Through social media and the internet, martial arts are shaping fitness trends

March 14, 2018 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

The internet has become the basis of almost everyone’s day to day life in one way or another. Whether it’s for work or keeping up with the latest news and events, the internet has taken over. With such a huge audience, internet trends and crazes spread fast. One of the ways in which new crazes spread around is through clickbait articles, citing a discovery in fitness science, a get fit quick scheme or a new superfood. While many people do click on these and receive some useful information from them, a much more useful trend that has helped many people is from social media.

One of the major uses of social media, mainly Twitter and Instagram, is for people to connect with their idols on another level, seeing behind the scenes footage and images. Sports stars are among the most followed people on social media, and many of them post numerous workout and training videos. The methods demonstrated by these sports stars often go viral as it shows off their immense levels of skill and fitness. One of the biggest rising sports in recent years has been mixed martial arts, with UFC making the waves as the sport’s flagship. This, coupled with the re-emergence of another combat sport, boxing, has resulted in many people getting fitness tips from the social media accounts of these martial artists.

The rise of mixed martial arts

Source: Ciaran O Flynn, via Twitter

In theory, competing in mixed martial arts competitions is to compete at the ultimate level of combat sports. Athletes who are successful in the octagon need to be athletic, understand the nuances of multiple martial arts to use them, and be able to fight their opponent using many styles to overcome them. Mixed martial arts has risen in popularity alongside the rise of viral videos and social media; major knockouts are often shared around the internet. But, it’s the personalities within the sport that has drawn in such huge global appeal. One of the most publicised events didn’t even take place in the octagon but instead within the boxing ring when Floyd Mayweather fought Conor McGregor. Sure, the lead up to the fight and the fight itself was an utter farce but it greatly raised the profile of mixed martial arts, with McGregor showing off his incredible mindset and athleticism in and in the running to the fight. Through Instagram and Twitter, McGregor and Mayweather regularly posted training videos that showed off their skills to keep the hype train rolling. These, in turn, gave people solid fitness and training tips to go on, even though the videos themselves were not intended for that purpose.


MMA stars promoting the trends indirectly

Source: Mouse, via Twitter

The sheer athleticism shown in mixed martial arts has created many fan-favourite sports stars, who have quite seamlessly been able to merge into other genres. For example, one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, Georges St-Pierre, went into acting and was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, during which he went toe-to-toe with Captain America. Along with GSP, Gina Carano has also popped up in numerous films, such as Deadpool, and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson played B.A. Baracus in 2010’s The A-Team. But it’s not just movies; the mixed martial arts fighting game genre has grown in popularity. One of the most popular is KnockOut: The Last Fight. Created by Fugaso, two prizefighters battle it out in the octagon and on the reels until a victor is crowned. With 3D graphics and fast action, KnockOut stands out as a novel game. Then, there’s also the UFC video game from EA Sports. The latest rendition, UFC 3, has come under a lot of scrutiny for its use of microtransactions, as did their Star Wars: Battlefront II, but fighting fans still flock to the game to play as their favourite stars from the UFC. The popularity of these games reflects the popularity of the sport within many different age groups. In turn, the fans idolise and follow the stars of these sports. This naturally gets more people wanting to try out the sport and get as fit as the stars are, using techniques that they display through their social media accounts and what they discuss in interviews.


Return of boxing

Source: Anthony Joshua, via Twitter

Boxing is experiencing something of a renaissance period in the public eye right now. One of the leading stars of this return to fame is Anthony Joshua. The heavyweight world champion from Watford started his rise to stardom by winning gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games and remains undefeated as a professional boxer. His welcoming character, impressive athletic physique, and sheer ferocity in the ring has earned him the fandom of so many sports fans all over the world. Doing boxing training for fitness has been seen as a good way to get fit for some time now, but now that there’s a superstar like Joshua appearing so prominently, more people are using the lessons of boxing to get fit. Being such an athletic person, Joshua does many interviews on his favourite exercises to do to keep fit, his diet, fitness routine, training regime, and even his sleep schedule. Everyone wants to be like Joshua. The world heavyweight champion is also a huge presence on social media, and not just for sending virtual jabs at other boxers. Joshua regularly posts videos that showcase his training routine, which, as you would assume, garner a swell of clicks over the day of posting.

Trends appear to rise and fade much faster these days than they used to. With the internet being such a driving force of everyday life, new methods are quickly distributed across the internet community, so new trends develop much faster. But mixed martial arts and boxing, mainly through the sports stars, have risen and remained a key source of fitness trends and videos thanks to their massive appeal and ability to cross genres to reach a wider audience.

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