Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in English



First Advisor

Anne Geller

Second Advisor

LaToya Sawyer


As of December 11, 2022, 791k users had utilized the hashtag #FitnessInfluencer on their Instagram content. A fitness influencer is a user on Instagram who has a large follower count and posts fitness-related content to their platforms. In all aspects, the fitness influencer is an enthusiast who contributes to the digital fitness community. This research examines the role that the fitness enthusiast plays within this community on Instagram. Carmen Kynard’s definition of literacy as something that we do rather than have inspired much of my thinking throughout this project. Also, Diana Bossio’s research on journalists greatly informed my methodology for this research, in which I chose six enthusiasts of various identities on Instagram. By looking specifically at the literacy practices, rhetorics, and spaces that six enthusiasts utilize through their biographies, workout plans, and hashtags, I attempt to respond to the following question: What literacy practices and rhetoric are enthusiasts using to engage with the fitness community? Driving questions for the content analyses include: how do fitness enthusiasts present themselves in their biographies?; how do the literacy practices, rhetoric, and multimedia content used by fitness enthusiasts fulfill their role in the mentor/mentee literacy relation with exercisers?; and how can the use of hashtags in a fitness enthusiast’s caption create a counter-space that engages their literacy relation with exercisers? Chapter 1 focuses on the biographies of these six fitness enthusiasts, and reveals their positionalities within the fitness community and their close connection with brands – both personal and public. Chapter 2 looks closely to the workout plans they offer and complicates the mentor/mentee literacy relation between enthusiasts and exercisers. Chapter 3 examines hashtags and raises awareness for underexplored hashtags in the community that create counter-spaces for marginalized folks in mainstream fitness. This research intends to explore and respond to the many literacy practices, rhetoric, and spaces that exist within the fitness community; with this, it discovers what may be necessary for a clearer vision of ways to imagine a more holistic, inclusive, and empowering fitness community.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons