The Forgotten Quality of the Fitness Industry

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I’d like to start with a story. It involves a temple, a monk, a woman, and her small child.

(Sorry, this story doesn’t begin with your standard “a cowboy, rabbi, and turtle walk into a bar…..”)

Photo Credit: No Typographic Man

It’s a story I originally heard from strength coach Martin Rooney and few years ago, and it’s a story that has resonated with every since.

It begins with a woman and her small child walking up the stairs of a temple that houses a monk. At wits end, the woman reluctantly approaches the wise monk and asks, “wise Monk I’ve tried everything I can to get my child to stop eating sugar and nothing has worked. Can you offer any sage advice? Anything?”

The monk looks at the woman and the child, and calmly says, “come back and ask me again in two weeks.”

With a quizzical look on her face, the mother reluctantly walked away. Two weeks later, she brings her son to see the monk.

“Stop eating sugar,” he says to the little boy.

“Why did we have to wait two weeks for that?”

“Because,” the monk said, “I myself had to stop eating sugar.”

That’s integrity.

in·teg·ri·ty
inˈteɡrədē/
noun
  1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
    “he is known to be a man of integrity”

It’s something I feel that’s missing from the fitness industry.

But this isn’t to throw the entire fitness industry under the bus. Nor is it an attempt to single out the fitness industry as the sole proprietor of snake oil fishery.

By and large I feel the industry as a whole is rife with well-intentioned, good-hearted, truthful, and honest professionals who want nothing more than to help people and do so in a non-douchey manner.

Likewise, it would be naive of me to say that no other profession is immune to having its veins cut off from integrity with a tourniquet. All we have to do is take a hop, jump, and skip back to 2008 with the housing market and all the Wall Street and investment banking scumbags who purposely preyed on and sold subprime mortgages to unsuspecting home buyers knowing full well that what they were doing was unethical and likely going to bankrupt a lot of people.

Not to mention the economy.

Likewise, we don’t have to steer far off the beaten track to witness shady deals and actions by our politicians. And, have you not heard a good lawyer joke lately?

I don’t want to sound like a Jonny Raincloud, though; I truly am someone who gives most people the benefit of the doubt and feels most people are kind and good hearted.

While there’s a lot about the industry I love, there’s something about he fitness industry that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s partly because I’ve been “in it” for so long and have seen anything and everything that can happen. All I have to do is turn on the television at 2AM and see any number of shams being sold to the public. Anything from Shake Weights to 7-Minute Abs (or are we down to 6 minutes now? I’ve lost count) to detox diets to a certain “celebrity doctor” announcing that Acai Berries are the greatest miracle food in the history of ever.

They make you shit rainbows!

It’s nauseating at times.

And it all makes me reminisce about that Wendy’s commercial from the 1980s where the three ladies exclaim: “where’s the beef?”

Except in this case I want to ask: “where’s the integrity?”

But then again who am I to judge? All these people are making bank and it’s a free country, right? And this isn’t to suggest that all the aforementioned people and examples are the Spawn of Satan. For all I know they’re all lovely individuals who donate blood a few times a year, pay their taxes, volunteer their time at a local homeless shelter, or read scripture to orphaned kittens. Or whateverthef***.

All that said, while it’s my own opinion, there’s an astonishingly emaciated level of integrity in the fitness industry.

At the expense of coming across as a little holier than thou, I can count numerous times where I turned away distance coaching clients in lieu of encouraging them to purchase The New Rules of Lifting or The New Rules of Lifting For Women instead.

They don’t need to drop a few hundred dollars over the course of a few months when a book that costs $10 can be just as useful. Many times I tell them to buy the book, read it (<— this is important: they need to understand the WHYs of doing what they’re being asked to do), follow the program, and after 3-6 months, if they’re ready for a more personalized approach, to shoot me another message.

Moreover, while I could easily step away from coaching and do nothing but tap away on my computer on a day to say basis writing articles and fitness programs for people all over the world, there’s just something that doesn’t jive with me to write about training people and not actually train people.

In a gym.

In person.

In real life.

