01 Oct 2022

Me, Myself and Instagram: The rise of fitness on social media across Waterford and Tipperary

Personal trainers across Waterford and Tipperary “need to practice what they preach”, a former Defence Forces soldier tells Waterford Live.

London-based personal trainer and model Bill Walsh, who played for Waterford club Mount Sion before moving to the UK, says there are sections of society that have become obsessed with getting the “Instagram look”, engaging in lifestyles that are having a “massive negative impact” on themselves and people around them.

“A lot of people have become heavily involved in plastic surgery, fillers, photoshopping, extreme diets, extreme lifestyles, a lot of extreme measures that are involved in the so-called ‘look’,” 25-year-old Bill says.

Bill’s stance is backed up by a new ‘Zero Gains’ public information campaign carried out by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, which highlights that three out of four people feel social media, TV and other media pressurise young adults to look a certain way.

Bill, who also enjoyed success at county level with Tipperary and was based at Kilkenny's Stephen's Barracks, says the health risks associated with striving for “perfection” are colossal.

“Long-term damage to mental health due to constantly striving for ‘perfection’ instead of embracing who and what you are. Living that extreme life is most definitely not a long-term way of living, but the issue is when there is so much to be financially gained from it. The boundaries can become very blurred, you can find yourself in a very confusing situation and end up losing your morals and what you stand for and want to achieve,” Bill continues.

Bill urges personal trainers across Waterford and Tipperary to use social media in a positive way. “For a large part of the fitness industry, the whole aspect of ‘perfection’ and chasing gratification from others has masked over the real reason for it all, which is to help the person who puts up their hand and wants help because they don’t want to continue living life the way they have. Help them! And no you’re not helping them by showing them the 100th photo of you with your top off or bum out.

“Every personal trainer, nutritionist, coach and fitness professional should be an ambassador for the industry. Yes, you need to be in shape and show it can be done but when your feed and all the content you provide is based around you with your top off, then something is fundamentally wrong with what you’re trying to achieve and the way you’re going about it.

“I got into the fitness industry to help people. That’s my only focus and motivation, and it drives me every single day. It’s not about likes, comments and heart emojis - it’s about helping real people solve real problems.

“My social media feed is centred around clients first, followed by family and friends, and then my own training and physique updates. A lot of people have that list muddled up and are further driving people into a downward spiral of self-doubt, causing people to be more and more self-conscious about how they look and feel,” Bill highlights.

Bill's fitness advice

Bill says the average person should focus on “small, achievable fitness goals”, adding: “I always say ‘can you see yourself doing this a year down the line?’ If yes, we are on the right track. But if not, we need to reassess and change it because it’s not going to work long-term.

“Every single person should focus on building habits, building the foundations that will allow you to flourish and be the person you want to be.

“Start small - walk, drink more water and exercise at the level where you are in your fitness journey and be completely honest with yourself.

“Consistency is key. Everyone will have a meal out or a beer or a coffee with friends. You are normal, and you won’t put on weight after 6pm if the rest of your day was spot on”.

Personal trainer Bill Walsh.

Bench above the negativity

Bill encourages people to surround themselves with like-minded individuals and enjoy the journey of getting fit and healthy. He says you should delete fitness professionals off social media who don’t motivate you, who don’t give good and actionable advice, and who post self-indulgent photos with some “nonsense motivational quote”.

He advises: “A workout is powerful. And it’s a great way of rebalancing yourself physically and mentally for what life throws at you. Don’t worry about the end result - tick off the boxes as you go along! Don’t worry about running when you don’t even walk.

“The amount of negativity in this world is crazy. Find motivation in your loved ones and the people who want you to reach your goals. Find a friend or trainer or colleague, someone you can do it with and be accountable to.

"Enjoy life and get rid of the negative influences that pull you away from happiness. They are dragging you down and stopping you from hitting your potential.”

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