Responsibly Fit? Fitspo Influencers and Brand Liability

A recent article in Forbes titled 5 Steps To Take Before Starting An Influencer Marketing Campaign On Social Media highlights the benefits as well as cautions and advises brands on utilizing influencer marketing it their campaigns. “Influencer marketing can give your content a huge boost, and you can’t afford to ignore it,” says Andrey Slivka of Forbes. The article summarizes advice from Forbes’ social media editor Natasha Lewka with tips for including influencers as finding influencers with the greatest leverage on whichever platform (or platforms) your targeted audience is found. Then you target the right influencers, which don’t have to be huge celebrities to be successful, but can be “micro-influencers” defined by the article as someone with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers.

There are innumerable “micro-influencers” as well as many larger-reached influencers within the fitness industry. These fitspo models do everything from preach body positivity, share weight-loss and weightlifting transformations and more. Additionally, they align with specific workout programs and workout related brands, from active-wear companies to supplement companies and crossover brands. This industry has really seemed to capitalize on this area of marketing. Take U.K. based company Gym Shark for instance. They have an international roster of Gym Shark athletes who rep their clothing, attend conference meet ups and events, pop-up shops and other publicity efforts that have helped not only fuel the brand, but in turn, fuel the celebrity status of the influencers. It seems to be a win-win situation. As a result, many followers look to these influencers, most of which are not certified personal trainers, as being experts on fitness. And while there’s no denying they have mastered their own fitness and no doubt learned a lot about exercise and nutrition, they have to be careful to stipulate they are not experts with the information of certified personal trainers and nutritionists. And though many do become certified and make money offering their own personal training, many simply make their own work out guides and even products and sell them to followers. Sometimes there is flack for content these influencers create when talking about correct form for exercise or when they don’t talk about it. There is risk for someone to follow what they say to do and get hurt. Should these influencers be held more accountable for their health-related advice and influence? And what does that mean for the responsibility of the brands like Gym Shark to ensure the influencers they collaborate with are not ill-prepared to have followers immolate their fitness routines? Beyond that, what sort of protections should be in place for these brands AND these influencers. It seems only a matter of time before lawsuits increase.


Slivka, A. (2018). 5 Steps to take before starting an influencer marketing campaign on     social media. Forbes. Retrieved from   starting-an-influencer-marketing-campaign-on-social-media/2/#481e04633fac

Sponsorship. Gymshark.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Responsibly Fit? Fitspo Influencers and Brand Liability

  1. Lindsay O'Day says:

    I love looking at fitspo accounts on Instagram, but I do get mildly annoyed when content creators and social media influencers start posting what seems like nothing but sponsored ads. I hadn’t even considered the implications of people following the fitness advice from untrained/uncredentialed “experts” and what kind of ramifications that might have if someone injures themselves. I wonder what kind of liability is involved with that – or if it’s more a case of placing blame on the viewer, for not doing due diligence before following the advice of an internet celebrity or influencer?

  2. Shabnam says:

    Hi Lindsay,
    Very valid post. Fitness is part of life for people globally and hence it is scary how people get influenced by marketing for regimes, plans, weight-loss supplements. There is another industry that is capitalizing on the body vanity industry and that is liposuction and body sculpting. Getting in shape at any cost to the body and wallet is advocated on social media as well as print and television. We need more advocates for yoga, pilates and healthy eating habits
    Great post

  3. Gilbert says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    Great topic! I think the Fitspo Social Media Influencer segment is exploding exponentially right now, and it doesn’t have any clear rules, regulations, or laws that people participating within it have to abide by. Similar to when the internet first took off and advertisers started creating ads that were either misleading or hard to close, I don’t think participants within this industry will regulate themselves and someone might have to start doing so. I feel that these individuals owe it to all of their followers and the overall health/fitness industry itself to communicate somewhere within their profiles that they don’t have professional certification or degrees within the physical fitness/health realm. That way, consumers can consume a fitspro account’s content at their own risk, knowing that the information coming from the account might be solely for the purpose of pushing preferred products and workouts, not necessarily the best product or workout for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *