The Age of Mystical Misinformation In The Fitness Industry
As fitness professionals or enthusiasts we all have our pet peeves about the industry. I guess you could say the same for any type of occupation or hobby, but since my world is saturated with fitness news it becomes more prominent and frequent.
Today, I have to share one of my biggest pet peeves and get a few things off my chest. Not for personal satisfaction, but more so to try to help others who I know are feeling the same way. And there are plenty of people out there.
The most annoying word in the fitness dictionary is NOT toned, detox or muscle confusion. It’s not even the marketing surrounding the magic programs that can banish belly fat or increase your deadlift within 48-hours.
The most damaging word in fitness is misinformation. And WE, the professionals, use it the most.
As a young coach, I am constantly trying to elevate my education and learn from mentors and colleagues. I’m sure if you’re reading this you can relate.
In today’s world, we get a ton of – probably the majority of – our info from online resources.
The great thing about that is literally anyone can publish info online. The awful thing about that is literally anyone can publish info online. And ironically, I’m delivering this message – you guessed it – online.
How rich would you be if you got a dollar every time someone said, “there’s so much misinformation out there?” How rich would you be if you got ten dollars for every time you said that?
I’m not going to lie, I would be filthy rich. But let me explain my case on why I think misinformation is often not actual misinformation but is rather a cop-out buzzword used to disagree with someone in a lazy way. Hear me out.
What Is Misinformation?
Misinformation is the act spreading or consuming intention-neutral information that is NOT true. Now, this is where there’s get tricky. Misinformation is not the same as disinformation.
Disinformation is spreading false information or propaganda, knowingly and willingly.
Those two are very different, and there is a third level of misinformation. This is the way I feel that it is being used the most. People will call something misinformation simply because it does not fit into their personal philosophy. That, my friends, is a huge problem and a very common one.
To make this a bit easier to understand, here is a scenario that I’ve seen on many occasions.
Trainer Johnny writes an article about how parallel squats are the absolute greatest depth for your squats. Trainer Billy writes an article about how deep squats are the only way to go. Trainer Suzy reads them both and then decides to write an article about how much misinformation there is in the industry, and that squat depth should always be personal preference.
Johnny is right about the squats. Billy is also correct. Even Suzy is right too. But where Suzy went wrong was she blatantly said Johnny and Billy are misinforming people simply because she disagreed with them and it doesn’t fit her personal agenda.
That happens SO much. And it doesn’t help the consumer. In fact, I can tell you from my experiences that it has made it harder to learn things.
Misinformation vs. Disinformation vs. Disagreeing
Just because it doesn’t fit your mold or training philosophy doesn’t mean it is misinformation. And just because you think it’s misinformation doesn’t mean you should bash it and blindly ignore it without doing your own research.
Now don’t get me wrong, disinformation is absolutely not okay. When someone flat out lies to sell a program or take your money, that is an issue. When someone blatantly spreads false info with the intention of personally benefitting from it, that is an issue. When research data is twisted and manipulated to support a person’s message and not to tell the transparent full story of the data, that is an issue.
When someone says that they think squatting to a parallel depth is the absolutely best way to squat, that is NOT an issue. That is NOT misinformation. That is simply information that is being relayed to the masses with honest intentions to help people.
If that doesn’t fall into your viewpoint, stop crying wolf and talking about all the misinformation in the industry! Just do what works for you and try to help as many people as you can in whatever way you can.
The reason why I’m so fired up about this is because I feel it has had and will continue to have a negative impact on our greater fitness community. All coaches love to learn. However, when there is so much confusion created from within our own industry about what info is truly valuable, one or all of the following happen:
- People get discouraged due to confusion
- People quit trying to learn due to being discouraged
- People create a bubble of info, never branching out for new info
- People become dogmatic and irrational with their opinions due to their bubble
- People stop networking as effectively due to their bubble
- People get complacent and satisfied with their current level of knowledge
I would honestly be surprised if you or someone you know hasn’t gone down one of those paths before. I know it’s happened to me before. At the end of the day, I want this article to help you.
The rant is over. Now, I’d like to offer a solution to my own complaint. Below is a way that I think we can all successfully and effectively utilize the internet for the amazing tool that it can be.
How To Objectively Interpret Information In The Fitness Industry
This is an easy way to comb through all of the info you consume – on any topic – without having to label it as junk for all of the other people eager to learn.
Use the acronym READ. It stands for Research, Experiment, Analyze and Decide.
- Research your topic.
- Find info.
- Dig deeper.
- Ask others.
- Experiment with your findings.
- Try things for yourself.
- Make tweaks.
- Test it out on others.
- Analyze what you did.
- Did you like it?
- Did it work?
- What could be improved?
- Ask questions to refine the R & E.
- Decide if it is something that can help you or others out.
- Implement it, if so.
- If not, just keep it in your back pocket. You never know.
Tips For Avoiding Information Overload
Lastly, the obstacle of information overload can potentially become problematic for you. The keys to avoiding that are actually really simple.
First, and this sounds so cheesy, but you have to know who you are. What do you believe in? What are you philosophies? That provides a ground-level foundation for the info you consume. With that you can develop of a group of useful and trustworthy resources of info.
For example, if your focus is science backed, pain-free, intelligent strength training for athletes to average joe’s, you probably enjoy Dr. John Rusin and his website. You probably read T-Nation, Tony Gentilcore’s website, Joel Seedman’s website and STACK. That is your core group of resources.
Now, to avoid getting stuck in that small bubble in a big world of info, you can branch out by using those resources as your referrers to new sources of content. Start to individually follow authors who write for your core group of sites, look into their work and see if you’d like to add them as additional sources of info.
This ensures you get info from new places without going too far off into the depths of the World Wide Web. It forces you to expand your mind and it makes it easy because you know that these new sources have only one degree of separation from your core group. It’s no different than getting a client referred to you by another health professional. Same field, different expertise, different opinions, same goal.
Eventually, you’ll have a tree of helpful content that you trust and believe in, coming from all kinds of different opinions and outlooks. Now you can stay current and consistent with your studies and open-minded with your knowledge – making you a more well-rounded coach and able to help more clients.
We all love what we do and want to be the best. Don’t let your laser focus on success become a detriment to your progress due to the inability to see through the blinders. Keep an open mind. Always strive to learn more, be better and help others.
As technology gets more and more advanced, the internet is only going to become more populated and more established. Let’s make sure that we use it to our advantage to make the industry better, help our clients get the results they deserve and help us create the career we dream out.
About The Author
Justin Ochoa is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach and the Co-Owner of PACE Fitness Academy in Indianapolis, IN. He enjoys working with a wide variety of clients ranging from high-level athletes to rehabilitation patients. No matter the goal or experience level, Justin’s coaching philosophy is that everyone is an athlete. His focus is helping his athletes bring out the absolute best of their mental and physical potential, and then continuing to raise the bar for continued success and results.