer, while the scalability of content allows fitness trainers to increase their visibility and appeal to potential clients (Boyd, 2010). Whilst it is suggested that social media influencers are most successful interacting with consumers when they are authentic, confident, and interactive in their content (Glucksman, 2017), there is a blurred line between public and private domain. In February 2020, I used a rather informal research method to help direct the focus of this project. I adopted an Instagram poll and asked my followers (disclosure, when I say followers, I am personally not an influencer, and all 609 followers are known to me) the subsequent questions; Note: On Instagram polls, there is only an option to vote A or B, there is no room for a scaled answer or open-ended answers. Therefore, I acknowledge there is a high level of bias and limitations, however, I wanted to stimulate conversation and direct ideas to formulate my chapter. Do you see fitness trainers or personal trainers on social media as "Influencers"? Are you more likely to 'trust' the advice of a personal trainer on social media if you feel part of their life with content they share? Do you think personal/fitness trainers on social media who share insights into their personal life outside of fitness content are more successful or engaging? In the 24-hour period that this poll was live, there were 62 responses collected. The dictionary defines an influencer as "a person or thing that influences another". While the dictionary definition of an influencer has remained stable over time, social media has provided opportunities for extending appeal, reach, and impact. There is now a potential to broadcast with no time or location restraints and the ability to interact directly with followers which has impacted the level of 'influence'. 72% believe fitness professionals utilising social media are 'influencers' Potentially, a qualified fitness trainer or professional (we will come to the qualified argument soon) utilising social media could provide a positive opportunity to extend their reach to a wider audience, allow unique moments to interact with their 'following' and increase the impact of health and fitness-related messages. However, there is a perception that "influencers" are unqualified and provide advice they are not trained to be offering (often based on misinformation with the potential to be harmful). Often there is no way to tell who is qualified and who is not. Essentially 'anyone' can garner a social media following and use their platform to provide fitness 'advice'. Therefore, qualified fitness professionals often see the word 'fitness influencer' with a negative connotation and this is where issues may arise. For the purpose of this blog post, we refer to a fitness trainer or fitness professional as an individual who is qualified to provide health and fitness-related advice through their personal or business social media account. 79% believe they are more likely to 'trust' the advice of a personal trainer on social media if they feel part of their life with content they share Social media may be an excellent platform for fitness professionals to extend their reach and influence with fitness-related messages, however, 79% of respondents believe there is a higher level of trust when fitness content is supplemented with "every day" content. This was further echoed by Reade (2020) "capturing the banality of everyday life and including family members, friends and pets in posts correspond with visual conventions to achieve perceptions of authenticity" (p.12). For example, individuals may use their story to show 'snippets' into their daily life unrelated to fitness and therefore may increase the sense of a relationship with a follower. Moreover, Reade (2020) suggested that presenting the highs and lows of everyday life was important for relatability with followers and cultivate digital intimacies with followers. 78% perceive fitness professionals or personal trainers on social media that share insights into their personal as more successful and/or more engaging When fitness professionals / personal trainers are considering a digital strategy and building their unique personal brand, I emphasize the importance of allowing followers to see behind the scenes and snippets of 'everyday life' to create a sense of an authentic and personable character. By allowing this sense of authenticity, followers may perceive those who are willing to share this content are more successful and/or engaging than those who just share fitness content. However, I question - how much do you share? As a fitness professional on social media, are you really expected to showcase your personal life to be successful? If you were a trainer on the "gym floor", you would not be expected to share your personal life with your client - in fact, that would almost be frowned upon, and breaking professional boundaries. Essentially, you are being 'followed' or 'hired' to exhibit your health and fitness knowledge - so why do you want to see my 'behind the scenes' too? In June, 2020 I conducted a follow-up Instagram poll on my personal page. I asked my followers (yes, I am still not an influencer and have a total follower count of 609 family and friends) the following questions; Do you expect fitness trainers you follow on social media to share their personal life? If a fitness trainer/professional had relationship issues or personal issues and didn't share on social media, would you perceive them as less authentic or transparent? Do you think COVID19 has changed the type of content 'fitness professionals' share on social media? Across the 24-hours that the polls featured on my stories, the response rate was 60. Once again, I acknowledge the bias and limitations of these findings, however, these are used to form a casual opinion piece of work. 74% of respondents do not expect fitness trainers to share their personal life on social media Although respondents perceive fitness professionals who share their personal life and snippets of 'behind the scenes' on social media as more engaging