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

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Clinicians Incensed by Trump’s Claim They’re Inflating COVID Numbers

Medical groups and the clinicians they represent are criticizing President Donald Trump for his claim that their drive for reimbursement for COVID treatment may have raised reported United States fatality rates compared with those of other nations.

Speaking at a campaign event Saturday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Trump said he thought US doctors were attributing deaths to COVID that their counterparts in other nations would not.

“If somebody is terminally ill with cancer and they have COVID, we report ’em and you know doctors get more money and hospitals get more money. Think of this incentive. So some countries do it differently. If someone is very sick with a bad heart and they die of COVID, they don’t get reported as COVID,” Trump said. “So then you wonder, ‘Why are their cases so low?’ “

Trump did not immediately in this speech cite any specific nations to which he was comparing the US, nor did he refer to any published reports on potential differences in COVID counting. He touched on this theme of testing differences briefly during his campaign appearance, mentioning it in between criticisms of Democratic lawmakers.

“Reprehensible Attack”

Trump’s remarks angered many medical groups and the clinicians they represent, healthcare workers who have endured increased personal risk and, in many cases, notable drops in income because of the pandemic — not to mention the high death rates of frontline healthcare workers. They also challenged Trump’s assertion about how COVID deaths are counted in the United States.

Eva Chalas, MD, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, chief executive officer of ACOG, issued a joint statement accentuating the deaths of those in harm’s way.

“Science is science and data are data. Doctors have no reason to make up or to inflate COVID-19 case numbers,” they said. “In fact, many physicians and other healthcare workers have died from the virus. It is irresponsible and dangerous to suggest that doctors, including obstetrician-gynecologists, have done anything other than bravely battle this pandemic on behalf of their patients and their communities.”

In a tweet, the American Medical Association (AMA) highlighted an October 12 research letter that appeared in JAMA regarding the toll of excess deaths in the US, as reported by Medscape Medical News.

The AMA also put out a tweet with the following statement condemning the “misinformation about how patients are counted”:


The American College of Physicians (ACP) made the same point in a statement Sunday, calling Trump’s comments “a reprehensible attack on physicians’ ethics and professionalism.”

“ACP notes that several recent studies suggest that the actual number of people who have died from COVID-19 is much higher than the terrible toll of 220,000 deaths officially attributed to the virus,” said Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, president of ACP, in the statement.

Undermining Clinicians

Trump’s statements also may hinder efforts to control the pandemic, said

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