The internet contains a vast amount of information in the realm of health and fitness. As a trainer or gym owner you’ve probably had many clients come to you with questions about things they’ve read online. They wonder if the keto diet is worth trying, if lifting heavy will make them look “bulky,” if they can train twice a day without their body deteriorating, etc. Some of the questions they come to you with make you roll your eyes, and every once in a while you can’t help but wonder what on earth is circulating online these days.
The media knows what they’re doing, make no mistake. Digital publications, wellness brands, and social media influencers curate specific content that will generate more clicks, spark controversial discussions, and make readers feel good about themselves so they keep coming back for more. At the end of the day, the media doesn’t really care much about improving the health and livelihood of their consumers. They care about clicks and selling ads.
That’s why our job as trainers can sometimes be even harder than usual. You have to spend a solid amount of time explaining why certain information isn’t true and presenting the real facts to your clients. We’re going to break down the most common myths fed to us by mainstream magazines and online platforms. It’s time we give our clients the truth about their bodies and their health, rather than telling them what they want to hear.
You Can Shape Your Physique With Bodyweight Exercises Alone
If you look in any major digital magazine (Cosmopolitan, POPSUGAR, Women’s Health, etc.), there are tons of workout plans handed down by the writers — and most of them are completely bodyweight exercises. The media tells us that we can change our physique by simply doing bodyweight workouts (usually HIIT sessions) that require no equipment whatsoever. Our clients are also told that workouts like barre can give you the exact body you want because it “lengthens” your muscles.
Fitness professionals know this is hogwash. Unfortunately, many of our clients believe it. But you can’t really blame them when you think about it. If you were a newcomer to working out and someone told you that you could lose weight and get ripped by just doing some exercises in your living room, you would probably believe it too.
To fight off this misconception, explain to your current and potential clients that the body responds best to resistance training in combination with a lot of other training modalities. Yes, bodyweight movements have their place, but you can’t expect to see much change if you exclusively train without weights. That’s like eating nothing but carbohydrates and expecting to lose weight. Show your clients the science behind building lean muscle mass from resistance training, how it strengthens your bones, makes you more resilient, and improves the quality of your life. And make sure you explain that lifting weights won’t make you “bulky” if you’re a woman. Women contain 16 times less testosterone in their body than men do, so it’s virtually impossible for them to turn into The Rock unless they’re taking some serious steroids.
Your Body Needs a Lot of Cardio
Cardio is an easy workout trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Places like SoulCycle have it figured out. They sell their product to clients with a pretty bow wrapped around it, convincing them that all they need to do is sweat regularly in order to drop pounds and change their physique. You’ve been in the industry long enough to know that this is nonsense.
Keep before-and-after photos of your clients who have experienced great success in changing their physique. Show them examples of their programming to prove that resistance training and weightlifting are necessary parts of a comprehensive workout in order to achieve results. Cardio certainly has its time and place, but clients need to understand that cardio alone won’t do much for you in the long run.
You Need to Follow an Extreme Diet in Order to Lose Weight
The keto diet, veganism, intermittent fasting, the list goes on. These highly specific diets are becoming more and more popular these days. Clients see extreme weight-loss stories in health magazines and wonder if they too should swear off carbs forever or skip multiple meals in a row in order to achieve the same results.
Your clients deserve to know the truth: you don’t need to make extreme cuts in your diet in order to lose weight. Let them know they can still enjoy bread, meat, and full meals while still slimming down. Weight loss is about being in a healthy calorie deficit, not restricting yourself of certain food groups. The more your clients understand this, the more sustainable their weight loss will be.
Training Too Often Is Bad For You
If we only had a nickel for every time we read something online about the dangers of training twice in one day. Of course there are real dangers to overtraining, but the media has such a loose definition of overtraining that people are almost discouraged from working too hard. Just 100 years ago many of our ancestors were doing heavy labor for 8-10 hours a day as their job. The human body was meant to be powerful, strong, and resilient. But our society has somehow come to the conclusion that moving the body for more than one hour a day isn’t good for you.
You don’t have to convince your clients to work out excessively, but encourage them to live an active lifestyle. Wake up early and work out before you have breakfast. Maybe walk or bike to work instead of drive. Go for a jog or hike during your lunch break. Spend the evening in a dance class or learning martial arts. Sure, this might equal more than two hours of work at the end of the day, but the body is more than capable of handling this load (unless they’re suffering from chronic illness or injuries). Don’t ever let your clients think their bodies can’t handle more than a few hours of activity each week.