MINUS THE INSTAGRAM FILTER
Finding a fitness plan is easy, there is a solution being offered everywhere you look. Finding a successful fitness plan that works for you though. That’s a challenge.
Getting your head in the right place is paramount when looking to create a fitness plan that will succeed in achieving your goals.
To help you get started, I’ve created a downloadable PDF outlining the Mental & Emotional Foundations that should be in place in order to be successful in your health and fitness endeavours.
Click Here to Grab Your Copy Instantly
The world is played out on social media so much these days that the idea of reality has been warped and most people are living their lives with a feeling of over entitlement and underachievement.
The fitness industry, which is meant to be here to help and improve lives, simply adds to that problem. Rather than helping others achieve, it is setting unrealistic expectations in every area.
It starts with the media
There’s no getting away from it, the media continues to create and exacerbate the problems in society. Magazines and TV shows continue to paint a picture of perfection that is both superficial and completely exaggerated.
And, whilst more people are waking up to the idea that the media image of what is fit and healthy paints an unrealistic expectation, the number one driver for any changes in approach is not delivering the truth, but rather bending that approach to obtain the highest ratings, readers or engagement.
Historically the idea of the ‘body beautiful’ has been the issue. Celebrity physiques are constantly under the microscope. The highlight being how they lost 3 dress sizes in 2 months or went from huge to skinny in a matter of weeks “with this one simple workout” or “this easy to follow diet”.
That same outlet, the next week will likely be criticizing another person for being too skinny and how that is unhealthy, then back to focusing on a beach picture where they zoom in on someone’s cellulite or stretch marks.
There is no useful public message, it’s all about the ratings.
Now the tide has turned a little and the focus is on the obesity crisis and often spotlights the dangers of the approaches they, themselves, have promoted in the past.
And now, the highlight is on the latest ‘research’ or radical fitness approaches that show all you need to do is 4mins exercise per day or that you can keep eating what you want, but just be sure to starve yourself a couple of days per week.
Whatever fitness plan they are pushing, it’s never simple, sensible and moderate, because that doesn’t bring in ratings.
Instead they focus on the dreams and desires of their audience.
They push the radical approach.
The sell the idea of the magic bullet.
In simple terms, they are selling modern day snake oil.
And due to the stresses the average person is dealing with in their lives already, coupled with their frustrations and pains regarding their own body image, even though they may be more sceptical, they want to believe it because, if it were true, it would make their lives so much better with very little effort.
Remember, the cover models on these magazines in well lit studios, make-up and touched up photos, represents how they look all the time! And it’s easy to achieve, just follow the 4 week plan inside. Keep up!
If it works in the media it will work in marketing
Because people buy into these sensationalized health and fitness plans and approaches, the fitness industry, which ‘should’ be focused on the quality of their advice and doing what is best for their audience, has become overrun with those who simply see the financial rewards of offering plans and approaches that sell rather than those that work.
So new products and systems flood the market, promising that, where all the others have failed, this one will succeed.
Posters advertising the latest 15min class show the body you will be achieving by doing this just twice per week.
Budget gyms tell you of the millions of pounds worth of equipment you can get access to for the price of one cup of coffee per week (though if you actually want to be able to get access to it through the crowd or be shown how to make use of this equipment, that’s extra).
Books fill the Amazon listings promising that, finally, there is a solution that allows you the fitness plan you have always dreamed of. Little effort, only minutes of your time and yet amazing results.
Essentially, if it sells, it will be created and promoted. If it genuinely works is not much of a concern.
The biggest culprits are now your friends
With the rise of social media, now everyone is a promoter, a creator and a publisher.
Half the population are amateur photographers, after all, they have a digital camera.
Add to that Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat filters and suddenly the world seems a more glamorous, flawless place.
The level of expectation of reality is out of control.
Yet the level of reality, for many, is actually lessening.
Because everyone sees their friends, family, minor and major celebrities, always in their best light, the expectation of what can be achieved and what should be considered ‘every day beautiful’ is completely unrealistic. And the sense of injustice felt by those exposed to it, as they battle with their own self-image, continues to grow.
So much so that, every day that passes feels like another day behind.
The curse of time
In comparing with celebrities or fitness models, firstly how they look is their job. Imagine if you could put the same time and effort into your physique as you do your career. Of course you’d look amazing. And if you were constantly under the spotlight to that degree or your career depended on it, that would be one heck of a motivator.
But, most people have less free time now than at any time in the past 40+ years. People are working harder than ever before and your time is more in demand than in years gone by.
Similarly, though, everything is running at a faster pace.
You can order something from one end of the country at 8pm and have it delivered the next morning (I know because I did this just a few days ago).
Whereas in previous years, to send information to someone would require a letter that would take days to arrive, now it can be sent via email or text message instantly.
In my younger days, if someone wanted to get a hold of you via telephone you would have to be at home and no one in your home could be on a call at that time. Now you are instantly contactable at all times and if you don’t get a reply within minutes, let alone days, you could end up taking offence.
