I was an All-American, two time all state baseball player in high school and won multiple MVP awards as I broke offensive records left and right. Ever since I was a kid, I was winning MVPs of prestigious tournaments and leading my teams to state titles and championship runs. My best games were always the “big” ones, when all the pressure was on the line, and my biggest moments performing were always when it counted the most, with the game on the line.
Many kids dream of being good enough to play professional sports, but it is very difficult to do. When I got the call my senior year that I was drafted by a major league team, it was a genuine dream come true and something that wasnt supposed to happen, at least not normally. In my high school’s century of existence, no student had ever been drafted out of high school. A few were drafted a few seasons into or after college, but to be only eighteen and be looked at as pro material was actually unheard of. You might say impossible.
Although some fans, friends, teammates congratulated me for my success, I was surprised when I also received a lot of hate that stemmed from jealousy. Everybody wants to live that childhood dream, but some of them took others’ successes personally. This experience really set the stage for my understanding and view of the real business world, and I applied this to my true passion: Fitness.
Natural Fitness for Life
When I became a professional fitness trainer in my early years, one of the big trends at the time was the supplement industry. It was virtually impossible to meet with a client or prospect or member of my health center without them raising a question about “which supplement” they should take, or which supplement works the best? Eventually, I became so tired of hearing people wanting to take unapproved by the FDA pills for weight loss and fat loss that I started to become adamant about breaking the news to them: these supplements not only don’t work, but they are also harmful for you.
These kinds of questions eventually paved the foundation for my first book, “Natural Fitness for the 21st Century” where in my introduction I really laid my stance and opinion down about popular concepts like the “quick fix”, supplements, steroids, and other gimmicks. The trend by then had become obvious: the fitness industry was going to continue to be dominated by these concepts for decades to come, hence why I added the phrase “21st century”. Being someone who knew what my customers and clients wanted and were looking for and would continue to look for in their weight loss and fitness goals, I wanted to set the record straight. My philosophy was the exact counter, the antithesis, of the “quick fixes” on the market, which I knew would continue to be promoted and sold.
My philosophy was “natural fitness for life”. That may sound boring to people who love the sensationalism of unrealistic sales pitches and for people who still believe in the magic pill, but it was where I stood and continue to stand on things. In fact, it’s where I always will stand on this topic. To approach my philosophy of “natural fitness for life”, one must first reject any belief or persuasion into the idea that a “special diet”, a “line of supplements”, a “magic pill”, “steroids”, or any other gimmick, fad, or quick fix is the answer. This will obviously run counter to what many people think and have learned by being conditioned through the media and advertising, where “sellers” are paid to get you to believe that their supplement or “magic diet” works.
False Advertising Persists
These companies and their promoters will post things like “before” and “after” photos to try to encourage prospects and buyers, potential customers, that their product is the remedy for their health, fitness, and weight loss goals. What this style of advertising is saying is that “if you do A, you will get B”. Sounds logical right? Well, that’s where they get you. On the surface it is made to appear that the supplement is the connecting point between picture A (before) and picture B (after), but the reality is far deeper than that.
Did you know that many of the photos that use such advertising actually have their photo models GAIN WEIGHT back after they have lost it and that becomes their “before” picture? In addition, some do not realize that some of the people in the images are actually taking much more than their supplement being sold- they are actually taking steroids. In addition, many are starving themselves, taking illegal to borderline illegal “fat rippers”- drugs and pills that help people shed fat but which are harmful and may be unapproved by the FDA- in order to look that way for that one second, that one image, that one moment in time to help them sell the said product of promotion or the said diet.
This is nothing new. In fact, the first thing that comes to mind looking as far back to the first few years of the century is “Hydroxycut”. I can remember it like it was yesterday. The image was so potent and clear. Hydroxycut was a very popular fat loss supplement in the early 2000s that contained the notorious and dangerous “ephedra”, which in case some don’t know was responsible for many heart attacks and heart palpitations in athletes and nonathletes who wanted to lose weight. It took the FDA a long time, but eventually they outlawed ephedra sometime in the late 2000s after further evidence surfaced that it was indeed responsible for triggering cardiac arrest and other pulmonary problems in those who used it. Still, sellers of the product and supplements made a fortune off of it, Hydroxycut, and similar products like “Xenadrine” prior to it being mandatorily removed from the shelves.
