Social Media – Friend Or Foe?
If you spend any time on the internet, you will encounter a whole variety of self proclaimed fitness gurus. “Online coaches”, “instagram influencers” & “fitness personalities”. But what do any of these self imposed titles even mean?
The social media aspect of the fitness industry is comparable to the Wild West. Largely unregulated and mostly free from repercussions upon the publication of inaccuracies. Even when those inaccuracies include dangerous fitness and nutritional advice. From personal trainers swerving out of their field of expertise to provide ill informed dietary or even medical advice, to Z-list ‘celebrities’ who have lost a bit of weight and are more than happy to sell out their own hard work in exchange for monetary gains. Attributing all their progress to the magical effects of some miracle tea.
How To Avoid Trouble:
It’s entirely unsurprising that many people still believe that carbohydrates and insulin are directly to blame for the obesity epidemic. Purely due to the volume of misinformation available online. Here are a few tips to help the average gym goer navigate the social media mine field:
- If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. There is no secret product or exercise routine that will give you the body of your dreams. Instant results, or a “quick fix” have always been a marketing gimmick in the fitness industry. Many will recall the 90’s craze of slimming shakes that left numerous people borderline malnourished. Even now it’s common to hear about “10 minute magic workouts” with little to no benefit. Trends like these recycle and repeat every few years in slightly different variations.
- Beware of any ‘coach’ selling you a quick fix. Simply put, they are either uneducated on the subject or making additional money from it. Either way they wont have the knowledge or professional integrity to act in your best interests.
- Beware of coaches who attempt to tackle every single aspect of health.Any coach that can be best summarised as a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ should be avoided. Offering advice on training, diet, lifestyle, sleep, injury rehabilitation & how to manage medical conditions. These people often have good intentions, but they simply aren’t qualified to be advising on every aspect of their clients lives. Unless they have 15 years worth of qualifications behind them in various specialised fields. As a trainer it’s integral that you strive to give your clients the best value for money possible. But sometimes you just need to put your hands up and say ‘I cant help you with that’. Especially when a medical condition or injury is involved. Doctors and Physiotherapists need to study for years to do their job, a quick google search is unlikely to do your client any favours.
These are typically men and women with an athletic physique. Going to the gym occasionally and having a very charismatic personality can result in a reasonably large social media following.
Unbeknown to them, this does not qualify you as a personal trainer. Having a good physique does not result in an in-depth knowledge of kinesiology and dietetics. Again these people may mean well, but ultimately they are in it for themselves.
It’s important to remember that whilst these people may look great, and occasionally offer some awesome advice: they still need to make a living, and they do so through endorsements, sponsorships and growing their own personal brand/influencer status.
Celebrities have the potential to do more harm than unqualified coaches and influencers combined. They are paid a lot more money to promote brands due to their enhanced reach. We live in an age where celebrity status is glorified. Purely by virtue of appearing on TV you’re an instant role model.
Unfortunately a lot of people seek abuse their status to shamelessly promote beauty products. From laxative shakes & pills through to injections of all sorts of nasty stuff.
Many of them also neglect to mention the army of personal trainers and countless hours spent in the gym that contributed towards their physique.
This practice seems most common amongst reality TV stars, which is particularly disturbing given the age demographic of their fans. Many of which are in their early teens at the absolute peak of their own bodily awareness & as such incredibly insecure and impressionable. This kind of conduct is shamelessly irresponsible. Both on the companies behind the products and the ‘celebrities’ themselves. I miss the days when a TV presenter lost some weight and released an Aerobics routine on VHS.
But Don’t Lose Faith!
As a personal opinion – there are some people on social media who are still ‘fighting the good fight’. Continually giving good, evidence based advice and putting out regular quality content. All without a gimmick or product based hook. Guys like Scott Baptie, Martin MacDonald, James Smith and Ben Carpenter have all built large social media presences without compromising their own professional ethics for financial gain. They have undoubtedly had numerous offers to sell out, but stuck to their principals. There is plenty of good content on social media, but sadly it is lost in a sea of marketing promotions and unethical behaviour.