Tag: Influencers

 

How to Tell Which Fitness Influencers Are Worth Trusting

Fitness Instagram, like every other place or population on earth, contains multitudes. There are athletes working their butts off, coaches promoting their business, models making a living. Not all of these people are legitimate fitness professionals, so if you look to Insta or YouTube for workout advice you need to ask yourself a few questions.

What is this person implying but not saying?

The number one lie of many fitness influencers is one they leave unsaid: It is the implication that whatever I am selling will get you the body you see here.

The truth is, people who make a living by being fit all got fit before they started selling workout programs or supplements. Once you have a jacked physique, you can endorse sawdust in a jar and people will connect the dots in their mind to assume that you’re selling them a muscle building supplement. If you have a lean body, you can sell a diet plan and people will assume that if they follow the plan they’ll get shredded like you.

To be totally honest for a minute: steroid use is fairly common among athletes who compete in sports that are not drug tested, or who don’t compete at all. But because it is illegal for recreational use in some places, many folks don’t want to talk about it. (There are exceptions, though: here’s a before-and-after post from sport scientist and bodybuilder Mike Israetel where he obliquely compares his “natural” years to the part of his training career that was “otherwise.”)

Don’t forget that influencers often use photo editing — with Photoshop, FaceTune, and other software — to make themselves look skinnier (or curvier) as needed. Posing to accentuate certain body parts is absolutely an art that can be taken to extraordinary lengths, as journalist Danae Mercer points out in several subversive little tutorials on her feed. Oh, and: if you’re looking at influencers selling booty workout plans, be aware that butt implants are very much a thing.

What is this person’s real area of expertise?

If somebody is selling diet plans, exercise programs, or coaching services, they should have credentials — formal or otherwise — to back them up. For example, a personal training certification from a legit organisation like ACE, ACSM, NSCA, or another accredited by NCAA is one thing to look for. Some coaches or instructors don’t have a formal credential, but can point to top athletes they’ve coached or fellow professionals who can vouch for them. These more subjective connections work best if you follow them to find the trainer or instructor in the first place: for example, if several of your favourite powerlifters are all coached by the same person, that person may be a good source of advice for you.

But remember that exercise and nutrition are not the same thing. If someone is giving advice on nutrition, check whether they are a registered dietitian or hold a similar qualification. In many places, “nutritionist” is not a legally defined

How To Tell If Fitness Influencers Actually Know What They’re Talking About

Fitness influencers are often motivational, aspirational, and—let’s be honest—pretty darn attractive. But it’s not always the best idea to follow their advice without first engaging in some little healthy scrutiny. “There’s too much information out there that nobody’s fact checking,” says Katrina Pilkington, a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). “You have to be your own fact checker.” 

Doing background research to vet the content shared by fitness influencers might suck the fun out of following them, but it’s important for your health if you plan to follow their advice. After all, people aren’t qualified trainers just because they’ve got your dream body. “Looks aren’t everything,” says Pilkington. “Someone could  have a six-pack and a heart problem.” They also might not be 100 percent transparent around what they’ve done to get their physique. Think of it this way: Jennifer Aniston has done commercials for Aveeno and Smartwater, but you don’t assume that her entire beauty routine consists of drinking water and applying lotion, right? Apply that same critical thinking to fitfluencers, and take a few beats before copycatting their moves.



a person standing in front of a building: fitness influencers advice


© Photo: Stocksy/Studio Firma
fitness influencers advice

How to vet advice shared by the fitness influencers you follow

1. Check their credentials

The easiest thing you can do is check the influencer’s credentials. Pilkington says to see if someone has a master’s degree relevant to the advice they’re sharing. “I’m not saying it completely validates them, but it can be a little more of a credential because it means they’ve had continuing education in their field,” she says. NASM-certified trainer Tony Ambler-Wright—who has a master’s degree in exercise science—refers to this as “foundational knowledge” and also advises keeping an eye out for it. 

