Some trainers have expressed that free online workout programs by social media influencers may do more harm than good

By Nadine Halili | Art by Sai Shah

Following the closure of gyms and training facilities, many fitness studios have rolled out classes online, with the likes of Nike setting up a workout challenge that lets you compete with their brand ambassadors. But one workout challenge that has been particularly popular is the #ChloeTingChallenge, which has received mixed reviews from fitness enthusiasts.

Chloe Ting is an Australian fitness and health YouTuber with 6.36 million subscribers as of writing. She also has a website that contains workout videos plotted into a comprehensive program that focuses on various target areas like arms, abs or thighs. Her videos are geared towards viewers looking to, say, lose fat or achieve an hourglass figure. Her “2 Weeks Shred Challenge” for example claims that the workout will help people lose weight and gain abs in a span of two weeks. Many have happily posted results online. However, some have also criticized the influencer’s methods.

Niña Alvia, former UP Fighting Maroons courtside reporter and a sports science major, expressed on TikTok how Ting’s workouts may make you prone to injuries due to imbalances in the exercises since her programs focus too much on push exercises and rarely on pull exercises. Alvia also said that Ting’s workouts aren’t the best long-term option.

Greg Doucette, a pro bodybuilder and world record-holding power lifter, took to his YouTube channel and debunked Ting’s videos, which include the following:

  • Best Time To Workout To LOSE Weight & BURN BELLY FAT 
  • Ab Workouts, HIIT
  • How to LOSE WEIGHT FAST & MAINTAIN IT
  • Diet and Burn Fat Tips
  • Get Abs in 2 WEEKS

Doucette discussed in his video that Ting’s 2 Week Shred Challenge is a great ab workout but will not exactly make you “shred” fat like she says since she focuses too much on the target area. 

Ting had also said that you can determine your heart rate’s optimal zone for burning fat through a formula, which Doucette countered by saying that your heart rate capacity depends on your fitness level. He also called out Ting for using her large following in giving wrong nutritional advice such as lessening fruit intake and not restricting calories when intermittent fasting.

Social media has long been a hub of both knowledge and misinformation. It’s been reported that some influencers raise false hopes by encouraging followers to try intense workouts and expect rapid results. Furthermore, professional trainers have also expressed that this trend could damage the fitness industry since clients are turning to these influencers who are claiming to be coaches and trainers without having the proper qualifications. Alex Philips, a pilates instructor from Switzerland who runs her own fitness company ALPS Movement and Training, told Buzzfeed News how these online workouts are affecting her livelihood.

“Free classes hurt my business because they set up an unrealistic expectation that fitness professionals should work for free,” Phillips told BuzzFeed News. “The marketing is so saturated with free classes right now and I’ve even had clients tell me I should do free classes to promote myself.”

Some fitness influencers may have the tendency to present their opinions as facts, even encouraging fans to follow their workouts to get a body like theirs. And while the intention may seem good, this can promote the idea that fitness is a one-size-fits-all program when it should be tailor-made based on a thorough understanding of the person’s profile. Following fitness and nutrition advice that isn’t backed by scientific evidence can also take a toll on your mental health since you could be setting yourself up for disappointment by constantly comparing yourself to these influencers and feeling cheated if you don’t get the same results. 

Although there may be influencers that support their programs with science, their massive followings on social media put them in a position where they can carelessly promote harmful fitness goals and beauty standards. But if you do decide to follow these fitness influencers, remember that what works for them may not work for you. And to always take everything they say with a grain of salt.

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