Hydroxycut featured a very happy and smiling woman on its’ cover and in its’ commercials. She was the poster child for the amazing “rapid weight loss” and “rapid body fat loss” that the product assumingly promoted and caused. There were several “before and after” photos of the cover model and several other people who would carry slogans next to them which read things like “lost 60 lbs in 30 days” or “lost 43 lbs in 60 days” and other claims along those lines. So as you can see, such before and after photos promoting products and supplements are nothing new. Although for many it has to cross their mind whether the model in the before and after photos really did obtain those results and if they really actually wholly relied on the supplement to actually do so, people still couldn’t resist the chance to see what all the fuss and craze was about- let’s face it, this advertising is “potent” and “influential” on our fragile brains and emotions.
Real vs. Fake (The Wanna Bes/Pretenders)
So here we arrive back at the current, new age of such advertising and promotion, roughly 15 years later, here in 2016. Surprisingly, not much has changed. Unsurprisingly, my early predictions in my book were correct and spot on. What has occurred is the fitness industry has continued to be infiltrated by “pretenders”. You see, it’s not just the magic diets, the special pills, and the falsely promoted supplements and diet plans. Things also run further abroad, and you cant talk about the deceit without mentioning the still widespread steroid users, who continue to push similar products and supplements, even though their personal results are from illegal steroids.
This brings us to the main concept: who should you believe and who shouldn’t you believe when you journey to achieve your fitness goals?
The reason why I brought up baseball was in a parallel analogy between the big leagues, the minor leagues, the amateur leagues, and the “wannabes”, who we’ll refer to as “the pretenders”. So let’s say, “if you wanted to buy something from any of the list of leagues, which one would you be best off buying from”? Would you rather buy from the big leaguers, the minor leaguers, or the pretenders and amateurs? Before we go any further, let’s first indicate that we know many “big leaguers” use PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) and cheat so we need to assert that just because someone is at the big league level, they can still be a “pretender” if they are fake and artificially enhanced or selling a product or supplement that doesn’t work, like a fad diet, a quick fix supplement, or any other gimmick.
You are going to want to know who is for real and who is a “pretender”. When I was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1998, EVERY player on my team, on the teams of every other school in my division, on the teams of every school in the state, and on the teams of every school in the country wished they were drafted and wanted to be major league material. They all wished they could have got that phone call and that professional contract in the mail some weeks later that legitimized their childhood dream. Unfortunately, they didn’t and were not viewed as “big league” material.
With baseball, it was simple for the “wanna bes”: just walk away as there’s no sense in wasting time and energy at age eighteen fighting for a goal that is going to remain a dream and that will never be had. With fitness, it is different. You see, “anybody” can enter the industry. “Anybody” can shoot some steroids, walk on stage and win a bodybuilding show or hire a photographer once they have “juiced” and enter “the arena”. You see, anybody can cheat and enter the industry. It is no coincidence that the same kinds of people who would do such a thing are also the same types of people who would have no problem selling you Hydroxycut back in the early 2000s and any supplement or fad diet today. They are also the same ones who will post “before and after” photos trying to convince you and persuade you as well.
In addition, it doesn’t need to be the steroid users that are fake either in this same regard. Anyone can quit their day job, decide they want to work in the fitness industry, and start a great sales pitch of their or their company’s “magic” solution to losing weight, getting ripped and toning up. In fact, these might be the ones you should be most wary of because at least the “steroid users” are easy to spot and point out to anyone who has a clue. The real “pretender” type to be wary of is the one who isn’t in great shape but who is promoting a product that still promises fast results and unrealistic bodies. The logic here is also relatively simple though: if the person selling or promoting the product isn’t in shape or doesn’t have a strong background and experience in fitness, then why would you believe them? Well, maybe you don’t, and maybe instead you believe the before and after pictures they are showing, hence why one of the first things I mentioned in this article were the before and after photos.
You see, all of these sales tricks are built on false associations. The advertisers and sellers would like you, as a potential buyer, to associate their product, their diet, their magic pill, their supplements, their “quick fix” with the perfect-bodies people and steroid enhanced bodies they are showing next to it in their photos. The intention is simple: to get you to believe that “if you buy their product and that if you take their product, then you will look like the people in said photos”.
These are the pretenders. I like to think of the pretenders as people who never really had any extensive education, experience, accomplishments, or background in professional sports, high level collegiate athletics, or any other advancement in the fitness field. They are only in the industry “to make a buck” and they often rely on big corporate or franchised pyramids to persuade people to buy their products and supplements. They are not the “real deal”; rather they are basically stealing other peoples’ ideas, philosophies, and sales pitches and pawning them off as their own, just to make money.
