In Response to Erica Suter and Her "Shots Fired"

I just saw a response from Jonathan Pietrunti to an ARTICLE about who to follow and be motivated by. I read the article it was in response to and fully agree with him, and have some things to add. You can read Jonathan's response where it was posted by Alex Viada HERE.

The author states that her article is a response to a comment she saw disagreeing that fitness celebrities shouldn't be followed for motivation. The quote was "It's totally okay to follow Instagram celebrities who post shirtless selfies. People want more of that and find it inspirational. Fit bods are sexy because of what they represent: sacrifice, dedication, education, motivation.“ I personally don't see much wrong with this comment. Sure, throwing education in there is a bit silly, because we all know plenty of people that look awesome but know very little about training and nutrition, but outside of that I agree with it. Regardless of how someone achieves their physique, good physiques are inspiring and can motivate people. I don't see this as inherently a bad thing at all.

The author goes on to say it's not fair to generalize that only ripped trainers and celebrities represent that kind of dedication and motivation. I don't know why she makes the assumption the comment meant that. I don't see anything in it that says others can't be motivating as well.

She says that there are some strength coaches that look incredible without going to extreme measures to be lean. While I fully agree, I don't see how this is related to the comment that sparked the article at all.

The author seems to think that the comment was stating that only those that fall into her category of "fitness celebrity" can be dedicated or represent education, and I didn't see anything indicating that at all.

It really goes downhill with this quote explaining what a fit body truly is:

"A fit body represents strength, self-love, confidence, acceptance, and balance. Coming back to the education aspect my commenter mentioned, I’ve known MANY non-ripped, non-celeb trainers who hold Master’s degrees and phDs in exercise science. Not to mention, they’ve tallied years of hands-on coaching experience."

What? A fit body is due to things separate from the fitness of a body? I'm a bit confused. The commenter had said a fit body represents education. While I disagree that every fit body represents that, I don't know where anyone said that a fit body is the only metric for education level. I also don't understand where people who are "non-ripped" but good trainers fit in to a paragraph about what a fit body is. When most people use the term fit body they mean a body with noticeable muscle mass and low body fat. I don't see letters after their name affecting that.

She goes on:

"More cogent to the point, the smartest trainers aren’t self-centered freaks who live in the gym."

This is an odd thing to say. I disagree that someone can be assumed to be self centered because they spend a lot of time in the gym. I also don't know how that makes someone a freak, or where that line connects to anything else in the article. I'd assume she's connecting it to the part about dedication in the comment that triggered her, but dedication is related to goals. For some, being in the gym nonstop is dedication. For others doing 3 mild workouts a week is dedication. This comment seems fairly insulting to those that spend lots of time in the gym to reach their goals.

She continues:

"They focus on their clients. They get better at their craft to help others. They comb through the exercise science publications, spend late night hours writing, travel nationwide to run workshops, and take time to design strength programs with progressive overload. They also hold the top certifications in the industry."

Those that spend lots of time in the gym can't do those things too? Only people that do those things are valid people to follow? I don't have a single certification, and likely never will unless I want a job in a gym. Does that mean the people with PhD's, CSCS's, (insert whatever certifications are considered at the top in the field here) who have hired me to help them were stupid? Should my followers stop following me and should everyone discount everything I've ever said? Maybe people shouldn't be judged based on how much time they spend in the gym, whether or not they post shirtless pics on IG, or what certifications they have. Maybe people should be judged on the content of their character and merit of their advice? I guess a world like that is just a dream though.

"Sure, dedication is great. But what if people don’t want to always be dedicated? Or sacrifice their Friday and Saturday evenings at the gym instead of having happy hour with their girlfriends?"

What if going to the gym Friday and Saturday evenings is what makes someone happy? What if they have a goal that demands that, and they're willing to engage in that little thing called delayed gratification? I'm all for having fun on weekends, but I'm also not going to tell someone they're wrong for not having fun in pursuit of their goals. As I stated, dedication is relative to goals, and those with very large goals require more of it. Those with large goals aren't motivated by those that scoff at training instead of going out to drink.

"Personally, I’m a mid 20s woman who is trying to live in balance. Can you blame me? And in the past, I’m absolutely guilty of being motivated by such self-centered fitness icons because I deemed them “dedicated” and “hardcore.”"

