The Dark Side of the Fitness Industry
The fitness industry is ever booming on social media and we see it in action every day. When we scroll down our newsfeed and timelines, we see a cute fit girl (or man) holding a protein shake, flexing, and hashtagging #fitspo. Instantly, we feel inspired with a sense of newfound motivation and we want to know, “how can I achieve this, too?”
When it comes to the internet, we are all strangers interacting with each other day to day. All we know is the persona that is put on and never what is truly going on behind the scenes. Some of these people can be master manipulators wrapped in a sweet bow of inspiration. Sometimes people aren’t all that they seem.
All Trainers Are Not Created Equal
When it comes to fitness trainers and coaches on the gram or any social media, please keep in mind that not every one is the same. There are some amazing trainers on social media.. and then there are some not so good ones. Then there are some personal trainers who aren’t even certified. To be honest, unless you ask for credentials and testimonials, it is hard tell the difference between them. As a personal trainer leading people to better health, I believe this comes with a certain degree of responsibility-especially with what you promote.
The role of an influencer has risen in the past few years and they do exactly what they are-influence. Influencers (of all types, fitness or not) hold a lot of power you see, especially when they have a loyal following. For example, when they advertise a juice and claims it helps them to lose weight, what are you most likely to do? Go get that juice, right? This is where the trust factor comes in.. you trust this person that they are truthful with what they have to say whether it is selling their own product or promoting someone else’s product for payment.
TIP: If you want to know if a trainer is actually certified, find out who the institution is and search their database! For example, I am certified through NASM. There is a button at the bottom of the page that says “Validate Credentials” or you can simply click here and type any first and last name. There are many different institutions, just keep in mind, but luckily NASM offers this cool feature. When in doubt, just ask to see the certificate itself-we all have one or should.
Your Sanity & Social Media
In a study published two years ago in the scientific journal Body Image, it showed that women who viewed a set of Instagram fitness images reported lower levels of body satisfaction than women who viewed a set of Instagram travel images.
I can absolutely see this! Even sometimes, I will see a picture of a perfect butt (no offense Jen Selter) and immediately be plagued with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy followed by thinking up countless ways of achieving this look followed by the realization that I will never have that same perfect butt. Isn’t it insane how social media breeds discontentment?
I have learned the ‘unfollow’ button is a beautiful thing and to only follow people who lift me up. I also love following people of all different body types to remind myself that there is no standard type of body that needs to be achieved. Since I removed my breast implants two months ago, I have been very careful with who I view on social media because my body image was in a delicate state.
Do what is best for your mental health. Reassess how who you are following on social media makes you feel. Take your sanity back.
When Trainers Go Bad
Personal trainers are here to motivate, inspire, and to help you do your best when it comes to living your best life. But sometimes, it can be just the opposite. I have been in the biz for over 5 years and I have seen so many trainers take advantage of a woman’s weakness in order to sell her a product (this is extremely common with MLM products especially). Some trainers will use their potential clients’ insecurities to help them sell more goods. Sounds sad, but it happens all the time.
Lately, a popular fitness trainer named Brittany Dawn Fitness has been in the news for scamming hundreds, if not thousands of clients for the past few years dating back to 2014. You can view the article by INSIDER here. I used to follow this person before I realized her feed was predominantly selfies and recycled captions. There had always been news of her scams, but it wasn’t until YouTube comedian Cassady Campbell brought this situation to light in one of his most recent videos that her victims finally had to the voice to pursue justice. The video can be viewed here. In the video, Cassady plays the role of a father who’s daughter had been scammed by Brittany. Although this was a prank on her, it brought awareness to what had been going on for years. He is not the first to bring awareness though!
Years ago, Jennifer Campbell of Mama Lion Strong wrote a powerful blog highlighting Brittany’s influence on the eating disorder community. Unfortunately, this blog is no longer available as the site is not online anymore.
According to Yogamaris, Dawn, who has been vocal about her own struggles with anorexia, is accused of advertising exercise and nutrition plans to eating disorder patients that prescribe “upwards of two plus hours of working out a day, five to six days per week,” and meal plans “that were 1300 calories” a day (Campbell). Campbell also accused Dawn of promoting psychologically unhealthy behaviors, such as never having “cheat” meals of junk food or desserts, behavior reminiscent of eating disordered food restriction.
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This was perhaps the first time that Brittany Dawn had been called out-publicly-for her practices. However, over the years complains on the BBB and Yelp sites showed what was going on. Customers were purchasing “customized plans” that were in fact not customized at all once they shared the plans with each other. Some customers wouldn’t even get their plans at all, wasting on an average $200. When they would comment on Brittany’s social media, they would be deleted and blocked immediately. This led to a Facebook group called Brittany Dawn Fitness Complaints being created where former clients can share their experiences with each other for support.
She eventually released an apology video on YouTube while monetizing it with ads and her affiliate links at the bottom. This struck me as being not very genuine in her apology as she has the power to remove them from her videos, but it seems she is still trying to make money off of this. You can view the video here.
My Two Cents on the BDAWN Drama
I have been asked by my followers to share my thoughts on this and to bring awareness on this nasty aspect of the fitness industry when it comes to social media. I think it is incredibly cruel to do this to people for years and blame it on “being human.” I cannot imagine not sending a product that someone has paid for and keep a successful business going, it just makes no sense to me. I also find it highly disappointing to use your social media status to target women in order to make a buck.
My advice to Brittany Dawn: Refund all of your clients, take your website down (she is still selling plans), get your personal training certification (she only holds a fitness nutriton cert according to NASM), and just lay low for a while off of social media. Take a while to let it sink in what you have done to these women. $200 is not cheap and some women spend months upon months saving up to invest in YOU. These ladies trusted you so much and you let them down.
Social media is a tool. It can be used for the best.. and for the worst. It can empower you and lift you up in so many good ways. It can also drag you down and hurt your self esteem (and wallet).
PLEASE be careful about who you trust online so you can stay safe on the internet.
I beg you to do your research, ask for credentials, and if you get bad vibes, there is probably a good reason.
Your trainer and friend,