Social media saved Amanda Borreson from major surgery.
Frustrated with dieting and what she calls “big box gyms,” Borreson, of Robbinsdale, was seriously considering gastric bypass surgery in January 2015 for weight control. But a series of fitness posts on her Facebook newsfeed changed her mind.
The posts belonged to a local radio host, who was regularly reposting fitness challenges and snippets from health articles written by an area trainer. Borreson signed up for the trainer’s newsletter and read it for six months before stepping into a gym in St. Louis Park, which she still frequents a year later.
Her journey to the gym via social media is a hallmark experience of many fitness enthusiasts who train under Megan Kruger. Kruger, a personal trainer originally from Vancouver, runs two fitness studios in the west metro area and has built her following largely through social media.
“Our online community is very strong,” said Kruger, who estimates more than half of her clientele joined her program after seeing Facebook posts.
Kruger’s two studios, in St. Louis Park and Maple Grove, offer 30-minute, high-intensity group workouts as part of the Fit Body Boot Camp fitness franchise.
Each studio has its own private Facebook group, where hundreds of members chat about exercise sessions, swap recipes, share jokes and describe personal fitness struggles as well as successes.
Members also regularly post on their personal Facebook pages, checking in after workouts and tagging fellow exercisers.
The result is a digital — and ever-broadening — network of support and accountability for people like Borreson. Since joining Kruger’s St. Louis Park studio, Borreson has lost 30 pounds and continues to turn to the Facebook group for support.
“It reminds me that we’re all in this together and that our health and our bodies are important,” Borreson said.
June 20 marked her anniversary with Kruger’s Fit Body Boot Camp. Borreson made sure to post about it, writing that she was “a ball of mixed feelings” when she arrived but that she now considers her workout friends “a second family.”
Fellow St. Louis Park member Chris Steigauf also had mixed feelings when stepping into the studio for the first time.
“I actually hate group classes, thinking it’s like Jazzercise,” said Steigauf, who lives in Prior Lake.
But she enjoyed the workouts and social media community so much, she said, that she now goes three to four times a week over her lunch hour. Noon exercisers refer to themselves as “nooners” and faithfully post after each workout.
“We call it our happy hour,” Steigauf said.
Though Kruger says her 500 clients are mostly women, men also have been joining her Fit Body Boot Camps, including Pete Haakonson, another of the “nooners.”
Haakonson has been attending group workouts since October 2014, losing 25 pounds in the process. Social media is a mainstay of the experience, he said.
“Right after I’m done working out, I grab my phone and post, using some tagline that happened during the session,” Haakonson said.
For Kruger, the digital community she’s facilitated is just as important as her physical workout spaces, which she admits are nothing flashy.
“We definitely have equipment and new toys, but we are not a spa,” Kruger said. “People aren’t coming for the marble floors. They’re coming for the genuine feeling of caring.”