best-selling author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” Ramit Sethi tweeted that he ranks the female fitness industry in the top 3 most deceptive industries around.
As a fitness person I was offended. How could he say this?
The female fitness industry is the most deceptive, hands down.
Actually the whole fitness industry is the most deceptive, period. Or at least the most completely clusterfucked. Nothing else even comes close.
People joke about shark lawyers and Wall Street wolves, but at least there’s some expertise, some brainpower mixed in with all the manipulating.
In other words, you don’t get to be stinking rich by being ignorant or incompetent.
But in the fitness industry, incompetence is hardly a hurdle. In fact, being utterly clueless is the secret to success.
The truly deluded are impervious to criticism. Their entire identity is built around what they believe, so logic and reason can’t penetrate. And the more they dig in their heels and stick to their guns, the more their conviction attracts followers ready to go to ideological war behind them.
So the life-lesson is to believe, fully and completely, in whatever nonsense you’re pedaling, and you’ll have legions of uninformed believers to help you weather any storm.
Your critics on the other hand, smart as they may be, will eventually tire and move on, their appeals to science and evidence barely leaving a scuff mark on your Vibrams.
It’s not all bad of course. There are some good people, and there’s tons of information available, whether it’s books or magazines or blog posts or articles.
Granted, 90% of the info is either minutiae or trivia or people who haven’t accomplished bugger all parroting one another, but there’s still some good stuff nonetheless.
But wouldn’t it be nice if everyone set their browsers to filter out all the stupidity and just leave the people actually doing meaningful work?
Well, it would be nice to go for a hot stone massage with Kate Upton too. Double-check your schedule all you want but I doubt that’s happening.
So how do you spot the frauds?
The con-men? The douchenozzles? The fucktards who complete one Tough Mudder and start calling themselves fitness experts before the fake mud has even had a chance to dry?
I considered this topic on my daily 10-minute walk to the gym. And I came up with two dozen tell tale signs before I even hit the damn parking lot.
To keep it manageable, I narrowed it to ten.
The top 10 things that should trigger your fitness bullshit detector and make you question both what you’re reading and the person saying it.
1. Evasive about their qualifications.
The fitness industry is broad. Some jobs don’t need much in the way of formal education, others the opposite. A basic trainer really only “needs” a decent certification to get going, as the real nuts and bolts are learned through thousands of unsexy hours coaching on the gym floor. But those hands-on hours, while a grind, are irreplaceable.
A therapy or “healing” type role on the other hand requires considerably more formal education. As such, the higher up you go, the more you tend to get paid.
This creates the problem of people misrepresenting themselves so they can “leave their lane” and either chase the bigger healing dollars or build a broader, sexier brand. Either way, it’s wrong.
Rule: Honest folks in the field will come straight out and tell you what they’re trained to do and more importantly, what they can’t do.
Con-men, however, will blur the lines. They’ll claim to be able to do or have done everything. Usually they’ll play down the importance of formal education, throwing around bullshit phrases like “degrees are useless” and “doctors only want you to be sick.” Or they’ll attempt to “play up” their experiences, trying to parlay years of academia into actual coaching experience.
Be skeptical. Ask questions.
2. Goofy qualifications.
This was more of a thing when business cards were still popular.
Back in the day fitness people used to list acronyms for every designation they’d ever achieved – every weekend stretching course and half-day anterior pelvic tilt seminar – in an attempt to impress lay people with meaningless credentials.
As such, every ham & egger personal trainer would whip out a business card with more letters behind his name than an eye chart at the DMV.
Today blogs are the new business cards but the shenanigans continues. I realize a personal blog is your “space” to sell yourself and tell the world what makes you special, but that doesn’t exclude you from the golden rule of not self-aggrandizing to the point of utter douchebaggery.
Rule: If you’re reading a bio and thinking, “Holy shit, I had no idea Tony Stark was moonlighting as a trainer at 24 hour Fitness” it’s probably bullshit.
3. Buzzwords abound.
As a writer I have a soft spot for this one. I bust my industry friends’ chops when I catch them using fitness clichés like “in the trenches, brutally honest, secret weapon, no holds barred,” and of course “celebrity trainer” – unless they actually train celebrities on a semi-regular basis, not that time they put Dave Coulier through a half-hour assessment right before he landed Full House.
Rule: Everybody uses clichés, myself included, so it’s not fair to judge too harshly. But if removing all the clichés and hyperbole leaves doesn’t leave much substance, you can bet you’re dealing with a con man.
4. Big Promises.
Fat loss is never fast, at least not the sustainable kind. And gaining muscle is a painfully slow process, save for the total newbies and juiced up freaks.
Obviously someone who had “the secret” to getting results lighting fast would be in high demand. They’d also ride around town on a flying carpet with their pet zebra-unicorn.
Rule: Losing fat or building muscle is rarely fast and never easy. Anyone who suggests otherwise is either clueless or a flat-out scammer.
5. Video doesn’t match audio.
You don’t need to have big muscles to know how to build them. Nor do you need to look like an anatomy chart to understand fat loss. But someone trying to sell that they have the skills to reach these physical ideals should at least look like they have personal experience getting there.
Cause this shit always looks easy on paper. Always.
It goes back to passion. A fitness person shouldn’t look good because they’re “basically paid to exercise” — they’re not. They should look good because it’s their passion and it’s so important to them that they wouldn’t fucking have it any other way, genetics be damned.
They would kick and scream and fight and tinker until they reached their goal, or at least pretty damn close.
If not then they’re clueless, or at least in the wrong business.
Or you’re dealing with a conman.
I’ll have the remaining 5 in a few days.