The rise of unsolicited Instagram coaching has dealt a swift blow to the fitness industry.
In the last three years, the amount of unsolicited feedback on photos and videos of athletes training has jumped by 42%, according to Instagram data, while the total number of people seeking real-life coaches to help improve their fitness is down 20%.
Damon Greene, who trains in his garage, no longer seeks out coaching advice from local trainers.
“I started to realize the value of unsolicited Instagram coaching when I posted a video of myself performing a two-hundred and twenty-five pound snatch. It was a personal record for me.”
In the first 24 hours, Greene’s video received almost two-dozen comments from unidentified coaches around the world. These included helpful comments such as “Looks like 2 much weight,” “Your pulling with your arms bro,” and “ur back rounded that’s dangerous.”
“I really appreciated that there were so many people out there willing to take their time to improve my safety and fitness,” Greene explained.
In Los Angeles, the brunt of the downturn has fallen on personal trainers, many of whom rely on private coaching sessions for the bulk of their income. Trainers that once had 3-4 private appointments per day are now struggling to schedule half of that.
“The worst part is, the coaching that happens in Instagram comments is really concise and effective,” Says Dana Crosby, a personal trainer in Orange County.
But Greene says what motivated him to turn entirely to unsolicited Instagram coaches wasn’t just the effectiveness of their cues and corrections, but the generosity of their hearts.
“Here was a group of people I’d never met, some with private accounts, who were willing to look past the fact that I set a new PR on the snatch. Instead, this group of selfless coaches focused on what really mattered– Critiquing the minute details of my successful lift.”
“Their grammar was poor, and they often contradicted one another, but what they do is an example of truly giving back to the community. With free, unsolicited coaching like this, it really makes me wonder why anyone would pay to train with a coach in person.”