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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Beware of Online Fitness Gurus: Always Seek Out Trusted, Local Experts

Feb 29, 2024 09:31AM ● By Jim Nolan
Social media “influencers” are on a rampant increase due to the ease of access to the public through a wide variety of social media platforms. This can be good, bad and downright ugly at times because anyone (including bots) can say anything and claim it as fact.

Trainers are often asked by clients to look at exercises that they found on one of the many social media platforms, and while clients are very enthusiastic to show these exercises, most reputable trainers will critique them as inefficient, pointless or even dangerous. Surprisingly, clients continue to showcase these exercises using the views and follows of the video or “influencer” as justification. Not all of the information out there is unfounded in science or fact; however, anyone researching exercise or nutrition tips really needs to sift through the murk to find quality content.

A 2020 study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health goes into great detail, specifically analyzing Twitter in their study: “Our analysis suggests that the discourse is dominated by non-health professionals. There is widespread use of bots that pollute the discourse and seek to create a false equivalence on the efficacy of a particular nutritional strategy or diet. Topic modeling suggests a significant focus on diet, nutrition, exercise, weight, disease, and quality of life.”

In regards to health and wellness, false or inappropriate information can have potentially serious consequences, especially if someone doesn’t know what to look for in a reputable source. Knowing how to research facts and find an appropriate professional is critical, just because someone with a six pack or glutes of steel tells or demonstrates what to eat or how to exercise, doesn’t actually mean that they themselves know what they are talking about or are possibly a hired model selling a product or service without their target audience’s best interest in mind. Commercializing exercise and nutrition for profit over health has been an increasingly growing business.

A 2023 article in The New York Times, “Most Fitness Influencers Are Doing More Harm Than Good,” sheds some light on healthy habits to find reputable fitness/nutrition coaches. Some great advice for someone who is looking for a fitness professional would be to look for experts with solid credentials and years of experience, not just followers. Those that have a medical condition and are seeking holistic means to better health, find a fitness professional that has experience with the medical condition and read the reviews speaking to their skill set and client success.

Exercise and nutrition begin and end in science, period. Human movement and appropriate diet choices have potentially life-changing benefits for those vested in choosing to follow the path of integrated wellness. Exercise and nutrition should be tailored to the individual and a reputable fitness professional will be able to do just that.

Committing to the challenges that an appropriate science based exercise program as well as a healthy nutrition program may bring is not easy. As fitness expert Fred Devito says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Fitness professionals have the privilege to witness change every day, and the combination of experience, knowledge and hard work pays off every time. Make sure that it’s a safe and efficient change that will last beyond 30 days.

Jim Nolan is a Master Trainer, Nutrition Coach, STM Bodywork Specialist and co-owner of Thrive Medical Fitness, Inc. Location: 1658 GAR Hwy., Ste. 1, Swansea, MA. For more information or to make an appointment, call 401-440-5785, email [email protected] or visit