Online Health and Fitness
Following on from my recent post about the increase in the health & wellness industry of ‘experts’, ‘advocates’ and ‘ambassadors’ sharing their health & fitness advice, #fitspo selfies and health, well-being, diet or fitness programs, I wanted to further explore the concept of online programs for health and fitness.
Online health and Fitness programs range from full developed bootcamps, training programs, websites, “12 week fitness” programs, published books or e-books and ‘forums’ for online support. It’s a never ending list and the expansion of sourcing health and fitness advice from traditional avenues is increasing by the day.
While many young females look to these online trainers, advocates and ambassadors for inspiration, motivation and information; it’s worrying that these ‘experts’ may not be all that they promote themselves. Lately, more and more of these ‘experts’ are being outed as not having sufficient credentials, of being serial liars and fraudsters. How do we know who to trust online? Who has the ‘proper’ credentials? Who is qualified – and what does it mean to be qualified also?
A growing industry
More and more people are turning to alternative approaches to health and fitness, and this includes online programs, online trainers and advice delivered differently to more ‘traditional’ approaches like a nutritionist/dietitian appointment in an office or PT session at your local gym.
Location, budget and availability play a large factor in deliverability and access to health and fitness resources, thanks to the internet and social media more health and fitness options are available, and to more people that otherwise might have missed out on such opportunities. The rise of apps such as ‘My Fitness Pal’, ‘Map My Run’ along with recipe apps, as well as fitness gadgets and fitness trackers like the Fitbit, watches like Polar and Garmin and interactive gym machines like technogym – only make accessing health and fitness (and improving these in your life) easier!
It just goes to show why accessing this information while at home, travelling or on the go is increasing; it more importantly highlights why it is so vital to identify how people can find an online program or expert that they can trust, and that advice is well considered and safe.
How to find the ‘experts’ online
I sat down with Susie Burrell, dietitian and psychologist to have a chat about the health and wellness industry today.
The health and fitness industry has changed, more and more programs are being offered online these days? How do people know which ones are the right ones for them and what should they look out for?
The first thing to take into consideration is the qualifications of the group running the program. Professionals whether it is a dietitian, personal trainer or exercise specialist has professional standards they need to adhere too which generally means the programs are safe and the professionals can be held accountable for the advice that is being given. The next is whether the program, exercise and or diet is sustainable. If it is not sustainable, chances are you will be back where you started once you return to your old habits.
You have 2 Honours degrees in Nutrition & Dietetics and Psychology. When it comes to Instagram and social media – do you think unregistered health experts has negatively impacted the work accredited dietitians do?
Initially yes, as the public were looking for more up to date information communicated in an appealing way. Now, the public have caught up a little and are aware there is a big difference between a bikini model giving specific dietary advice and someone who works clinically and is qualified. These professionals may not look like bikini models but their advice will be safe, sustainable and based on science.
Tell me a little about your program “Shape Me” and how it differs from others out there online? (What sets your program apart from those seen on Instagram/web every day from people like Ashy Bines or Kayla Itsines)?
Shape Me, the 30 day plan has been specifically developed to primarily target diet and caters for a range of specific dietary requirements such as for people with insulin resistance or in need of nutritionally balanced gluten free and low FODMAPS diets. Every single plan is different and based on individuals dietary preferences, activity levels and style of eating and unlike all other programs users have direct access to me to ask any questions at any time and are guaranteed a personal reply within 24 hours.
There are so many conflicting “diets” and fads out there, and a lot of ‘health food’ bloggers/advocates and advocated of eating raw, eating only vegetables, paleo and more – how do everyday women find out what works for them?
A lot is common sense – if a diet is not sustainable and needs you to spend hours preparing food or eliminates whole food groups it is immediately a sign it may not be sustainable and/ or nutritionally balanced and should trigger warning bells. If it feels too restrictive, it probably is.
What factors should women be looking for when searching for a health / fitness professional online?
- A qualified professional who runs it
- Direct access to support and administration for questions / problems
- Diets that cater to individuals, not a one size fits all model
- Plans based around meals that are not going to require you to spend hours each day cooking and preparing food
You’re a consultative dietitian at the likes of Body Science International and Go Natural Foods – what makes you decide to become affiliated with such brands and how can this advice be used for consumers when choosing the “right” products at the supermarket?
I have only ever associated with brands which I actually use with my own clients. If I would not recommend it I would not support it. I have been a fan of Go Natural Nut Bars for years as they are a tasty, portioned control way to get your daily intake of nuts while BSc have been a client I have advised for many years and together we worked on the development of Body for Women, a clean, great tatsing protein powder for women I often use in my high protein snack recipes.