With fitness fans worldwide facing periods of isolation, social media platforms have a crucial role to play in keeping us active and engaged. Social media expert Chris Asahara has some sage advice that will help us stay informed, healthy and connected in a world of temporary isolation.

Fitness has been a hot topic on social media since the dawn of Instagram, generating millions of new posts every week. But despite a sea of gym selfies and #FitFam hashtags, there are relatively few accounts that add real value to the lives of regular exercisers.

The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to change that forever. With billions of people dealing with periods of isolation, fitness brands, exercise professionals and workout enthusiasts are devising new ways to fuel our health and wellbeing using social media. It’s not a hard sell, everyone knows regular exercise – as part of a healthy lifestyle – remains key to boosting our immune systems. But there’s a rabbit warren of content, so what exactly should we be looking for?

We asked Chris Asahara about how to safely and effectively fuel good health using social media.

FP: How do you find the most credible and accurate information on social media at a time like this?

CA: If you want to stay informed on Covid-19 developments choose official social channels, and a multiple of them. Instead of relying on one source, looking at a few gives me a better rounded view. There are a lot of rumors flying around so make sure you to go to the official statements. Don’t believe everything you see at first glance, especially if it’s something forwarded to you from a friend or family. I go to the official channel and see what they say.

When it comes to health and fitness, follow those who you feel a connection with. Those who provide the motivation you need, but who are also are credible experts in their field. Look to instructors and trainers from your local club, and of course Les Mills. Watching the fitness activities of Insta models can be interesting, but if you want safe and effective training advice sticking with proven solutions designed by experts is the way to go.

FP: Why are online communities useful right now?

CA: With self-isolation becoming the norm, online communities help bring some sense of normalcy and connection. It can be family, a group of friends, or simply those who share a similar interest. Things that normally we did in person can still continue online. For example, I’m in groups about sports, food, and languages, where we still talk and share ideas which keeps me connected to people. Right now our LES MILLS On Demand Facebook group is thriving and people from all over the planet are connecting to share tips and advice for healthy living in lockdown.

FP: Why are micro-influencers seemingly so popular at the moment?

CA: While there is no exact threshold, micro-influencers typically have anywhere between 1,000 and 90,000 followers. We like following these people because we can relate to them. They are in similar situations as us, so we want to know how they are handling things and how they are coping. Mega stars just have lives that are a different universe and it is harder to relate to them. There is an authenticity with micro-influencers which is what people are looking for as they get savvier about marketing tactics. There are many fitness professionals who have become micro-influencers. Les Mills’ Erin Maw, Rachael Newsham and Kylie Gates are great examples of this.

FP: Some believe social media can be bad for mental health. Do you feel the benefits outweigh any risk? How can we avoid any negative health impact?

CA: Like anything, it can have some risk if you overdo it. However, I believe situations like these show how it can be powerful in a good way. From being able to see amazing stories of humanity in other parts of the world to being able to still connect with family down the street, it does seem to bring us a little closer. The best advice I can give is about moderation. Just like you need to moderate how much TV you watch, you need to moderate how much TikTok you’re doing.

FP: What are your picks for fitness focused social media trends?

CA: There is certainly a trend towards more brands showcasing UGC (user generated content). And workout challenges are going to be hugely popular. At the moment #10pushupchallenge and #homeworkout are trending. There are some great challenges and lots of inspirational user content currently being shared on @lesmillstribe and @lesmillsgrit.

Keen to switch your digital swiping for sweating? Access free at-home workouts using LES MILLS On Demand.

Chris Asahara is a world-traveling, trilingual, multi-cultural marketing professional who spent many years in senior positions at Adidas Japan and at global ad agencies such as AKQA and TBWA\Chiat\Day. He is currently Head of Content and Social Media at Les Mills International.