I spent years as a coach for an online macro coaching company.

Here’s a dirty little secret. They stay in business by sheer numbers.

They have to recruit new people to sign up continually, so the coaches find ten shining examples of clients who have great-looking transformation profiles.

– from “If You Want A Body Like Mind, Don’t Do What I Do”

I missed this article when it came out, even though it refers to a piece I wrote on Survivorship Bias.

But any excuse to bring it up is worth it as Survivorship Bias is pervasive in the fitness industry. Survivorship bias is part of a larger problem or issue, namely, the promoting of results while ignoring important aspects of context.

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An amazing Before & After transformation is inspiring. Just be skeptical. What’s the context here?

The images and stories are all from the few successful — the survivors — and they leave out the story of the overwhelming majority who quietly fell off the radar and into oblivion.

Always think of how many others might’ve followed the same program and didn’t do so well or even finish?

Did the successful achieve greatness because of the program or coaching, or in spite of it?

Maybe they had incredible genetics or unstoppable motivation and damn near anything would’ve worked?

Or maybe they had unlimited resources (time, money, etc) to commit?

Or, perhaps they’re athletes or coaches themselves?

That kinda context can affect this stuff as well…

* * *

When a client around my age asks about the program I’m doing, I’m quick to point out that training (or thinking about it) is my full-time job, and has been for years and years.

Yes, we’re the same age, but our different backgrounds can make a HUGE difference — especially once kids, commutes, bills, and other real life stressors come into play.


Because if you do most anything with a high a degree of focus, full-time, for years, you’re almost guaranteed DECENT results.

That’s where the self-aggrandizing, “Look at me, age is just a number, no excuses,” posts completely miss the point.

Yes, you’re 50 years old and jacked as hell. That’s commendable.

Now tell me how many years you’ve been working at it? Because there’s also a benefit to age — TIME.

So if you STARTED at 40 years old and it’s been 10 years and you look like a specimen then shit I’m impressed.

But if you started at 15 years old, well, it’s still commendable, but in a different kind of way.

That is, I admire anyone staying committed and healthy for 25 years or more, but in terms of that “age is just a number” stuff, all those years are not a challenge you’ve had to overcome.  All those years have been an ally. They’ve helped you.

Context matters.