By Pieter De Wit
As a personal trainer, I dedicate a lot of time at the gym talking to customers. Recently I realised how misinformed people are, due to all the fitness industry lies. Most fitness magazines, big gyms and supplement retailers only care about making money.
They spin a marketing wheel full of lies. They seduce you with beach bodies on magazine covers, sell the promise of a six-pack in four weeks, and offer very competitive shiny gym memberships. I have none of those tools to attract customers. The only way I can make it as a personal trainer is to rely on long term customer satisfaction.
To attack the industry lies, I take out my biggest weapon, one that always prevails: the truth! Here are five facts that I want you to hear, so you can combat the fitness “fake news” and work more smoothly towards your goals.
Building Muscle Is Difficult
If your goal is to build muscle, I can assure you there is no quick fix, at least not legally. Building lean muscle tissue requires consistent and rigorous training, complemented with adequate recovery, such as a good night sleep and the right foods.
To add 5kg of muscle will take several months, but consider yourself lucky if you can achieve it within a year. I am not saying it can’t be done, but like everything worth achieving in life, it requires hard work.
A Six-Pack Won’t Make You Happy
Before you decide to dedicate your valuable time to adding muscle mass, or shredding fat to expose a possible sixpack, realise that for most people, it’s not the ultimate way to happiness. Feeling comfortable in your own skin can be a key component to your overall well being, but trying to mirror a perfect movie star body is often counterproductive. Happiness comes in many different shapes.
Some people in my gym have lost a significant amount of weight and finally achieved the body they always dreamed of, but they still feel insecure and ugly. Happiness comes from within, and sometimes sharing a six-pack of beer with your friends will make you feel more fulfilled than completing a thousand crunches.
There Are Magic Formulas!
The fitness industry spreads much misinformation about attaining your fitness goals to sell nutrition supplements, gym memberships, or magazines. But that doesn’t mean there is no blueprint to sculpting your dream body or finishing your first 5k.
The most impactful training principles, such as progressive overload, were discovered millennia ago, and they are magic because they work! But they require consistent, hard work. The hypes marketers focus on are often out of context or simply untrue. Articles promising any man a six-pack in four weeks just make me cry!
Fitness Magazines Don’t Care About You
We all know that much of the fitness industry only cares about making more money. Yet, we often use their magazines as our only information source.
If you really want to know something, buy a quality book about training, search through academic databases such as Pubmed, or ask a reputable personal trainer. I know, this requires more effort than scrolling up and down on your phone, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Training Like A Robot Won’t Make You An Athlete
Many gyms will try to seduce you with shiny cardio and strength machines, telling you they’re designed so that they don’t impact your joints and build up your strength safely and efficiently. It is a smart strategy, separating them from competitors with expensive equipment. Letting people train by themselves on expensive machines is way cheaper than providing quality guidance.
Although some machine-training is useful for specific needs, if it’s your only way of training, you’re probably training movement patterns that don’t reflect normal body mechanics. Then you’re only training individual muscles without incorporating your core. Above all, most people have no idea how to program their workout. If you want to look and feel like an athlete, you should train like an athlete.
While you need to be careful of the industry pitfalls, many people in the industry do really care about you. I started working as a trainer because I’m passionate about health and fitness and being able to genuinely help someone is what fulfils me. Some good supplement companies create high-quality products to help optimise your health. For example, I bring wholefood energy bars with me in case I need something extra before a hard workout.
My advice is to find a dedicated and qualified trainer with a proven record of success. And, if you are willing to invest your time in quality training and work hard, you will see results. Because effort pays off and the truth always prevails.