or successful, it was not expected that this type of content is utilised within a social media strategy. One respondent noted, "No, I do not expect them to share, but it is nice to get an insight into their life outside of fitness sometimes". Another respondent noted "it depends what kind of page they have - personal or work-related". This is an interesting comment as it leads to the overarching issue being raised in this post - there seems to be a 'blurred line' between personal and professional boundaries. What are fitness trainers 'expected' to share on social media - while it may be 'nice' to see this behind the scenes content, how do you establish a personal page from a professional page and as an 'influencer' - does this become one and the same? In the face to face environment, there is a high level of intimacy between clients and fitness professionals through established trust, however, clear professional boundaries should be established - how does this differ in the online environment? 82% of respondents would not perceive fitness professionals as less authentic or transparent if they did not share their personal or relationship issues on social media As we further note the 'blurred' lines of professional boundaries by fitness professionals on social media and engagement opportunities to see behind the scenes content, there is a potential 'limit' as to what is being shared. In November, 2019 Sophie Guidolin (@sophie_guidolin) hit back at a troll who claimed she was 'faking' her marriage break up as she had not shared any content regarding her relationship, and was continuing to post 'fitness' related content while experiencing relationship issues. She stated in an Instagram post: "I am not an "influencer". I am a nutritionist and personal trainer. I am a mum and a wife. A real f**king person. Let that sink in. I am a real-life mum, boss, wife, friend, daughter, sister. You will see me shopping at Coles and running after my twins at nippers. I am the girl who smiles back at strangers and helps elderly people with their trolleys. I sing when I am walking even though I suck. I train with my head facing my feet to avoid any interaction. I am a normal human person" After reading this caption on Guidolin’s Instagram page which boasts 475k followers, I further question whether the lines of business (i.e. fitness) and personal (i.e. relationships) content expectations by followers has become blurred. Guidolin's main purpose of social media is to promote her fitness and health business. Therefore, why are followers expecting insight regarding personal relationships to be shared? It could be suggested that if fitness professionals are adopting social media for personal content and then "go quiet" or discontinue with personal content and shift focus towards fitness content, followers may feel alienated or left out of a "friendship circle". As one respondent noted, "If they are having personal issues that then has an impact on the way they train, I would not expect them to go into what the issues are but I do like when fitness profile I follow admit they had a terrible morning/day/week and what they did to overcome it". This type of view suggests followers want to feel part of what is going on, and by acknowledging an issue may create a level of transparency, authenticity and relatability. Although the previous view may not expect details to be shared, you only have to look on any profile for the number of comments left by "fans" or "followers" prying for further details. 84% of respondents believe that COVID-19 has changed the type of content that has been shared by fitness professionals on social media The shift in content and the relationship between fitness professionals and followers has also been impacted by COVID-19. However, this will not go into detail as I believe this will be a post in itself. Stating the obvious, the 'workplace' for fitness professionals has changed and therefore followers have often had a higher level of access to the home environment and perhaps seen a shift in routine, or more 'behind the scenes' access that was not previously shared. While the majority of respondents believed it had changed, one respondent stated"I don't think it has. The content has stuck to the same goal/theme regarding fitness. Just a different style and workaround on what has been presented". Essentially, fitness trainers are still sharing fitness-related messages, however, we have seen a shift in the representation of fitness (e.g. home workouts, adapting equipment etc). Further exploration could examine whether we feel more 'connected' to "fitness celebrities" that we have followed through COVID-19. We have essentially seen their struggles as we have all adapted to an environment without the 'gym' and the struggles that have been presented may have presented a sense of rawness and vulnerability that may have been hidden pre-pandemic. I look forward to exploring and researching this area as I prepare an academic exploration of the blurred lines between personal and professional boundaries on social media presented by fitness professionals. If you would like to chat further, I would love to hear from you! Why do you follow fitness professionals on social media? Do you expect these "influencers" or "fitness celebrities" to share their personal lives on social media intertwined with fitness content? Does this make you feel a sense of connection or further engaged with what they may post? References Boyd, D. (2010). Social network sites and networked publics: affordances, dynamics, and implications [from: A networked self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A networked self: identity, community and culture on social network sites (pp. 39-58). New York: Routledge. Glucksman, M. (2017). The rise of social media influencer marketing on lifestyle branding: A case study of Lucie Fink.Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications,8(2), 77-87. Reade, J. (2020). Keeping it raw on the ‘gram: Authenticity, relatability and digital intimacy in fitness cultures on Instagram. New Media & Society.

The gyms are finally open - but do we want to go back!?

On Sunday 22nd March 2020, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced from midday on the 23rd March, all gyms would indefinitely close to stop the spread of COVID-19. I had feelings of worry, confusion and uncertainty. Before the pandemic struck, I would spend two hours a day at the gym. It was my source of escapism and vital for improving my mental health and physical well being. It was the only time of day that I didn't have to spend marking, worrying about research manuscripts, listening to my kids cry or think about 'real-world problems'. Call me selfish, but it was essentially my only "me" time. When the first announcement had been made, I could not imagine a world without attending the gym and I was eagerly awaiting the announcement for facilities to reopen. On Sunday 31st May 2020, Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk announced gyms could reopen (with COVID safe plans) following a major easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Once again, I had feelings of worry, confusion and uncertainty. In the past two months, I have adjusted to the 'new normal' and now am hesitant to return. I recently undertook some very informal research and polled my Twitter and Instagram community; If you were a regular at the gym pre-COVID, will you be returning when they open or cancelling and adapting to a new normal at home? Out of 59 respondents across both platforms, 35 responded that they would no longer attend the gym and happy to work out from home. One noted "I have been loving how much more time I have now I don't go into the gym to exercise. I have cancelled my membership for now". It appears I am not alone, with over just over half of the respondents transforming and adapting their exercise habits in a post-COVID world. Why are we less inclined to return to the gym once restrictions ease? Whilst it is essential to continue to workout and continue a love of fitness as a major part of my life, what that looks like in the post-COVID world has caused confusion. I have put together some of my thoughts for both sides of the argument as I consider the future... I acknowledge my personal experience with fitness is unique. I understand there are many women who may have feelings of intimidation and judgement in the fitness environment or not feel confident inability or motivated to workout from home. Therefore, the following is based on my personal experiences and feelings. Option 1: The 'new normal' - home fitness Time Management As the acronym "WFH" has become part of our daily vocabulary, we have adjusted our environment to be accessible within our safe home environments. One thing that has been a notable positive from this period was the concept of time. We no longer have long commutes to work, we don't have to physically drive to a fitness facility to exercise, we have 'extra' time and due to the increased (?) workloads at home we have had to become creative towards how we spend this time. Pre-COVID, I would drive and drop the kids to daycare, spend an hour commuting to work, another hour commuting home, stop at the gym for a workout and rush to pick the kids up before the final pick up time. Exercise was often something that had to be 'squeezed' into my daily routine and often a logistical nightmare if the kids were sick or traffic was bad and I missed my 'window of opportunity'. During COVID, I have been able to walk the kids to daycare, work out at home - all before I start work for the day. I even have time to run - something I never had 'time' for before! It has become something that is no longer exhausting and squeezed into my routine, limited by a short window of time. It now is focused on a positive experience to create a sense of achievement allowing concentration on tasks throughout the day. Creative Freedom Rather than being limited to what is on offer at my gym that day, in a limited time frame or small window of classes, thanks to social media, I now have the ability to access a wide variety of workouts from gyms and fitness centres across the world at the touch of my fingertip. I have enjoyed the creative freedom to be able to craft workouts that I "feel" like doing. I know this would not be a strength or enjoyable for many, however it has allowed new opportunities to push myself outside of my comfort zone. The rise of 'free' programs has been apparent during this time and it will be interesting to follow whether the expectation for free content will continue in a post-COVID world, or will these organisations look to monetize and move operations back into facilities. Furthermore, our fitness communities have now expanded. Previously our fitness circles were limited to those we may see in the gym, and often little to no communication is made. You may smile as you enter the facility, but headphones are on as you enter 'the zone' while you work out. COVID has opened a virtual community of online friendships. I have shared multiple workouts on my Instagram profile (which I would never have done pre-COVID) and created friendships with people across the world in "WOD" community groups or through Crossfit related apps that allow for competition and benchmarking. Financial Concerns In the past 10 weeks, my partner and I have both had gym memberships on hold. In that time, we have saved over $700 combined in gym membership fees. Whilst this is concerning for many fitness facilities in terms of sustainability, it is no secret that the COVID environment has caused job security concerns for many of us. Therefore, as we have the ability to work out from home, it raises questions on 'essential' spending; Do we really need to pay for a service that we can satisfy the need of exercise for free at home? Investment of Equipment Just as quick as that the announcement of fitness facilities would be closing hit the news, it appeared every fitness equipment manufacturer in Australia just as quickly sold out of their equipment. Australians have invested large amounts of money in creating gyms in their own garages, spare rooms and backyards. Personally, we have gone from a garage with a skipping rope and a baby-mat turned gym floor into this... As I type, I am waiting on a delivery of a barbell and plates to add to our ever-growing garage. I also drove 30 minutes south yesterday morning to pick up a box jump, so "I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious". The money we were investing in the weekly gym subscription has allowed us to reinvest into our own equipment to showcase healthy habits to our children in the safety of our own home. With that being said, on the other hand... Option 2: The 'old normal' - returning to the gym Whilst the decision to cancel my gym membership seems simple from the previous discussion, it leads to another side of the argument. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of the purpose of the gym. It extends beyond fitness, it is no longer a place you go to 'sweat', but represents a much deeper relationship that can not be replicated in a home environment. Social Community When the novelty of the gym wears off and the motivation starts to waiver, the sense of social connection is important. The gym environment provides an opportunity for friendships which start to feel like family. The people we sweat alongside daily, we often see more than family and as such, this fights off feelings of social isolation and a sense of accountability. Whilst you may not feel like turning up at 6 am to workout, you know your friends will be there, and therefore feel accountable - maybe not for the exercise, but the conversations pre and post-exercise. Furthermore, WFH environments can be lonely. At the start of the year, I made the decision to not to return to my 'safe' job and took the risk to be a consultant (not the wisest move had I know that this would occur). However, as such, I have worked from home for the majority of 2020. If I don't attend the gym, there are often times I would not talk to anyone (apart from my kids) all day, and have no social interaction. The gym has become an important part of this social experience, and has allowed a strong sense of family which I would miss if I was not to return. Expert Advice The increase of social media for fitness during COVID-19 is interesting to watch. As previously noted, I have used social media to find and share workouts, benchmark against other people around the world and connect with a wider fitness community. Although we have seen a rise in Zoom or live streaming for personal training during social distancing regulations, it is hard to replicate the face to face experience that fitness trainers can provide in terms of form correction and experience. There are also a number of risks with people taking training plans online that may not be suitable for skill levels and no 'experts' (or people claiming to be 'experts') providing relevant scaling options. In a CrossFit online community, I have seen numerous people citing injuries and health risks after completing "Murph" over the COVID period. If this had been completed face to face, there would be scaling options and professional advice to ensure the safety of participants. I am sure I could set up mirrors in my garage, a tripod to film my technique and ask for advice in an online community, but you can not replace the face to face technique and expert advice that can be provided face-to-face in real-time. Escapism As previously noted, the gym is my only "me" time. If I do not go to the gym - I often do not leave the house. There is something about "switching" on when you are at the gym, knowing you having a limited time frame to get your workout done that provides a higher level of motivation. While working out at home is great for flexibility, it can be a lot slower as I know that I have nowhere to go and therefore take my time between sets or browse my phone procrastinating looking for music. Furthermore, it is good to be able to get away from the four walls where I spend all my time. Physically leaving the home stops the kids coming into the garage, wanting to be lifted up, a snack between sets or crying their sister is not letting them use the hairbrush (ah girls...). The gym provides a level of escapism, providing a break from responsibility and creating a sense of vitality. To gym or not to gym - that is the question? Therefore, as the gyms gradually reopen their doors in Queensland this week, it leads me to wonder, what are you going to do? Will you be cancelling your membership and adapting to your new normal home environment, or will you be back to your routine pre-COVID and resuming fitness at the gym? Let me know in the comments below!

