It’s hard to imagine a facet of 21st-century life that hasn’t been irrevocably altered, or at least warped in some noticeable way, by the endless growth of social media.
But men’s fitness — a field already susceptible to fads, body-image issues and poorly sourced information — may be one of the most profoundly impacted, and gym owners and staff around Bakersfield are taking notice.
“I believe that social media can be a powerful tool when in the correct hands,” said Blake Burnard, the founder of Grindhäus Strength and Conditioning. “The problem is that our industry is very unique in that the barrier to entry is so low.”
Without proper guidance from certified authorities, as Strength and Health Gym owner Mark Pacheco put it, “people’s realities are getting distorted.”
Take online dieting culture. One 2020 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that 81 of the top 100 most active Twitter accounts in the diet space either showed high similarities to bots or had been suspended by the platform. Further, using network analysis, the authors discovered that just one of the top 10 most influential dieting accounts was an independent nutritional coach; others included commercial diet promoters, or totally unrelated accounts like politicians and TV shows.
In other words, social media has a tendency to drown out qualified advice with unhelpful or commercially motivated noise.
Multiple local gym proprietors criticized the prevalence of the keto diet, a high-fat, low-carb plan that exploded in popularity in the late 2010s. Scientists have found it generally successful for weight loss but potentially more harmful in the long term than other low-carb diets. Burnard said his gym has a responsibility to educate people that “keto is not the only way to lose weight, like all the people on their Facebook feed would suggest.”
Tim Gojich, owner of Fit For Life Gym, said diets like keto have been around throughout his 25-year career in fitness but are just marketed differently now.
“Disco had to run its course, and the keto diet has to (meet) its expiration in my opinion,” he said….