There is a current worldwide trend that utilises the ubiquity of social media in order to promote a fit and healthy lifestyle choice. In addition, key players in this field frequently promote, sell and endorse fitness and wellbeing related merchandise. These products often include sports wear, fitness equipment, food supplements and workout guides. This trend is being seen on multiple platforms, and thus reaching a huge number of potential consumers (Hambrick and Mahoney, 2011). Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds of fitness experts-come-celebrities have enormous followings and extensive reaching power.
Cassey Ho, a fitness instructor and entrepreneur is the creator of ‘POP Pilates’. Through using social media this has morphed into many different forms including Blogilates. The Blogilates YouTube channel description labels itself as ‘more than just workouts…it’s a COMMUNITY of POPsters who live and breathe POP Pilates’ (The World of Blogilates, 2016). It is the ‘community’ of people (‘POPsters’) that interact with Blogilates or and Cassey herself that will be discussed in the following ecology mapping.
Miller (2011) points out that the Internet is no longer just about economic and business life, it has become more about social, political and cultural communication. It is this new use of the Internet that is changing its purpose. There are an increasing number of communities that we can now see online and their ‘integration’ into all parts of life (Miller, 2011, p.1), is a reason many people participate in them. In regards to the POPsters, the participants are on multiple social media platforms and it is easy to stay connected. In doing so, the users may feel like part of a community and feel a sense of belonging.
The people who participate in the Blogilates community include many different types of people, from those with extensive experience with fitness to beginners. The Janissary Collective describe how participatory culture in Western society is often thought to be ‘empowering’ (2013, p.258), and therefore, it could be argued that people interact with these communities in order to feel good about themselves and increase their self-esteem.
However, people may take a step further than empowerment, and be seen to be boasting or looking vain online (Sheldon and Bryant, 2015), as they comment on posts from Blogilates with pictures of their progress, for example. However, Goffman (1959) discusses the way in which using a different persona can ultimately change who you are, and Mendelson and Papacharissi (2011, p.52) discuss how digital communities ‘enable the presentation of a highly selective version of yourselves’. Therefore, those who may seem to be vain may actually feel like the purpose of this digital community is to provide a space and an audience for them to put on a show, and to escape reality.
Another role/purpose of the POPster community is being able access information about the fitness programmes and workouts associated with Blogilates. In addition, Frost and Massagli (cited in Stragier et al, 2008, p.122) discuss the way in which people share information regarding sporting injuries on health related websites, in order to find more information/discover others who have encountered the same situation. It could therefore be argued that POPsters comment on and interact with Facebook posts and Instagram pictures etc. from the Blogilates page, in order to do something similar, just in a less formal manner.