Probably more than ever, we’re attached to our phones—refreshing feeds, sharing links, and scrolling through the latest posts to stay up-to-date.
Whatever app we’re on, it’s hard to escape the current news cycle and election stress that’s constantly in our faces. The stress can pervade into other parts of life, like work, relationships, and even our workouts—something many of us rely on during more “normal” times, much less now, as a stress reliever.
That’s why it can be helpful to give your phone a time-out on the constant news refresh, and instead take a break with a virtual palate cleanser: some feel-good fitness Instagram accounts that will help take your mind off things and motivate you to use your workouts as your own form of self-care during these times.
“Movement is so important to mitigate the impact of stress,” Ken Yeager, Ph.D., director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. “Notice what creates energy for you and engage in more activities that create energy.”
If you choose the accounts you follow carefully, they can provide a welcome escape from the stressful day-to-day that is our 2020. Here are 11 fitness Instagram accounts that do just that.
1. Chaunte Lowe
A four-time Olympian in the high jump, Lowe was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She chronicled her treatment—everything from showing her fingernails falling off during chemo to undergoing a double mastectomy—on her account, and is now using her platform for double duty: to raise awareness for the condition and to show her determination in prepping toward making her fifth Olympic team next year in Tokyo.
2. Paige Alms
Alms is a Big Wave World Champion surfer, so it’s no surprise that her balance skills are unreal—both when she’s riding huge waves and when she’s crushing a set of battle ropes standing on a Bosu ball. Added bonus: If you had to put a tropical vacation on hold this year, or if you simply need a calming escape, her account is full of gorgeous scenery pics to take you to the islands.
3. Girls Run NYC
Founded by Jessie Zapo in 2015, this NYC-based running group is a collective of women from all running levels that focuses on inclusivity. Along with hosting weekly runs and events, they also use their platform to support social rights issues (like with their #RunWithMaud event) and frontline workers. Not a runner? The group also runs a sister organization, Girls Bike NYC, for female cyclists in the city.
4. Kanoa Greene
A body-positive fitness trainer from Orlando, Greene is the creator of Plus-Size Adventure Retreats, which aim to empower women of all shapes and sizes to “LIVE in the bodies they’re in.” She posts tons of workout options on her page—from HIIT to yoga to cardio to surfing—and she does it all with a smile. Her page can be great for those of every fitness level since she posts tons of modifications for her workouts (including this fun cardio workout you can do with a chair).
5. Joan MacDonald
At 73, MacDonald is crushing it in the weight room—and she uses her platform to show her fitness journey. A few years ago, she was on medications for high blood pressure, acid reflux, edema in her ankles, and arthritis, when her daughter suggested some lifestyle changes. So she started working out. Since then she’s been on a mission to inspire people of all ages to look after their health and fitness, whatever that looks like for them. MacDonald wears amazing matching workout sets during her routines and shares her favorite exercises (med-ball slams, anyone?) and tips on form. Plus, she pulls a 115-pound deadlift like it’s nothing.
6. Robin Arzón
Arzón is the head instructor at Peloton—if you use the app, maybe you’ve taken a cycling, running, or strength class with her?—and a 26-time marathoner during her off-camera time. Arzón, who has type 1 diabetes, posts about everything from her funky style and her running tips to workout affirmations and mental health encouragement. She’s even written an interactive fitness guide and journal for runners called Shut Up and Run.
7. Charli Adams
At 4-foot-2, Adams goes hard in the gym and in her outdoor workouts. She’s also the mom of two daughters (and is currently pregnant with her third baby) and shares thoughtful posts about motherhood, diversity in fitness, and positive self-talk.
8. Saman Munir
If your workouts have been feeling a little stale, a quick skim through Munir’s Instagram may inspire you to try that new class or push through a fast interval. From HIIT workouts in her socks to boxing and agility training with a ladder, her workouts are serious, but she can improvise too: She uses whatever is around to get in a good workout, like couches and walls. And she also helped create Under Armour’s first hijab for female athletes.
9. Morit Summers
A body-positive personal trainer and founder of Form Fitness in Brooklyn Heights, New York, Summers has a CrossFit background—and her training is an impressive mix of circuit training and cardio interspersed with some serious weight lifting. She also shares encouraging messages about self-love and body acceptance, and talks openly about her PCOS and lupus diagnoses.
10. Chelsea Werner
Werner is a Special Olympics gymnast with Down syndrome who can unleash quite the tumbling sequence. Her posts display her extremely cool gymnastic training—including some Ninja Warrior-esque passes on playground equipment—and some traditional gym feats. Watching her crank out some wide-grip pull-ups and toes-to-bar moves might have you itching to do the same.
11. Amanda Kloots
If you don’t know Kloots by now, you should. The celebrity trainer publicly documented the COVID-19 experience of her husband, Broadway actor Nick Cordero, until his death in July 2020, and uses her platform to fight against COVID-19 misinformation. She’s also remained dedicated to her AK! Fitness empire, which includes AK! Rope, AK! Dance, AK! Body and AK! Mama & Me. She frequently posts at-home workout videos and dance workouts to strengthen and brighten your day.
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