The fitness industry is changing

The fitness industry is changing for the better. I have been involved in the fitness industry and bodybuilding for the better part of 35 years, starting when there was no internet and the only instruction we had were magazines and newsletters. For the first time in a very long time, I see the industry changing, driven mainly by the shocking deaths of bodybuilders due to unhealthy habits and anabolic steroid abuse. 

Bostin Loyd, a transparent steroid user and fitness influencer, died at the age of 29 in March 2022. Cedric McMillan, an IFBB Pro bodybuilder, died at the age of 44 in April 2022. Paul Poloczek, another IFBB Pro, died at the age of 37 in May 2022. 

These are people who are leaving us too early because of the harmful effects of the bodybuilding lifestyle. Commentators, competitors, influencers and fans are recognizing the dangers and are speaking out. The fitness industry is shifting to one in which appearance at-any-cost is being deprioritized, and health and longevity is being prioritized. I hope things can keep moving in this positive direction.

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Robert Huot
July 2, 2022 3:41 pm

I agree with your assessment. We are witnessing a step change the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades in the fitness industry. In particular, the supplement industry is facing pressure in a way that it never has before. Marketing hype and ridiculous claims by supplement companies were the norm. They could get away with absurd claims without even a slap on the wrist. MuscleTech was the pinnacle of meme companies making ridiculous claims. I don’t care how good a protein powder is, it’s not going to give you 17 pounds of muscle in 5 weeks! Yet that’s what they claimed. Most of us knew it was hot garbage but the naive newbies to fitness and bodybuilding would have bought Nitro-Tech expecting transformative gains. When those promised gains never came, you were eternally jaded, having learnt a hard lesson about the deceptiveness of the fitness industry.

Around the time MuscleTech was promoting its usual nonsense, ‘anabolic flavones’ were the much-heralded, non-hormonal alternative to the 2004 prohormone ban. These flavones such as Methoxyisoflavone and Ecdysterone promised steroid-like results without the side effects. Of course they faded away into obscurity within a few years. To veterans of the fitness industry, it’s nothing new to see the hype around Ecdysterone and Turkesterone. But to the new batch of fitness enthusiasts, it creates false hope that so many of us have already gone through.

There is a difference this time. Consumers don’t accept BS anymore. We question the efficacy of supplements. We question the claims. We hold supplement companies and influencers to account. There is no greater example than the Turkesterone scandal in which fitness industry giants such as Greg Doucette and Derek from More Plates More Dates are being held to account. The scandal came about when an analysis was done on Turkesterone supplements, which showed they were underdosed. In other words, consumers weren’t getting what they paid for. Without a doubt, bunk supplements have made some manufacturers very, very rich. Underdosed and ineffective, supplements have been sold without any transparency about quality control, third-party testing and confirmation that ingredients are dosed at the amounts claimed on their labels. That doesn’t fly anymore. At one point Greg and Derek would have seemed untouchable. However the anger at being lied to and the resulting backlash has left an indelible mark on both their reputations.

The fitness industry is still a quagmire of an industry, either as a manufacturer or a consumer. It is apparent now that the industry can’t operate the way it used to. It can’t make bombastic claims and expect to get away with it. The hyper-competitiveness of the industry means that the seller’s integrity is the distinguishing factor, the USP so to speak. Without integrity, the manufacturer is better off closing shop. That’s why the Turkesterone scandal is so damaging. Trust takes time to build up, but it can be lost in an instant. Supplement companies can no longer afford to lose the trust of consumers. If they lose our trust, we won’t let them get away with it anymore.

MuscleTech Nitro-Tech.PNG
Tyler Mendoza
June 29, 2022 8:15 am

You’re absolutely right. The fitness industry is most definitely changing. In professional bodybuilding, competitors are pushing the envelope too far that they’re dropping like flies in their 30s and 40s. Maybe their bodies can handle the insane amount of drug abuse in their 20s but eventually that sort of stuff will catch up on you. Many YouTube fitness influencers are much more transparent about their drug use, explaining what they take to achieve their look, and the physical and psychological side effects. Paranoia, aggression and body dysmorphia? No thanks! Also sponsorships aren’t automatically terminated when you admit to steroid use; something that was the norm around the rise of YouTube fitness around 2013/2014.