You might also want to take a look at trainers’ professional certifications. Ambler-Wright says he’s biased towards his own (NASM) type of certification, but he also recommends trainers who are certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, or the American College for Sports Medicine.

If someone you follow fails to possess any of the above credentials, says Ambler-Wright, that could be a red flag.

2. Make sure their advice from fitness influencers matches their training

Both Pilkington and Ambler-Wright also note that just because someone is credentialed in one area doesn’t mean you should follow their advice in other disciplines. “The person’s training should align with the advice that they’re providing,” says Ambler-Wright. “One of the things that I think consumers should be wary of is individuals operating outside the scope of their expertise.”

For example, don’t look to a fitness influencer or certified trainer for credible diet advice unless they have additional credentials as a nutritionist or registered dietician. “The nutrition piece is not something that a [non-credentialed] trainer should be touching,” says Pilkington. “They shouldn’t be recommending what you eat or how much you eat, because that’s just completely out of their scope and authority.” And while she admits she

How To Tell If You Can Trust Advice From Fitness Influencers

Fitness influencers are often motivational, aspirational, and—let’s be honest—pretty darn attractive. But it’s not always the best idea to follow their advice without first engaging in some little healthy scrutiny. “There’s too much information out there that nobody’s fact checking,” says Katrina Pilkington, a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). “You have to be your own fact checker.” 

Doing background research to vet the content shared by fitness influencers might suck the fun out of following them, but it’s important for your health if you plan to follow their advice. After all, people aren’t qualified trainers just because they’ve got your dream body. “Looks aren’t everything,” says Pilkington. “Someone could  have a six-pack and a heart problem.” They also might not be 100 percent transparent around what they’ve done to get their physique. Think of it this way: Jennifer Aniston has done commercials for Aveeno and Smartwater, but you don’t assume that her entire beauty routine consists of drinking water and applying lotion, right? Apply that same critical thinking to fitfluencers, and take a few beats before copycatting their moves.

How to vet advice shared by the fitness influencers you follow

1. Check their credentials

The easiest thing you can do is check the influencer’s credentials. Pilkington says to see if someone has a master’s degree relevant to the advice they’re sharing. “I’m not saying it completely validates them, but it can be a little more of a credential because it means they’ve had continuing education in their field,” she says. NASM-certified trainer Tony Ambler-Wright—who has a master’s degree in exercise science—refers to this as “foundational knowledge” and also advises keeping an eye out for it. 

You might also want to take a look at trainers’ professional certifications. Ambler-Wright says he’s biased towards his own (NASM) type of certification, but he also recommends trainers who are certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, or the American College for Sports Medicine.

If someone you follow fails to possess any of the above credentials, says Ambler-Wright, that could be a red flag.

2. Make sure their advice from fitness influencers matches their training

Both Pilkington and Ambler-Wright also note that just because someone is credentialed in one area doesn’t mean you should follow their advice in other disciplines. “The person’s training should align with the advice that they’re providing,” says Ambler-Wright. “One of the things that I think consumers should be wary of is individuals operating outside the scope of their expertise.”

For example, don’t look to a fitness influencer or certified trainer for credible diet advice unless they have additional credentials as a nutritionist or registered dietician. “The nutrition piece is not something that a [non-credentialed] trainer should be touching,” says Pilkington. “They shouldn’t be recommending what you eat or how much you eat, because that’s just completely out of their scope and authority.” And while she admits she may have been guilty of doling out

YouTube influencers are marketing junk food to kids

The study demonstrates how advertisers are seeking to take advantage of new avenues to market their wares to children.

“We should approach YouTube influencer videos with skepticism, even with videos that seem to be educational or kid-friendly,” said senior author Marie Bragg, an assistant professor of public health nutrition with joint appointments at New York University’s School of Global Public Health and Langone Medical Center.

Of the 418 YouTube videos that fell within their search criteria, the researchers found that 179 of the videos featured food or drinks, with 90% of those instances showing unhealthy branded items, such as fast food.

