The Truth About Fitness Social Media

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With social media exploding in the fitness industry, it’s all too common to see ripped up- gorgeous people, amazingly complicated movements being accomplished, or ridiculous before and after pictures (some are real, some are fake). Speaking as a personal trainer in New York City, where everyone wants results NOW, one of the biggest goal crushing mistakes we see is comparing yourself to these models, photoshopped images, or genetically gifted athletes. While it’s great to view posts as a short term motivator, it can easily become a slippery slope to “why don’t I look like that” or “why am i not that strong?” mentality.

The instant gratification we get from social media sites like instagram, facebook, twitter and so on shows us amazing success stories, incredible bodies, and ridiculous feat of strength videos. However while there’s a great deal of amazing results thrown in your face, it can be very easy to over look the hard work put into it.

To be frank, the reality is that most of us, including me, are regular “Average Joe’s”. This means for us,”Average Joe’s”, results may not be as drastic or quick like it is portrayed on many fitness or training sites. And that’s for a reason, images such as the everyday “Average Joe’s” results probably won’t be something that motivates people on social media. If I post a client setting a Personal Record (PR) of a 225lb bench for 3 reps, it may get some traction but it’s nothing comparable to someone benching 350lb for reps. For most the 225lb bench is pretty standard and it’s achievable but a 350ls bench for reps is probably only for the select few. As more and more of these types of videos become prevalent, because it’ll get views, it could then misinform the viewer that these results are the norms, when they’re far from it.

Expectation vs. Reality

As a NYC personal trainer, I get to deal with all types of people, and I can say that there’s a pretty wide gap between expectations vs. reality for many people, regardless of goal. I attribute this to marketing ploys. Check out many of the instagram “celebrity trainers” or go to pretty much any fitness site and it’ll be fluttered with before and after pics promising you your goals in “just 21 days” or something of the sort. While some of these results MAY be real, a majority is a fix used to catch your eye and it clearly works. They are giving people what they want, a quick easy way to lose weight with little to no work. However as we talked about before, via evolution of dieting, this is far from the truth for a majority of the population.

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Take a look at the above picture, regardless if this is legitimate or not I want you to look at the timeline. IF this is true it shows that this person has made an INCREDIBLE transformation, not in 21 days but in THREE years. This person wasn’t cycling on and off dieting and training, he was clearly consistent over the THREE years on both his diet and training. The main point is the timeline and that the guy clearly put in a LOT of dedication and hard work.

weight loss personal trainer

I also want to point out an amazing transformation by Brooke, who lost over 170lbs! Shape, a female “fitness” magazine, decided to do a story on her and instead of commending her for her amazing results and confidence to show what a real person looks like after losing 170lbs, they tried to cover her up. The point is that there’s a clear divide between what really happens and what the media likes to show you.

Photo Shoot Ready

physique personal trainer nyc

Clearly this guy thought he could just show up…


Instagram, for fitness, is usually used as highlight reel of your accomplishments. The personal trainers, fitness models, physique competitors etc… don’t look shredded, lean, or whatever adjective you’d like to use 24/7. They have to get prepped up, via dieting, cutting water, getting their “pump” prior to the shoot and so on… to look as good as possible, just a like a bodybuilder.

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Take for instance Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, you think he just woke up and was “I look ripped, like let’s shoot”? Doubt it, he clearly prepared just like any physique competitor to look as ripped up and vascular as he does above. It’s not on an everyday look…

skip leg day

Now I love Wolverine so this isn’t a knock on him but have you noticed that there isn’t a shot of Wolverine’s legs in X-Men? My point is that while Hugh Jackman was shredded for the movie he isn’t perfect and they clearly choose specific angles to shoot from.

The above pic is Hugh Jackman not prepped as “Wolverine”. While he’s still in good shape, he’s no where near what he was for “X-Men: Days of Future’s Past”. Just to give you a comparison of “Hugh Jackman” vs. “Wolverine”.

Highlight Reel

I LOVE this picture by a young physique competitor- Lacey (@FaithandFit) Here’s her comment:

“Left yesterday. Right today after abs and my full workout. I’m like the left 99% of the time. Don’t be fooled by somebody’s highlight reel. Abs come and go and I sometimes get sad but I’m like ya know what? Who really cares”

This pretty much sums up my post in a nutshell, while most personal trainers, fitness figures, and performance coaches are trying to make a positive impact, there are others trying to trick you into their BS. Don’t be fooled by the highlight reels! Unfortunately this is why I believe many people fall short, they start training and dieting with some great results but after a few months the results start to taper and then they get discouraged by these unrealistic expectations that have become the norm on social media sites.

Final Point

never give up on your dreams

I’m not here to say that your goals are not obtainable, what I am saying is that quick transformations and super human feat of strengths are not the norm. I’ve been around some gifted athletes and physique clients, what they can do is just outstanding but for the “Average Joe” results come through consistency, patience, and time. A perfect example of this is one of our clients, who’s been with us for nearly 2 years now, he went from 147lbs with minimal muscle to 163lbs (around 15% BF) to then lean out at 154lbs (around 10% bodyfat) and still maintain a high percentage of his strength. How did he do it? CONSISTENTLY training and dieting, of course he wasn’t perfect 100% of the time but he kept plugging away and not giving up. The point, results take time so be patient and stay consistent!

Stay strong,

Team Fusion Trained

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Chris MatsuiAbout the Author

Chris Matsui is a highly sought after Performance Training Coach in NYC who has worked with high-level athletes and general fitness clients of all ages and at every fitness level. He has a unique background that consists of personal training in the private setting and sports performance training at the professional and collegiate level. Connect with Chris on Google+

Comments

  1. Great reminder to avoid unrealistic expectations and impatient “get-fit-quick” schemes– sizing your bad days up to people’s scripted highlight reels is always a surefire way to kill your motivation and beat yourself up. Thanks for sharing!

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