Who Do You Trust?

Have you heard this quote before:

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” – Derek Bok – President Harvard University

And so my question to you is what areas of your life do you rely on an expert?

For example, I use an accountant and lawyer for a reason. Not only did I not go to school for these disciplines but I also don’t have the time to stay current with changes in these fields. So even if I had studied accounting or law in university, what I learned at the time may not apply anymore. Governments pass new laws and judges write new decisions that effect future legal outcomes.

So it is essential I enlist the best to help me in areas of my life and business where I’m not an expert.

What about you? What are the areas of your life where you’re not an expert? More specific to this blog, what is your knowledge in the areas of anatomy, physiology, nutrition and supplements? What about when you get injured, do you know what do or what to avoid doing?

With the internet and explosion of social media we’re seeing more and more people look online for a health, fitness or performance solution. Compound this with COVID and the web can the first place many people start to do their research towards having a better body, improving their health or sports performance.

But is this wise?

Should we trust online websites and blogs? (other than this one of course!)

A recent study from the University of Alberta looked at this question. Who are the authors of these blogs? What are their credentials? And what information are they putting out there?

The researchers checked out 194 of the top fitness blogs online (fortunately we are well below this ranking and managed to escape the scrutiny). Of these blogs only 16% listed any type of fitness certification or credential. However with more than half of the blogs (57%), the authors referred to themselves as a ‘fitness professional’.

But wait, you may be thinking, trainers charge a fair bit, and are professionals. Surely, even if they don’t list a professional certification or credential at least they’d have a bachelor’s degree.

Unfortunately only a paltry 5% of these ‘professionals’ hold a university degree.

So how can this be the case?

Well, the fitness industry is unregulated. If someone wants to call themselves a personal trainer, fitness trainer, movement coach or whatever, they are free to do so. A strength and conditioning coach is a specific credential and requires a degree so that one is a bit different. But using the term ‘trainer’ can be used by anyone.

The other issue is that there are a number of certifications that can be completed over a weekend or done completely online. With this short of a course or nothing done in person it can be very difficult to assess an individual’s ability to coach.

As a result we end up with a number of ‘fitness professionals’ that may or may not have the training, education and knowledge to advise others as to the safest and most efficient path to their goals. And since six-packs and toned bodies tend to sell better than letters after ones name, most of the information being pushed is geared towards aesthetics. There is very little information on the more popular fitness blogs that encourages exercise for stress management, improved sleep quality or the decreased risk of chronic disease.

Stay tuned for a future article where I look at a few top ranked fitness blogs putting out information that is questionable at best and potentially unsafe or dangerous.

Reference

Ori, E., Myre, M., & Berry, T. (2019). Who do they think they are? A quantitative content analysis of exercise bloggers and their blogs. Journal of Exercise, Movement, and Sport (SCAPPS refereed abstracts repository)51(1), 234-234.

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