Those specific YouTube videos were viewed more than a billion times.

A new kind of marketing

Keeping track of what types of food advertising children are exposed to is important. That’s because dietary habits during childhood can have a significant effect on their likelihood of their becoming obese or developing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes later in life, according to past research.

And while much food advertising takes place on television, companies have increasingly turned to the growing audiences on social media sites such as YouTube.

One of the most important aspects of the study, Bragg said, was simply bringing attention to the fact that YouTube’s most popular under-18 hosts are frequently promoting products directly, and kids are often glued to the message.

“This kind of marketing is uncharted territory for families and researchers,” she said. Parents “may think they’re setting their kids down to watch another kid play in their backyard,” not children promoting Chicken McNuggets for a fee.

That’s particularly true during the pandemic with parents turning to screen time to keep kids occupied when there are fewer in-person activities and parents are working from home.

“Child exposure to unhealthy food, beverage, and other content on YouTube needs to be regulated,” said Dr. Jenny Radesky, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on digital advertising to children, via email. “‘Host-selling’ — the practice of trusted characters promoting products within their own videos — needs to stop on YouTube, because it’s not allowed on TV.” Radesky was not involved in the study.
One major type of YouTube influencer video, which can feature food, is the phenomenon known as “unboxing videos,” in which people open up boxes of products while they narrate or comment on what they’re doing. The videos can blur the line between a product review and advertising outright.

“While the adult digital ecosystem is driven by ad revenue and persuasive design, that doesn’t mean that children’s digital spaces should be,” added Radesky, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. “We need a new children’s design code of ethics in the US.”

One popular YouTube channel, Ryan’s World, which was one of the five major influencer channels featured in the study, boasts more than 26 million subscribers. It features videos with food and stars a young boy who frequently plays with toys on screen.
“Parents shouldn’t allow

Fitness Influencers, Please Don’t Spread COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media

My fellow fitness instructors, trainers, coaches, and influencers:

I beg you, please, for the love of the people’s health, do not use your platform to spread misinformation about COVID-19. Really, please. As someone who spent eight years getting a master’s and a Ph.D. in public health (partially focused on health communication), some of the posts and comments I have seen floating around the ’gram from fitness or yoga accounts, quite frankly, terrify me—like that people are blowing the virus out of proportion, or that it’s not actually that big of a deal. All things that we’ve also heard from our current administration.

The spread of this misinformation matters because it misleads beliefs and behaviors. It is detrimental not only to your individual followers or clients, but also to the public as a whole. COVID-19 is real. This is a global pandemic. Every person who contracts COVID-19 has the capability to further spread the virus, thus prolonging its life. Public health communication researchers and practitioners work tirelessly to figure out how to best communicate the right information in the right way to the right people; spreading misinformation has the potential to undo all of that.

As leaders and role models in the fitness and movement space, I want us to do better. Your followers and clients look to you for fitness guidance, workouts, and expertise. They see you as a reliable source and are used to taking your advice on anything in the wellness space. They are primed to believe what you put out, especially if you self-identify or have otherwise been anointed as a “health expert.” You’ve heard it before: With great power comes great responsibility. We need to accept that responsibility and take it seriously.

I do understand that there is a plethora of COVID-19 information circulating, so much of it seemingly contradictory and thus potentially confusing and frustrating. The most well-meaning of us can easily fall into the trap of assuming something’s accuracy if we aren’t paying close attention. Add to that the fear for our own health or our careers and the grief for the lives we were living before March, along with the anger and anxiety about our reality today, and we are especially primed to react to COVID-19 news, especially involving headlines that are specifically crafted to activate negative emotions.

Reacting too quickly to COVID-19 news without first verifying it can lead to further disseminating misinformation, even unintentionally. In a social media sense, that translates to sending, sharing, reposting, or commenting something that spreads uninformed or ill-informed messaging. Doing so means you have now become a vector; you are now perpetuating the pandemic of misinformation and contributing to the pandemic of COVID-19.

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