Everything is instant.
Unfortunately, physiology doesn’t work in a similar way.
Just because technology has made most processes insanely fast, doesn’t mean your body and physiology can be forced to do the same.
We all want things quickly and get frustrated when we have to wait. We have become more and more impatient as a nation.
And so, as the world in general, through improved filters, cameras, and experience with lighting, the ability to mask the less flattering images etc it is easy to feel that every day you are further and further behind.
As a result, desperation sets in…
Which takes us back to the fitness industry.
The very source that should be here to help. To be the voice of reason. To ensure the best advice, plans and solutions are being delivered, is the very industry that, for the most part, is exacerbating the problem.
They see a desire from their target audience to get amazing results quickly and with little effort and rather than looking to educate and encourage longstanding and healthy solutions, they pander to those wishes.
To breakdown just a few of the options on offer:
The trainer who wants to be different
Ironically this is probably the most common approach. Look like you are doing something bizarre, catch the attention of everyone watching, make out as if it’s something revolutionary and wait for the questions to come flooding in as to why this is so special. Come up with something that sounds plausible, has little to no research backing it up but it makes it look as if you are delivering something exciting and unique that will get results in a matter of weeks.
These are, in my view, the worst of the worst. Firstly, the fitness plans they are creating for their clients are not thought out, have no long-term plan to them and are often borderline dangerous (sometimes not even borderline).
The only benefit in a lot of these workouts would be for someone looking to join the circus.
The client isn’t the priority here, they are being used as a marketing tool to find the next client.
The main culprits for this technique are trainers who have no actual results or testimonials to base their reputation on. That could be because they are only recently qualified and their course provider did not instill good habits or processes in them; they have been going for a while, but using these techniques, they never actually achieve anything tangible; they have been working as a trainer for a while, but don’t bother to actually study or research anything and instead rely on YouTube videos or their Facebook feed for information.
Personal Training should be just that, personal! And so, plans should be long term, progressive and designed specifically for the person being trained, not for the wow or entertainment factor of others (or to impress the client over giving them the progress they are looking for).
If this is someone you currently pay to manage your fitness programmes, consider whether or not they are actually working on ensuring what will work for you and why they are employing such ‘out of the box’ techniques in the first place.
If there is no real reason, consider looking elsewhere.
The latest gizmo or piece of equipment.
There are new tools and pieces of equipment being developed all the time. Often it’s just an old tool with a brighter paint job or a quirkier name. Often it is something ‘revolutionary’ that is completely new and unique.
However, human anatomy is not new. And whilst science is always finding out new things and debunking old thinking, how the body moves hasn’t changed for thousands of years (since evolution had us walking more upright).
The movement patterns we employ today are just the same as they were 20 years ago. And so the training systems that were effective then are going to be just as effective now.
Finding ways of manufacturing equipment to make it more ergonomic or to suit differing movement patterns in different individuals are great. Refinement in all areas of fitness is always welcome. But, as with the trainer above, making something new just so there is something new to sell and trying to make out that it is the latest and greatest invention of all time is, at best, misleading, but generally is little more than the false promise of a snake oil salesman.
Most times the people touting these new devices sell them. In other words, they have a financial incentive to be positive about it.
Whether deliberate or not, the benefits get massively overhyped. Suddenly trainers have them in every single workout and start adapting routines and programmes to suit the equipment rather than using it as a tool that can occasionally be useful (if it’s even of that level).
For every 1000 new, lifechanging, pieces of equipment, possibly 1 of them can come even close to living up to that reputation. And even then, gym equipment should be considered as tools in your toolbox. You wouldn’t use a hammer for every DIY job, you would use the best tool for the job. No matter how amazing your hammer is, it’s not going to better at cutting than a saw, or better at putting in a screw than a screwdriver.
So, if you are a trainer who uses the same 2 pieces of equipment in every workout, ask yourself why that is. Do you have a financial incentive to do so? Would you do the same if you couldn’t earn a commission on selling the product? Even if you don’t earn from it, have you just bought into the hype or perhaps, as with the trainer above, you think it makes you stand out and be different (in which case, it is still a perceived financial incentive).
And if you are working with someone who continually uses the same equipment over and over (and that equipment is not a barbell or a set of dumbbells) then ask why that is and really listen to the answer.
If you feel like you are now talking to a salesperson, maybe reconsider your approach.
There are now more articles videos and online content being produced in a day than it is possible for any individual person to consume in a lifetime.
As much as it seems there is a new gym opening on every corner and more personal trainers getting qualified than there are people looking for personal training, the web is even more cluttered.
On the plus side, if there is a piece of information you need to find, chances are it is out there for you to access.
On the downside, in order to stand out, people feel they have to be unique. So offering up a video on good deadlift technique is only going to get lost in the shuffle of the other 5000 videos on the same topic. So, just like the routes above, people feel the need to demonstrate something strange and unique. Whether it’s of use or not is neither here nor there, the goal is to get the clicks and the views.
