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Health and fitness is a service-based industry and, like all service-based industries, the Internet has dramatically changed how people are reached with marketing and sales strategies. Among many factors, a huge player is the rise in popularity of social media and the entertainment it provides. From Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to Instagram, one has the opportunity to reach people with greater ease than ever before.
Certainly, there are many positives that can result from this; however, there is the other side. The side where the opportunists, the con-artists, and the shameless self-promoters thrive. They have more interest in deception than education. Sure they can entertain and fascinate, but are they providing something of substance? Social media has opened the door to anyone who wants to push health and fitness information before anyone can scrutinize the quality, making sure it holds up to the science of human and exercise physiology.
So how do you identify the frauds? The con-artists? The over-night sensations who compete in one event (show, competition, race) and are now parading themselves online as some go-to fitness expert before anyone has realized they are only serving one giant cup of nonsense, likely peddling other's work and intellectual property as their own?
My brother and I ponder this subject quiet often. We discuss it with close friends and colleagues in the health and fitness industry. So here is a short list of items that should make you question both what you are reading and the person associated with it.
1) Lack of qualifications for what they claim to do.
Honest members of the industry will come straight out and tell you what they’re trained to do and more importantly, what they are not trained to do. In the fitness industry, some jobs don’t require much of a formal education, while other jobs require quite the opposite. A run-of-the-mill personal trainer only requires a basic certification before gaining hands-on experience. Those who work in high-performance settings, with specialized clients, or integrate therapeutic or corrective measures into their programs will require considerably more education as they are held to higher standards of competency. Naturally, the higher you climb, the greater your earning potential. The problem arises when trainers mislead and misrepresent themselves, acting as if they are qualified in areas they are not, all in the name of earning the almighty buck. They are usually the ones who are also trying to convince you that education is not importance and "only experience matters". This is just wrong. Stop it. This is a classic con-man scheme.
2) They Suffer from Selfie-Hashtag-Buzzword Syndrome.
Social media has created a monster known as the selfie. Those trying their best to break into the fitness industry want to make as much noise as possible. What better avenue than selfies, right? They use their endless stream of selfies as if they are pushing a business card in your face. As if somehow we should buy into what they are doing and come along for the ride. Then to top it all off, they bombard us with hashtags, buzzwords, and trendy phrases intended to connect, motivate, and inspire. Ultimately, they want you to buy into them. They want your attention and your business. Most in the fitness industry are guilty of this, and I must admit we play the game as well. But if you sift through all the selfies and hashtags and find only more selfies and hashtags with nothing of real substance, red flags should go up. There is a point at which those that you follow online must stop existing in the virtual world and provide a physical form of interaction. Who have they worked with? What results have they produced? If their body of work is mostly selfies and hashtags, they're a fraud.
3) What they say doesn’t line up with how they look.
This builds off my earlier point. Sure there are plenty of trainers and coaches and fitness experts who look great and seem to have the body of your desires (attention ladies). The are usually the one posting selfies, using their body as their business card. They want you to know how great they look on a constant basis. There are thousands in the health and fitness industry that look great. So what? Does that necessarily mean they know what they are doing or that they possess the knowledge on how to help you reach your goals. I agree that people in the health and fitness industry should “look the part”. They should exemplify health and fitness because it's their passion, not because they are trying to sell you on themselves or their products. Looking the part is important, but if you are going to base who you decide to work with solely on how they look, you could be in for a rude surprise. Talk to them. Ask them questions. They should be knowledgeable. They should be educated on the subjects of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, human movement, and how these topics relate to your goals. People get into these industries all the time because it looks easy on paper. It’s not easy. If they are clueless, they are in the wrong business.
4) They always have something to say, always trying to sell.
If someone is really good – meaning they know what they’re talking about and consistently get quality results – you never hear from them. Rather you hear about them – from their clients, colleagues, and their competition. But, you never hear from them directly.
What about the imitators? They are all about making noise. All about getting as much attention as possible. They will not only hustle to get your attention. No, hustling is not enough. They are going to overwhelm you, wave after wave after wave of their propaganda.
Trust your gut the next time some health or fitness “expert” pops up on your social media and your reaction is, “Not them again.” Your gut instinct is usually an honest one.
There are plenty of honest individuals and organizations in the health and fitness industry that operate themselves with integrity. Seek them out. They desire to properly educate and help others achieve their goals, doing so with tremendous success. These are the trainers and coaches you need to find and receive guidance from when you are unsure of how to pursue your goals. But with all the noise and distractions, they can be hard to find because they aren't out there shamelessly promoting themselves. Unfortunately, there are far too many frauds and con-artists who end up getting more business than they should because of the noise they generate. Noise does not equal results. Hopefully this article allows you to best identify who you should be trusting with your health and fitness pursuits. And hopefully it helps you to ignore the noise.
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