We’re also seeing a resurgence of natural bodybuilding. It’s been enhanced for so long, people have forgotten what is naturally attainable. A new crop of fitness YouTubers are carrying the “noble natty” flag – a derogatory term that roiders initially appended to holier-than-thou natural bodybuilders. It has now been proudly adopted by natural bodybuilders to celebrate their drug-free status. Natural Hypertrophy and Geoffrey Verity Schofield are two growing channels that promote natural training. They have a solid subscriber base that is interested in safe, natural, drug-free training that adds to your life, not takes years away from it.

The fake natty era is pretty much finished. Some people still try to play the natural card when they’re obviously enhanced, but people are much more clued up now. No one believes the nonsense that was spewed by fake natties 5 years ago; I’ve been training and eating right since I was 12 years old. That’s why I’m 230lbs shredded without any drug assistance. Barely anyone believes Mike O’Tren anymore. He’s become more of a meme at this point. When Kali Muscle revealed he took steroids, it was funny because everyone knew he was on them. You didn’t reveal anything, Kali!

Now people are generally more clued up. We know competitive bodybuilders, Hollywood movie stars and fitness influencers are on steroids. It’s not hard work and dedication, though that’s part of the equation. It’s not chicken, broccoli and rice. It’s the anabolics, plain and simple. Bodybuilding & BS by Nick Trigili is another growing channel that’s turning the tide. Nick likes to talk about the dangers of bodybuilding and the crazy stacks elite bodybuilders take to get to their level. I like his message about realizing when the sport isn’t for you. You really need to be blessed with amazing genetics to get anywhere in the bodybuilding world. That includes how tolerant one’s body is to drug abuse. And then there’s the politics you have to navigate. By and large his message is that bodybuilding, the destructive type of bodybuilding that so many kids aspire to pursue, is simply not worth it.

The fitness industry is changing. Yes, I believe for the better. We know more than we did 5 years ago. Transparency is growing and people are calling out the BS, of which there is a lot in the fitness industry. I too want it to keep moving in this direction. Training for health and longevity will always beat training to be a bloated, unhealthy mess. Noble natties unite!

Travis Banks
July 3, 2022 3:34 pm

Is it worth it?

This is the question the fitness industry is asking itself. The deaths, the health complications, the ruined relationships. Is it really worth it? For what? If you don’t know who Dante Trudel is, I recommend reading his IG post and watching his video. This is someone who has been in the game for a long time. If his words “Do you know how young it is to die in your 30’s? Do you know how awful it is to be in kidney or heart failure in your 30’s and 40’s?” don’t affect you, I don’t know if anything will. Dante explains that in the early 1990s he put out a newsletter called Hardcore Muscle. The 6 guys who contributed information to that newsletter are all dead. The doses that were used back then are much less than what’s being used today. That’s alarming. Is it any surprise people are dropping dead from bodybuilding so frequently today?

Is this stuff really worth it for a $15 trophy?

This is the question Dante asks his viewers. It is a question that resonates deeply within the fitness industry. People are risking their lives and shaving years off their lives for vanity. Who can say it is worth it?

Stuart McRobert, author of Hardgainer magazine, said something along the same lines in his book Inside the Mind of an Iron Icon. Read this paragraph and re-read it.

And of those drug users who did become bodybuilding champions, most of them discovered that a few trophies, and short-term fame, are no compensation for the price paid in terms of the neglect of their health, education, career, family life and so on. Surface-level satisfaction from contest wins doesn’t fix deep-seated feelings of inadequacy.”

The fitness industry is having an awakening of sorts.

It isn’t worth upping your steroid dose for 10k more followers.

It isn’t worth risking death in your 30s to win a bodybuilding trophy.

It isn’t worth being jacked if you ostracize yourself from friends and family.

It isn’t worth it.

