Too Good To Be True? Reviews in fitness


I’m sort of in 2 minds about reviews…..
On one hand I think they’re a great way of getting a better understanding of a product or service, I will always read them and I will also try and leave feedback too.  Recent polls say that 88% of consumers trust online reviews, so they are pretty important for any business or product – however personally, I will also take reviews with a large pinch of salt and try to put them in context.
Details & Usability
When it comes to an actual product, reviews can be really useful. Reviewers can provide product features and details that the manufacturers may not have mentioned – for example when buying clothing everyone knows that your size in one shop may be completely different in another, so I will look at the reviews to try and get an idea of the “fit” and will look for actual dimensions like the width of a T-shirt (I actually also do this in shops too and take a paper tape measure with the width of all my, and my partner’s, best fitting clothes [Jeans,T-Shirt,Shirt] marked on it, so I don’t have to try things on!) and I recently used reviews to help me decide on my latest fitness tracker purchase. Sales people will also try and “big-up” and exagerate the greatness of their products – but by reading the reviews you can pick up on the little nuances of a product in terms of practical daily use like battery life and quality.
Finding Reviews
When you’re buying fitness equipment and clothing,  reviews are really easy to find. Whether that’s direct with the manufacturer, a retailer or from independent review sites.
If you’re looking at clubs and gyms on the other hand –  both Trip Advisor and Facebook can be a great resource. I especially like Facebook because as well as being able to read reviews that people have left on a place, if the gym has it’s own Facebook page, you can read through the comments posted and what kind of responses the club makes. How a club responds to (or sometimes ignores) it’s negative comments is a great insight into their attitude towards it’s members.
On the other-hand, as I’m quite a cynical person I can be a little wary of some reviews within the fitness industry – though I’m sure it happens everywhere really!
A lot of PT’s and big names are sponsored by a number of brands. It can be clothing but especially with supplements it seems – they will forever be posting tweets on how great a particular pre-workout or whatever is or how using “X” has given them massive gains (!?!).
I’m not saying this is bad –  it’s great promo for the product as they get to reach a wider audience. However the ting to bear in mind is that the products are usually given to the reviewer for free so the vast majority of the reviews are naturally going to be positive about it – especially if it means that they will get more freebies.
Trainer Reviews
Finding reviews on PT’s and instructors is difficult! Many PTs will post their testimonials on Facebook, or post before/after pictures of their client’s.  It’s a great way to sell your skills in helping people to achieve their goals – people love seeing results!
This however is where my cynacism kicks in a little – it’s easy to write up a testimonial in a made-up name, or take and alter pictures and claim it’s down to your great workouts and motivation.
If you were looking for a builder or something similar, there are now a number of supposedly independent review sites like that you can use – but as yet there is no  real equivalent for PT’s.
There’s a couple of sites that are trying to do this but while a number of gyms and trainers are registering – the hard part is then getting people to leave reviews.
People can sometimes be reluctant to leave a review for an individual as it IS personal and in general we don’t want to publicly criticize someone – we would more likely do this in private. There is also the fact that as the general public are more than likely unaware of the site, the trainer would need to ask them to leave a review (and they’d only do this if they thought it would be a good one!).
It may be worth having a look at them though, as well as the REPS register to check on their accreditation and insurance status.
Register of Exercise Professionals
Review Tips
Since honest reviews of PTs are a little hard to find – here’s a few tips:
1. Do look at their website/Facebook page have a look at the reviews and pictures posted.  If the person in the picture or review is tagged or if it’s been shared from the person’s own Facebook feed, thanking the PT – then great!
2. If they post a lot about a particular product – do bear in mind they may have been given them as a freebie (YouTube introduced a rule recently where the person has to say if they got it for free and if it’s an advert rather than a “review”) however if they post about a number of products and are not ALWAYS positive then they can probably be seen as being more independent and honest.
3. While reviews both good/bad can be useful – do put them into context. We all have good/bad experiences, some people will have an “off” day or product may have been misused, or there may have been a clash of personality or product design flaw. Read a number of the reviews both good and bad and try to get an overall picture.
4. Sometimes you might not find ANY reviews – but this doesn’t mean that they are rubbish!  It might just be that they are new, don’t like to brag or that their client’s are not the type to leave public reviews.  If you can,  always try and get direct contact from a user – whether it’s finding the best trainers for running or even more so when finding a PT.  Speaking to someone that has used them, where you can ask questions about it is probably the best way of helping you in your decision.
Until next time…….

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