I get asked all the time about all different types of workout programs. How can you decide whether to trust the workout program being presented? Start by figuring out the motivation of the person promoting the program! Sometimes its obvious and straightforward, you are paying for it. The P90X infomercials are an example of this, they want to sell you their DVDs. They sell a good product and have lots of happy customers. When the information you are getting is ‘free’, it can be trickier to figure out their motivation but it will tell you a lot about whether you should trust their information or not!
Follow the Money!
First and foremost figure what the author’s goal is! By far the most common motivation is MONEY but there are honorable motivations too, they might be a PhD researcher wanting to spread the findings of exciting research they have done. They might just be philanthropic and wanting to help folks out. Lets look at the money aspect, its usually not blatant so you need to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and do some sleuthing.
First look for the obvious, how does the author make their living? Follow the link on their youtube channel or google them. Many times this will give you the answer you are looking for. Very often the author has a paid website, subscription newsletter, or is a book author and the ‘free’ article you have read is just meant to get you excited enough to seek the author out and give them money.
Lets take an example. Someone on my fan page ask an excellent question about this free Muscle and Fitness article:
What do you think about this program? It looks pretty fantastic! Who doenst want to add 10lbs solid muscle? And in just one short month!! What is the motivation of the author, Dr. Jim Stoppani in writing this article? Well for one, the magazine might pay him – thats an obvious answer. Magazines pay doctors and other professionals all the time, thats an honorable and has been common for ages. Lets look for other possibilities.
Google his name and you find he has a website that costs $14/mo to join. Thats certainly a motivation for writing the article even if he doesnt get paid. He gets visibility and press for writing the article, then people like what they read and decide to join his website for $14/mo. This is common too and nothing is wrong with it really. Very commonly, professionals provide a free service (their article) and in turn it brings them attention that furthers their business. This in itself is not bad, think about this though. What will get more people to sign up for his website? Suggesting that people can gain one pound muscle a month or suggesting that people can gain 10lbs muscle in a month? Now I’m not making any judgment on his website or methods here – I know nothing about his program. I’m just saying that there is an inherent motivation to exaggerate ones claims so as to get more people interested in your business.
Where else might the money come from? Well in the fitness business, supplements are a billion dollar enterprise. Fitness and muscle magazines are heavily funded by supplement manufacturers – look at the ads, virtually all from supplement companies. The purchase price of the magazines doesnt begin to cover the magazines costs, the advertisers pick up most of the tab. No surprise that articles in fitness magazines are pro-supplement. Are supplements being touted in the article? Well in this case we see at the end of the article that we need to “stay tuned for the upcoming 10-Pound Supplement Guide“. This doesnt prove anything but its one possible motivation for the article, to sell product. Articles are written all the time to try to sell products. Try to figure out if the author has any connection to supplement makers. Do they have an online store where they sell supplements? Do they recommend supplements by brand name? If so they probably work for that manufacturer or have some financial relationship with them. Do they give you a “discount code”? This is a common technique for giving the author a cut of everything their readers buy.
So before you even read an article about a training program, try to figure out who makes money if you follow it, dig deep for information. If you follow can follow the complete program without ever having to open your wallet, then the program was truly free and the author has good honest motives. On the other hand if the program requires you to buy something, anything, you should be skeptical. Is the whole purpose of the program just to get you to buy that supplement/equipment/book? Does the author have a conflict of interest? That is, does the author make money from you if you follow their advice? Does the author disclose the fact that they will be making money from you? Its fine if they are completely above board and honest about the fact that they are making money off you but if they try to hide the fact, that should cause you to question their fitness advice. Be cynical, it will keep you from making someone else rich!
PS: So the obvious thing thats going to happen is that people are going to apply this technique to me in finding out my motivation! Go for it!