What is balance in this context? It's a bit silly to start a sentence with the word personally and then act as if it applies to everyone else, especially in the context of the fitness field. Balance is not the same for everyone. And what is wrong with being motivated by insane dedication anyways? Insane dedication usually results in amazing results. The fact that the whole category of "fitness celebrities" she refers to exists is proof of this. There are people that know very little about nutrition and training, who are using very sub-optimal methods to achieve their goals, yet they still achieve them due to dedication and consistency. Regardless of how smart that is, why can't that be motivating? Someone doesn't have to fall for the bullshit advice these people give just to be motivated by their physique or results. I also don't see why they are assumed to be self-centered.

"And for most of these people, from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, either #gainz, their next meal, or their next workout consumes their psyches."

What is this based on? For someone complaining about fitness icons not giving good advice there are a lot of seemingly baseless statements being made here. I'm not sure how one chooses to market themselves and the way they look reflects on their mental state. Maybe the author has a pubmed link that explains that.

"Ever thought that this all is actually DEMOTIVATING AS FUCK?"

It’s too much thinking, too many extremes, too much tupperware, too many supplements, and not enough enjoyment of what you love about life."

What if thinking, extremes, tupperware, and supplements are what someone enjoys in life? Is it that crazy that others can possibly value different things than we do? I personally would despise a life of being super dedicated to my physique ever single day. But I'm not pretentious enough to think that everyone else on the planet feels the same way I do. Sure, there are plenty of people that do fit the stereotype the author has talked about, but generalizing all people that value different things than her as that is a bit silly.
 

"Honoring your body and honing in on your personal fitness isn’t about the NO-EXCUSES-LET’S-MAKE-GAINS-BRO-AND-COOK-CHICKEN-AND-TAKE-L-CARNITINE-5-SECONDS-BEFORE-BICEP-CURLS mindset.

Wake up call: you don’t have to sacrifice shit."

The faux bro-speak in that example actually looks pretty excited. The person she's imitated to make a point seems to be enjoying the process. I don't know why what someone else does is an issue to her.

But that last line. Oh Lordy. Where to fucking begin...

If there is a world where everyone on the planet can be fit without sacrificing shit I want to be directed to it. I'm not sure I've ever met a single person that hasn't had to sacrifice anything to be fit. I don't think there's any possible way the author hasn't sacrificed anything either. She expects me to believe there's not been a single time where she has wanted to eat something and decided not to to stay on track? Not one? Not one time she passed up something she'd enjoy to go to the gym? Never? I don't believe it. Part of being very fit is sacrificing shit. The level of sacrifice might vary drastically between people, but I can't imagine it's ever completely absent. Sure, there are people that naturally look good without any real directed effort, but I'd guess even they would have to sacrifice to get to the level of fitness present in the "fitness celebrities" she describes. These people aren't common in the first place anyways.

If I never sacrificed anything for fitness I wouldn't be in the fitness field, and I'd weigh over 300lbs.

"It’s about compassion, acceptance, and finding what works for you in the moment. And if life throws off your fitness goals – pregnancy, a business project, graduate school exams, a sudden death in the family, a divorce with your spouse – all natural life stressors that alter your physique, it is OKAY. In my book, these are valid excuses, bro.

So, #YESEXCUSES.

You should never beat yourself up about “slacking” or skipping workouts or not meal prepping like an OCD freak show. We all need a break emotionally, to fully retract from the pressure to be thin, cut, trimmed, toned, and lean."

Sure, any good coach will let clients know it's OK to redirect focus when more important things come up. Programs are altered, sometimes it is just put on hold. Why would things like that be called an excuse? A quick google puts the definition of excuse as "a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense." Why is decreasing focus on fitness due to other life stressors a fault or offense? It's a bit weird to type a paragraph saying it's OK to not follow your plan when life stressors increase but also indicate that it means you're messing up or failing with the wording.

She implies it's not slacking and that only "OCD freak shows" do such things, but she just indicated it's a negative to go off track in the last paragraph. Jonathan mentioned the fat acceptance movement, and this style of thinking seems very similar to that. She seems to think that messing up is a bad thing, but is trying to justify it, just as those in the fat acceptance movement try to justify being obese even when they know deep down it's a negative. The negative attitude towards those that are dedicated in extreme ways reinforces my thoughts here. She seems bitter that others can do that and she can't.