Even if it is a useful technique, more often than not, it is not as beneficial as the more traditional training methods. However, if it is being presented from a known celebrity or trusted source, many people will take it as the secret sauce that is going to unlock an amazing transformation in them and build their entire fitness plan around it.
Often, if you were to ask the creator of the plan (assuming they are indeed reputable) they would confirm that it was little more than a finisher technique or they had developed it for a very specific purpose, but it wasn’t to be taken as the foundation of the average gym going audiences training plan.
I could go on and cover many more options, but I’m sure you see the trend.
In a world of people looking to sell their services, products or courses, the idea of being unique often supersedes quality and usefulness.
And because most people are presenting their lives through an Instagram filter or selective editing, the gap between perception and reality when it comes to what is the norm is widening. And as it does so, the panic, for many grows.
It’s easy to feel that you are falling further and further behind the lives of others.
To wake up each morning and see yourself at your worst and instantly compare it to the online version of morning in PJs presented by the wannabe models and attention seekers who have the “just woke up like this” and “I’m so hideous in the morning” photos plastered over their social media. Which are actually the result of 40mins make-up, hair styling and the most flattering lighting and filtering possible, 100 photos taken and the absolute cream being presented to the world.
The truth is, the ideal fitness plan is unique to each individual.
But one thing is absolutely certain. There are no quick fixes.
Sure, some people respond to exercise and dietary changes quicker than others, but no one has the magic solution that is going to cause you to transform your appearance overnight (other than an amazing makeup artist and highly skilled photoshop technician).
In fact, any trainer, facility or supplement salesman telling you their solution can get you from A to B in a definitive time is straight out lying to you.
They don’t know you. They don’t know your physiology. They don’t know your genetic code. Nor can they see the future.
No one knows the circumstances that are going to come your way in the coming weeks.
Perhaps something stressful or upsetting will happen that will prevent you from sleeping well. Maybe you’ll catch a virus or bug that will hamper your immune system. You may go over on your ankle or pinch a nerve in your lower back.
Anything could happen and nothing is certain.
Yes, average results in a laboratory situation can give a good indicator. But we don’t live in a lab and no one is the definition of average.
A trainer, coach or product creator who is able to be honest with you; tell you about the hurdles and issues that may come up, but then explain how they can be dealt with to ensure you still achieve the results you are looking for is much more valuable than the one that sells you the starts and then hands you nothing more than a ladder.
If you truly want to see results, the first step is to get real with the process.
Understand that this is about your future, not about your next few weeks. Your life is going to span much longer than until your next holiday (or if not, then what are you doing wasting your remaining days in the gym?).
There’s nothing wrong with setting a high bar for your expectations. Just understand the process is not magic. There is no winning lottery ticket when it comes to physiology.
It takes a sensible approach and one without unrealistic expectations, to see genuine, long term results.
For those in the fitness industry reading this, I implore you, make your service about your clients. Make it about fitness. Genuinely look to serve others (the way you say you will in your marketing campaigns and consultations). Make health and fitness about health and fitness, not about the size of your bank balance.
Make the world a better place, one person at a time.
By doing that, everyone benefits.
Those looking to improve their lives make genuine improvements.
Those looking to be successful in the industry get to achieve success.
And that success starts with the success of those you are claiming to serve.
And everyone else gets to experience a happier, more joyful world due to the fact that more people have a strong, healthy and high level of self-worth.
Look beyond the filter and you’ll see that those you idolise and feel so far removed from have just as many problems, stresses and self-doubts as you. And looking from the outside in, you’ll likely see that others see your filtered profile as something to be jealous of.
Or better yet, simply look inward. See the greatness in yourself. See your true worth. Nourish it, look after it and soon enough that internal change will express itself externally.
The ultimate fitness plan is simple
Treat yourself in a way you deserve to be treated, find what works for you and makes you feel good about yourself and keep doing it.
It’s simple, but I never said it was easy.
If you want to read something that will actually change your life and let you look at it in a better way, I strongly suggest:
It’s not what you might think from the title and whilst it contains lessons and techniques you can employ, it is also an entertaining novel and an engaging story. It’s a book that should almost be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to make a positive change in their lives.
Successful Fitness Plans
Minus the Filters by Mark Tiffney
What say you?
Do you feel you are constantly trying to live up to a level that is unachievable?
Do you feel you are always looking for quick results and the amazing new solution that is going to get you there?
Do you think my thoughts are just woo woo and in fantasy land?
Or do you already believe in the long-term process and care more about that than playing the comparison game?
Let me know in the comments below.
The first step to getting your plan ready for success is to get your head in the right place.
As such, I’ve put together a PDF on Emotional & Mental Foundations and how to get them in place, free to download right now.
If you are still of the view that you must achieve success in a hurry, regardless of whether weight loss is your goal, have a look at this article on the approach of aiming to Lose Weight Fast – hopefully you will find it useful.