Fitness influencers are an irrefutable, inevitable part of life now, whether you love them or despise them.
Whatever social media app you use for mindless scrolling, you’ll come across fitness influencers who share workouts, supplements, day-in-the-life (DITL) videos, what they eat in a day, their favourite products, flawless photos in the least amount of clothing they can get away with to show off their bods, and so on.
But, do they all warrant our confidence? And if not, how can we know who to follow and who to ignore?
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We learned from Maria Leguizamon, a qualified personal trainer with Recess.TV, how to determine which influencers to trust.
And she should know because she’s a fitness influencer with over 145K Instagram followers.
So let’s talk about how to separate the truth from all of the blatantly altered Instagram photos.
Can I rely on fitness influencers?
The topic of the day!
The answer is that it depends. While views, shares, and likes may appear to be strong markers of trustworthiness, they aren’t (really, really).
Many influencers are pleasant, which is why they have such enormous followings. But, according to Leguizamon, it’s not so much about the question of “Do I trust this guy or not? ” — it’s about outcomes, community, and expertise.
“It’s more about witnessing the effects of their guidance and their devotion to their community, not only as a fitness influencer but also as a personal trainer,” she says.
A good influencer, according to her, is one who is actually an expert but is also involved with and enthusiastic about their community of followers – so it’s about more than money or follower count.
How to recognise the information you *shouldn’t* believe — even if it has 1.1 million likes
When watching fitness material on social media, you should absolutely wear your suspicious spectacles (skeptacles?). Here are some questions to ask yourself while determining if the advice is sound or not:
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Is it a temporary solution?
Is it an exercise that promises 2 weeks to a bubble butt or a hack that promises to reduce 10 pounds in a week? Stop, refuse to collaborate, and refuse to listen.
Making long-term changes to your body, whether through fat reduction or sculpting, always takes time. And be more suspicious if they promise a rapid remedy… after you pay them.
“I question it when I see certain fitness influencers asking ridiculous sums of money for programmes or fitness advice,” Leguizamon adds.
Is it plainly risky or absurd?
Quite self-explanatory. Do you find yourself shaking your head or lifting your brows in response to the advice? 🚩🚩
Take, for example, dry scooping. This fad involves taking a scoop of pre-workout powder with only a gulp of water (when it should be blended with 6 to 8 ounces of water). And, to be honest, most of the individuals doing it (or at least the ones writing about it on TikTok) appear to be in great shape.
BUT DRY Scooping AIN’T IT, Y’ALL — in fact, it’s already been connected to one heart attack in an otherwise healthy 20-year-old because to the extremely concentrated, fast absorbed caffeine dosage.
What qualifies this individual as an expert on this subject?
A lot of stuff you read online may appear legitimate – it isn’t advertised as a quick remedy, it doesn’t appear harmful, and it isn’t plainly ludicrous.
So, while analysing fitness advice on social media, researching into the creator’s knowledge is perhaps the most crucial thing you can do.
To be clear, having a strong body does not qualify someone as a fitness guru.
Personal trainers, physical therapists, orthopaedic physicians, kinesiologists, sports medicine specialists, and other legitimate professionals are well-versed in body mechanics, injury prevention, appropriate technique, and other topics. That unlicensed 19-year-old TikToker cranking out homemade fitness routines DOES NOT.
The same can be said about nutrition: we all eat, but we’re not all nutrition experts, so let’s leave the specific diet recommendations to registered dietitians and nutrition-savvy medical professionals.
Top 5 social media mistakes made by influencers
And here are a few things that influencers get completely incorrect on the regs, as well as Leguizamon’s pointers on what to look for:
Form, form, and more form
While certain influencers emphasise perfect form, others, according to Leguizamon, prefer to skim over it. “People might easily be harmed if they are not taught proper alignment and form,” she explains.
The same is true for good breathing when exercising, which will allow you to enhance your efficacy.
If an influencer shares exercises, they should demonstrate good form to avoid injuries and how to breathe through each activity.
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“Anyone can google a workout regimen,” Leguizamon adds, “but the most essential component of it should be a routine that will get you results.”
Screenshotting those lovely Pinterest fitness programme photos is OK, but you should double-check that they were created by a pro who understands how to build an efficient plan.
“Weightlifting will bulk you up.”
“I think one of the most common misunderstandings is that doing weights can bulk you up,” Leguizamon explains. “I wish it was that simple!”
So she’s always sceptical when she sees influencers (particularly female ones) avoiding lifting or strength training.
After all, “lifting weights will help you tone up and gain muscle,” she argues. “You will have to consume enormous quantities of food to bulk up,” she continues. Female hormones, in particular, will limit excessive muscular mass gain in women.”
Claims about wild supplements
Naturally, fitness influencers make a lot of money through brand collaborations, sponsored content, and affiliate sales – particularly with supplement businesses. That is not to imply that every brand with which they collaborate is automatically untrustworthy. However, before purchasing a supplement, you should conduct your own research.
When you see an influencer say phrases like “life-changing” or “game-changing” about a supplement — especially if it’s one they’re being paid to promote — you’ve got to work some “trust but verify” action.
Look for supplements made in facilities that adhere to current good manufacturing procedures (CGMPs), a set of FDA guidelines, and that have been third-party tested for purity, quality, and the presence of contaminants.
An Informed Sport and NSF Certified for Sport accreditation for sports supplements is a useful thing to check for – both labels assure that the supplement is devoid of forbidden ingredients.
Transformations of the body
Finally, although it’s perfectly OK to follow fitness influencers for (good) advice or inspiration, or simply because they’re fascinating, you should avoid attempting to have the same physique as your favourite influencer.
Much influencer material has an undercurrent of “If you do what I do, you can have a body like mine.” And that is just not how our bodies function.
Because of airbrushing, filters, lighting, posing, and professional photography, your favourite influencers may not even look like themselves in some of their most attractive and popular photographs. (Need more evidence? Check out Stephanie Lange’s videos about influencers in real life.)
And no amount of weight reduction or exercise will ever affect your basic bone structure. So, while diet and exercise may absolutely help you transform your physique, there are some things you won’t be able to do. (For example, if you have tiny hips, don’t expect a thigh gap. In any case, a thigh gap is unnecessary.)
Look for fitness influencers that push you to make the most of your body via sustainable weight reduction or realistic training regimens, rather than those who make you feel like you’re doing something wrong.
Where can I find reliable fitness information?
Let’s start with influencers. What are some indicators that a fitness influencer is knowledgeable and deserving of a double tap?
“Check their qualifications,” adds Leguizamon, adding that you should cross-reference their advice with that of other influencers, particularly those who have the credentials to back up what they’re saying. That’s quite suspicious if you’re not getting identical advice from professionals.
Leguizamon suggests the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise as further trustworthy sites for health and fitness information. (Because these are the two largest and most well-known certifying organisations for personal trainers, you may utilise them to choose a trainer as well.)