FFF 124: The Good, The Bad & The Dishonest Side Of The Fitness Industry – with Mike Matthews

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This week, Scott and Mike Matthews talk about what’s wrong with the fitness industry today, some diet fads (do they even work?), and the truth about dodgy marketing. Mike Matthews is primarily a writer, best known for his books, which sold about a million copies over the last six years. Among his books include Bigger, Leaner, Stronger (for men); Thinner, Leaner, Stronger (for women); and The Shredded Chef, a flexible, dieting cookbook for both men and women.

Mike began his fitness journey in 2012 and self-published his first book, Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. Not having any connections in the publishing industry, he really didn’t think any publisher would put their faith in him. For him, it was a minimum viable product type of approach. He wrote it as something he wished someone had given him when he started getting into weightlifting. So it was a result of doing a lot of not-so-effective things over the years, plus about four years of doing things that were very effective.

From selling copies on its first month, book readership grew to several thousand copies sold by the end of 2012, purely through word of mouth.

Going into 2013, he saw an opportunity to really dive in and create more books, write articles, and do things to focus on education. Initially, he didn’t want to be a fitness person but was more interested in starting a publishing company. However, he saw the opportunity to become that fitness guy who creates the best possible content, build his own large following, and just do his own thing. Soon, he built the Muscle for Life and the rest is history.

What Prompted Him to Get Into the Fitness Space

Mike didn’t plan on being into fitness but family and friends approached him for some advice and tips on fitness and nutrition. He even shares about his friend who went to him for help regarding his nutrition, and now he’s done 20 pounds and never thought it was that simple.

For the most part, he started it simple with people that came to him and he didn’t charge them for money. Then he saw that opportunity to write a REAL book, with timeless principles that work. He was intentionally writing the book to his 17-year-old self.

Cut the BS and Just Stick to the Basics

Mike explains that using those “complex” terms related to weight loss can really appeal to a lot of people. Looking at the first stage of market awareness is you’re completely ignorant and you’re most susceptible to scams.

It’s your first time getting into the weight loss space. And being told you’re going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, you think it’s cool. But here’s Mike saying go for 1% of your body weight per week in terms of weight loss. You can eat literally whatever you want, just follow a set of certain random rules. And here’s another guy who offers pills that can make you lose 20 pounds in 30 days, without paying attention to your diet.

Some people would start with the pills, then they try and move up a level of market awareness until they realize that quick fixes don’t just work at all or they’re not sustainable.

This is where Mike comes in is to help people with his process, which may not be as sexy, but they’re simple and effective, and real!

The Problem with Evidence-Based Trainers

Additionally, Mike sees to it that he’s able to explain things in simple terms that most people can understand, apply, and get results with. The average person doesn’t even know what a calorie is, let alone why you should count them or why calories in vs out matters. So cut the jargons.

It’s the simplest of things. Mike points out the big disconnect between where the average person is at and where the evidence-based educator is at in their level of communication.

Unfortunately, Mike thinks the BS artists are winning this particular space in terms of communicating things people can understand even if most of what they’re saying is wrong. As far as media goes, Mike thinks they just go with wherever the market is.

What’s the Next Thing in the Market?

With all the trends going from veganism to now, the keto diet, Mike thinks it’s more reliable to have your finger on the pulse and see when a wave is trying to build. As with Keto diet, he didn’t jump into the bandwagon as he thinks it’s stupid. It’s a medicinal diet, designed to help people with seizures. And so the diet makes no sense for the average person in shape and into fitness (unless perhaps the endurance type athletes). If you like it that’s fine, but if you’re someone spending more time on resistance training and don’t like it, then don’t follow it.

In terms of Paleo diet, Mike thinks a lot of the science is questionable, especially the high level of saturated fat intake, which is reckless.

Generally, he sees this as a global phenomenon where we’re moving now toward science in general, where there is a general push in the fitness space. Inevitably, it does go back to energy balance. We’re not out there yet, but we’re moving towards that direction. It just has to have that right marketing appeal. And Mike hopes we see the general discussion more centered around reality and what really works, and that begins with energy balance.

Highlights
  • Writing his first book and creating his first website
  • Why he specifically wrote a book for women
  • What got him into the fitness space
  • Keeping weight loss simple and sustainable – there’s no quick fix!
  • Stop saying jargons the average person wouldn’t understand
  • Where the market is going next
  • It all starts with energy balance
Quotes & Take-Aways

If I can build a large enough following then I can just do my own thing. I’m not beholden to anybody. I can write what I want to write. I can say what I want to say.

Like an ecosystem, I look at myself as the nucleus of this and putting things out there that can spring more people into my orbit.

The thing that we are most running away from is probably what we need to confront the most.

They realize the quick fixes don’t just work at all or they’re not sustainable. There are quick fixes out there that amount to just starvation dieting.

The science has been inaccessible to so many people for a very long time.

The average person doesn’t even know what a calorie is, let alone why you should count them or why calories in vs out matters.

There’s a big disconnect between where the average person is at and where the evidence-based educator is at in their level of communication.

If you want to measure it in terms of market share, the bullshitters are winning by a lot and if you don’t like that, get better!

I hope that in the next decade or so, we see the general discussion more centered around reality and what really works. And that, of course, has to begin with energy balance

Thanks for listening and the support – if you enjoyed this episode, I hope you can leave the podcast a rating and review on iTunes, and if you haven’t subscribed yet, this is the best time to do that too. This will help the show to get up in the rankings.

Scott Baptie

Scott is the owner and founder of Food For Fitness. He is a fat loss coach, speaker and fitness writer with a masters (MSc) degree in Applied Sports Nutrition.