Honesty In The Fitness Industry
The fitness industry is a booming industry. It generates tens of billions of dollars every year and is only getting larger. People are spending more on fitness now than ever, yet over one-third of American adults are obese.
With all the pills, potions, programs, diets, and equipment on the market, you’d think that there wouldn’t be a single overweight person in the entire country. Clearly, this is not the case. Go to any public place in America and you are sure to see overweight adults and children. This is not a judgment: just an observation.
As someone who has been on a decade-long fitness journey, I am going to make one judgment, though. I am going to judge the fitness industry as a whole. And my judgment is that almost everything you’ve been told by the fitness industry is wrong.
What do I mean, exactly? I mean that most (not all, but most) businesses in the fitness industry use deceptive marketing to sell products that don’t work. At the very least, it’s dishonest. At it’s worst, it can be dangerous. I’m not going to list specific products here. But, by the time you’re done reading this, you should be able to easily see what I’m talking about.
Marketing is the promotion and selling of products or services. It’s all around us, every day, everywhere. Most of the time we don’t even realize it. Television commercials, pop-up ads, billboards, logos, brand names, trademarks, magazine ads, product placement: These are all examples of marketing.
How does the fitness industry market its products and services? The same way that every other industry does: by playing into people’s insecurities, hopes, dreams, and fears. Marketing is a science-based process. Businesses spend billions of dollars every year on market research. They figure out what works best to persuade people to spend the most.
In the fitness industry, marketing is even more important than in other industries. Why do I say this? Because, the truth is, you don’t need to spend a single dollar to get in shape. The principles of losing fat and building muscle are well understood and have been for quite some time.
Now, I’m not saying that all supplements don’t work. The truth is that most of them don’t, but there are some supplements that can be helpful. All I’m saying is that they aren’t necessary. Neither is expensive fitness equipment, custom diet and exercise plans, or pricey gym memberships.
The job of marketers in the fitness world is to convince you that you need to buy stuff that you really don’t need. They make promises that they couldn’t possibly keep. They prey upon your insecurities, telling you that you need to be thin or muscular to be attractive. They promise rapid results with little effort. They offer solutions to problems that you didn’t know you had until they point them out to you.
And people buy into it – hook, line, and sinker. They believe the promises that they hear without questioning them. Some things just don’t work. There is no such thing as a weight-loss pill. There are pills that can decrease your appetite, but most of them are prescription only and come with a number of side effects. If a company tells you their product will make you lose weight without changing your diet and activity level, don’t believe it.
Though not directly fitness related, the same is true of male-enhancement pills. There is no such thing as a pill that will increase the size of your manhood. It simply does not exist and is not likely to any time in the near future. The only way you are going get bigger down there is by having elective surgery. This is also true of pills that said to increase the size of a woman’s breasts. Again, surgery is the only way to do this.
The point here is that there is a lot of deceptive practices in fitness marketing. Just because a company says that their product works, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Attractive people sell products: This is a fact. We see it in just about every industry you can think of: fashion, music, film, food, etc. The fitness industry is, of course, no exception.
Now, there is nothing wrong with using attractive, fit men and women to sell products. The problem is how they are used to sell products. We’ve all seen pictures of guys with muscles coming out of their muscles in fitness and bodybuilding magazines. They are in advertisements for supplements that promise big results but, in reality, offer modest ones, at best. However, the implication is that if you use the product, you will look like the muscle-bound guy in the advertisement.
The truth is that most of these fitness models and bodybuilders use anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Outside of experts in the fitness industry, most people have no idea what kind of physique is attainable naturally for the average person. Supplement companies know this, and exploit it. They try to convince you, the consumer, that if you use their product you will look like the fitness model in the advertisement.
The truth is, most of the time these models use drugs to achieve their look. Even if they actually use the products that they are paid to promote (which most do not), they do not look they way they look because of that product.
This is part of a much larger problem in the fitness world. A number of fitness models and bodybuilders claim that they have developed and maintain their physiques without the use of anabolic steroids or other PEDs. For those of us in the know, this is laughable. By taking one look at some of these guys, it is unquestionably obvious that they use steroids. But for most people, they have no idea.
