Years ago social media started and it was this amazing way to connect with people you had lost touch with. I'm not going to say people from high school because I didn't like high school, but you know, people that moved or...other people.
Now don't get me wrong, it can still be that but let's be real. Is it? Facebook is now everyone's opinion column. Instagram is everyone's highlight real. TikTok is remakes of well, everything. There is no originality. No authenticity. No accountability (Read "no" as very little). Social media can magnify things that do not need to be magnified. The algorithm, oh the algorithm. The problem with promoting things that are trending is that trending things don't necessarily need to be promoted. Mob mentality is horrible.
To be fair, there are several people and groups attempting to do good things on social media and it can most definitely be used for good. Just like every other part of life it's not ALL bad. There can be good in it, but that doesn't get the clicks, engagement and money.
As a fitness professional....hold on a second. Can we just take a moment to discuss the fact that I've been in the industry for 10 years, which isn't necessarily THAT long, and only recently have become comfortable calling myself a fitness professional partially because of the damage social media has caused to the fitness industry. Check out Why Am I the Expert. Oh, we've done plenty ourselves but social media, as it does, has magnified the ish we started.
So, as a fitness professional, I see so much misinformation placed on social media. I see newbies to fitness trying and being targeted for their mistakes. I see "fitfluencers" take advantage of unknowing followers to convince them you can spot loss fat, consume magic drinks, and have the same body they have. While there are agencies to help ensure your trainer/coach/instructor is credible and stays educated the general public doesn't always care about the education of their trainer/coach/instructor because they LOOK like the know. I'm going to burst your bubble here. Just because they LOOK like they know doesn't mean they know. Just because you like how their body looks doesn't mean they can get you their body. Their body is their body and your body is your body. The workouts they do to get their body aren't going to do the same thing for your body. The foods they eat aren't going to do the same thing for your body. I'll go a step farther and say the workouts and foods they post may not even be what THEY are doing.
Check out this study by Curtis, et al looking at the credibility of the leading 100 Instagram fitspiration accounts. This isn't just any fitfluencers this is the LEADING fitfluencers. The study used an audit tool, which I would love to see the parameters of in more depth, that gauged the quantity of fitness related posts as well possible nudity or inappropriate clothing, sexualisation or objectification, extreme body types, "thinspiration", or negative messages. BOOM! You know what they found. 41%, LESS THAN HALF were found credible. I just....can you hear me screaming!? And this is where we had to get our workout content from once COVID hit. So you run a 60/40 chance of getting crap health and fitness information on social media.
So how do you know if they know what they're talking about? How do you know if they're credible? You can search their certifications online. There are plenty of accreditation agencies, in my opinion some better than others. Unfortunately, that STILL doesn't mean they know their ish but it's a good start.
My favorite test is to ask them a question and see how they respond. As always, be kind and respectful. You're not trying to out them, you're trying to find out if you'll be a good match. Think of it like a job interview. They may be checking to see if you'll be a good client for them but you also need to make sure they'll be a good coach for you. If their response is anything other than, "it depends," keep looking. If they give you an answer and finish it with how there can be nuances, they could be a keeper. If they say always or never, keep looking.
Basically, if they're willing to continually invest in their education, if they're confident but humble, if they actively listen to you, they're probably a pretty solid candidate for you.
If you take nothing else away from this:
Do you research on your coaches
Social media is full of lies, but you already knew that
Go smile at people. THAT is always okay.