Truths the Fitness Industry Won’t Tell You
10 min read
When beginners first get into fitness, there’s a lot of background knowledge that they’re not readily privy to, which they only get to learn about with time. There are a lot of hidden truths the fitness industry won’t tell you and a lot of these truths are useful information that could make a difference in someone’s fitness journey by saving them time and money.
With this in mind, I want to highlight aspects of the fitness industry that people should keep in mind in order not to get disillusioned along their journey or make mistakes that could be easily avoided by having just a little bit more insight.
Impressive Body Parts are Down to Genes
Hard work and consistency count. This is true – completely true. But your genes determine your potential/limit; genetics will determine how much work you have to put in, and at the end of the day, it will determine how far that hard work will take you. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t out-train your genetics; without the genes don’t think all the training in the world or the correct nutrition will allow you to stand side to side with an Olympic athlete, professional bodybuilder, or individuals who are competing at a professional level. If you’re born with it, count yourself lucky and run with it, but if you aren’t then train for a realistic goal.
Basically, if you’re naturally skinny don’t assume by lifting weights you’ll one day be able to look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Chris Bumstead, or Cory Everson. Performance enhancers aside, everyone has a natural size limit. In the same way, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you typically carry more weight, you won’t ever slim down to look like Keira Knightly, Heidi Klum, or Sir Mo Farah, within the realms of natural means.
I think it’s important to get this fact across to people, because, firstly, it allows us to set realistic expectations when we begin a fitness journey (and potentially staves off body dysmorphia), and, secondly, a lot of us spend gang money on programs, guides, and coaches who promise that 8-pack ab, that thick booty, or those biceps when they’re simply not our reality. Understanding the truth behind desirable body parts allows us to manage ourselves better, physically and mentally.
While understanding and accepting that genetics play a critical role in determining our limits, it’s also nice to know that we each have our own individual genetic perks that someone else may not easily have – and possibly even envy. For example, you get individuals who can get away with working a body part fewer times and still have size on them than someone else who has to work twice as hard to achieve lesser results. I’ll use myself as an example that perhaps you can relate to: I have a gym friend who only does leg day once a week, when I noticed this, I asked him why when I’ve seen that he does his other body parts at least twice a week and his answer was that his legs don’t need as much stimulation to grow and when he does train legs twice a week, they grow to a size he doesn’t like, so he purposely limits the workouts. WTF, man … and here I am, exercising twice a week to barely get the results he does. I could complain, but that’s the reality of the situation: genetics. All I can do is understand my own body, and do the work necessary to achieve my specific goals.
Note, that this is also why a lot of people say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others; we’re all dealing with very subjective and individualized advantages and disadvantages so comparisons do you more of a disservice than possess any actual merit.
A lot of People are not Natural, but Enhanced
There are people out there who are on performance enhancers but try to pass off their physical feats as naturally acquired from good genes and hard work. These types of people are what we call fake natties, and they’re one of my least favorite types.
On this topic, I’ve come across quite a few people who get bullish and tell me to stop focusing on others; what gymers on performance enhancers do doesn’t impact my life and I should just focus on myself. See now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people using performance enhancers; your body, your decisions – as long as it doesn’t negatively impact other people’s quality of life, I’ll never care and neither should anyone else. But I draw a line at purposely and knowingly misleading people.
The reason why I frown at this behavior – at fake natties – is that, apart from the blatant dishonesty, giving out such information can give beginners unrealistic goals that will crush them when they inevitably fail to reach such lofty heights, and they’ll have no idea why but most likely assume there is something wrong with themselves. Secondly, more often than not, fake natties are pushing a product or more, effectively conning people to believe that the product has a part in their success when it really stems from ingesting or injecting a foreign substance.
Overall, I ain’t a fan of such people. However, to be fair to the fake natties out there, there is zero incentive to be transparent and honest with so much more to gain from lying (money, sponsorships, audiences, envy, applause, etc.).
A lot of Fitness Info is Garbage or Manipulated
Have a muffin top? Perform these exercises three times a week to lower the fat around your abdomen … you hear plugs like this all over, and they relate to spot reducing, or targeting a specific body part. As most of you know, you cannot target a specific body area and lose only the fat on that area, and I want to use “spot reducing” as an example of how the wider public is generally given rubbish information in fitness.
Basically, the fitness industry tries to tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear – get abs in two weeks, add 3 inches to your arms in 4 weeks, wrap plastic wrap (cling film) around your abdomen to increase sweat and fat loss, etc.
Information is distorted because people are fighting for money and attention and it’s far easier and rewarding to tell Karen that she can lose weight in just four weeks and fit back in her jeans by joining your booty camp, as opposed to telling her that it’ll be a committed process where, depending on the amount of weight she currently has on and wishes to lose, it could even take a year to reach her desired goal.