But that’s just me. I have all the respect in the world for those colleagues of mine who have the luxury to work from home seven days a week and travel the world. Many of them still do coach people, though. And many of them accumulated years of experience beforehand.

It’s when the new trainer who’s fresh out of school and feels he knows everything because he read SuperTraining (dude, you didn’t understand a thing! I still don’t understand it) is quick to jump on the “I’m-going-to-be-rich-because-I-wrote-an-ebook” train, that my gears starting grinding.

How can someone with little or no actual coaching/training experience write a book on how to train people?

My good buddy, Bryan Krahn, wrote an amazing article on this phenomenon not too long ago. Essentially on how to go about spotting the Liars, Scammers, and Douchebags in the fitness industry. Part I and Part II.

It’s a great read, and not for nothing…Bryan is someone you should be following.

And then there’s the supplement industry.

Oh boy…….now that’s a cesspool of douchebags to the douchiest degree if there ever was one.

Did I break the record for using the word douchebag in a post yet?

If not, douchebag.

Yes, I believe there are companies out there who provide awesome products and I’d be lying if I said I don’t use supplements or recommend them to my athletes and clients.

However, the “good” ones are few and far between.

Which is why I find the guys (and girls!) over at Examine.com invaluable. When it comes to integrity – and lets be honest, the supplement industry, at times, is severely lacking in that department – Examine.com is the integrity police.

It’s the largest (over 1 million visitors per day) and most trusted UNBIASED resource on supplementation on the internet. They have an advisory board full of physicians, researchers, scientists, and probably wizards that scrutinize and dissect every piece of literature released on their site.

You can be assured that the information they provide is 100% correct, and not to be reiterated enough….UNBIASED.

As it happens, the site itself just turned 4 years old yesterday. Holla!

To celebrate they’re placing all their resources on sale for the next 60 or so hours. Starting TODAY (3/17) at 12 PM.

That means…

Supplement-Goals Reference Guide on sale.
The Stack Guides on sale
Examine Research Digest (<— monthly research review) on sale.

Up to 40% off in fact. Which is a steal given the amount (and quality) of information you’re getting.

Integrity in the fitness industry is hard to find; but it still exists. You just have to know where to look.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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  • Shane Mclean

    AGREED!!!!! Great post.

  • Guzzy

    First of all hope Lisa’s feeling better and really enjoyed reading about your trip. Secondly good to have you back! Thirdly I don’t even know you but can tell from my own trainer who has learned much from you, and is a man of true integrity, that you are too.

  • David Claiborne

    Wouldn’t lack of integrity also be the affiliate market which you are such a huge part of?

    I mean promoting a product in 99% of your posts that I can bet the majority you haven’t tried personally or used with clients falls into lack of integrity as well.

    Just because another coach is in your affiliate circle doesn’t mean you should pimp out their products as the next greatest thing.

    There is a difference between recommending something you have actually used, but pimping out a product just because of someone’s name or reputation without testing it on yourself and/or your clients is just as bad and misleading as your claims on this post.

    • TonyGentilcore

      How is directing people towards products I trust (and yes, use) and think are worthwhile demonstrating a lack of integrity?

      Also, how do you know that I don’t use Examine.com? How can you say for sure I don’t use their services? Is there a hidden camera somewhere I’m not aware of?

      I had no idea I was considered someone who’s deceitful who’s only objective is to “pimp products.”

      And, 99% of my posts? Really? That’s a bit egregious of a number don’t you think?

      Do I help promote products I like? Yep. Do I know a lot of smart and well intentioned coaches who have REAL WORLD experience, actually coach people, and use research and science to back their claims up? Yep. Do I use affiliate marketing? Yep. Why wouldn’t I?

      I provide a TON of free content on this site….god forbid I help promote Lee Taft’s Complete Speed Training (you know, a world renowned speed coach), or Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster (her and her husband run a very successful gym in Minnesota; not to mention Jen was a former USA Rugby National team member), or Examine.com (who’s only agenda is to provide factual information on supplementation).

      Geez, I’m such an asshole.

      I feel it’s shows more integrity to point people in the direction of coaches who actually give a shit and do good for the industry than to link to Mark Chang videos.

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  • Kelsey Reed

    Well said!

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