INSTAGRAM vs REALITY

12 mins read

What do you get when you cross a vegan yoga teacher, a colorful fashionista, a high-powered magazine editor, and a PR executive-turned-fitness personality?

Aside from a massive following on social media… a whole lot of experience, knowledge, connections, and expertise in the health and wellness arena. 

Heidi Kristoffer (the yogi), Christine Bibbo-Herr (the fashionista), Meaghan Murphy (the editor), and Jamie Hess (the PR exec) share their lives every day with a combined quarter-million Instagram followers. There is no question that they meet the criteria for “social media influencers.” 

But they are actual, real-life influencers, too.

The thing is, you can buy 10K followers on Instagram for several hundred dollars and write any bio you want. This results in many social media influencers being FAKE Famous.” On the flip side, there are highly qualified people who never paid for a single “like” or “follow,” built their audiences organically with valuable content, and provide accurate information based on years of experience. 

So how do we know which is which, or what is actually REAL in the world of social media?

Enter Jamie, Heidi, Christine, and Meaghan!

JAMIE (@nycfitfam): Mom of two adorable boys, she started her IG account after her husband George proposed to her on a treadmill at Barry’s Bootcamp and has been a fitness and wellness persona ever since. She regularly appears on QVC as a TV host and recently launched her own wellness coaching program, The Big Ask. (Oh, and her mom is TV journalist Joan Lunden, so she’s been following in her footsteps since childhood when it comes to helping women live their best lives!)

HEIDI (@heidikristoffer): Mom of five-year-old twin girls and a three-year old son, she is a yoga expert and instructor, creator of CrossFlow Yoga, former soap star, and creator of Microsoft Bing Fitness Yoga & MSN Yoga, the yoga program on Microsoft systems around the world. When a car accident left her with severe injuries to her back and spine, she healed herself with years of yoga (and no surgery). Committed to a vegetarian lifestyle, she leads by example and lives what she teaches.

CHRISTINE (@nycpretty): Starting as a fashion editor at several women’s magazines, she spent about 20 years in the fashion industry. She met her husband while both were working for Sesame Street Parent’s Magazine, and they are still producing content together to this day. Always full of energy, Christine’s love of life shines through everything she does, from fashion to lifestyle to health and everything in between. She regularly appears on television shows like The View and The Today Show and on-air as a fashion and lifestyle expert. 

MEAGHAN (@meaghanbmurphy): Editor-in-Chief of Woman’s Day Magazine, this mom of three has been in media for almost 25 years. She’s a fitness professional (ACE certified trainer, former fitness director of Self Magazine, and architect of the “Self Challenge”), and author of the new book, Your Fully Charged Life. When not editing a magazine or doing live TV segments, she is writing and “momming hard.” 

These are not your typical early-20-something “influencers.” These women are all in their 40s, and each found a successful path in their respective careers long before “influencer culture” even became a thing. 

They were tired of seeing the “Fake Famous” social media influencers share misinformation—sometimes dangerously false information—that the masses were blindly following.

 

“It isn’t always easy to separate real experts from expert self-promoters,” Heidi explained. Some people are excellent at making themselves look like an expert if they’ve got the algorithms and social media game down, even if they don’t have any real experience or qualifications. Pair that with a large following (even if it’s bought), and before you know it, REAL people—often vulnerable young girls—are acting on their advice. 

Think of the countless “health coaches” on social media telling girls what to eat and (perhaps unknowingly) encouraging eating disorders, or the “yoga” accounts posting fancy acrobatic photos which people then try to imitate and end up seriously injuring themselves. That’s not to say that these influencers are intentionally out to hurt anyone—they may be perfectly well-intentioned. They simply don’t always have the experience or background to be opining on the topics they share advice on. And there is no liability if someone gets hurt.

Luckily for us listeners, Jamie, Heidi, Christine, and Meaghan decided to take wellness issues OFF of Instagram to tackle them in person. 

From Social Media Influencers to Podcasters

Christine, Jamie, and Heidi met at a photo shoot to publicize a Mindbody Online Wellness Panel on which they were all speaking, along with a fourth influencer, Aly Teich. They could not have hit it off more. While discussing their topics for the panel, they thought, “We should do a podcast!” This was where it all began. 

Together, they decided to use their collective influence and power for GOOD—to share valuable information and truly help people via their podcast, Off The Gram

They got to work on the idea, the name, the first 10 episodes, and the whole structure. When Aly had to relocate for a job offer, Jamie suggested Meaghan fill the fourth spot, and the rest is history. 

These women combine their extensive experience with expert guest perspectives to have the deeper conversations and get to the bottom of what’s REAL. Each week, they take listeners into the real-world trenches to navigate the ever-changing landscape of wellness and social media.

All four hosts have amazing chemistry, the conversation flows easily, and they clearly enjoy one another’s company. 

“It’s true, the chemistry was there from day one,” shared Christine. “With four of us, we can bounce ideas around and step in to help one another. We work so well together, and we’re 100% all in.”

When they first started recording from a basement space in NYC, every time a subway went by, they had to pause, because it would rattle the studio! They eventually upgraded to Gotham Podcast Studio, and during COVID-19, they took everything from in-studio to virtual without missing a beat. 

 “We’re doing our best to highlight experts—real experts—about topics we think are on the pulse of things, because we are really in it; we’re entrenched in health and wellness,” Heidi explained. 

A great example is their episode covering the F-Factor controversy, for which they called on nutritionists, doctors, and people with first-hand experience to bring to light the facts. 

Because of their respective backgrounds, they have access to some of the most amazing guests, including actors, fitness professionals, fashion designers, celebrities, CEOs, founders and creators, authors, etc. In the 71 episodes aired so far, guests have included Dan Harris, Anna Kaiser, Michelle Hurd, Arianna Huffington, and multiple doctors and top experts in their fields.

When it comes to their success, these co-hosts point to work ethic and tenacity as common threads. All agreed that saying “yes” to opportunities was key to gaining priceless experience in their careers. Years later, many of those opportunities have come full circle as they interview people they’ve worked with on the podcast! 

And the opportunities keep coming.

A few months ago, Dr. Oz and his team approached Christine, Jamie, Heidi, and Meaghan saying they loved the show and asking if they had any video footage. They did. 

Which was quite fortunate, because Dr. Oz was launching a new platform called OZ Tube, a digital video platform with content from top creators in the wellness space… and he wanted to include Off The Gram as the health and wellness talk show! 

Now, each week, you can watch edited 20-minute-or-less mini-versions of some of the best and most popular OTG episodes in never-before-seen video format. 

As it happens, all four women had interacted with Dr. Oz and his team on different occasions in the past. In fact, one of Meaghan’s favorite OTG memories involves a pre-Covid event, which ended in a “fist-pumping dance party with [Dr. Oz] in the middle. Of course, Jamie captured all of the magic on camera—including me whispering in the doc’s ear that I had just peed my pants!” 

Which brings us to Meaghan’s advice around reaching your goals: “Be brave enough to make your mess your message. I have found so much strength and ultimately success in allowing myself to be vulnerable.” (She probably wasn’t referring to the aforementioned mess, but you get the idea!).

In all seriousness, OTG is the real deal. To these ladies, authenticity is key. You can’t beat four women at the top of their fields—who have done decades of hard work and take every opportunity that comes their way while keeping an open mindset—sharing their experiences and living their truth for their listeners’ benefit.

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