I can be just as extreme as most others in the industry when I really try, because I enjoy fast results. However I could never do it for a long period of time, and I don't resent those that can. I can't, and it is impressive when others can. That doesn't mean I'm likely to take advice from them, and if I do it won't be due to that fact.

"After experiencing the “no excuses” life of a bikini competitor, I was burnt out after just three months, and after my show I stopped focusing on chasing leanness.

When I broke free from forcing my body into things it could no longer handle, my life became exponentially better in terms of relationships, work, and my inner peace. In this instance, a 10 pound weight gain after my bikini show made me BETTER OFF."

Wait, is she saying contest prep was hard? No fucking way. I never would have guessed. She felt better when she upped calories and gained weight, reversing the physiological negatives that come along with low body fat and a caloric deficit? Again, I never would have guessed. However I'm not sure how the last part can be applied to everyone. Just because her body couldn't handle a method doesn't mean others can't. Some people really enjoy competing. Some people really enjoy the process. Others hate the process, but love the challenge and outcome. Why do their preferences mean less than hers, and why does she seem to look down on them for it? There's a lot of things in this article that don't seem to be very well thought out to be honest.

"It didn’t make me any less capable, uneducated, or demotivated as a fitness professional. Actually, quite the opposite. It made me smarter because from this all-or-nothing experience, I was propelled to research more effective ways to program workouts for my clients, and to tap into more scientific resources."

Oh, I understand. One way didn't work for her, so she was inspired to find others. This is an awesome outcome of her finding out that method didn't work for her. However hopefully when she started doing research on effective methods she realized that different things work for different people. Being very extreme is a viable option for those that thrive with it. Based on that paragraph I am a bit wary that it made her more educated, because she seems to think that being extreme in any case is a bad thing based on her own experience, which is a very concerning reflection of her education in the field. Not only does she seem to think extreme methods aren't viable, which is bad in itself, she seems to base it on it not working for her, which is a very concerning way to come to a conclusion. Hopefully I misinterpreted that paragraph, but the theme of the article seems to back up that interpretation. 

"Strength and Conditioning Research > The Tracy Anderson Method."

Hey, something I agree with! :D

"Now here I am, training when my body tells me I can, and taking rest days whenever the hell I want. Needless to say, I’m evolving as a human being and fitness professional. But more importantly, I’m growing into a fit body that works for me – one that breathes life into every ounce of my being."

Again, I'm confused. It's awesome the person has found her personal balance, but I don't know what should be inspiring or motivating about it. Training without a program and taking rest days whenever you want isn't motivating to me, isn't inspiring to me, and would hold many people back from their goals. If it fits the persons goals, awesome. It does fit many people's goals, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this mindset. I'm similar most of the time. I put many things above my physique on my list of priorities a lot of the time, but I don't expect to be praised for it, or to motivate or inspire many people. Sure, some people that think they have to be super extreme could be motivated seeing that they don't have to, but nobody else is likely to be motivated by it. All she is saying is that she's not as dedicated to fitness as she used to be. While there's nothing wrong with that, for those with goals in fitness how is lack of dedication motivating?

That last paragraph also seems to assume that those going to more extreme lengths aren't evolving as a human being or in a body that works for them. I think a lot of those people would feel much worse if they were less dedicated like she is, because a lot of them likely value their physique much higher than she does. Sure, some of them are just self centered douches who don't care about anything else in life, but assuming they all are isn't right.

In conclusion, awesome physiques will always inspire people because people want one. This isn't a bad thing. I'll never be inspired by looking at pics of Alan Aragon or Lyle McDonald, and can be by looking at pics of people that have way less knowledge. This isn't inherently a bad thing, and shouldn't be discouraged. While getting people away from taking advice based on physique is important, this article completely misses the mark, and is written in a way that's likely to insult quite a few people. The author needs to take a step back and look at her own biases if you ask me. She should also be careful "firing shots." I have been very nice in this article, but I could have been much less so since she wants to be arrogantly combative in her writing.