Recently due to considerable and unexpected upheaval in my life, some big changes are happening and I’ve moved away from what has dominated my life for so long.
Having built up fitness camps of 200 people and a gym of about the same, hosting fitness retreats half way around the world, events with people from Europe and the USA, this guy from a small island most of the world has never heard of, found himself in a somewhat empty, strange, quiet period of reflection and for the first time was been able to look at the fitness industry from the outside in.
For a while I stopped writing anything I knew would butt hurt people largely because I got tired of the backlash.
However, this period of introspection and simultaneously taking a view from 30,000ft up over what I was part of, has brought me back around to the fact that if I’m not honest about what I know, I’m really not helping anyone.
Give this 5 minutes of the precious time you reserved for mindless videos on Facebook and share it with anyone you think this would benefit.
This first post comes off the back off a statement from Paul Ramsden on a post of mine about what people are most confused about, which (thanks Paul) was what tipped me over the edge to write some of this stuff and hope it falls in front of the right eyes – the ones that care and aren’t afraid to do something about it!
“Too many bad trainers making good money, too many bad products being sold and making good money, too much advertisement of bodies only created from testosterone boosters or steroids, too many scientists doing tests to prove this that or the other is the way one or all should live. I think their needs to be more honesty in this game, more heart on the sleeve kind of stuff. It’s a great game to be in if you know where you are at and what you want but a bad one if you don’t know where to get started and who to trust.”
Here are my thoughts which you are welcome to agree with, disagree with, question, comment on or just let soak in as you go about being you.
1) We have a choice in life.
In ‘Ego Is The Enemy’ Ryan Holiday tells us that we can either BE someone or we can DO something. In some cases we can certainly do both but ultimately your mind will walk you down one of the two paths.
The other will come find you if you’re lucky.
Unfortunately, most people have never spent one minute of their life thinking about what they want to DO.
We’re largely programmed from school to study, then narrow our study, then narrow it even more at uni, which usually narrows down what job we will do then it’s just a treadmill of getting as high as you can in that field.
Beyond that point it doesn’t make any LOGICAL sense to you to do anything else…and that’s you done until you retire.
What this means is, we are then constantly attracted to anything that promises we will ‘get ahead of the game’, give us a short cut or give us a cheat sheet.
The busier we get with the rat race, the more susceptible we are to things that promise shortcuts.
We also take mental shortcuts.
“That person is lean as hell in that photo, therefore this must work, therefore I will do it. Here is my credit card.”
Marketers understand this and literally USE your own imbalances in life against you.
2) A lot of these people cheat.
We know this.
I met a guy in the US purely by chance who informed me that one of the most well known transformation/performance companies in the UK photoshop every single transformation photo they have.
One of the most famous transformation shots featured a guy who was drugged up to the eyeballs.
I know this because this guy created and edited the website for them.
Honestly, I don’t know what we do about this.
What I do know is that you and I have a choice to focus on DOING something.
If we focus on being something, by extension we need everyone else to NOT be something so we are more visible.
Sure these ‘frauds’ become a name but are they really achieving anything in life that they can look back on?
They aren’t progressing the industry but retarding it.
Similarly, there is a certain ‘coach’ who is making a truck-load of money right now and being slagged off by every corner of the industry.
I met another girl in the US who reliably informed me that this guy basically got lucky with PR.
You just can’t account for, or desire that in life. It may or may not come.
I met an Olympic medalist whilst eating a burrito and we became good friends.
Chance is chance, you can only follow a path you enjoy walking on and see what crosses it.
If you let go of your own ego, seeing all this stuff going on get’s a whole lot easier.
Once you stop seeing it as a case of these ‘frauds’ effectively taking your share of some pie of entitlement because you’re better than them, you realize that they aren’t really leaving anything behind in this world or making any real change.
You’re basically defending something you don’t even have yet.
The thing is, like any market, you can only sell what people want.
What people want has been screwed by so many societal factors that even if the industry WAS totally honest as a whole, people would still feel entitled to being wealthy, looking like a model and being perfectly happy.
They would reach for the pills instead of the ‘fastest working ab shredding six pack’ package.
Sadly, life owes us fuck all and it’s not fair!
We are entitled to absolutely nothing!
All we know is that we can determine what we DO in this life, not the results that come off the back of those actions.
You might get spotted and fall in a pot of gold. You might not. But you will sleep at night and feel complete.
Don’t sweat what else is going on.
There’s 7 billion people doing stupid shit every day including me and you.
