Many of us, much to our better judgment, joined TikTok in the midst of the pandemic to cope with said pandemic. Along with its funny voiceover gags and fancy travel reels, FitTok workouts has become the popular, fitness-themed part of TikTok that we can feel better about (especially if you’re over the age of 30 and on TikTok).
FitTok is where influencers share a variety of quick and viral workouts, which pretty much run the gamut of the good, bad, and the kinda weird. If you’re looking to get fit in 30 seconds or less, here’s what you need to know about FitTok workouts.
“It’s easy, digestible, and you can literally find something new to do everyday,” he says. “Also, let’s be honest, it’s fun and allows us to connect with millions of people from all over the world.”
Compared to a time before TiKTok (if you can remember such an era), Saltos says one of the perks of FitTok accounts is its accessibility. “If you wanted to speak to some of the most elite personal trainers twenty years ago you would never stand a chance. Now, the best of the best are at your fingertips. The reputable trainers who run their own accounts will respond and engage with their audience. Ask away! We are always happy to answer questions.”
He also likes it for its community engagement and support: “TikTok is a great place to be a part of a fitness community. It’s not just about liking a post but because you can comment and engage with others it’s like stepping into a virtual gym.”
Janelle Ginestra, (@janelleginestra on TikTok) who hit viral status on TikTok with her series of blood-pumping, high intensity dance workouts, also likes FitTok’s community feel.
“Transformations are one of my favorite FitTok trends,” she says. “I love that with commitment to themselves mentally and physically, people can feel like their most confident selves all around. I feel inspired watching those videos and am honored that there are people now transforming themselves through Naughty Girl Fitness.”
Saltos’ favorite FitTok accounts to follow include: @trainwithdanny (“duh!”) @melissawoodhealth and @blogilatesofficial. Ginestra also likes @blogilatesofficial as well as her own content (naturally).
Saltos also has words of caution when it comes to FitTok accounts. “Be cautious and have a plan when it comes to your health. It’s okay to use TikTok workouts on occasion if you are trying to do something different or just want to spice things up from your normal routine but you should always have a baseline plan that you follow.”
He also points out that, like all social media platforms, there is no verification process for posting content on TikTok.
“Anyone and everyone can post a workout and call themselves an expert,” he says. “A fit woman with a six pack can post ‘Four must-do moves for a shredded six pack’ and no one would doubt she knew what she was talking about. I mean she has a six pack, she looks super fit, and she has the body I wish I had. The sad truth is that 99 percent of the fitness stuff you see online is complete trash. I’ve spent a lot of time on social media and most of the stuff I see is posted by people who have no fitness background, no certifications or credentials. They are just fit people posting content.”
Saltos says this is a problem because programming a workout is not only an art but it requires knowledge and understanding of the human body. “Anyone and I mean anyone can throw three exercises together and call them a circuit. Does that mean that they are good for you? The answer, most of the time, is no. You have to be careful with what you watch especially if you have injuries, prior surgery.”
Luis Cervantes, certified personal trainer and dance cardio instructor at STEEZY Studio, says the biggest downside of FitTok is not knowing which workouts are even safe or effective.
“It can be hard to know which content is accurate and which is worth getting a second opinion, especially if you’re not someone who works in the fitness industry,” he says. “With that said, one great way to make sure you’re taking in the right information is to check your sources. Just as you would when you go to research something online, you want to make sure your sources are credible and trustworthy (i.e. certified personal trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, sports and exercise science specialists, etc.).”
Additionally, says Cervantes, it never hurts to get a second opinion: “So if you’re questioning whether something is accurate, do a little extra digging on the side or ask someone you know that works in the field.”
The comparison game, which is only too prevalent in social media, is another con with FitTok, says Ginestra.
“The pressure is on the end result. There are body proportions that not everyone can or should fit into, and there is pressure to look like certain TikTok models or influencers. The most important part of working out is feeling proud, comfortable, and confident in your body, and transforming to meet your own personal goals, not someone else’s expectations of what is beautiful.”
There’s a lot of weird workouts on FitTok too, like the Japanese ab roller, which basically involves rolling up a towel and lying on top of it. Which is why Saltos says it’s key to be mindful of who and what you follow when it comes to fitness.
“You wouldn’t hire someone who isn’t qualified to be your personal trainer and the same logic applies when you look for fitness advice on Tiktok,” he says. “Look for explanations and those who speak on the subject rather than those who just post cool videos and images.”
A version of this story was published April 2021.
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