This post will probably not be a popular one. But please endure my rant...
Today's world is inundated with self-professed 'experts'. Specifically, the health and fitness world has birthed an entire cadre of fitness, workout, supplement, and - OMG - diet 'experts'. How does the general population tell the difference between good advice and crappy advice? Who is checking the credentials of these 'coaches'?
The timing is perfect. Between the deluge of social media marketing and our societies desperate desire to "look" a certain way, the past couple of decades has created the perfect storm for anyone and everyone to pitch their product or service. It used to be a registered dietician with years of education, experience, and a degree were the ones who were qualified to consult on diet, weight loss, and health. It's open season nowadays. Especially if you are a physically attractive person, you somehow have the knowledge and credibility to pitch diet regimens? Help me understand how you having a nice figure (genetically or trained) qualifies you for anything? And I totally appreciate that you personally have your carbs, fats, and proteins in check, or your blocks figured out, or your zone dialed in, and all of it WORKS FOR YOU; but how does that make you an expert for what works for me? Maybe your training plan that isolates certain muscle groups on certain days, for a certain amount of time, works for you, but how should that allow you to sell that plan to other people who will most likely not see the same results?
I see two elements that should be in play here. First, are you officially trained (not google trained) and hold a degree or license in the field that you are now 'selling' your advice from? And second, do you have the adequate successful real world experience that goes along WITH your official degree to be 'selling' your advice (Keep in mind Dr. Anders Ericsson's (1) research that equates 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to make you an 'expert' in anything. That's about 10 years...) These two components combined make someone qualified to give advice.
Now, this may seem a little harsh and doctrinaire, but the truth is that we can't ALL be experts, because then none of us are experts. (see article 'The Death of Expertise' at www.thefederalist.com).
So if we aren't really experts then what can we be? We are people with opinions. And, yes, we are all entitled to have our opinion. We just shouldn't sell it as expert advice. That's misleading, fraudulent, unethical, and not the least, annoying. The other thing we can be is parental. By this I mean what purpose are we really serving our clients if we aren't truly 'experts'? Well, we are holding clients ACCOUNTABLE. And admittedly, that may be worth some type of fee. 'Accountability' is what I see over and over again as the real underlying reason behind why people will spend money on personal training, diet advice, and coaching. And this is completely acceptable and even beneficial to both the 'coach' and the client. But let's call it what it is and please don't advertise yourself as an expert or even knowledgeable in an area unless you truly have earned the right to say so.
1 - Ericsson, K.A., Krampe, R.Th. and Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, pp393-394.