How to Determine Which Fitness Influencers to Trust
Fitness Instagram, like any other place or population on earth, contains a multitude. There are athletes working to their fullest, coaches promoting their businesses, models making a living. Not all of these people are legitimate fitness professionals, so if you turn to Insta or YouTube for workout advice, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
What does this person mean but not say?
The number one lie of many fitness influencers is a lie they leave unsaid: it implies that whatever I sell will bring you the body you see here .
In truth, people who make a living by being fit have gotten in shape even before they even started selling exercise programs or nutritional supplements. Once you have a great physique, you can recommend the sawdust in the bank and people will connect the dots in their minds to suggest that you are selling them a muscle building supplement. If you have a lean body, you can sell a diet plan, and people will think that if they follow this plan, they will go broke, just like you.
To be completely honest for a moment: Steroid use is fairly common among athletes who compete in sports that have not been drug tested or who do not compete at all. But since it is banned for entertainment use in the US, many people are reluctant to talk about it. (There are exceptions, though: here’s a before and after post by sports scientist and bodybuilder Mike Isretel, in which he indirectly compares his “natural” years to the “different” part of his training career.)
Keep in mind that influencers often use photo editing with Photoshop, FaceTune, and other programs to look slimmer (or curvier) when needed. As journalist Danae Mercer emphasizes in several subversive little lessons in her tape, posing to accentuate certain body parts is absolutely an art that can be done for an incredibly long time. Oh, and one more thing: if you’re looking at influencers selling glute workout plans, keep in mind that gluteal implants are very important.
What is this person’s real area of expertise?
If someone sells diet plans, exercise programs, or coaching services, they must have official or other credentials to endorse them. For example, a personal training certificate from a legitimate organization like ACE, ACSM, NSCA, or another NCAA accredited organization is one thing to look out for. Some coaches or instructors have no formal credentials, but may point to the best athletes they have trained or professional peers to vouch for. These more subjective connections work best if you follow them first to find a coach or instructor: for example, if several of your favorite powerlifters are coached by the same person, that person can be a good source of advice for you.
But remember that exercise and nutrition are not the same thing. If anyone gives nutritional advice, check to see if they are a dietitian or similarly qualified. In many countries the term dietitian is not defined by law, but registered dietitians are professionals with a significant amount of training and experience.
Like the unspoken lies about the physical appearance of the body, there is another one that goes something like this: Science says I’m right . This is harder to find because factual information is very good to look for, and there are many professionals who openly discuss where their information comes from and how it shapes their recommendations. But there are also people who decide what they want to say and then choose a few studies to make those messages look more legitimate.
Does the person have a consistent, somewhat boring message?
The truth about most things in fitness is, to be honest, pretty boring. If you want to lose weight, you need to find a way to eat fewer calories . If you want to build muscle, you need to lift increasingly heavy weights. If you want to become a better athlete, you must persist in it for many years .
Real experts – on Instagram or anywhere else – don’t make a secret of this. They will discuss the problems of maintaining consistency or give advice on what exercises can help solve a small problem you may be facing. They can share their successes: before and after photos of themselves or their clients, or peak performances in competitions.
What they don’t do is suddenly declare a certain workout or type of exercise to be mandatory. They also do not present exercise or training as separate solutions. If you choose a new, beautiful workout every day, you can have fun and move – this is one of the main minimum goals that you have achieved. But that is not the same as having a program that brings you closer to your goals. Anyone can post a few exercises and call it a glute workout or the hidden secret of strengthening biceps, but long-term results come from the way you exercise over time.