You’re not going to stop it by complaining about it and wishing it was different.
3) We now live in a world where attention spans are a matter of seconds at best.
You can’t be honest in a picture AND grab attention.
A picture may tell a thousand words but it rarely tells the right ones and Joe Bloggs just doesn’t have time for the rest of the story right now.
They will make snap judgements based on prejudices from the past and programming.
Instead of reading one book in depth from cover to cover and learn the truth, they start a hundred stories a day and read the ‘page’ that someone tells them to read.
4) The snapshot / highlight reel that has taken over the industry has created this giant lie that aesthetic perfection means happiness.
I know girls who probably don’t have much more energy than what is expended on the 15th re-take of their daily Instagram shot.
The problem is not just that people assume their life is great because their ass is, but that they come to believe their own bullshit.
They have 5000 followers so what they’re doing must be what the world wants.
They don’t realize 4823 of those are guys who have liked previous similar shots on Instagram because, well, their guys, and now they get fed of those images and the carousel keeps turning.
This is how social media works.
We think it has given us infinite choice in what we consume but the more time goes on, the more the algorhythms pigeon-hole what we are exposed to.
Most people are becoming increasingly tunnel-visioned, blinded by the illusion that they can choose from anything.
The algorhythms show more of what people are liking which, bearing in mind most people are coming from a place of depressed misery about life, just means we all get shown more of what keep us stuck.
The ‘liked’ get liked more.
Somehow we have to show people how to step out of the vicious circle, BUT…
5) I have learned that if you step out of what is accepted, it’s like walking around with a target on your back.
Whenever a sheep steps out of line, there is always some dog ready to herd them back in.
When I came back to Guernsey and basically built a training philosophy around hard work, eating natural food and creating a 3rd space for people to be part of, I got labeled as some crazy Nazi instructor who deprived people of all pleasure in life!
(The same ones who would say you’re a fraud if you get drunk or have a pizza. They see what they NEED to see…)
Because deep down, they knew I was right and was indeed just being honest.
I certainly have not always been right and I genuinely am sorry if anyone got the impression it’s what I believed.
That being said, if you are paying someone for advice and they don’t believe 100% in what they teach, what exactly are you paying for?
Think about that…
I have heard some stuff that is so ludicrously stupid it took me through frustration to hysterics like our eating plans had put people in hospital.
Go download any of the plans (which I give away for free) since 2010 when I came back to Guernsey.
You will find nothing that tells you anything other than…
“Eat protein, veg and fats most of the time and eat carbs after exercise. Sometimes, take those carbs out completely but not for long. Drink lots of water. Take supplements that rebuild your health. If you struggle with any of the above, we need to work on the mental patterns that get you to that point.”
Someone, who through the joys of the Guernsey grapevine I know to have taken cocaine on a regular basis, thinks that advice (which has always been open to questioning and adaptation to life and personal needs) is dangerous.
I tell you this not for any validation that what I do is right.
I have enough real life experience to know it is whilst remaining humble enough to keep learning around the world.
I tell you this because it helps illustrate why you have to have a personality made of steel to really be honest in this industry.
Be the first to do it in your space and you are in for HELL.
Most ‘coaches’ will shit themselves and settle for some level of advice that keeps everyone around them delightfully and comfortably ‘not quite informed’.
These are usually the ones who make lots of money!
Again you have to decide if you want that and want to BE someone or you really want to DO something.
I only want to be someone by doing amazing things.
If only transformation businesses had to operate like public companies.
Every year, you must publish your accounts and progress.
Yeah…you know…those photos you posted 6 months ago that have trapped more people on your program, we want to see the situation now.
EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
I too would be sad to see the fact that many people I’ve worked with fell back when they stopped and walked away.
See that’s what we need to be honest about.
Fitness marketing has become about deliverance to a certain point.
It’s like telling someone they will get paid for 3 months in a job and be financially free for the rest of their life.
These 21 day programs and even 12 week plans are like sending someone out running with a bungee chord on their back.
The sad truth is they know that it’s short term and will just return to the space in life that they know as soon as it’s over.
But who wants to be told that you really need to work with me for the rest of your life?
“Oh I can’t just do it once and be done? Mmmmm no thanks”
I’ve had to deal with the frustrating knowledge that some people choose to see the fact that I stood out in a tired, unproductive industry as arrogance and ego.
“How dare you do anything different. You must think you’re special.”
Honestly, yes. I am special but I tried damn hard to make you realize you were too.
