It’s On The Internet So It Must Be True. Facts vs Flash.

We walk, run, swim, bike and exercise daily. Well, we used to anyways. The invention of the computer and its workplace usage has shifted our lives dramatically. We are now connected to a world-wide stratum of information and economics. However, we have also become less connected to our bodies and our well-being. When I was a kid we followed all of the now perceived to be ‘old school stories’. Yes, we came home when the streetlights turned on. We walked to school, all year. Even in -40c. Yes, it was uphill both ways and there WERE wolves at our heels. Well maybe not wolves, but some cranky poodles did yap at us from between the fence slats as we meandered past old cranky Mrs. Barklet’s house. My point is, we didn’t worry about our physical fitness as much because we didn’t NEED to do so. Our daily activities included motion and movement as we lived our lives.

Another aspect of the computer world is how much information we can receive at the swipe of a finger and a verbal request. This has been an amazing boon to society, until marketing kicked in. Now for every article we find interesting there are multiple banner ads for “12 pack washboard abs”, “46 things not to eat before walking” and “How I lost 30lbs in 2 days eating nothing but this special plant!”. Sure, those are exaggerations – mostly – but the point is clear. Misinformation and the sales push is rampant in the fitness and health industry. Commercials that used to only dwell in the darkness of late night infomercials is now splashed across our screen in bright colours with attractive, smiling young people -(seriously, everyone in this ‘world’ that is fit seems to be between the ages of 20 and 25, affluent and with oodles of free time to workout in a gym with a 50/50 ratio of windows with an amazing view of a mountain vista and floor to ceiling mirrors)- in great physical shape with their pearly whites and perfectly coifed hair. There also seems to be a barrier between strong and scientifically backed fitness information and this tsunami of sales garbage aimed at nothing more than your cash.

I am of the belief that people understand they are not in the best shape. People are smart. The main issue seems to be a question of seeking out and gaining access to the proper fitness information. If you don’t have a fitness background or education how can you tell good information from spurious trash? The other benefit of the Internet is its reduction in barriers to entry. Anyone can build and host a website, usually within a day. The trick is, how to engage with people in a way that doesn’t seem dry, formal and overly scientific. Stereotypically, when we think “scientist”, we immediately picture a lab coat, glasses, a pocket protector and ugly but sensible footwear choices. This image is hardly the best to compete with the afore-mentioned shiny smiles and hairstyles.

This is the battleground of the fitness industry today.

So, how do we compete in a war of Facts vs Flash? Here is my handy 6-point guide to provide guidance:

#1: If the timeline to achieve the stated goal is in larger type on the banner ad that the title of the product being sold. Likely FLASH!

#2: It’s on Buzzfeed, The Chive or some other pop culture website. Also, if it autoplays before ANY YouTube video. Likely FLASH!

#3: If the website you accidentally visited by mis-clicking on a page has a scrolling litany of sales jargon that takes 15 minutes to scroll down and read before it mentions ‘how to do anything’ and ‘how much it costs’ and it keeps making you ask yourself “Would I like to be ‘happy, healthy, skinny, more attractive?’ Likely FLASH!

#4: If it looks like an infomercial, sounds like an infomercial and gives your skin that unwashed feeling, all over, like you just got back from 5 days in the backcountry and only lived on berries and willow bark. You know THAT feeling? Likely FLASH!

#5: The choice is YOURS, the time is NOW, DON’T delay or you will definitely miss out! A common sales tactic is that ‘push’ to force you into a quick decision. They know that if you take the time to think about it you will probably come to the conclusion that their claims are nonsense so it’s often a NOW or MISS OUT scenario. Likely FLASH!

#6: The source is an accredited or certified fitness professional with an actual educational background in physiology, movement mechanics, nutrition and anatomy. They hold a valid certification or University degree. The piece has links to articles backing up their statements and the website also hosts other information from other sources along similar lines. The website hosting the information is not called “bootybyboddy.net”. Likely FACT!

 

By Paul Wallace

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