On one hand, I’m extremely grateful for Instagram as a platform. Whilst it gets a lot of hate - partly due to the negative feedback loops that people find themselves in when using it - I’m really glad that Instagram has made fitness accessible for the masses.
Whilst I vehemently disagree with his approach to eating and training, it is undoubtable that Joe Wicks kicked off the Insta-fitness frenzy we have watched grow over the last 5-6 years. The fact that there is so much invaluable information available for absolutely no cost to you (other than your personal data, but that’s a story for another day) puts us right in the middle of the age of accessibility.
Whilst the world suffers from an obesity crisis like no other, any exposure is good exposure and the more people we can onboard to a life of health and fitness, the better.
To compound this effect, the information asymmetry between a fitness professional and a client has never been shallower - if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find enough information to put together a program and fine tune your technique for free. In that sense, the personal trainer is a data aggregator; we research concepts and techniques, filter out the shit and relay it to clients in a manner that is easily to understand and follow.
I theorise that the overconfidence that we have in the abilities of personal trainers we see on the internet is actually to the detriment of effective training. In the attention economy, personal trainers online are unable to capture your attention performing ‘boring’ foundational movements that work. Instead, the views go to the trainer doing the most outlandish barbell movement, or putting the heaviest kettlebell overhead.
This negative feedback loop has created a cycle that goes something like this: viewers associate number of likes with quality of content, and continue to reward creators with social credits (likes and comments). Newer participants in health and fitness rinse and repeat this. Over time, the most useful, simple content is eroded and crazy, ineffective workouts are prevalent.
I’ve fallen for this before and wasted years of training does useless shit that didn’t further my progress whatsoever. I really progressed when I hired a knowledgeable coach, refined my technique and mastered the basics. Whilst ‘basic’ training is far from easy, the methodology is simple and is the most effective for clients. Even coaches need coaches - we should be sure to not fall into the trap of an overinflated sense of knowledge. Popularity is not equal to quality, and we should always be looking for criticisms of our techniques. These are the only opportunities we have to grow.
Conclusively, I think that Instagram fitness content does more good than harm and gets people moving on their own accord. If you’re serious about training, it’s always wise to train with a fitness professional at least until perfect form becomes muscle memory. What you pay for a PT, you’ll generally save through reduction of takeaway, drug and alcohol consumption. The domino effect of training is real - one simple workout can lead to a drastic change in lifestyle, as long as you are disciplined.
If you’re self-employed, being fit and healthy should be an absolute priority as you don’t get paid for sick days. Work smarter, and harder! Training should supplement your life, not make it harder.