Ernest Vicente
July 4, 2022 10:52 am

Pretty much agree with what everyone has posted. We don’t tolerate lazy, haphazard supplements and workout programs anymore. We know that follower and subscriber count is in no way correlated with fitness knowledge. There have been more than enough moronic statements made by mega influencers to sever any correlation. The best thing about this change is it doesn’t matter who you are. The Rock can be the most motivational guy in the world but that doesn’t stop legions of Twitter followers calling him out on his roid usage. Sorry Dwayne, the secret to being as jacked as you are isn’t getting up at 3am and ‘earning your sunrise’. If Hulk Hogan today told us to train, say our prayers and take our vitamins, he would get trolled off the internet.

I don’t wish harm on anyone, however I like the direction the fitness industry is going, and if it means people get burned, so be it. The fanboys still exist, of course, but no one is safe selling below-par products. I present to you Noel Deyzel, a professional bodybuilder and fitness influencers with 2.4 million followers on Instagram, 2.16 million subscribers on YouTube and 4.8 million followers on TikTok.

People love Noel. He’s juiced out of his mind and he’s transparent about it. He’s honest about his steroid usage and all that comes along with it. That’s why people love him. A while back Philion did a video calling out Noel. The pushback was immense. Jealous, a pussboi, a soy boy. Philion was thrown all kinds of shade and the video was taken down. But fast forward to today. Although Noel Deyzel is hugely popular, he’s a target as much as anyone else to be criticized.

The criticism comes from the training programs he sold. Anyone with an iota of workout experience knows it was unadulterated trash. How can someone who seems so open, genuine, transparent and looking out for the average guy produce something so bad? That’s what I love about the fitness industry now. Noel doesn’t get a free pass. No one does! A growing consensus is he’s the typical roid abuser, albeit still one of the good ones in the fitness industry because of the transparent message he promotes. Taking the amount of juice he does, you’re almost guaranteed to get jacked. That doesn’t qualify you to sell workout programs. Actually having seen his workout programs, it’s quite clear he knows very little about training and programming. As I said, the correlation between followers and knowledge isn’t strong. My verdict of Daddy Noel? No daddy, no!

On the further end of the spectrum, there are people who really dislike Noel because they think he’s played a deliberate act as the ‘good guy’ in an attempt to deceive fans into buying his products. Whatever you think about him and whatever his intentions, that’s just a smaller part of the fitness industry pie. Noel is an example of so many who came before him and who still persist in the fitness industry. Limited knowledge, using their fan base to sell expertise. We’d have no issue if he stuck to a clothing line or being a supplement sponsor. But to leverage the expertise you don’t really have, that’s been built on steroid abuse rather than education, and sell workout programs to people who know no better… well, I draw the line there. As do so many others.

It’s not just about Noel. It’s about all the fitness top dogs that make money off their fans without putting in the effort to produce programs and supplements that actually work. Toward the end of 2021 Dorian Yates, 6 time Mr Olympia, was implicated in a coaching scam. Clients shared their experiences of his coaching and from the sounds of it, his coaching was legit. It was the hiring of an aggressive sales company that put him in the firing line. In the past, perhaps people would separate the 2. Dorian isn’t the sales company. That’s correct, BUT he did HIRE the sales company and is therefore responsible. Fortunately for Dorian, his reputation wasn’t harmed. The whole scandal was seen as a blunder in hiring a bad marketing company. But it goes to show, consumers in the fitness industry now have high standards. It doesn’t matter who you are – loved or hated – you will be called out if you try to pull the wool over your customers.

JL Stancato
July 6, 2022 12:42 pm

I am thrilled with the way the fitness industry is changing. I turned 52 years old this year. I have seen and been through enough to know that bodybuilding & the drugs required for it are a destructive hobby. I lost my marriage, went into debt, destroyed friendships with caring, selfless people. This all because of an obsession to build more muscle. Nothing else mattered. I was too egotistical to understand what it was doing to me. Now after almost 40 years of training I look like a shell of a human. The drugs giveth, the drugs taketh. I have myriad health problems now, this is the consequence of abusing my body for years. Nothing about bodybuilding was healthy for me, physically and psychologically.

