Perils of Insta-inspired health

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People urged not to blindly follow Instagram fitness influencers who are getting quick results in a short amount of time

Hyderabad: When the lockdown closed the gyms, fitness trainers had to get creative and move their classes online. While most were able to keep their customers they knew personally, some who were just starting out struggled to get started.

A quick look at Instagram and YouTube brings up a long list of videos and products that promise quick results within a month. Some even say that you can reach your goal weight within a week with tailored exercise programs. It sure is lucrative, but whether or not the person giving this advice is certified is an issue.

Many trainers and experts in the field agree that the lockdown and pandemic has led to an increase in what are known as “fitness influencers” who have lost a large amount of weight in beginners.

“I have seen many patients seriously injured after such extreme routines that promise very quick results in a short period of time. One patient injured his back while deadlifting and the MRI showed a protruding disc in the spine. Another patient was injured in a similar way and had to have an epidural. If you lose more than 1.5 kg a month, then something is wrong when you lose muscle, not fat, ”explains Dr. Naveen Pappala, Sports Rehabilitation and Exercise, Physiology and Nutrition.

Experts warn that following such self-proclaimed online trainers comes with risks, as some of them have no background in nutritional science and physiology and have no knowledge of basic parameters such as body composition, diet, age and lifestyle.

Animal Flow yoga trainer Shikhara Baddam, who is currently taking online classes for clients, agrees that people, especially teenagers, should be wary of claims of losing 50 pounds in four weeks. “It takes hard work and consistent effort to achieve a fitness goal. If you are interested in online coaching, see how much experience they have, how many people they have trained and what certifications they have. If someone says they are losing more than 2kg a month, it would mean they are following an extreme diet and ignoring food groups, which is unsustainable. In the long run, it can affect heart and bone health in the elderly, skin, hair, and the monthly cycle in women, ”says Shikhara.

The prominent fitness trainer Venkat, who trained many stars in the Telugu film industry and has been providing online fitness coaching for five to six years, says: “Online coaching is not just about developing an individual diet plan and exercise routine, but it is constantly monitored that is part of it. Motivation is a very important factor in personal training. Human nature demands attention. Having someone telling you what to do and what to eat really helps a person stay on track towards their fitness goal. People should focus on long-term fitness rather than just changing the scale on the weight machine, ”suggests Venkat.

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