I felt compelled to write this blog after seeing another advert for ‘free training sessions’ on Facebook. On initial inspection you may get drawn in to thinking that the trainer is doing it for the good of the community and the goodness of their heart. However, what if that trainer had a hidden agenda?

Companies that sell meal replacement supplements have exploded into the fitness arena, particularly over the past 4 years.

In the last year, many exercise sessions have been advertised with big bold letters in their marketing spelling out the word ‘FREE’. The one I saw recently was for a ‘bootcamp’ style class. There are other sessions which include walking and running clubs and circuit training sessions.

9 times out of 10 you will find the ‘trainers’ or ‘wellbeing coaches’ or whatever other bullshit titles they self-qualify themselves with, running the ‘free’ sessions are also selling supplements – usually meal replacement shakes or similar. Their aim is to get a captive audience and draw them in with false promises. From there they can start to drop in information about the products they are selling and how the clients can get their desired results faster and more effectively by taking them. Don’t be surprised if they offer you a complimentary shake after your session!

The clients get sucked in by the energy and enthusiasm of the trainer, in conjunction with misinformation, pseudo-science and pictures of muscular people who used to be fat.

The trainers appear to genuinely care about the individuals and seem committed to helping them achieve their goals. Are they as committed if that individual doesn’t buy in to their supplements? I can’t answer that as I haven’t experienced it first hand, however if I was to hazard a guess, I would think not! Now, I’m not saying this is a cult because it isn’t. But if something looks like a dog, walks like a dog, barks like a dog and licks you like a dog, it’s probably a dog! The ‘free’ groups appear to morph from an ‘anyone’s welcome’ approach to a group of people who are all undertaking the same exercises whilst consuming the same chemicals at meal times. It wouldn’t annoy me so much if they were advertised that way. But they’re not – people are lured in and then coerced with false marketing. They prey on people who want a quick fix, who are in a rut and who have ‘tried everything else’. Human nature is to want to make things as easy as possible – and these promise that easy route. The body conscious person who is fully aware of their size and shape, who is not confident enough to go to a gym or not knowledgeable enough to eat better and become more active are their exact target.

Taking these products is not cheap. If you follow their guidelines you will be consuming 2 meal replacements shakes a day, in addition to fat burning tea and protein bars. I have heard that this can cost you anywhere between £60-£100 a month! This price all depends on how much the trainer decides to inflate their prices as some considerable mark up their RRPs! The trainers can charge what they want once they’ve stocked up from the supplier.

My argument would be, if the trainer didn’t have anything to sell would they still run these free sessions? The majority absolutely would NOT! Don’t get me wrong there will always be exceptions that genuinely want to help people… unfortunately they are the minority. As the saying goes ‘there’s no such thing as a free meal!’ In this case ‘a free exercise session’! If you see them advertised, do your research and search online for the trainer and see if they carry the logos of the awful meal replacement and supplement companies. Or ring them and ask them if there’s a catch, or whether they promote the sale of meal replacements.

My advice is to take the free sessions if they work for you, but don’t be fooled into thinking that meal replacements shakes are the only way you will get results. But don’t be surprised if you become frozen out of the sessions by the rest of the dogs in the cult. You cannot do better than real, whole foods that you prepare yourself, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We were born with teeth for a reason: to chew food. If we were designed to drink liquid then we would have been born with a straw for a tongue.

Be wary of the trainers or advisors or health gurus or whatever these people call themselves. They may be qualified personal trainers, they may be gym instructors, they may be hairdressers, taxi drivers or shop assistants. But what they more than likely are not is a qualified dietician, nutritional therapist or doctor! Anybody can sell this shit because the market is unregulated. I feel for the personal trainers who have done one of two things:

–          Fallen on hard times and needed to supplement their income

–          Decided they can’t be arsed to do their job properly and ethically

Any personal trainer who is ethical, good and honest will NOT sell this stuff. Because they will have undertaken enough personal development to know how they can improve somebody’s health whilst not encouraging them to fill themselves with manufactured rubbish. Some of these morons make the most horrendous claims about what their product has done for them. An unnamed guy on Facebook, for example – exclaimed that he managed to put on SIX POUNDS of muscle in a week. SIX POUNDS. That’s over 2.5kg for the modern amongst us. Piss off!!!!! It’s these sorts of promises that make it impossible for PTs to manage their clients expectations! Don’t even get me started on people who use phrases like #HulkSmash! – what the frig has that got to do with training? It’s not a training technique I’ve seen, that’s for sure! They probably also use ‘shut up and squat’, ‘ass to grass’, ‘train dirty’ and ‘strong is the new skinny’. They might sound good, but they’re also ridiculous. One thing he wouldn’t say is ‘eat clean’. Have you looked at the ingredients list on one of those jars?

Then there’s the totally unqualified people who sell it and set themselves up as advisors. Not only do they sell it themselves, they advertise ‘business opportunities’ to other unqualified people. These opportunities involve selling the products, too. But this time, those people get a little less of the profits, as they have to share them with the people who referred them. It’s sounds very much like a pyramid. It perpetuates the problem and fills the world with a bunch of people who pretend they know something but actually don’t. Would you send you child to a swimming pool where the lifeguards can’t swim? Would you take your child for medical treatment by a person who does not have a medical degree, but was once the school champion at Operation? Would you go to a mechanic who has never been near a car, but once played on a Scalextric?  No, me neither. They make ridiculous pictures like this with totally unsubstantiated claims about why having muscles is better than having fat. Water cools calories? W T the actual F?

muscles and calories

Folks, the truth is that if you want to lose weight, tone up, build muscle, get ripped, get lean, shed fat, get shredded, get to race weight, or any other term for personal physical development, you’re going to have to do two things – sweat and eat well. For all the money us personal trainers are paid, it comes down to what you eat and how you train. We can advise you on both of those, and a personal trainer who is worth his qualifications will be able to give you instructions on both without selling you a single little thing.

Anyway, you’ll probably realise that I haven’t named any of the companies involved, and I won’t, because I’m sure you’re all smart enough to work it out for yourselves. But a recommendation for you… Don’t go near Herbalife or Body By Vi or any other multi level marketing shit tip.

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