The silly thing about this is that I have traditionally been the one happy to put my reputation on the line by running courses, hosting seminars and entering Strongman contests, local fight nights or whatever.
Not once have I ever claimed to be the best in any sport or challenge or anything else, yet I know people love to see me fail.
Because it means they can say “Told you it was bullshit.”
What they fail to realize is that people like me don’t do what we do for the reasons they think.
Because THEY feel so threatened on a daily basis by wealthier, more successful, more beautiful people, they assume action and ambition is an attempt to make them feel worse about themselves!
What I’ve really craved all along that few see because they never take time to get to know me, is situations that force me to be better.
Challenges that make me realize I can do more and more and more and live and experience and feel a rush and just feel alive.
Sure winning is better than second, but really, unless you’re winning world championships or the Olympics, you’re not really first anyway.
Similarly, just being there puts you ahead of 99% of people.
It’s just seeing what you’re doing differently.
I love a strongman crowd or a fight audience because I know it will make me push harder and reset my thermostat of what I accept as ‘room temperature’ in my training.
The only wins that ever stick around are those that give you an unwavering desire to do something else!
This is what is wrong with the fitness industry.
We don’t help people create paths that keep unraveling in front of them.
We give them some meaningless deadline and make it seem important.
Often the ones that accused me of arrogance are those who fail to ever stand up themselves because THEY are afraid of being shown up to not be whatever they claim to be in photos and Facebook posts.
“Oh the time wasn’t right”
“I have an injury and can’t be my best”
If you have that as a base attitude, how will you ever coach people who say the same thing.
Oh yeah…you’ll just sell them on some 6 week effort that doesn’t come close to delivering what they really want.
The feeling of being worth something and capable of something.
I’ve had people challenge me to cage fights then when I question them face to face about why they’re being helmet (and buy them a drink) they CRY in front of me and blubber about being an alcoholic and how they didn’t mean it and ‘their friends made them do it.’
And I actually don’t mind any of this, expect it to stop or even need it to.
It helps me learn about people and brings us full circle to understanding what Paul brought up at the start as confusing.
It’s helped me realize we need to find what happiness is to each person then give them the courage to take it as far as they can.
I’ve tried leading from the back, trying to push people forward.
Now I’m just focused on doing it from the front.
If people choose to follow on behind, they are welcomed with open arms.
This is what we are up against in coaching people and trying to inspire an island or a nation.
The problem is not unscrupulous marketing, bullshit fat loss products or anything else.
The problem is nobody has time and/or willingess to really see what’s going on or what they WANT to be going on.
We aren’t taught to see what we want to be doing but are given abstract ideas of how to be someone.
A job title.
A place in the machine.
Anyone can talk on the internet but those who want to BE someone rather than DO something know that most people won’t take time to read posts like this.
Show them a snapshot of Jonny Giant Guns who has more drugs in him than a Columbian safe house and they will latch on to it.
Sometimes they are actually RELIEVED that those results seem unattainable.
They will buy the product all the same but have already accepted they can’t do it before they even start because life has stripped them of every ounce of self-belief.
It’s like buying a football shirt.
It makes you feel part of something even though it gets you no closer to your REAL dream of being a sports superstar, adored by the public.
People want badges that are bought not earned.
They want distractions.
They want to know they can’t do IT and can instead spend less energy telling anyone who will listen that IT is rubbish/stupid/pointless/unnecessary.
Why do people say they want to be in amazing shape, yet the first question they ask is how long the gym membership is so they can bail out?
They want to know when the parachute opens.
They don’t want to step into the black hole that is any meaningful goal.
They don’t like that a parachute doesn’t open until you’re in a scary freefall, so they won’t jump.
They just want a piggyback – to pass the responsibility for their results.
Anyone can be somebody.
Few will DO things.
I have always worn my heart on my sleeve as Paul says.
The problem is that when you expose everything that’s not working, it literally throws people’s beliefs upside down and they will react, often very badly.
So we are not going to change the fitness industry overnight.
We aren’t going to stop people worshipping false idols any time soon.
Fuck, people have been doing that since the dawn of time – you and I won’t do it before the January gym rush!
All we can do is encourage people THROUGH ACTION to jump out of a few planes and let the parachute open when the time is right.
Be strong enough to tell your own truth but don’t be surprised or hurt that more people don’t want to hear it than those who do.
Go DEEP with those who listen instead of worrying about going WIDE and getting 1,000,000 followers.
Follow a few different paths and when the time is right you’ll find one that feels so right you can’t think about anything else.
When you do…
…put the hammer down and never look back.