Conversely, people who are the “real deal”, the big leaguers and future big leaguers are doing what they are doing because “that’s who they really are” and “that’s who they’ve always been”. A good example that comes to mind for some reason for me with someone who is the real deal is Kiana Tom, who was the head of the ESPN show “Flex Appeal” back in the 90s. This is a woman who practices what she preaches: she’s got an incredible physique, can articulate the science of muscle sculpting and body toning down to the core, DOES NOT promote quick fixes, harmful supplements, and fad diets or show random “before and after” photos of various people promising incredible, unrealistic weight loss and transformation, and shows an indelible spirit that is genuine, natural, and caring for helping people to improve their health. She’s a “big leaguer”; she’s the “real deal”.
She practices what she preaches and is a walking advertisement for the “truth” about fitness: that there is no quick fix, no magic pill, and that fitness is a lifelong journey that needs to be approached “naturally” if you are going to reap the benefits of it for life. She’s not in it only to make a buck or show off an artificial body; instead she is in it because she genuinely loves it and wants to encourage and help people. She is practicing something very much similar to my own philosophy “natural fitness for life”. She is like a gold standard for what is “real” when you are looking for guidance and help with your health, fitness, and weight loss goals.
Last month, I promoted a new awesome cardio training bicycle on QVC called “Xbike”. I first appeared on QVC back a few years ago to help promote Fitness Hall of Famer Cathe Friedrich’s “Abs Circuits” DVD, which was part of the box set 40+ DVD exercise video collection set, “STS: Shock Training System” I was a big part of and starred in. I have been a professional fitness model for well over a decade and I have never promoted or tried to persuade anyone to try to buy any supplement that I sold. In fact, I have only sold my personally designed and copyrighted original professional programs, my personally authored books, and my autograph.
Not one person on any continent who has purchased a program or product from me has ever had me preach to them anything but the “natural” approach to bodybuilding, physical fitness, and weight loss. It was all drawn out in my book, which predicted the road which the fitness industry would continue to take in the 21st century, one that is hijacked by frauds, pretenders, and wannabes who are selling harmful supplements, quick fixes, crash diets, and who are using false advertising to do so. I would never promote, market, or sell anything that abided by such low standards and made false promises. My approach is and always has been “natural fitness for life”. It was created as a mission statement to actually counteract what I knew was going to become, and it has helped hundreds and thousands of people to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals, but more importantly, doing it the correct way, the right way, the way that “lasts”.
See, the thing with most of these products, fad diets, and supplements is that even if the user gets the results (which wont look anything like the models they use in their photos), the results won’t last. After the trend or fad is done, all of the weight will go back on, the false advertisers will pocket their money and their profits (which is the only reason they really entered the industry since they are pretenders), and the people who used them will gain all their weight back. Antithetically, those who utilize the “big league” approach, the pro level, where the fitness people don’t need to rely on false advertising and are a walking, shining example of practicing what they preach, which is the natural approach to health and fitness, will continue to transform their bodies and stay in shape for the rest of their lives. In fact, their best is still ahead of them because based on the underlying “science” used to gain such results, they will continue to overcome plateau after plateau, year after year, by doing it naturally. They will continue to get stronger and stronger, and their bodies will continue to get better and better. Most importantly, they won’t need to worry about the side effects of crash dieting, harmful supplements, and steroids.
In conclusion, if you are someone serious about losing weight, getting toned, building muscle, or getting ripped, you must understand these realities and rather than waste your time and money on products that don’t work and can cause adverse side effects and be finagled into buying gimmicks, fads, and trends that are just meant to put a quick buck in these pretenders’ pockets, you are better off learning the science of exercise and physical transformation from an expert in the field, someone who is a “big leaguer”, who practices what they preach, and has the best interest on your fitness goals at heart when they help you, instead of just the buck. Of course, nothing is free, but if you are going to invest money in your health fitness goals, and well being, you should buy from the people who do it right and aren’t trying to smooth you over by buying their ineffective supplements and fad diets, in other words “gimmicks”.
Then, and only then, will you become a true fitness warrior and fitness champion- someone who is the “real deal”, not just a “wanna be” or a “pretender”, or a “fake steroid user” who can only be in the industry by cheating. Instead, you’ll be able to maintain your results for the rest of your life and most of all, you’ll be able to know deep down inside that you are the real deal. This is how you can “really” help others to obtain their goals too, not by being fake.