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Fitness Coaching Credibility – Beyond the bells, whistles, glitz and glam

Ingrid handing barbell out to coaching client Simone in black shorts and top


Nowadays with extraordinary marketing within the on-line and social media space coaching credibility is easy to overexaggerate. It can be really quite tricky to work out good information from great information from really ordinary, to plain crap. You totally need to have a fantastic working bullshit-o-meter. So how can you see through the smoke and mirrors and the bells, whistles, glitz and glam of some photos, reels and websites? Well, I will outline a couple of things to look for when seeking a fitness sherpa to help guide you. I have written numerous typical “how to choose a coach” articles right here on this blog, but this one is more focused on cutting through the marketing hype. If you are keen to know the coaching questions I would ask, click this link for a thorough review. https://www.ingridbarclay.com/blog/contest-preparation-coaching/

Information Access versus Volume

I don’t agree that we have too much information. I mean, when you were a student, or a member of your city library, did you read every book available to you? Of course not. But we have an accessibility crisis. And unfortunately, we have infinite amounts of access to really shitty, to outrageous, to comedic, to ill-informed fitness information. All information is not equal. Therefore, you need to build up a skeptical filter. Here is a couple of my tips to do so. You want to filter for two major things, validity and reliability.

Assess the Research

Honestly, we need to read things with a healthy dose of critical thinking firstly. Look at the processes and premises that are being made and done. More reliable thinking processes are more likely to lead you to likely conclusions….just saying! Where is the research to the claim. Then, critically assess the research process. I won’t go into the “how to” on that exactly as it deserves a whole separate blog. Right, that is on my list of things to do! Promise.

Coaching Testimonials

One of the main problems with the fitness industry being so unregulated is that anyone can make any claims. Problematic you think? Big time. So, if a coach is touting extraordinary claims, ask them questions if you are wanting to perhaps hire them. I shall use a  statistic I use. I have trained 8,000 clients. Now my integrity tells me this is true. But to someone else, that might seem pie in the sky. Someone who has trained that many clients should have truckloads of testimonials. Do they?

Check their claims

If someone is making bold claims to their successes, do they have oodles (and I mean oodles) of proof? To me, if someone is claiming to have trained 8.000 happy clients, now given that is over 37 years, I probably don’t want someone phoning a client from 30 years ago to ask “how was Ing as a coach”. But I SHOULD have hundreds of clients willing to be given a phone call to talk about my coaching. Do I? Yes. I literally have hundreds of phone cumbers I can give out (I have requested each clients permission), for prospective clients to call should they want to ask another client their opinion. Do your due diligence. We know many testimonials are farmed, paid for and plain made up. So, question and dig are my advice.

Business coaches and fitness experts claiming products that make them 7 figures

I love the fitness business coach that touts a 7-figure income and spins shit that they can do that for you too by purchasing y. Hmmm. Ok. There are a number of ways that a “7 figure salary” can be interpreted. If I read that, I presume that that is the net profit of the business in a 12-month time period. But they could have been a business coach for 10 years and made a 7-figure salary over that time span. It isn’t a lie. Kind of. Or, they might have taken in a 7-figure amount in a financial year, but what was their profit? Or did they make a 7-figure amount in a financial year, once, due to x or y reason, but have been unable to repeat it again? I mean, we can’t go into someone’s bank account and vet what they are saying….so it comes down to integrity doesn’t it. And most people in business don’t seem to have much of it.

Business coach success without fitness success

Whilst speaking of fitness business coaches I shall just throw out my opinion on this one. Many fitness business coaches jump on board this vocation with a sense that they will make more money teaching others how to make their business more successful. Maybe they took a real shine to small business management. Or marketing and advertising became really appealing and challenging. Social media success interested them, and on it goes.

Awesome. It is my opinion that a business coach should have experienced a high level of success selling something within their fitness sphere first though. Whether it is nutrition, or Pt sessions, or bootcamps, or whatever the hell, who cares, but I feel they should have earned their stripes and be able to back their claims.

Fitness Author That’s A “Number 1 Best Seller”

And insert eyeroll here please. Have you noticed how every book seems to be some kind of “Number 1 Bestseller”? This used to be a real drawcard. Now I don’t pass a glance. Let me recount a short story. Brent Underwood recently posted an article. He has worked in a well-reputed publishing house for years has had it with said catch phrase. Therefore, he took a photograph of his foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved “No. 1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything. How many copies did he need to sell be able to call up his mum and celebrate his newfound authorial achievements? 3. (1)

I find this vexing. Point being though….it’s easy for a fitness “author” to trot out any vanity title and success label without it being a worthy read. It is dead easy to be able to “legitimately” call yourself a bestselling author. If he can make his foot a “bestselling author” for under 3 buckeroos and a few minutes of work, you should take any legit fitness guru presenting themselves as such with a grain of salt.


Look, this was only a quick little blog, as it’s the night before my birfday……so I am going to get some sleep before my day of gallivanting around doing “stuff”. However I hope this has opened your eyes to a few things that you can keep your eye on, and questions to ask when reading someone’s SM, website, credentials, fitness claims and marketing ploys. And I shall call them ploys.


  1. https://observer.com/2016/02/behind-the-scam-what-does-it-takes-to-be-a-bestselling-author-3-and-5-minutes/#:~:text=I%20took%20a%20photo%20of,Three.




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