Social media presence is such a huge part of fitness marketing these days. It has really been quite the game changer in the industry. I often find myself in conversations about this with other professionals, especially in regard to the frustration it can cause. Social media provides fitness professionals with a platform to share content and information with numerous people, but it also provides a platform for folks who are far from fitness professionals yet claim to be.

In this article, I want to discuss what to look for when searching for accurate fitness and health resources, and even more importantly, what red flags to look out for. For the purpose of this article, I will speak on behalf of fitness professionals and fitness personalities in the field who offer personal training or nutrition services. I am not going to name names within this article or call people out; I truly want to lay out some comparisons so YOU, the potential consumer, can make wise decisions when searching for accurate content or even when paying for services.

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First things first, there is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting yourself via social media in the fitness industry. It’s free, has a huge reach, and is extremely user-friendly. So I am not calling out social media as the bad guy here. Far from it, in my opinion. However, I feel social media, in particular, is where a lot of potential clients get tripped up when searching for a fitness professional to learn from. I’m talking about the falling on your face, tumbling down a hill, into a pile of shit kind of tripped up. The unfortunate thing is, it’s so easy to do! It’s like the Wild Wild West out there: Anyone can claim to be a coach, fitness model, or professional with five degrees. You really don’t know! Let’s go over what we typically see on both sides of the social media spectrum and do some comparing.

Man doing cable fly in gym

Fitness Personality

The social media presence of a fitness personality is a little something like this:

Selfie. Ab shot. Glute Gainz. Check out another picture of me. Oh wait, here’s another in better lighting. Pay for my services. 30-Day Challenge! Selfie. Lose 10 pounds in two days! Selfie.

You get the drift. These folks are very rarely focused on producing actual education-based content as they instead focus on the best filter for their gym-sesh videos. Be very wary of feeds that are not actually content-driven. There are a number of red flags to look out for to reveal a fitness personality.

1. Selfies, Selfies, and More Selfies

If they have more pictures of themselves than anything else in their feed, they are not a fitness professional. They are more likely than not a fitness personality. Zero gym owners, fitness professionals, or prep coaches who are respected in this industry post only about themselves. None. They are probably too busy creating actual content. So don’t buy into it. If someone looks great on Instagram it does not mean that they actually know what they are doing. Some definitely may, but there is a thing called genetics that also plays a big part. In my experience, the wisest minds in the industry don’t always come with a six-pack.

2. The Infamous 30-Day Challenge Posts

We have all seen these. Heck, you may have even done a challenge like this a time or two! They are everywhere, and I am sure in some corner of the world they may actually be beneficial. But for the most part, they go a bit like this.

These posts typically pop up with little lead time and are usually cheaper than the usual rate. Now, I know I cannot speak for everyone, but the majority of the time the “I am running a 30-Day Challenge!” post seems to me like they're saying, “Look guys, I’m behind on my bills. Can you suckers pay them for me? Please pay for this workout template I whipped together in 20 minutes from Word Table so I don’t actually have to create legit content. K thanks!”

So let’s just debunk this one now. It is very challenging to accomplish body composition changes in 30 days or less without drastic measures unless you are already very overweight or obese. Even then, slow and steady has always won the race. The problem for fitness personalities is that slow and steady doesn’t provide them with quick cash. Just be smart here.

Fitness Professional

The social media presence of a fitness professional is typically much different than its fitness personality counterpart. Their posts are less of them and more of YOU (their clients, athletes, etc.). Their posts are content-driven, with an educational foundation and purpose statement. They genuinely want to educate others simply because they are passionate about the field, not just passionate about themselves and making a quick buck. Below are some key indicators you will see in the social media feed of an actual fitness professional.

1. Their posts are education-driven.

When you skim through their feed, you will most likely see educational posts, actual research studies being acknowledged, etc. The majority of their content is designed to sincerely help other people achieve their goals. Included in that educational piece will be more postings of client testimonials, progress, and even obstacles they were able to master with constant practice and trial. You will not see their feed blown up with selfies and self-absorbed “motivational” posts. Their motivation is genuine and honest. They truly want their clients to do well, sometimes more than their clients want it! Again, fitness professionals are in this field for the passion of it all, not the filters and Photoshop.

2. When/If they post about their services, they don’t sound like a cheesy car salesman.

When promoting a service, a true fitness professional doesn’t sound cheesy because they simply don’t have to. Their work speaks for itself. To take it a step further, their services make sense. They don’t offer quick fixes or challenges because a fitness professional knows that shit doesn’t work. Fitness professionals provide services that work. I don’t know about you but I would rather spend my money on something that is fundamentally sound than something that comes wrapped in a shiny ribbon with false promises.

Quite frankly, this is a topic I can speak on for days. To wrap things up nicely, I would like to leave you with this: If you are in search of a fitness professional to help you with your goals or you are simply looking for resources, you owe it to yourself to take the time to find the real deal. Just taking these few comparisons into consideration will save you a ton of time and hassle. Your goals are a big deal! Your money and time should be spent wisely. Don’t buy into the glamour of their highlight reel. Instead look for their passion and education in the field. Any fitness personality can throw a X-Pro II filter on you so you look great, but wouldn’t you rather work with a true professional and go all-natural? #nofilterneeded.