Fitness: Spotting Quality vs. Snake-oil

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Economically speaking, times are pretty tough right now. Disposable income for many families has been reduced, and people I know are trying to pinch pennies and reduce spending in areas they deem to be less important.


But what about when it comes to spending money on your own health & fitness? Even when times are not tough, things like personal training aren’t exactly thought of as ‘essential services.’


Personally, I’m pretty frugal, but have no problem spending money on something if I see value in it – be it a product or a service.


As a fitness-professional, it drives me absolutely nuts when I see people waste their money on fitness-related gimmicks, bad personal training or nutrition books written by celebrities.


So without further ado, here are my two biggest tips on how to get the most bang-for-your-health–and-fitness-buck.

**Warning, some current health & fitness professionals may be offended. Perfect**

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DO spend money on QUALITY personal training


A quality personal trainer follows a specific system and sticks to it. They understand how to program a client right from the assessment up to month number 1, and potentially well beyond year number 1.


A quality personal trainer not only has an exceptional understanding of the basic movement patterns, they are also able to teach their clients the same movement patterns. Quality personal trainers practice what they preach and never stop learning.


A quality personal trainer has a deep understanding of periodization, and doesn’t use a different “workout of the day,” each time their client comes in – because there are literally dozens of free apps to do that for you. Quality personal trainers aren’t lazy, and they understand that client expect to receive much more for $70+ per hour than a random workout.


A quality personal trainer doesn’t promise six-packs in 12 weeks, but in 12 weeks should have given their client enough of a toolset to feel VERY confident training on their own.


As a client, after 12 weeks if you don’t know the difference between a sumo dead lift and a conventional dead-lift (and how to execute them with impeccable form), then that’s the trainers’ fault – they let you down and wasted your money.


Quality personal trainers don’t need to hard-sell clients on thousands of dollars worth of pre-paid training because they’re not salesmen and they’re very confident in the quality of their service.


Quality personal trainers don’t call themselves ‘body coaches’, promote any sort of ‘fix,’ nor do they deem themselves qualified just because they’ve competed in a figure contest.


Quality trainers don’t sell & profit from selling supplements because they understand it’s completely out of their scope of practice, a conflict of interest, and also potentially dangerous for clients who are on certain medications.


Quality personal trainers don’t put clients on generic diets such as ‘paleo’ because they understand prescribing diets is also out of their scope of practice and should be left to dieticians. Instead, quality personal trainers have an excellent understanding of the current scientific literature regarding nutrition & other facets of their industry, so they simply recommend guidelines to follow that are based on substantiated facts.


Did I mention that quality personal trainers don’t sell supplements? Last time I checked, most personal trainers don’t have degrees in pharmacology, nor do they understand the interaction between the ingredients in many supplements and their clients’ medications. Quality personal trainers do their due diligence and refer out to doctors instead, because admitting that they ‘don’t know’ is completely ok.




Bottom line:  Quality personal trainers (and gyms) produce results, are fantastic educators, and give their clients all of the tools & resources necessary to confidently look after their own health & fitness. If you leave feeling uneducated, they didn’t do their job properly.


**Investing money in a personal trainer with the qualities listed above- even if it’s only for a couple months, will give you an enormous amount of value and the tools to succeed on your own.**

Personal Trainer Calgary


DON’T spend money on gimmicky supplements & products


“Have you ever heard of ___________?”


Every week I get dozens of questions from new clients, acquaintances and friends about all sorts of topics. Often times, they pertain to obscure supplements, detox/cleanses, as well as gimmicky products.

Here’s a quick list off the top of my head, along with the approximate costs:

  • Fat burners ($40-$70 per bottle)
  • Detox tea ($25-$90 per package)
  • Body Wraps ($60 for a 4-pack)
  • Juice Cleanse ($180 for 3 days)

And here’s the one thing all four of those products have in common;


They don’t work! (or at least don’t do what’s advertised)


“But Jeff, you’re just saying that because you want people spending money on personal training.”


Wrong! I’m saying that because I want people to spend their money on QUALITY personal training, as discussed above. You know, for long-term results & education as opposed to overpriced saran-wrap and juice made from kale & ashes.  


I’m also saying that because it’s based on the most current body of scientific evidence available. Here’s a nice summary of why cleanses & detoxes are nonsense.


Here’s a link to PubMed, the world’s largest database of scientific literature, journals and online books; Out of the 26+ million entries, you will not find a single one that supports the effectiveness of any of those products listed above – zero.


Think about it, if they did work (which they don’t), there wouldn’t be a single person on Earth who struggles with their weight, and every health professional would be out of work.


Supplements in general are the LEAST important factor for people looking to improve their overall health & fitness. The list of supplements with proven benefits is small, and the magnitude of impact they have is even smaller (2-5% at best).


Supplements tend to only benefit individuals who have ticked every other box on the priority checklist:


✓ Nutrition completely dialed-in

✓ Sleeping 7+ hours per night

✓ Stress managed

✓ Exercising daily


Now would anyone in their right mind truly believe that a detox/cleanse, body-wrap, or a bottle of fat burners could replace a single item on that checklist?


**Only individuals who profit from selling these types of products will have you believe the answer is ‘yes.’**


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(Fat)-Wrapping It All Up


Looking after your health & fitness can be expensive no matter which way you cut it.


If it’s truly a priority, seek to get the most value for your money.


Quality personal training may run you upwards $600 for a couple months worth of sessions, but will undoubtedly provide you with the toolset, confidence and knowledge to get the ball rolling for a couple years on your own.


Cleanses, fat-burning pills and other fitness gimmicks will cost you at least $300-$500 – which is incredibly expensive considering they don’t do what’s advertised, and they aren't a sustainable, long-term solution.


Invest in quality early on in your health & fitness journey and you’ll not only save yourself a lot of disappointment, you’ll save yourself a ton of hard-earned money!


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