Should You Trust Your Favourite Fitness Influencer?

The Problem with Fitness Influencers

If you find yourself subscribing to fitness influencers just because of their large follower base, or because they have the pair of toned legs you’ve been dreaming about, you could have been one of the victims of Brittany Dawn’s two-hundred-dollar workout plan scams. Brittany Dawn is a fitness influencer who was widely accused of assigning generic workout and diet plans to clients instead of customizing these plans to their bodies. After her false claims of being a certified personal trainer came to light, people started to realize that this influencer with half a million Instagram followers may have been unqualified to teach fitness all along. 

Brittany Dawn is being called out for scamming followers who purchased her fitness plan.

(Brittany Dawn is being called out for scamming followers who purchased her fitness plan)

As the fitness industry is largely unregulated, anyone can claim to be a “personal trainer”, “fitness instructor” or “nutrition coach” even if they have not received relevant training. This is extremely dangerous because it means that influencer-wannabes can lead their audiences in workouts or fitness topics that they actually know nothing about and are harmful to the body. So before jumping into your favourite fitness influencer’s latest high-intensity workout, you might want to check if they actually have adequate knowledge about what they’re teaching. 

Signs that a Fitness Influencer Knows What They’re Doing

They Have the Necessary Credentials

Educational backgrounds in areas like Physical Education, Nutrition, Exercise Science, or Kinesiology indicates that the influencer has a foundational understanding of the human body. Qualified coaches and instructors should have certifications from internationally-recognized institutions, even if they do not have relevant education. Examples of such institutions for personal trainers are the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), National Academy of Sports and Medicine (NASM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Some of these institutions, such as NASM and ACE, provide an online database of their certified trainers that can be used for validation. It is also important to filter out trainers who are certified by less-recognized bodies as some training courses can take as short as 2-3 days to complete. 

They Know The Importance of Differentiating Levels

Fitness influencers who have a good understanding of how human body works will know that what works for one will not necessarily work for another, as well as the importance of communicating this to their audience. In their workout routines, they should clarify with viewers if the intensity of that routine is suitable for everyone, for beginners, or only for the more advanced. They should also be able to advise beginners on how to safely increase the intensity of routines.

In Chris Heria’s video about 10 levels of push-ups, he effectively teaches beginners how to slowly build up enough strength to challenge more difficult variations of the exercise. 

They can Dispel Misconceptions and Provide Corrections for Forms 

A knowledgeable fitness influencer should be able to identify and correct common fitness misconceptions. They should also be able to point out the common mistakes people make when doing certain moves and know how to maintain the right form so that the moves can be more safe and effective. 

In this video, Bret Contraras corrects misconceptions about the danger of hip thrusts and explains to viewers how they can be safely performed. Meg Gallagher also provides very insightful information about squats and bench presses

They Can Explain the Rationale Behind Each Exercise

A fitness influencer should be able to explain how each exercise affects specific muscle groups or regions of the body. They should also establish clear goals for each video, and be able to explain how these exercises help to reach these goals. 

In Chris Heria’s video about how to get 6 pack abs, he explains how each exercise targets different areas of the abdominal muscles and also explains why the high-intensity-interval-training style is necessary to burn calories for sculpting abs. 

They Give Clear and Thorough Instructions 

A good workout isn’t just about getting the heart pumping. It requires preparation in areas such as warm-ups and cooldowns, as well as proper usage of equipment. Other information like what to do when you can’t keep up with the intensity of the routine, or how often to do the routine are also important to maximize safety and effectiveness. On top of providing clear instructions on how to carry out the exercises, a good instructor would not neglect to provide thorough instructions in these other areas. 

Instead of jumping straight into a workout, Shona Vertue spends a significant amount of time in this 30-minute workout video giving informative and crystal-clear instructions about the workout. 

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