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Problems in the Fitness Industry from the Eyes of a Young Trainer | Part 2 - Tackling Misinformation

In this post I will continue the discussion about the current problems in the fitness industry. More specifically, we are going to tackle arguably the issue of misinformation. In part one of this discussion, I discussed the lack of sustainability within the fitness industry, as well as the leading voices of the fitness industry not being experts in their field. If you haven't already, I encourage you to check out part one of this discussion.

Misinformation in the fitness industry can lead to confusion
Misinformation can lead us to going down all the wrong paths
 

Problem 3: Misinformation


I can't tell you how many times I have seen fitness "professionals" online and through social media talk about something that is just blatantly wrong or that is not backed by any evidence whatsoever. I hear it in gyms, I see it in Instagram and TikTok posts, I read it in blogs... misinformation is hard to avoid in an age where you can post anything to a network where hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people can see it. Ultimately this misinformation is rooted in one of two things: either common fitness myths that have withstood the tests of time, or someone looking for attention whether that be to go viral or to make money.



I can give you a couple of basic examples that I'm sure most of us have either seen or heard

about. The first example will be "fit teas," "juice cleanses," or other fad diets that have little to no research supporting their claims. Most influencers will advertise amazing results and will show progress pictures that just don't authenticate the true nature of these diets. This goes back to our discussion in problems one and two in part 1 of this post. Solutions like these aren't sustainable, and the results more often than not aren't actually going to be attainable.


Another example that I have comes from a personal anecdote. I was on some random


fitness influencer's live stream and someone asked him about creatine. Before I continue I think it's important to note that this influencer had no certifications, education, or any credentials to be talking about supplement use. When asked about creatine he said don't take it because it will cause hair loss. And that was that. First of all, there has only been one small study associating creatine use with hair loss in a sea of other studies showing the effects of creatine supplementation. Second of all, this happens all of the time and not just in fitness and health. One small study shows a correlation of something negative and everyone loses their minds. There's also a lot of bias within research, which is why in almost every argument you can find some type of evidence to support what you believe. That brings us to our proposed solution.


Proposed Solution


Validate, validate, validate. Validate your sources. Validate the research. Validate anything and everything if you come across something that isn't universally accepted by just about everyone. You're probably thinking "I don't have time to validate every piece of advice or


product that I come across." And I would say of course not, who does? So how can you do this without wasting time? Here are a couple of quick tips for validating something you come across.


1. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.


This should just be common sense right here. If someone proposes that you can sustainably lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks from doing pretty much nothing, it's probably a load of crap.


2. Check your source's credentials


This is a quick step that a lot of people skip that is usually pretty beneficial to the validation process. It's really easy too! People with certifications love flaunting their credentials, and I don't blame them! They worked hard and learned a lot to earn whatever type of certification they have. You can typically find this information in their social media bios, after their signatures, and/or in any "about" section that they write. It's important to also understand that some qualified individuals can even misspeak or misinform which is why you should continue through this validation process.


3. Google Search without bias

We all know that there is a lot of misinformation on the internet, and if you're looking to validate something it can be challenging, but an unbiased online search can be a quick and easy step in the validation process. Avoid search terms like "proof of..." or "benefits of...". Instead try just a simple search without any biasing terms. Let's use the creatine example mentioned before. Say you want to validate the claim that creatine causes hair loss. I would search "creatine supplement information" or "creatine supplement research." Once you find a web source, go to their cited sources and see what they say before you find a good primary source.



4. Check for research bias


This is the second to last step to your quick validation process. Most people don't make it this far, so kuddos to you if you do. Not all research or textbooks or professional sources can be trusted. Heck, not even 40 years ago a lot of doctors recommended smoking to their patients as a cure-all method to their problems! There are couple of quick ways to check research for bias.


  1. Check who funds the research

  2. Check to see if there are any conflicts of interest within the authors of the research.

The reason smoking was promoted for so long was because big tobacco companies funded research that proposed smoking was healthy or not as bad as people were saying it was! In most research articles it will disclose if there are any potential conflicts of interest, and will give information about how the research was funded.


5. Check for supporting research


Don't just trust one source of information. Make sure that there are multiple reputable sources that back whatever claim you are looking into. Even if you don't go down the path of finding multiple research articles supporting a claim the way a nerd like me would, you should still try and find a few supporting sources that are reliable.

 

Misinformation is rampant nowadays in our ever-connected social media world. Misinformation is can also be dangerous especially with regards to your personal health and fitness. Humans are naturally going to be biased because, well, we aren't perfect. I hope that you now know how to validate a claim, and that you navigate the fitness and healthcare world with confidence. If you enjoyed this brief article, I encourage you to share it with your friends and subscribe to this blog. I'll see you next time!






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