Premier Member Highlight: Marvin Meda
You may recognize Marvin Meda from the weight room floor, or maybe his Instagram, @Viniselfmade. This young member from Burkina Faso is clearly a dedicated power lifter, but as is true for all of our members, there’s more than meets the eye (or the gram).
Marvin, also known as Vini, is a graduate student at the Florida State University in the field of public health. He moved to the US in 2015 to start school at FSU. While living in Africa, Marvin was always active. He enjoyed playing sports like soccer, rugby, and basketball, but it wasn’t until moving to Tallahassee that he began his weightlifting journey. Marvin admits that initially, he started weight lifting to achieve the body-builder physique, but in 2017 he transitioned from body building to power lifting.
For those of you unfamiliar with the difference, body building is a sport that includes weight lifting, but with the intention of creating a certain aesthetic (large muscles, low body fat). Power lifting is a type of competitive weight lifting that, in combination with other strategies, may give one the body-building physique, but the practice itself doesn’t necessarily have that intention. Instead, Marvin uses power lifting as a part of his functional fitness training. He realized that he wants his body to work for him in ways that help him in his daily life, so he transitioned to a functional fitness approach instead of an aesthetic-centered approach.
This fitness journey is pretty well-documented already on Marvin’s Instagram page, @Viniselfmade. With a few thousand followers, Marvin has a pretty steady “fan base” – a fan base that expects regular content from him. In an interview, Marvin shared that on some occasions, he has received messages from followers demanding content on days that he fails to post, saying that “they have expectations of me”. Overall, however, Marvin views his social media fame as a positive. He started posting general weight-lifting content in 2016 as a way to track and share his own progress and share general information. Soon after, he began incorporating inspirational content, encouraging people to love and care for themselves physically and otherwise. He says, “If you post something that people value, they will follow”.
Marvin did not start his social media accounts with the intention of gaining many followers. He admits that it just happened, but now that it has, he feels committed to use his influence for the better. Marvin shared his thoughts on why he thinks people follow him. He says “When you say something out loud and put it out there, it gives others a chance to relate and resonate with you”. He points out that people have their own thoughts that they may not give much merit to, but once those thoughts are reinforced by another person, they feel a connection; they are validated. It is that connection, even virtually, which allows Marvin to have an influence over social media. Sometimes resonating with strangers over an app can be the nudge a person needs to start their fitness journey, push themselves a little harder, or reconsider their unhealthy habits, and Marvin recognizes the value in this.
Health and wellness are clearly important to Marvin Meda, and this passion transcends his own body. He has the opportunity to encourage others through his social media platforms, but his life goal is to take it a step further than that. Marvin is in a Masters program at FSU in public health, and wants to work specifically on the policy-making side of public health. He wants to have an influence not only on individuals, but entire systems. Growing up, he was influenced by his father, who worked as an epidemiologist. He saw how his father was able to help people and wanted to have the skills to do the same, but on a wider scale than simply doctor to patient. Marvin wants to work in public health policy so he can “find solutions for people who feel they don’t have a voice – for everyone”.
Marvin jokes that maybe one day he will be a motivational speaker, but the joke actually has some backbone. The man gives some good advice; just check his Instagram. For those getting into power lifting, he very much urges others to prioritize quality over quantity, claiming that proper form and technique are wildly more important than the amount of weight one is lifting. He also advises to make goals based off of you and your body, not off of what others are doing. He says “Lifting is singular. Everyone is different. While power lifting is a community, every person should have their own individual goals”. This goes beyond power lifting, too. Marvin believes that everyone should think for themselves and shed their minds of comparisons to others, because growth is all about the individual. Really, it is a life philosophy of his and the reason for the name “Vini self made”.