Fitness Gurus and Self-Proclaimed Experts: Why You Should Avoid Them
by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist
After having a conversation with a client I couldn’t believe what someone told her about nutrition and fitness. After speaking with a self-proclaimed fitness expert she felt more drained than enlightened. The conversation stuck with me; the last straw came when I saw an “expert” incorrectly instructing someone on how to perform an exercise. After reading this article I hope you’ll understand why you need to avoid these kinds of people.
Fitness gurus and self-proclaimed experts are everywhere. Many believe that whatever works for them will work for you and they are often the first to offer advice. They flex muscles, revealing what’s under their shirts, eagerly showcasing what they’ve attained as the proof that their advice is legitimate. You’ll be so convinced that they are experts after an interaction that you might be open toward the diet plans and exercise programs they’re willing to prescribe you even when they lack the qualifications or research to substantiate their claims.
I sat down with Akilah to discuss her experience with one of these experts. Akilah explained that she’s been on a weight loss journey and in a recent conversation she was offered nutritional counseling when she never asked for any. She explained to the guru that she added plums to her diet and he told her that she shouldn’t eat them. “He told me at my weight, my body won’t break down the sugar.” He also told her to completely cut fruits from her diet.
Akilah wasn’t satisfied with the response so she questioned it. She mentioned the difference between natural and processed sugars and reasoned that a single plum, with low sugar but full of vitamins, wouldn’t have adverse effects on her body. After her response, the expert told her to eat whatever she wanted because she “knows it all.”
If you’re a fitness guru or self-proclaimed expert that’s offering advice without any real background or training, please stop it. If you’ve encountered people like this, be careful and have no fear in challenging them. If you receive a negative rebuttal or the answers seem farfetched then do your own research. Always ask a trained professional; it won’t hurt and most times can confirm, or deny, the information you’re receiving.
It doesn’t stop here; unprofessional behavior also exists in the fitness industry and unqualified fitness gurus are rampant. I interviewed Thomas Johnson, certified trainer and owner of GetupNGetFit, and certified strength and conditioning specialist, Brett Willmott, about the subject. Thomas explained that he’d seen his fair share of these “experts” and, like Brett, voiced traits that he felt make for “bad trainers.”
Lack of attentiveness, disregard for safety, improper technique and a lack of qualifications, knowledge and experience were on the “bad trainer” lists for both Brett and Thomas. These problems are also seen in gurus and self-proclaimed fitness experts, but the main problem with these people is the advice they’re offering. The information, while sometimes correct, might not work for you and could be detrimental to your overall goals.
While the idea of this might make you cringe, Brett ended by offering some direction. He suggested that anyone seeking help from a fitness expert should research them first. Ensure they are qualified in the area of their instruction and always be prepared to ask questions. “With a well thought out plan, you will be on your way to an educational encounter,” he said.
For qualified fitness trainers and self-proclaimed experts, this is a wakeup call for some and a reminder for others. Even if you don’t fit the category it’s always good to think twice about what you’re discussing with someone. For anyone else, this isn’t a call to dump your trainer or question every detail, but ask yourself if you at least feel comfortable discussing questions with them. They don’t know everything, but they should at least be professional in putting that point across.
Be careful when taking advice from people who aren’t qualified in the area they’re discussing. Self-proclaimed fitness experts are easy to find, but can impart misinformation. Seek a professional and ensure that you’re comfortable asking questions.
Johnson, Thomas. Personal interview. 7 November 2014.
Willmott, Brett. Personal interview. 7 November 2014
Akilah. Personal interview. 4 November 2014