Lies the Fitness Industry Sells

One of the reasons FitLyst exists (we’re launching soon, we promise) is because we think that professionals in the fitness industry are some of the most amazing, inspirational people around.  Their goals are to make people healthier and happier; we salute that.  However, the industry does catch a fair share of flack because let’s face it, some people’s intentions are focused solely on the business aspect.  While there’s nothing wrong with being a capitalist, consumers should be aware of some of the lies that the fitness industry sells. 

fitness people


Anyone with a 6-pack, or a nice set of glutes, and the right Instagram filter can be a fitness professional these days. It’s actually rather simple. You post inspirational pictures about fitness – often of a runner in the mountains or a lifter with chalk dust flying through the air – and you hashtag the shit out of it.

#fitness #fitfam #motivation #fitlife #iworkout #buymysupplements

You get the idea.

There is no barrier to the fitness industry. With the right “look” and some marketing savvy, anyone can turn a quick buck – whether it’s unscrupulous or not. The fitness industry is like the Wild West – there are no regulations, and everywhere you look, you have to be sure you don’t step in horse droppings.

It’s difficult to figure out who – and WHAT – to believe with all of the misinformation out there. And often times, even well-intentioned coaches, trainers, and professionals……………….”manipulate” the truth a bit to appear more attractive to potential clients.

There are a few facts, which need a bit of explaining and translating before you truly understand what they mean – in practice. In practice, things are a lot different than they seem when they are discussed theoretically.

Here are a few items, which you will hear EVERYWHERE from fitness professionals – that are pretty much bullshit to the average person.

1. I can eat anything I want! (Insert photo of ice cream sundae here…………)

While this is true to an extent, the truth in this statement is a technicality rather than an absolute truth. Your favorite fitness personality actually CAN eat anything they want and stay ripped. But this statement takes the top spot on this list for a different reason.

The fact that someone who has mastered the physical can eat whatever they wish doesn’t mean that they eat like an asshole. Take me for example:

“Whatever I want (2009 me)”: Large pizza with bacon and onions, breadsticks with garlic butter, 2-Liter of soda, case of beer, and some Twizzlers to munch on later.

“Whatever I want (present me)”:  Steak and broccoli, scotch on the rocks.

Fitness professionals have built solid, healthy habits over time. And after consuming more nutrient-dense and less calorie-dense foods for so long, they are accustomed to the general “light” feeling they get when eating nutritous food. They eat “whatever they want”. That part is true. But they generally “want” whole foods. Their tastes have evolved and changed over time. They eat like adults, not children.

Which doesn’t mean they never indulge. A fitness professional doesn’t pass on cake and ice cream at a birthday party, or splurge a bit during the holidays. But at the same time, those occasions are seen through a crystal-clear lens for what they truly SHOULD be seen as:  Infrequent happenings………otherwise known as “treats”.

2. I barely work out!

This statement has a different meaning to different people, so some context is needed to understand it.

When a fit person states they “barely work out” or they spend “almost no time in the gym”, again, there’s likely a shred of truth to that statement. As far as actual time expenditure goes, around 3 hours per week is needed to create a body that (most) would be very satisfied with. Actually, on this very site, on the main page, it clearly states “45 minutes, 3 times per week”………… am I being hypocritical with this one?

Here’s the catch – those 3 hours per week……………….need to be rock-solid consistent, no matter what. If you’re going to follow this path, you MUST not miss sessions unless it’s 100% necessary. You must train around injuries if you can, you will have to make sacrifices to attend your gym sessions, you will need to seek out a place to train when on vacation, and you will need to be almost robotic and methodical about getting your ass in the gym.

Not to mention that you must be willing to show some legitimate intensity when you’re training.

If you are consistent – so consistent that you can seriously say you almost “never” miss a session – AND you are as intense as you possibly can be while you’re training – then you, too, can have great results and “barely” work out.

But you can’t miss sessions based on your feelings, your emotions, the weather, or the latest Game of Thrones episode. It simply doesn’t work that way.

3. Just 21 days (or other timeframe) to create a new you!

Bullshit. Just fucking bullshit.

Detoxes, cleanses, 21 fucking days……….pure, unadulterated lies.

Whoever said you build a habit and create permanent change in “just 21 days” is a fucking liar. It takes about 20 seconds of walking into a Chinese buffet before every positive eating habit you have ever built is thrown out the window.