Social, but distant - The Rise of Live Streaming for Fitness during COVID-19

To enforce social distancing and attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, all gyms and indoor sporting venues in Australia were ordered to close from midday March 23, 2020. On March 22, my evening viewing of Married at First Sight (yes, I know...) was interrupted by a live statement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. At this moment, I knew, "it was getting serious." The panic I felt when I saw "all gyms to close from midday tomorrow" flash across my screen is a feeling I will never forget. This may sound slightly dramatic, and overlooking the 'bigger picture' to what is happening in the world at present, however for myself, like many I am sure, the gym was not only a place where I "chased gains", but also vital to my mental health. In the past year, I have spent numerous hours at World Gym Coomera (and lost 20kgs post-pregnancy - woohoo). However, it is not just the gym that I am mourning, but also the sociality. I am an academic who works mostly from home, and most often, the conversations I have before a class is the only adult conversation I will have all day. The gym is my one hour of alone time every day, away from kids, away from work, away from life. I was worried about the gyms closed indefinitely; how will I keep fit? Will I gain all the weight I lost? will I lose my social connections? Will I lose my 'me time'? With the world as we know it mostly 'closed for business' and everyone spending more time at home, it's more important than ever that we stay healthy and positive. We are always told to 'isolate,' practice 'social distancing,' and 'not to touch anything.' It can be very lonely. However, what has followed in the past 14 days has been unexpected, but amazing to witness. All across the world, garages doors have been opening and providing new opportunities for the fitness industry. I have tried numerous times to purchase gym equipment, for it to be all sold out within minutes of restocking. I am left with my body, which isn't the worst thing. I am 'forced' to go for runs (which I am learning to love, being outside and getting a real tan instead of from a can) and complete crazy bodyweight circuits that my friends post on social media as 'challenges.' A friend posted a simple bodyweight workout that I completed, and reposted with a screenshot of time. As a result, 20 other friends have since taken part, trying to beat the time. We are craving simple ways to keep moving, and social media is providing the ultimate vehicle for our maintaining our "social fitness." As I went for my morning walk yesterday, I could hear a fitness trainer yelling at a group of clients, "get lower in your squat, ten more reps." As I got closer, I noticed it was not an 'illegal underground' group PT session, but instead, my neighbor had her laptop set up on a box and was working out with five other people on Zoom. Live streaming has not only provided opportunities for fitness trainers to provide instruction from their own homes but also offers social experiences where people can still work out together and bridge the distance completing a shared activity. In comparison to posting a 'workout' idea on social media as a photo, or on-demand video, live streaming is unique. There is a time when it is live - I know I have to turn up/be ready to workout at that time; it is 'live.' The trainer can see me, and I can see and interact with others while we all complain about doing 100 burpees as a warm-up (just like any other day). When I started my Ph.D. in 2017, there were limited organizations that were 'live streaming,' there were issues with resources, uncertainty on what to stream, and lack of understanding on how to stream. However, amongst the COVID-19 haze, the sudden shift has inspired creativity and flexibility for fitness, which were previously dependent on physical locations, to now bring 'fitness to your home.' We no longer need any equipment or fancy software to live stream. We can just simply 'go live' and share a unique moment in our new 'reality' with others and allow them to have a glimpse into our worlds. I can now do anything, including F45, Yoga, Zumba, HIIT, Boxing, Barre all from the comfort of my own home (or garage), and join a group of like-minded individuals who are working out at the same time as me. The interactive, immersive, immediate, and social aspects of live streaming make it a unique possibility to create some sense of normalcy in a world filled with so much uncertainty. Whilst I don't know what is going to be announced tomorrow as we face further lockdown laws, I know live streaming is a way to connect. Previously 'online fitness' was hidden behind pay-walls. You had to download apps or pay for member subscription. The unique movement of COVID-19 has meant gym and 'fitness influences' are now offering content for free through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. In the past week, I have opened my phone to numerous live sessions and can see a number of free remote workouts, and it may be well on the way to becoming my 'new normal.' Whilst, the live streaming does not replace my favorite team cross-fit works and human-to-human connection, it does provide a sense of accountability and community. I no longer have the panic about gyms being closed, as we are no longer social distancing, but social connecting.

Hello, I'm new here!

Hi I'm Sarah - soon to officially be Dr. Wymer (pending the official ceremony in Auckland on the 20th of April 2020). My PhD has been submitted, the oral exam and emendations have been completed and approved and the only thing between me and being an official "Dr." is the floppy hat, the gown and an expensive piece of paper! I have started a website to showcase my research and start a blog to start penning some thoughts I have in regards to all things sport, social media, fan engagement and live-streaming. I find that when I scroll Twitter just before I go to sleep (why do I keep doing this?), I find a number of ideas for research and questions start formulating in my head - why do they do this? What could be found here? I need to know more! It is then 2am and I am down a rabbit hole of information and my brain is ticking (like that meme where the kids has math equations coming out of his head) with possibilities and thoughts. I thought a blog could be a good place to 'dump' some of these thoughts and start conversations on academic leanings, ideas and potential research ideas. My next blog topic will cover my PhD topic "Social Media & Live Streaming: The Case of the Queensland Maroons" as I hope to have four publications out of this thesis in 2020. I will talk about the concept of live streaming and potential direction for sport organisations use of live streaming in the future and my thoughts on how it could be used 'better'. Look forward to engaging with you soon, Sarah

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