Vamp caught up with the creator of @athleticaesthetic, Melissa Ong, to discuss fitness blogging.
How has fitness blogging inspired you?
First and foremost, it holds me accountable and keeps me on track to achieve my fitness goals. In order to post consistently, I have to make sure I’m working out and eating healthy so I can continually find those everyday moments in my life to share with my audience. I’m not going to lie, there have been times I’ve wanted the burger & fries and gone for the acai bowl instead… if not for my diet, at least for the photo opp! It’s so much harder to bail on your workout or healthy eating when people are counting on you to provide motivation and inspiration!
Fitness blogging has also encouraged me to try new workouts and fitness trends – whether it’s sensory yoga, reformer pilates, or a full workout on the rowing machine! I will try anything that keeps me active and moving.
What are the pro’s of working with a brand you align with like Uniqlo?
It’s an incredible opportunity to have an association with a global brand like Uniqlo! I own a fair bit of Uniqlo particularly in my work wardrobe so I was genuinely excited to collaborate on their sport range – I couldn’t believe the quality and the price point! Working with Uniqlo definitely adds to my credibility to my audience – and is great to include in my portfolio when approaching other health/ fitness brands. One of the key content pillars on my Instagram is ‘activewear’ so the Uniqlo Sport campaign couldn’t have been a better fit for me and my audience.
Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do, how did you get into fitness blogging, fun facts about yourself, etc.
I actually started out fashion blogging while I was still uni. At the time I really had my sights set on working in the fashion industry so I used my blog as an outlet to showcase my writing and styling. I did that for about 3 years before I realised I was buying more activewear and sneakers than actual clothes and started prioritising my health and fitness.
I started Athletic/ Aesthetic with a close friend who I had met in my fashion blogging days but it became a solo project since 2016. I don’t have a transformation story or any particular reason as to why I started working out and enjoying it so much – in reality, I just needed a hobby. And let’s face it, playing team sports is far too stressful!
I use my blog and Instagram as a way to share my journey through fitness – trying out the latest workouts and gyms, documenting my sneaker and activewear obsession and giving my honest opinions on whatever I encounter. I’m not a fitness professional or work in the industry so I hope that my followers find me relatable and not intimidating! I’m just a 9 to 5er, trying to find that work/ life balance!
Besides working out and blogging about it – I am a full timemarketing executive in commercial radio. So in a nutshell, my day is: eat, sleep, train, work, repeat!
“Fitness isn’t always ‘pretty’ especially when you’re red in the face and covered in sweat! As much as people love seeing beautiful imagery, when it comes to health and fitness – sometimes real and raw is better.”
What are 3 key things you consider when creating a fitness photo to post on Instagram?
1. Be Genuine: Candid action shots are always a winner! Your audience can always tell if the shot is too posed – it may work for fashion photos but I think the best fit pics are ones when you’ve got your concentration face, you’re sweaty and in the moment! When I’m capturing an exercise or movement, I always make sure I’ve read up on the correct technique too.
2. Include Props: This helps with the first point! A yoga mat, kettlebell, weights or any other fitness equipment makes it feel more authentic, creates action and adds a sense of movement to the image.
3. Consider Your Wardrobe: It sounds silly but I like pay attention to what I’m wearing when I work out! As much as I like to wear all black everything like I do when I’m at work, black on black activewear doesn’t make for an interesting shot. A pop of colour provides a nice contrast – whether it’s on your shoes, sports bra or print on your tights! I always try and match colours too – eg. Blue contrast on my trainers with a blue sports bra.
What camera do you use?
I take a majority of my Instagram pictures and videos on my iPhone 6S. I do sometimes whip out the Fuji X-Pro1 for food shots and when I need anything hi-res, though I definitely need to get up to scratch on the photography side of things!
When it comes to my blog, I’m lucky my talented friend and photographer, Christine takes pictures for me on her Canon 5D Mark-III.
What editing Apps do you use?
Second only to Instagram, VSCOcam is my most used app and it is by far my favourite for filters and colouring. I also use Snapseed to make more detailed adjustments.
I’ll occasionally dabble in Photoshop on my laptop as well when it comes to editing imagery for my blog.
How do you balance the athletic with the aesthetic in your content?
I’ve never thought of it like that! The name actually came from when I first started working out about 5 years ago and my goal was to be ‘skinny’. My boyfriend gave me some good advice – ‘athletic over aesthetic’ which has become my training philosophy ever since.
But now that you mention it, it’s also very relevant to my content. I find it hard to make fitness look aesthetically pleasing without it coming across as posed or contrived. I try to ensure I have a good variety of both types of posts – some that are more editorial which serves as blog content and then some more candid shots on my iPhone, usually taken at the gym where it’s more about the workout than anything else. Funnily enough, it’s the candid stuff that tends to do better than the planned content!
Fitness isn’t always ‘pretty’ especially when you’re red in the face and covered in sweat! As much as people love seeing beautiful imagery, when it comes to health and fitness – sometimes real and raw is better.
Do you have an editorial calendar or is it more spontaneous?
I don’t have a formal calendar but I do try to plan out my content for the week ahead. Because I work full time, I only really get the weekend to capture content so I try to ensure I’ve got enough to last for the week. That being said, I try and stick to my one-post a day rule, post during high-traffic periods and making sure I maintain variety in my content (eg. Don’t post two food pictures in a row).
What’s the best thing to have come about because of @athleticaesthetic_?
Getting to work with so many amazing activewear and sports brands that I truly adore and admire. Nike for me is the standout and I am so so fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with them over the past few years.
It’s also presented great opportunities to meet and network with other gym junkies, yogis and personal trainers, visit new gyms and studios and try out the latest workouts.
” I try and stick to my one-post a day rule, post during high-traffic periods and making sure I maintain variety in my content”
Right now I’m…
Listening to: Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper. My favourite album of 2016 and it’s still on repeat.
Eating: Rice cakes with turkey breast.
Drinking: A piccolo – because my trainers told me to stop drinking soy!
Wearing: Activewear – and at least one item of Nike.
Watching: Old seasons of American Survivor.
Reading: US travel guides.