Results Take Time
Results take time. This needs to be emphasized, especially in today’s society where we’re so tuned to immediate gratification. All around us, we are bombarded with the end results of someone’s labor; whether that’s a friend’s vacation pictures, a coworker buying their first home, or even a celebrity launching a product; we don’t see behind the scenes over what led up to an occasion, and rarely do we even think about that – we just see the end-product and wish we could be in a similar position or experience a similar thing. More often than not, blood, sweat, tears, and time were sacrificed for that end-product.
In effect, fitness influencers, businesses, and the like prey on this need for immediate gratification and tell/show you what you want to hear; that you can get your body beach-ready, vacation-ready, or event-ready in four weeks or less. This is simply not true, unless you were already close to the end goal or you commit to something extreme or unhealthy. Losing weight takes time, gaining muscles takes time, and achieving your goals takes time.
It’s important to normalize the reality that results take time and there is nothing wrong with this. All it means is that you need to plan better so that the factor of time is taken into consideration in the greater scheme of things.
A lot of Fitness Products are Pointless
Sssshhhh! Don’t let the fitness industry hear this. From gadgets to supplements, there are a lot of products out there that you don’t need. The point of supplements is to supplement your diet; if your nutrition game is on point, you really don’t need to make use of supplements – they exist to help you improve in the areas you find yourself lacking, not to be the main player.
Whereas with gadgets, they’re often marketed as being a gamechanger or a necessity (I suppose this is true of supplements as well). Reality is, most fitness products/gadgets are trying to be a shortcut or substitute. Whether it’s a smartwatch, ab wheel, portable sit-up bar, massage gun, yoga block, wrist/ankle weights, etc. – they can all be substituted with something that requires less or no money. Most of them are convenient and do make a difference, don’t get me wrong, but are they necessary? Are they a gamechanger? Hell no.
I’d go as far as to say 90% of products are pointless either because they have an inexpensive alternative or because the product is just a novelty. There’s no shame in buying products, but as a consumer rather be slow to buy and quick to judge.
A lot of “Experts” are Full of Shit
Coaches, mentors, experts, and the like are important pillars to any worthwhile venture, but the good ones are hard to find. Most often, especially in fitness, you need to scavenge through the filth before you find experts who are worth your time and money.
I’d like to think I’m a good judge of character, and that’s why in the articles I write, now and then I like to reference individuals in the fitness industry – individuals who I think are worth following, ones who you’ll stand to gain more than you lose.
No singular expert is perfect, as we are all different with biases and specific needs and wants, there will never be an individual expert who covers all our needs. Therefore, it’s important to have a number of experts who may have differing opinions on matters but their core messages are the same, and the only way to find these guys are to waddle through the metric ton of shit that is out there, posing as helpful informants.
The More Money Spent, the Less Efficient You’re Being
This ties back to buying products; very rarely do you need to spend money to be fit. Money is a convenient problem solver. I’m pretty sure that we can all think of examples where money was lacking and either we made alternate plans or watched a person make different arrangements (garage gym, outdoor workout, self-made equipment, etc.).
The fitness industry will have us believe that spending money as part of our fitness journey is just a part of the game, but very rarely do you ever encounter a situation where money is a wall blocking your journey.
I’d like to challenge people to have a minimalist, frugal approach to fitness and see how creative they can get in avoiding spending money, or finding solutions outside of money.
Success Comes from Self-empowerment
The fitness industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry but you don’t need to spend a dime to see success in it. Realistically, if you’re spending money, you’re better off spending money that empowers you; this would be in the form of improving your knowledge and abilities so you turn from dependent to independent.
Products cost money but information is free. Money is a luxury that allows you to make moves a whole lot easier. If you lack money, it doesn’t mean you can’t make moves, you just have to be shrewder. YouTube and websites like this are free, and what they both offer you, once again, is information that you can utilize to even the playing field.
The fitness industry is worth billions because people have been nurtured to think that there is a price barrier to achieving optimal health, when the reality is, there are multiple ways to skin a cat, and using money just happens to be the laziest method (facts, people, I’m not taking shots at anyone here).
Social Media is a Cesspool
Thankfully, after having had social media for so long around us most people already know this, but its weight can never be underplayed. Social media leads to angst, depression, body dysmorphia, cyberbullying, and a whole lot more. It has its uses, like all things, but I personally feel the negatives outnumber the positives and you really need to be careful on these platforms to protect your mental wellbeing. Whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok, or whatever, there is a downside to all these apps where we post and consume content.
Since we’re focused on fitness, I, especially, want to zero in on the cesspools that are Instagram and TikTok. I’m not a fan of either, and despite being necessary evils (like all social media platforms), the amount of nonsense on them is incredible. It’s hard to find accounts to follow that post wholesome, reliable, or unproblematic content; people are on them to make a following and, unfortunately, tactics like posting misinformation, hearsay, staged things, tomfoolery, etc. attract the most attention, so people are incentivized and nurtured to conduct poor behavior. It doesn’t help that the ones who follow these types of accounts are mostly kids and young adults.
So, these are some of the main factors that are best to remember when dealing with the fitness industry.