Education vs Entertainment in the Fitness Industry

The internet and social media have changed the fitness industry dramatically in the last few years. Industry experts and leaders can now share content with millions of people whom want to see it, with this information being just a click or follow away. This ease of communication across various platforms has seen the rise of numerous industry leaders, each with differing perspectives and styles.   

I am not here to criticise their views or question their credentials, what I want to discuss is the style of information these people present, and how you can use it. I like categorise online and social media information into two categories; education and entertainment. 

Education mostly comes from industry experts and leaders. These people generally share information with others to help improve individuals or the industry. This information often comes in the format or research, written articles and reviews. I enjoy reading, listening and viewing this style of content, as I can use it to expand my knowledge and gain new insights into the fitness industry.

However, the education content can often be delivered at an advanced level that often is not best-suited to the average gym-goer just looking to improve performance. For this reason, people who create educational content often have smaller online followings, due to their somewhat limited target-audience.

Entertainment will generally come in the form of motivation or impressive actions. I think of people like CT Fletcher, Steve Cook and Dana Lin Bailey who provide the entertainment to the fitness industry. These people generally provide interesting information and tips about their training styles, exercise techniques and physiques.

Source: Dreamworks.

Source: Dreamworks.

You can watch these videos before you go to the gym, it gets you pumped up and you crush your big workout. Compare this to an educator such as Layne Norton, whose 30-minute YouTube videos about reverse-dieting will give you a great insight into metabolic adaptation, but it wont get you psyched to hit a squat PB that afternoon (although his powerlifting videos might!).

Now this isn’t to say that people who provide educating information cannot also provide entertainment. As mentioned, check out Layne Norton’s huge lifts or have a look at some of Ben Coomber’s rants. Likewise, the entertainers can also be educational. CT Fletcher might show you how to push through pain and Dom Mazzetti can show you how to find a lifting partner.

The important aspect of this topic is to be able to ascertain when content is educational and when it is entertainment. So next time you see CT Fletcher bench pressing 3 plates and swearing at everyone/everything in sight, ask yourself, have I learnt anything here about training or bench pressing? Or I have I just been impressed by his endeavour and subsequently been entertained…

At the same time, realise that even if you haven’t been educated by this video, it is not necessarily without use. Maybe it makes you feel aggressive and hyped, which can be beneficial before a big training session when used correctly.

I personally like this Simply Shredded video featuring Calum von Moger titled Mad Desire. Lets break it down… I didn’t learn anything about fitness or nutrition from this video, but that doesn’t mean it is useless. I like to watch a video like this before a big weights session or any other time I need additional motivation.

Tom Fitzgerald/Calum von Moger (Source: www.simplyshredded.com)

Tom Fitzgerald/Calum von Moger (Source: www.simplyshredded.com)

The soundtrack, training and attitude of von Moger in the video can all combine to drive some motivation that I might not otherwise have. This can be the difference between attacking a session with intensity or simply going through-the-motions.

Another video I refer people to on YouTube is Phil Learney discussing rep tempo and how variations are used for training. I like this video because it simply describes a topic that many people struggle to understand or implement in their training.

I would recommend this video to anyone who may not completely understand the implementation of rep tempos in their training. However, I wouldn’t want to watch this video if I was struggling for motivation, as it wouldn’t do much (Phil does have some other impressive lifting videos that would be better suited) 

So consider widening your array of the fitness and nutrition experts that you follow online. If you follow the entertainers, have a look at someone else who might be able to broaden your knowledge. Likewise, if you read research all day, follow someone who can provide some entertainment and break up the study. Everyone can provide useful information in the right context!