The road to success is firmly in the middle – not at either end of the extreme. Eating clean, eliminating sugar, eating Paleo, drinking kale juice only, dodging GMO’s, or doing ANYTHING ELSE for 21 days will do precisely nothing. It may drain your wallet paying for all of that nonsense, but don’t expect that to have a positive net effect on your health.

A fitness professional might provide a program with a timeframe – but their goal should be to teach you applicable skills which are meant to permanently improve your life. You must have the self-compassion to keep going when you screw up, the rationality to see data objectively and not be tied to it, the curiosity to try new ideas when your old ideas stop providing results, and the level-headedness to not fall for silly fads or bullshit. Basically, there are no quick fixes.

No matter what your neighborhood supplement rep tells you.

4. Supplements don’t do anything!

It’s easy to see why so many “coaches” also sell supplements. I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to hawk protein powders, elixirs, energy drinks, greens shakes, pills, and anything else you can imagine. The lure of the quick buck is everywhere. It would be pretty easy. A client signs up, I would tell them, “If you want to max out your progress, this shit right here will help you,” and I would take a cut.

This is a bullshit way to approach anything. Short-term gains will never match long-term plans and investments. Stay the course and believe in what you do. It always trumps the instantaneous gratification of a “quick sale”. But now I’m getting a bit off topic.

Fitness professionals (the right ones, anyways), will tell you that supplements do “nothing” and will tell you to steer clear. And let’s get this straight – supplements SHOULD be optional. No supplement is ever a requirement. You can achieve a life-time of healthiness and happiness without them.

Also, it should be noted that the number of supplements that ACTUALLY work well is very small. Likely less than 5.

Now, on the flip side, if ALL of your ducks are in order, supplements can help you. But there is a hierarchy to how this works. Most fitness pros take a few supplements, and they take them religiously. They are always mindful to not “put the cart in front horse”, so to speak.

Case in point, creatine.

Creatine has the ability to improve your rate of muscular growth, but here’s how it does this…………..

Creatine aids in ATP release at the cellular level. And ATP helps your muscles fight fatigue. Ergo facto – take creatine regularly, and your muscles won’t fatigue as quickly.


Creatine won’t just build muscle alone. It’s not a steroid. In order to make it work (and build muscle), you must take it regularly, you must eat slightly over maintenance, you must get good sleep/rest/hydration, and (perhaps most importantly), you must be intense enough in the gym to push yourself to the levels which are needed to reap the benefits of creatine. Creatine will give you the power to grind out an extra rep or two when it hurts like a bitch and you’re ready to cry for “Mommy”.

But if you can push yourself to that point, then over time, you will get stronger at a faster rate with creatine than without it, assuming you aren’t a “non-responder”.

And this is the case for most useful supplements (creatine, fish oil, vitamin D, etc.). Please notice how short that list is as well……..but they can be very helpful – if you do all the other items which are more important first. You must have your calories, your macros, your micros, your fiber, your recovery, your training, and ALL OTHER aspects of your routine in line.

If you can say that, then supplement away. Intelligently, of course.

5. Getting ripped is easy and I can show you how!

It’s not easy. It’s not a cake-walk. It’s not a breeze.

It’s difficult – damn difficult.

You will be in pain. Sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally. There will be ups and downs, hills and valleys. Sometimes you will feel like it won’t be worth it. And during specific moments, it won’t be worth it.

But if you can maintain your focus and your desire for improvement, and always strive for incremental overload, after a long period of time has passed, you will look back at the “you” you used to be and you will be astonished with what you have achieved.

You will need to take a good, hard look at your life, make a commitment that you want it all – and start making positive steps towards that commitment. And your commitment can never end.

The actual, actionable steps aren’t difficult in isolation.

-You can go to the gym today.

-You can meal prep on Saturday.

-You can hit your macros tomorrow.

-You can say “No” to your donut-slinging co-workers.

Each of these small, simple steps (and countless others like it) are doable. And if you can start to string together days of making all of these decisions – in unison – you’ll be blown away by what you can accomplish.

And once you do make this lifestyle a habit (which takes much longer than 21 days, by the way), getting ripped does become “easy”.

Because once it’s a habit, it stops being a “thing”.

You should start making fitness a habit. Today. And if you do, then all those bullshit sayings your favorite Instagram fitness professional posts on their wall might begin to make a bit of sense.

Jason is a coach and algebra teacher devoted to bringing quality fitness education and coaching to the everyman. Founder of Anyman Fitness, Jason uses his mathematical background to help clients achieve their goals.

This article was republished with the permission of