Fitness Guru Monica Jones Gets Real About Self-Love, Peer Pressure, & Influencer Authenticity

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Getty Images for POPSUGAR and Reed Exhibitions

If you’ve been watching any of the coverage of this year’s women’s World Cup, you’ve probably caught on that being a woman athlete isn’t easy. Not only are women in sports underpaid compared to their male counterparts, but they’re also submitted to a much higher level of judgment than men athletes. Women? Treated differently because of the way that they look? This is groundbreaking information, I’m sure. But all over the world, and in the media industry, things are being done to break that glass ceiling and create more equality amongst people of various gender identities — one of those things being POPSUGAR Play/Ground, an annual event put on by the women’s mag that brings together women, men, and gender-nonconforming people from all sorts of industries to talk about issues that we’re being confronted with today.

At this year’s event, which took place on June 22 and 23rd, we saw panels with actors like Camila Mendes from Riverdale and Sasha Pieterse from Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, makeup artist Jen Atkins, podcasters Krista Williams and Lindsey Simik, and performance specialist / fitness guru Monica Jones. the whisp got an opportunity to sit down with Monica Jones at the second annual POPSUGAR Play/Ground, where she got *real* with us about everything from her journey with self-love, peer pressure, the balance between being authentic and being an influencer, and the work she does as a brand ambassador for Under Armour Women.

While discussing self-love, a huge theme of the weekend’s event, the personal trainer told us, “To be honest, my journey felt like one of the hardest ones. For me personally and internally, especially in my youth — you know when you’re younger, you’re a consumer of so many things and you pay attention to a lot of different brands and a lot of different commercials and just different sources of media, and tend to judge yourself.”

She continued, “I felt very behind and I forced myself to try to conform and try to make sure that I was on the same pace as everyone else. But getting into fitness is what brought me to do things at my own pace. I love to say like ’embrace your pace’ — a phrase that I constantly use. I feel like my journey [to self-love] has transformed year after year, especially as my body has transformed — not the way it looks, but what it’s capable of doing. As long as I focused on what I was capable of doing, everything that I wanted was coming along with that.”

As an Under Armour Women athlete, Monica is able to share her experience with insecurities and fitness while working with a group of women who hold the same values and want to support one another in reaching their goals.

“Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted to be an ambassador for a brand but I never realized that what I was doing was going to align so perfectly with Under Armour Women because it’s working as a team and not just me as an individual,” she said. “There isn’t anything better than having this team of women behind you — whether it’s our production team, our marketing, our media team, or just the women that are around the country and around the world supporting me from afar and in our shoots. It’s been an incredible experience. Wearing this gear and representing this brand that is about performance and about taking care of the athlete — we’re all athletes in some respect. It has been just a dream.”

“Everything has been so motivating and inspiring and I just would never rather be anywhere else.”

She’s also opened a studio in Arlington, her hometown, called BASH, and they’re opening their second in Boston as their team continues to grow. “I’m just very proud of this team and with Under Armour. We are really pushing boundaries as more of the whole 360 aspects of training and taking care of yourself at home and your community. That ties into everything that I do in my home-life back in Arlington. Our studio, BASH, has been incredible. We’ve grown so much in the past seven months that we’ve been open and are getting ready to open our second location in Boston. Our team is growing we’re growing as a brand.”

Obviously, one way to grow as a brand is to become more established on social media and Monica has been doing just that. Her Instagram following has been growing steadily as she’s become a more reputable fitness guru, but as we’ve seen with many influencers before, the struggle to balance the *real* you with the image you need or want to portray on social media is real. But for Monica, she says that being herself on her “good days and bad days” is “non-negotiable.”

“I’m always going to be myself. So if you go on my social media, my very first picture of a Whopper in a paper bag is still there. I developed my presence through social media just simply by sharing. It doesn’t matter if it was like an ugly picture of me sweaty after a workout or me with a client or me waiting around the gym all day because I had no clients,” she explained.

“All of those things have developed into what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. I keep the balance; if I don’t have anything to say that day, I don’t say anything. I don’t make anything up because I feed off the energy of other people, especially the ones who followed me for a long time or the ones who are very interactive because they let me know that my purpose is being served [on social media] and that the passion should still exist because there are more and more people that could use this information or that appreciate it. So the balance is always there.”

Like all of us, just because she’s a bad-ass woman with tens of thousands of social media followers and people who literally swear by her fitness inspiration, she’s not immune to the negativity that social media can bring. “There are days where I might feel that social media is bringing me to a place where I’m judging myself too much and being too hard on myself and on those days I just decide to reflect a little bit more and then share that reflection with followers, so I’m pretty transparent and I’m pretty consistent with my personal message.” That’s some good advice for all of us.


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