Now, I have no moral objection to adults using steroids or other performance enhancers. What I take issue with is when influential fitness models and bodybuilders claim to have developed their physiques naturally.
The problem with this is that it creates a false sense of what is attainable by the average person. I see this in the gym and online all the time. Teenagers and those new to the world of fitness are especially vulnerable to this lie. They want to believe that, if they work hard enough in the gym and eat right, they can have a physique like their favorite fitness model.
This creates an unrealistic vision of what kind of physique is attainable naturally. And this deception leads to disappointment, inevitably.
These fitness models sell workout routines, supplements, equipment, clothing, and everything else you can think of. They convince their young fans that if they buy their products and supplements that they will look like them. But after years of diligently following these fitness models’ every word, their young fans look nothing like them. And the sad truth is that they never will – not without drugs.
It is important to have fitness goals, but they have to be realistic goals. Being 230 pounds with 6% body fat, like many fitness models, is not a realistic goal unless you are using steroids. You can absolutely transform your physique without drugs, but only to a certain point. I’m not saying that every fitness model and bodybuilder is on steroids…just many, many more than you probably think.
Before and Afters
We’ve all seen dramatic before and after photos. Guys who went from being a scrawny 90 pound weakling to a muscular mini-hulk. Or girls that went from being extremely overweight to being slim and fit. You can’t fake a before and after photo… can you?
Of course you can – and it’s done all the time. I’m not saying that there aren’t some legitimate before and after photos out there of real people that have made amazing changes to their physiques. But many before and afters are fake.
There’s no shortage of ways that they can be faked. Sometimes advertisers and marketers use two different people that look alike in their before and after photos. Sometimes they use twins, where one is noticeably fitter than the other. And yet another way is by taking the before and after photos of the same person on the same day! How is this possible? Check out this great video about before and after photos by YouTuber Furious Pete.
As you can see, he looks totally different in his before and after pictures. Yet, they were both taken on the same day. Advertisers do this all the time. Again, I’m not saying that there aren’t some absolutely amazing transformation photos out there. But, if it looks fake, it probably is.
How to Find the Truth
So now that you are aware of some of the deceptive marketing used in the fitness world, how can you learn what is actually true? Here are some tips to help you navigate through all the BS and get to the truth.
BE SKEPTICAL – Like the old saying goes: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is especially true in the fitness world. Always question everything you hear from anyone trying to sell you anything. And, in the fitness industry, just about everyone is trying to sell you something.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE – Marketers and advertisers are very good at what they do. Their job is to get you excited about the products and services that they are selling. They make grandiose claims and promise fast and easy results. Don’t believe the hype. This goes hand-in-hand with being skeptical.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Did you see an add on TV for a new fat-burner that sounds amazing? Don’t just go out and waste your money on it. Do your research. Go on Examine.com and see if there is any science to support the claims made in the commercial. Odds are, there won’t be. Always look into any product or service before you spend your hard-earned cash.
GET YOUR INFO FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES – If your doctor tells you something that doesn’t seem right, you’d get a second opinion, right? You should always do the same thing when researching new supplements, foods, workouts, etc. Don’t just read the first thing you see on Google and think you know the truth. Just because something comes right up in a search engine doesn’t mean it’s true. Always, always, always get your information from multiple sources.
THINK! – Use your head. Marketers can be very clever. They prey upon your hopes and fears. Anytime you hear a claim that you think may be false, think about it rationally. Forget what you want to think.
We all want to think that there are pills to make you drop 20 lbs in a week, powders to make you gain so much muscle that you’re exploding out of your shirt, and programs that will get you ripped in just 8 minutes a day. Think about it logically. The truth may not be as appealing as the lie… but it’ll save you a ton of money.
The fitness industry is filled with scammers, liars, and crooks. Don’t waste your hard-earned money on products and services that simply don’t work.
Now that you know what to look out for, you can avoid falling victim to these scammers. Young people are much more likely to believe the lies marketed by the fitness industry, but many adults fall for them, too. Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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