In 2008, 1.4 billion adults over the age of 20 were considered “overweight,” comprising 35 percent of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization. In an attempt to thwart this ever-rising statistic, “fitties,” or health and wellness-minded individuals seized upon Twitter, attempting to motivate themselves and others to strive for health, forming a fitness family, or “fitfam” for short.
“[The] fitfam has inspired me in countless ways,” Kayla Banks, 30, said. “There’s nothing but support and love, and the compliments are constantly coming and going in every direction.”
Banks, a member of the fitfam for the past ten months, was not only able to achieve her goal of running more than 6 miles, but also found the motivation to change her diet, now eating mostly vegan. These achievements and lifestyle changes are not uncommon in the fitfam, where support and inspiration are abundant.
“We are all so supportive of each other,” Sarah Rosaschi, 21, said. “I realized this less than a week after I made my account. It was Monday morning and I was really beating myself up for the weekend. Someone responded telling me it [was] okay and to move forward.”
Rosaschi joined the fitfam in April 2013, not to lose weight, but to make the change from “skinny to fit,” a common goal for members of the fitfam.
“It has already been such an amazing experience,” Rosaschi elaborated. “Though my weight hasn’t changed, my body definitely has.”
The fitfam provides not only a source of support, but a sanctuary where “fitties” can openly and honestly share their dreams, goals, and hopes for the future they may not feel comfortable sharing with people they know personally.
“I want to be able to do an unassisted pull-up by October 1. I have no inhibitions about telling the fitfam that,” Rosaschi shared. “However, I will probably not tell a single person I know in real life.”
This attitude is common in many members of the fitfam, as many have made accounts to keep their “normal” lives separate from their “fit” lives. One 20-year-old user, who goes by the handle Tan_Toned_Tatted, joined so as not to annoy her family and friends.
“I wanted somewhere to talk about [fitness] that wouldn’t annoy anyone,” she elaborated. “Having people that understand and know your goals . . . is very helpful.”
Despite the anonymity of the fitfam community, users still see it as a way to hold themselves accountable— staying motivated not only for themselves, but also for their followers.
The group is not exclusive, however. Members range from those just starting their fitness journeys to those like Steve Dekermenjian, 45, who has been training for over 25 years.
“I made my account so I could help motivate and inspire young fitfam members and give all the advice they need,” Dekermenjian said.
Despite having devoted so much of his life to fitness, Dekermenjian still finds inspiration and motivation within the group, saying it inspires him to “eat properly and train hard all the time.”
Though many still strive for a “quick fix,” to their fitness-related issues, the fitfam offers a healthy and effective alternative to the damaging diet pills and “get slim quick” schemes so often advertised, promoting clean eating and regularly working out.
“There’s no real secret to get fit,” Lucila Caceres, a 19-year-old fitfam member said. “What is most important is the will to change and the perseverance to maintain that change.”
This is an echoed sentiment throughout the fitfam, offering a safe place for users to help each other through the challenging task of becoming fit, even if it contradicts traditional thoughts about diets and weight loss, like the need to count calories.
“I have learned that calories and weight are numbers that should not influence people nearly as much as they do,” Rosaschi said.
User Tan_Toned_Tatted, a part of the fitfam since March 2013, has also altered her approach to fitness since joining the group.
“I wish I knew that eating less didn’t help, just eating cleaner did,” she said. “I realized it makes a huge difference and so many people on [Twitter] helped make that clear.”
While many of the fitfam members having never physically met, they form a very tight-knit community as they strive to achieve their goals, make fitness gains, and mutually inspire one another.
“We’re a bunch of strangers. Many of us have barely anything in common,” Rosaschi said. “And yet we are all so supportive of each other.”