Meet Freddie Pearson: Manchester third year with 120,000 Instagram followers

The mental health advocate spills all on ‘influencing’, fitness and social media

This week we caught up with Freddie Pearson, a Business Management student at the University of Manchester who, amongst other things, is a model, mental health advocate, TED talker, and fitness ‘influencer’.

We spoke to Freddie about how his view on social media has changed over the years and how he has adapted during lockdown, whether it be his online profile or work-out routine.

Despite his 120k Instagram following, he dislikes being labelled an ‘influencer’

“I hate the word influencer, it’s not really what I want to be – I’m just a model and have a following, but in a nice way, I have the ability to influence people in a way which is beneficial to their lives.”

Sure enough, the term ‘influencer’ definitely has its pros and cons. The term is often glorified, or on the other hand easily dismissed and trivialised for not being a ‘real job’.

Freddie told The Manchester Tab: “There are definitely positives – it opens a lot of doors to connecting with like-minded people. There’s so many negatives to it though; presumptions, and people being nice to you in order to gain something themselves. So many people presume stuff about you without even knowing you so it does get a bit frustrating, but you eventually learn that the peoples’ opinions you care about are the people you care about.”

His view on social media is conflicted

“I used to absolutely love it (social media) when I was 17-18. I loved it pre-university, but I think university is a difficult time because you’re trying to work out who you are. I still enjoy it now but it’s more of a tool for work. It’s definitely changed in the way I’ve used it.”

When asked how he would feel if he woke up one day and Instagram had been completely erased from the world, Freddie replied: “Ha! Mixed bag. I’m so grateful for Instagram, and I know I wouldn’t realise how grateful I am until it went. It has definitely helped me with my life– I’ve met some incredible people and had a huge amount of opportunities.

“But ultimately I would feel a huge amount of relief. One app has completely rewired the brains of our generation and has such a hold over the social pressures of our age group. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be being a 14-17-year-old now.

“Don’t get me wrong, you can do a lot of good with it. But the amount of time I find myself spending on it – it consumes you. It’s a constant battle for everyone – especially these days.”

Freddie gave a TED Talk in Montenegro

In 2019, Freddie gave a TED Talk in Montenegro surrounding his own experiences within the world of social media, from modelling, to being a so-called ‘influencer’.

Freddie said: “The title of my TED talk was ‘A Positive Social Media Influence – An insight from a male model.’ Don’t worry, I see the irony too.

“I was mainly just hoping, you know, a lot of people see people with an Instagram following and assume they have everything sorted, and that’s often not the case at all,” said Freddie. “I definitely didn’t. It was a good opportunity for me to use my platform and educate people on the reality, and also relieve some of the pressure off people by trying to reduce the unrealistic expectation social media emanates to its users.”

He thinks that lockdown has been a good opportunity to re-evaluate

Freddie says big companies have stopped sending out gifts because of the impact lockdown has had on their budgets, but he says it hasn’t affected him much.

He said: “I just post about promoting positivity, fitness or wellbeing. It’s not something I rely on for monetary income. If anything, it’s been really good opportunity, and given me time to declutter and revaluate what is important to me and how to use my platform better.

“It’s been good to section a certain period of day for Instagram – instead of being on it all the time. Realistically, it’s not going anywhere. The key point is to try and make it a positive thing – positive in the sense of developing a better relationship with it, whether you are a content creator or consumer.”

No gym? No problem. If anything not having access to a gym has aided Freddie

Freddie, despite before lockdown being a regular gym-goer, has not been phased by gyms having closed during lockdown: “To be honest, I don’t even mind. I’m a big advocate of using bodyweight to keep fit, which doesn’t require any weights/equipment. This is a double plus because all the equipment prices are sky-high at the moment.

“Doing exercise without equipment has given me opportunity to be more creative and have a better relationship with my body too.”

His lockdown routine is all about structure and balance

Freddie’s finding that structuring his days during lockdown is helping his mindset: “I wake up at 7:30-8 because I find that getting up early improves my mood. The first thing I try and do is some kind of exercise. It gets you moving, and gets the hard task out the way early on, which sets the tone for the day and gets you in a better mood.

“Getting a structure is really important to me – on a Sunday night I’ll write a timetable for the week ahead and what I want to achieve: Monday full body, Tuesday rest day, Wednesday upper body, Thursday L=lower body, Friday something different.”

Like all of us, Freddie has found it difficult to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise but believes sticking with it really aids not only one’s physical but also mental health: “I’m trying to eat clean – it’s very easy to live with your head in the fridge when you’re bored. Eating healthily helps, but not religiously. Finding a balance is important too e.g. putting in time to do exercise and then allowing myself treats. It’s very hard at the moment obviously, but maintaining some level of discipline/routine is super important. If I’m looking and feeling good, I’ll be in a good mood.”

He’s recently updated his bargain body-weight fitness booklet

Freddie has recently updated a booklet he created a few years ago, with exercises which require only one’s bodyweight and no extra equipment: “The aim of the bodyweight one was to create the most-cost efficient and least time-consuming way to keep fit. I get that going to the gym can be quite an arduous process, even if you’re motivated to get in shape.”

Aware of the age-group of his following, Freddie wanted to make his booklet cheap and more accessible: “I realised a huge amount of my followers are students – so I reckoned if I could develop a cheap way to keep students motivated, as fit as possible, happy and healthy then it would be useful to some.

“I also realised that you don’t always have access to equipment, so thought the cheapest and most affordable way would be to create something like this. Its £5, and has got enough stuff in there to keep you going until the gyms reopen. Who knows, you might not even go back!”

His advice on keeping happy and healthy during quarantine

Freddie has found that keeping busy and maintaining structure is a key to staying on track during lockdown: “I completely empathise with people struggling to do stuff in this time. One thing I’d say is changing your environment helped for me, tidying my room and getting rid of a load of stuff I don’t need, and I now have this space I can reside too, a place which is mine and nice as possible.

“It’s very easy to slip into purposelessness and a depressed state of mind at the moment – it’s just trying to be as optimistic as possible and realising you have to take care of yourself. For me that’s exercise and eating clean, but it can be anything: work, hobbies, learning, or just catching up with friends.”

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