Dissecting the Fitness Industry: Messengers vs. Light Bulb Guys (And Gals)

I’ll be totally straightforward here: negativity sucks. I’m not a fan of it, and I hope you’re not either. We live in a world with so many problems. So many goddamn problems. Why create more problems by being negative? It’s a gigantic waste of time.

I wanted to lead with a few thoughts about negativity because the topic of this post is something I used to be negative about. Like, really negative. So negative, in fact, that I’m absolutely positive it stopped me from progressing in my career. That’s serious stuff.

Like most people, I’ve always wanted to think I’m the shit. A total badass. The stuff of legends, you know? Sadly, I’m really not the shit. I’m not an intellectual badass, nor am I an athletic phenom. In other words, I’m just not that special. I’ve seen this phrase make its rounds in the fitness community from time to time and I’m glad for that. People need to hear it, myself included.

It’s tough to swallow, but it’s necessary. It’s even more necessary to not take it at face value – there’s a much bigger picture that needs to be considered. When I tell myself that I’m not that special, I’m really saying, “back the fuck up for a second and consider where you stand in the grand scheme of the universe”. I want to think I’m the player moving game pieces on the Risk board, but really I’m the bit of dust that’s caught under one of those game pieces. Oh, I just got blown off the board. I’m on the floor now. Under a shoe.

That’s most of us.

After you get over the shock of finally realizing that you’re just an average human being living an average life, those words can start to transition towards the positive end of the spectrum. That’s what we want. That’s when good things happen. Positivity, yeah! It’s a powerful thing.

This problem seems especially prevalent in the fitness field. There’s a lot of information out there about fitness-related topics, and you can’t blame the writers and coaches for thinking they’re special. Some of them are special – you probably already know who they are – and they form the backbone of the industry. They create quality content on a daily basis. They’re the masterminds of the most well-known coaching cues and the most effective movements. They’re light-bulb guys (and gals), and they’re awesome.

But what about the rest of us? For the most part, we’re just relaying the information the light-bulb guys (and gals) produce to different audiences. We’re not developing and refining the grand ideas. All we’re doing is passing them along. Sure, we get that light bulb moment occasionally. It’s a great feeling, especially when we’re able to implement it with our clients (or friends, family, whatever). But the people who really are special? In comparison to us, they’re light-bulbing hundreds of times every day.

After all these years, I’ve finally started to become okay with that. When I first entered the industry, I wanted to be a light bulb guy. I wanted to come up with the good stuff and I wanted to be praised for it. Who can’t relate to that? It didn’t take long before I realized that I just wasn’t very good at coming up with new and innovative ideas. It was disheartening at first, but then I had one of those rare light-bulb moments that I’ve been talking about.

I flipped the switch from negative to positive. I started thinking about what I could bring to the industry, if not innovation. And then it hit me: I realized that I’m great at relaying information. I’m a fantastic messenger. I can pull messages apart, regardless of the content, and share them with people in a concise and accurate manner. With a little bit of dedicated time and effort, I’m sure most people in this industry could do that to some degree.

Is it as fancypants as being a light-bulb guy? Definitely not. Do we get the same amount of recognition? No way. Without messengers, though, the fitness industry would stop running. Or, at the very least, it would become much more difficult to circulate quality information across the population. And really, that’s our job. We’re here to help people become active, stay active, and encourage their friends to do the same.

So if you’re like me – a messenger – don’t sweat it. You’re just as important as the light-bulb guys. You’re just important in a different way. You still have tons to offer to the industry. Embrace that, and spread the message.

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