If I could turn back the clock, I wish I had never heard of bodybuilding. Working out would have been much better. I would be better off in my financial situation, relationships and mindset. Some of these kids really don’t know what they are doing. I wish they would listen. I have tried to talk sense into a few kids, they never listen. Like I also felt, they think they are invincible. They think they are young so the drugs won’t harm them. I’m sorry but that isn’t true at all. It will catch up to you. It is heart-breaking to see kids in the gym, on gear without a care in the world not knowing what is in store for them if they continue down this lifestyle. The bodybuilding lifestyle is destructive. I try to help. It always falls on deaf ears.

I couldn’t do it a second time, go through the pain, paranoia, anger. The youth have this live fast, die young mantra. I had it in the 80s too. They don’t get it. They will only learn down the line sadly when it is too late. They don’t have perspective on their side. I wish there was a way to get through to them. If I could help anyone avoid the destructiveness of bodybuilding, I would. Be healthy. Do not obsess about competitions and being the biggest guy in the gym. Eventually the chickens will come home to roost.

It is a godsend the fitness industry is shedding light on real bodybuilding. The hobby that takes away but gives very little in return. Many lives will be protected from it. I also hope the industry opens up more. Kids, young adults need to hear stories from us, people who have lived the life. As long as I can I will preach a healthy approach to working out.

Murray Hinton
July 6, 2022 6:03 am

Is the fitness industry really changing?

In Mark Rippetoe’s book Practical Programming for Strength Training, he wrote the following words about the industry:

“Many clubs … are sales organizations, not exercise facilities, and if the people who buy the memberships don’t come to the gym more than 3 times, that’s just fine … The business model is dependent on a fast turnover on the exercise floor … The idea is that the members will come in and play around on the machines for 20 minutes, climb on an exercise bike or treadmill for 30 minutes while they watch TV, hit the showers, and get the hell out of there.”

Is today any different to when Mark Rippetoe wrote these words? Clueless personal trainers who’ve got a weekend certificate thinking they know what they’re talking about, fitness clubs with vending machines selling unhealthy candy, and Planet Fitness with its free pizza and bagel nights. The fitness industry may be progressing in some aspects but it sure as hell is regressing in others.

Last month I was at my local gym and a personal trainer decided to interrupt me between a set to tell me I was resting too long. According to him, my rest time should be 30-40 seconds. Where do gyms find PTs like this? I’ve never spoken to the guy in my life. First time I’ve seen him too. He has no clue what my goals are, and if he’s assuming I’m after hypertrophy, there’s enough research now to debunk the myth that you should be taking short rests. So tell me again how the fitness industry is changing, because I remember clueless PTs like this at gyms 20 years ago.

A large part of the problem comes from the authorities or publications that are meant to be educating the masses. I love my coffee and I’ve been looking for a low calorie creamer. Coffee Mate is quite high in calories and Walden Farms is just gross. In my search for a creamer on Google, I see an article titled “The Best Coffee Creamers for Belly Fat – Ranked!”. Jeez, is the general population still so ignorant about the myth of spot reducing? We have known this for ages! How are articles like this being published, and more worryingly, how is ranking on the first page of Google!? Aren’t the big tech companies supposed to be fighting misinformation?

Hypocrisy continues to pervade the fitness industry too. I don’t train to be a bodybuilder but I like to follow the sport now and then. There’s a new kid on the block called Nick Walker who has won the Arnold Classic and New York Pro. But here’s the thing. He’s 170cm tall and 250 lbs. For that height, it is a tremendous(!) amount of muscle to be packing onto his frame. People are encouraging him to take it to the next level and that he’s a future Mr O in the making. Walker is phenomenally talented in work ethic and in the genetic department, no question about it. But the support smacks of hypocrisy. We’ve seen bodybuilders die from abusing drugs. To be 5’7 and 250 lbs, you will definitely be abusing the anabolics: think testosterone, GH, insulin, site injections etc, at very high doses. It is very, very dangerous to push to these limits. If people really care about the sport and stopping bodybuilder deaths, physiques like this shouldn’t be rewarded. But here we are. The industry pretends it cares and talks about change, yet size, which can only be attained through the abuse of harmful exogenous compounds, is what wins the shows.

Again, is the fitness industry really changing?

Nick Walker.PNG