Every so often I sit down to write what I perceive will be my final essay for this blog. To this point, I have been incorrect to have made those assumptions. Today was one of those days, once again that feeling came over me that this was it.
In the 10 years or so since I began writing fitness related essays, the world has changed more than it had in the 30 years prior. That’s not an exaggeration. The complexities of culture have increased, and expanded in a seemingly exponential way. It appears no part of culture is exempt from this. Ideas, boundaries, rules, opportunities, and arguments have grown more complex in all aspects of culture. The ideals of exercise and fitness are part of that cultural expansion.
As there are many more ideas in what exercise and fitness should be then there once were, there are now many more resources, more information, and more people supporting these ideas, resources, and information. Along with the increasing ideas, have come increasing platforms. There are many outlets now for anyone who wants to share their fitness advice. If a person has an idea, and a computer, they can establish a dedicated following in short order. That said, there are now many more conflicts within the ideals of fitness and exercise.
I say often that we live in the age of conflicting data. For every argument one can make in support of a cause or an idea, and back it up with some kind of data source, someone else can make an opposing argument supported by a different data source. Few data sources, on either side of any argument, are without agenda. Though such conflicts are as old as culture itself, in this technical age arguments come much faster – often faster than they can be processed or understood, and that’s a huge problem.
Social media has become a platform, if not a battle ground, on which these conflicts are increasingly played out. The utility, as well as the benefit of any good idea can be quickly obscured by the clouds of argument. Information becomes chaotic.
As is usual in battle, truth seems to be the first casualty. The internet is scattered with millions of peddlers selling products, ideas, and agendas with varying degrees of sincerity behind what they sell. The internet is lined with millions of consumers, not all of whom are discriminating enough to avoid becoming the unwitting victims of those pushing a lesser agenda. The intentions of those on both sides, of course, can range in reason and motivation.
Personally, I fall into both categories. I use the internet as a consumer of ideas, to gather fitness, and exercise related information. I also use it as resource to promote my business; that I may share information. In short, I am an information merchant. I hope my intentions are on the reasonable side, and believe they are.
Through my social media platforms; my Facebook page, youtube channel, and this blog, I attempt to share information, and generate a peripheral income with my online training business. I make my primary living though, teaching exercise in a one-on-one environment. Be it in my studio, or via Skype, a student can look me in the eye, judge me, and even question my intent for his or her self. He or she can walk away if they prefer to purchase the information elsewhere, or not at all.
As it relates to my information, I have never sold my ideas, values, or techniques as absolute. Rather, I have sold them as useful suggestions which may carry some level of utility based on how they are accepted, and applied. I believe I have something to say, and I appreciate that I have had a clientele through the years willing to purchase my information.
Guruism; it’s the new hobby…
The relentless guruism touted by the self-appointed leaders in the fitness social media, and the concussions of the conflicts they create, have begun to wear me down. Many of the so-called leaders in the online fitness community simply dress themselves up in low body fat, tanning solution, and a catchy logo only to regurgitate bad or stale information in exchange for cash. At the end of the day many of these people are selling untested or second hand information, and don’t have a clue to stand on.
Several years ago a reader of this blog, a 30-something fitness enthusiast, part-time professional writer, and mother suggested to me that she wanted to switch careers, and become a fitness trainer. Through many emails, phone conversations, and even a personal visit on my part, I not only helped point her in the right direction and encouraged her, I was her biggest cheerleader.
In less than a year’s time, she began a training business, and grew her fitness blog to be one of the most popular online. She has thousands of followers, and now makes a very good living at it. All it took was a weekend fitness certification, a few steamy pictures of her torso on her website, and the platform of social media. She is now free to give absolute and exclusive advice to anyone willing to pay for it. There are thousands more out there too, just like her; supremely knowledgeable, absolute in their beliefs, and connected to PayPal.
Here are a few things (from a list of thousands in my head) that would-be fitness gurus of the social media era might want to consider as they strive to promote themselves, and their business:
1) Leadership involves listening, and not being exclusive.
2) Admitting gaps in one’s knowledge base, and subsequently filling them is always a good thing.
3) Even that best ideas don’t always need to be shared with everyone, because they don’t always apply to everyone.
4) You don’t always have to be right.
5) The primary objective of your business endeavor should not be to keep score, to sell books, to hook up subscribers, or to count fans or web hits at the end of the day. The primary objective of your endeavor should be to share information applicable to the audience, do so in a concise way, and be available to the end user should they have any questions regarding your messages or your intentions. If there’s money in that at the end of the month, then count your blessings!
This will not be the last fitness related essay I ever write – not by any means. By way of my social media platforms, I will continue to share my ideas, values, and experiences in exercise and fitness, never making claims that my ideas, techniques, or experiences are exclusive, though I will suggest they are often unique. I will though, become much more discriminating in the social media outlets I support, and champion. I will encourage you to do the same – this platform included.
It’s funny, after reading this a time or two, I can’t help but feel this message could well be superimposed over similar conflicts in the areas of politics, and religion. But you already read between those lines, yes….? Be well… rc
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Deer Tick. Enjoy…