The Misinformation Minefield.

So, you’ve decided to start your fitness journey, but don’t know where to begin. Naturally, like most people, you head onto the internet to learn all about health and fitness, hoping for a clear idea on what to do next.

But the internet has other ideas…

Now, I started my own fitness journey in a very similar way. As someone that started later in life the internet was already a thing. Despite, at that point, YouTube was the only source of research, it was already flooded with contradicting information. Now you also have the likes of TikTok and Instagram to contend with, too.

The real dilemma is how do you discern the droplets of reliable information in an ocean of nonsense? Here are a few tips to help you get to the truth:

  1. Expert or Influencer?

This may seem obvious, but it’s not always so simple: does the person you’re viewing actually hold professional qualifications, relevant to what they are teaching/selling? All too often the people giving out their opinions on social media are just enthusiasts who are out to make a quick buck. Being jacked doesn’t make someone a fitness expert. Their knowledge might be specific only to themselves, without any fundamental understanding of physiology or nutrition. You wouldn’t as a catwalk model for tailoring advice. Same rules apply here.

Rocky was bigger and stronger than Micky, but only one of them thought blocking punches with their face was a good idea.

Personal trainers will usually advertise what certificates they hold. Nutrition is trickier as the ‘nutritionist’ is not a legally protected title. Literally anyone can, and do, call themselves this. Nutritional Therapists hold legally recognised titles, as do dieticians, who are actually trained doctors who specialise in nutrition.

It’s also worth mentioning that other kinds of doctors are not automatically reliable source on the subject. Especially if they are a psychiatrist (mentioning no names).

Be very careful who you take food advice off. Definitely ignore anyone that films themselves in the grocery store.

  1. What are they selling?

Everybody in the fitness industry is selling something, including me. It’s our job and there is nothing wrong with that. The thing to check when looking at online profiles is what exactly are they selling, and how that influences their content/marketing?

The common red flags are supplements or workout programs. Again, not all are bad, so a certain amount of context is required. For example, a super fit looking influencer, with no official credentials has no place selling either. Their jurisdiction stretches as far as fashion.

The age-old practice of selling quick fix workout solutions is still very predominant in the fitness industry, despite the increasing number of honest professionals out there pointing out that they are a scam. Like the shell suit, this should have been left behind decades ago.

This is not to say that all time-based plans are bad. Fitness is about goals, so this is quite common. Just the ones with grossly exaggerated claims. If you don’t have visible abs now, you’re not going to see them in four weeks.

Even worse examples are more in the nutrition field. So many ‘experts’ out there making frightening claims about how all kinds of food are bad for your health, even toxic, just to sell you their own brand of diet or supplements. Some go as far as to hide their connections to businesses they profit off of as a result.

  1. Integrity is everything.

Basically, a combination of first two points, with a little extra. Reputation is a good measure of how reliable someone’s information is. Is their brand focus about themselves or their clients? It’s pretty easy to tell. How ethical is their marketing? There are a lot of trainers that use themselves as adverts, but photoshop their physiques. How can you look like them, in 12 weeks, if they don’t even look like them? More of this behaviour is being called out, thankfully. A whole other subject is the amount of performance enhancing drug use, that is rampant in the industry. Short answer: if it looks to good to be try it probably is.

I recommend looking at content creators who stick to giving useful information, like how to perform exercises, set up gym equipment, or provide genuine motivation. Look for people who want to inflate your ego, not just their own.

  1. Is it relevant?

There’s nothing wrong with a little procrastination or going down the occasional YouTube rabbit hole, but when it comes to getting information that is right for you it’s best to streamline your choices down to content sources suitable for your needs and abilities. I love some of Eddie Hall’s content, but I’m probable not going to deadlift half a ton anytime soon. It’s good to watch other things for inspiration and motivation, but primarily focus on your age, weight and ability level.

One of the great things about social media being open to anyone is you can find very specific niches of all kinds, and trainers come in all shapes, sizes and specialisations. There really is someone ideal for everyone out there and online coaching has made it so much easier for people access the right kind of training for them, regardless of location.

  1. Second opinions

Science plays a huge role in fitness. This is important to know as it really helps weed out the charlatans. Moreso when it comes to nutrition. It has become a popular practice for influencers to all manner of claims about food causing health problems. They will have you believing water is carcinogenic if they have an alternative to sell. It never hurts to see if others are talking about similar subjects. There often are and frequently debunking claims while providing actual scientific studies to back them up.

When it comes to fitness training the false claims either revolve around fat loss or issues like back pain. You cannot spot target fat loss and no single exercise is going to fix all lower back issues. Back pain is a complicated matter. See a doctor. If it sounds easy or exactly like what you want to hear, check to see if everyone agrees.


The shortest answer is to look for people who specialise in exactly what you want to work on and look out for the trainers with a relatively small following, only posts helpful content and only has a link to their services in their bio.

At some point of will post my own personal recommendations, so stay tuned!

Stay safe, healthy and well informed!



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