Beware Of The 'Instatrainers'

In today's super social age, you don't have to look further than the tip of your smartphone for advice on anything you're keen to learn about. And in the world of fitness, there's certainly no shortage of online experts to help guide you through your weekly workout.

The increasing popularity of online fitness tutorials and video workout sessions brings a whole new experience to those looking for a personal trainer, without the cost, or even the need to leave the house!

So it's no surprise that many online fitness enthusiasts have quickly risen to fame thanks to the emergence of YouTube, Instagram and user-friendly video platforms that help them share their passion for fitness, with the world.

They may be fitness fanatics with a fondness for filming, or even celebrities wanting to share their workout secrets with their loyal fans. Either way, they bring with them a whole new kind of fitness professional, and one to watch with caution.

Unlike professional personal trainers, the role of an Instagram-famous personal trainer isn't to just instruct, coach and advise us in bite-sized chunks throughout the day. They aim to inspire, empower and influence us throughout our daily lives. We'll join them on YouTube for an hour's body pump from the comfort of our living room, then wind down to discuss their awesome techniques on their Facebook fan page, before sharing their daily motivational quotes on Instagram. If we're lucky, we may see them appear on a TV chat show or sharing their fitness tips in our favourite magazine. They are our idols. And they consistently reinforce the message to push us to dig deep, try harder and do more. So we do! In fact, Americans are exercising more now than they have in the last seven years, according to a poll last summer*.

Whilst we're loving the motivation and inspiration that gets people up and moving, many people don't realise that our favourite fitness idols don't always have an in-depth understanding of their teachings. Sure, their famous faces mean that we trust them, their toned bodies show that their techniques work, but what credentials do they have that enables them to effectively train others?

Many 'Instatrainers' offer quick-fix diet tips, home remedies for injuries and dole out their 'proven' hacks for weight management. Where this advice comes from, we're not sure, but based on the source, many fans are often happy to take it as valid. If you remember 'The Great Food Babe' fiasco, this demonstrated first-hand how flimsy fitness advice can do more harm than good. Despite having almost 100,000 Twitter followers, she received a shed-load of criticism for making nutrition claims without backing them up. It goes to show that a strong following and a growing fan base doesn't always make you an expert.

Qualified Personal Trainers study fitness on a much deeper level, to gain an understanding of why the body functions in certain ways, and what it needs to perform. It's these in-depth learnings that enable professional Personal Trainers to effectively train others, without the risk of injury or unobtainable goals.

So while the fabulously famous You Tube stars are doing a great job of inspiring the nation to get active, we say for anything that takes your body too far out if it's a comfort zone, feel free to hit pause. Seek the opinion of a qualified Personal Trainer before embarking on a celebrity-endorsed exercise regime that could leave you feeling far less than fabulous.

If you're interested in becoming a qualified Personal Trainer, speak to the Focus team about courses coming to a venue near you!

*More Americans are exercising consistently each week, with 55.5% indicating frequent exercise in June 2015, more than in any month since Gallup and Healthways began tracking this metric in January 2008.