Social Media and the Fitness Industry

I first got on Facebook in 2008. It started out as way to randomly say what you were doing to the 15 people you were friends with. It developed into finding high school and college friends, then a way to share your hobby (lifting for all us meatheads) and family, connect with colleagues and now share funny memes, battle politics and even build your business.

But it can be a very double-edged sword. (And I speak from the fitness industry, of course.)  The strength and fitness industry is multi-faceted.  Some of us are lifters, some are coaches/trainers and some are both. (And still others are fitness marketers).  Coaching is also a very personal business. You train with someone you trust, believe in and can relate to. So developing relationships is extremely important to business. That’s why social media has almost become a necessary evil for many of us. We need to get ourselves out there to create our own “following”.

But what I’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of weight is put on social media popularity in regards to how good of a coach a person is. When the community sees how many likes, shares or comments one has, it is assumed that the person must be “popular” and therefore must be good. Social media “friends” and comments do not translate to that person’s actual network of real relationships.

Social media has brought lifters, competitors and teammates together

Social media has brought lifters, competitors and teammates together

 

Those of us in the industry often joke about all the best coaches. “They are too busy being in the trenches to spend countless hours, posting, commenting, liking and sharing on social media.”  I know NFL strength coaches, collegiate coaches, private facility owners and more who are phenomenal at what they do, but simply keep their social media game to a minimum.

We aren’t in this to just coach… “we are in this to educate as well.” (Quoted from a good friend.) An Instagram account with 90% butt selfies doesn’t always mean that she knows how to program or coach. Is she actually providing some fitness information with that #humpday post? Or is it merely to gain some comments, followers and therefore popularity? And then little ol you comes along and see 85.3K followers… wow, she must really know what she’s doing because she has so many fans.  Right?  (And I’m not even getting into the difference between men and women and the “sexy fitness” image that is so prevalent.)

So how do we differentiate between who is good and who is just looking for some {hearts} and thumbs up?

  1. Circle of close friends – I did just mention that just because a person is “friends” with someone doesn’t mean they are part of their close network. But look to see who the potential coach really runs with. Who tags them, talks about them, writes about them? Is their circle tight and trustworthy? Are the things spoken about this coach positive and professional?
  2. Provide information and education – do they share actual educational information? Articles, their view on training and nutrition and even their own training videos and logs? Yes, even training videos are educational. See what they are saying about their own training, why they are doing the things they are doing. Follow along and ask questions. It’s more than just touting their own lifting, it’s used to educate and teach others as well…. AND to show they walk the walk rather than just hang out behind a keyboard and sell some ebooks.
  3. Programs – are their programs promoted to sell or to coach? Programs promoted to sell offer what seem to be a lot of value for a small price. Sounds too good to be true, right? Feed the masses for a small buck with a mass produced product…Usually turns out to be that their programs/diets aren’t really customized for YOUR needs. If you pick up an ebook and follow a written plan, that’s fine. But be careful to assume that when you HIRE someone, you are getting something individualized. Good coaches take the time to customize and even change on the fly.
  4. Language – how do they speak? About themselves and others? Is their language sexified? Rude? Down-putting others? Do they promote their team and colleagues as well? Good coaches aren’t afraid to share their platform with other likeminded and respected coaches. No coach knows it all… and a good coach will also praise other good coaches.

 

Even outside the fitness industry, many people look at social media as a way to validate themselves. We want people to see the good and therefore think of us as _________ (fill in the blank… perfect parent, loving spouse, best business person, great lifter, etc). I even wrote a bit about perfectionism here in my training log. Social media can be a great thing, but it can also make things appear differently on the surface than they really are underneath. I have joked with a close friend that one day we will disappear off social media and never look back. For now, be sure to do your research (outside of social media as well) to find coaches, colleagues and networks that are solid.

 

 

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Julia Ladewski

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