Volume I

For better or for worse, I’ve been “inside” the fitness industry for a while, and during that time, I’ve managed to figure out a few things about what works and what doesn’t. This applies to articles, videos, sales pages, websites, and everything else we’ve seen become fashionable every since the onset of the online fitness revolution.

Also for better or for worse, I’m kind of a connoisseur of this stuff. Despite the fact that I’m jaded by the industry at this point and look at pretty much everything that comes out—whether it’s good quality stuff or not—through a negative lens, I still look. I still read tons of articles, I pay attention to what people are doing, and I’m constantly trying to learn.

One resource I use quite a bit is YouTube. When I’m trying to figure out some new shit with my own training, I’ll take a look at people’s logs here and see what I can add—and when I see they’re doing an exercise I’ve never heard of before, the first thing I’ll do is look it up on YouTube and watch several people demonstrate it to see whether I can figure it out on my own. If all I can find are dubious sources I don’t trust, I’ll email the EliteFTS Q&A member and ask them to explain it to me, but that’s my last resort. I’d rather figure things out for myself.

Now, when I do find an exercise that falls into this category, the great thing about YouTube is that you can usually find at least a dozen different versions of the exercise. That makes it really easy to figure out. Occasionally, the trainer/lifter who made the video does such a great job that I’ll contact him or her directly and say something. That’s happened a few times now, and I’ve made some great connections that way. I’ve also managed to help some of these people out and open up some doors for them, as well.

There’s one problem with this, and it’s one I see over and over again when people make exercise videos and post them on YouTube: They talk too much.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking for an exercise demonstration, I want the guy/girl to jump right into it and explain technique, position, and feel immediately. If I’m trying to figure out how to do a glute-ham raise, for example, I want the video to start with the lifter actually setting up the piece of equipment, explaining to me why he’s setting it up that way, then mounting it and describing what he feels.

What I DON’T want to see is a guy standing in front of the GHR and talking for five minutes, but all too often, that’s what happens. In fact, before we see that, there’s usually a two minute long graphic introduction with techno music, artwork, and scrolling text—after which we’re treated to a seminar lecture, when all we’re looking for is a simple explanation of how to perform a lift. I realize that some—if not all—exercises are technical to some extent, but if you’re making videos, you need to explain these technical aspects with ACTION, not WORDS.

In other words, show, don’t tell.

Everybody wants to be a “known” fitness personality. They want to be the guy or girl everyone comes to for information, and they want to sell their products. The way to do that, however, doesn’t involve talking everyone to death. That’s actually the fastest way to get people to click ahead to the middle of your videos—or to get them to simply hit the back button and find someone else’s video.

The best thing you can do? Be friendly, be engaging, and be funny, but get to the action before you lose everyone.

Volume II

Here’s another video tip:

Like a lot of guys, I hate cooking. When I’m left to my own devices in this department, I’m either doing some variation of ground beef, or I’m going somewhere to get food. I suck at it, I’m not really interested in getting better at it, and if it doesn’t involve the use of a grill, I really want no part of it.

Occasionally, however, I have these flashes of inspiration that tell me I should be coming home from the supermarket with a whole basket full of shit. You know, the way “normal” people do? So I’ll do that. I make a shopping trip and buy tons of fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, steak, and everything else we’re supposed to be eating.

Trouble is, I don’t know what the hell to do with most of it, so that’s when I turn to YouTube. Especially for chicken. I know I’m supposed to be eating it all the time, but I get tired of it quickly, and when I can no longer tolerate the shit when it comes from my George Foreman grill or a sauté pan, I go online and look at videos to see if I can find something better.

When I look for these videos, I’m looking for “cooks” that have something in common with me, i.e., I’d rather watch something made by a guy who’s 1) Cooking with training in mind (meaning in bulk, or that they understand why I want to know how to broil a chicken breast), and 2) Interested in making things fast and simple. The best of these—at least I thought so at first—are made by people who are actually athletes or in the fitness industry.

These people know what I’m looking for, they understand how to prepare meals the way people who train want them, and they also give good information regarding shortcuts and ways to make things easy and make the food palatable.

There’s one thing a lot of them have in common, though, and I don’t understand why they do it: I’ve noticed far too many online YouTube bodybuilder/trainer cooks making cooking videos with their shirts off.

I don’t really give a shit if you want to make videos with your shirt off. That’s not the issue for me. What I don’t get is why you’d want to make a cooking video this way. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a flaming, raging heterosexual or not, but I can’t really use any of the recipes from these guys, because I really don’t want to envision a shirtless dude wearing posing trunks when I’m eating a chicken breast. It makes me not want to eat it.

I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way, either, so today’s piece of advice is simple. If you’re a trainer who wants to make cooking videos, keep your shirt on.