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Exposing the Lies of Fitness Influencers

A small group of creators are calling out the dark secrets behind flashy videos of toned muscles and flat stomachs.

Series of TikToks by @goob_u2 exposing fitness frauds, fitness influencers, gymfluencers
Credit: Instagram/ @goob_u2

There’s something oddly universal about looking in the mirror and disliking what you see. Perhaps all you feel is a little dissatisfaction or maybe full-blown disgust. It all goes up a notch when you glance down at your phone. At your favorite yoga-loving twenty-something influencer’s “perfect body”, so far removed from your own.

We’ve often been reminded not to compare ourselves to what we see on social media, but with so much fitness advice online being focused on appearance, it’s difficult not to. The good news is that most of what you see isn’t real.

A small wave of creators has recently taken it upon themselves to unearth the secrets to a “perfect” gymfluencer body. And by calling out fitness frauds and revealing their tactics, the fakeness of our aspirational bodies is, for the first time, on show for all to see.

Misleading Claims

With pressure on to create new and unique content for influencers, many of them end up making misleading claims on social media.

In one video, a creator calls out all the influencers who put “fitness trainer” in their bios. Apparently, anyone can be a “fitness trainer”- even you or me! There are no qualifications, training or licensing required.

Your favorite fitness guru claiming to be credible might very well know less about nutrition and anatomy than you or me.

In addition, these creators have no qualms about making up exercises and overpromising what they will achieve. This particularly applies to gymfluencers targeting women, who often lie about exercises that are must-dos for a so-called “bubble butt” or flat stomach or whatever other near-unattainable body goal is trending at the time.

Or equally, they could lie about how long it takes to change your body- does anyone else remember Chloe Ting’s two-week ab workout during the first lockdown?

Dodgy AD Deals And Training Plans

In order to make money from influencing, many of these fitness creators turn to sponsorship deals or try to sell their own training plans. This functions off the pretense that if you buy a product or follow their diet for a few weeks, you’ll magically transform into their body.

As said previously, many of these influencers have few credentials and little moral qualms about lying to their audiences. Their promoted products can range from dangerous dieting pills and laxatives to non-scientifically backed training advice.

Fitness Marketing 101. Convince the audience they have a problem, then sell them the solution. It’s a trap! #gymmemes #memestiktok #friends #janet #shitfluencer #influencer #fitness #gym #gymtok

♬ origineel geluid – STRAK Personal Training

Many of these training regimes promote undereating and overexercising in order to follow through on the crazy claims influencers use to promote them. This can be hugely harmful in the long run.

More and more gym-goers are beginning to realize that the constant cycle promoted to them online of cutting (eating to lose weight) and bulking (eating to gain weight) has taken a huge toll on their mental health. Disordered eating and body dysmorphia are two dark cornerstones of the supposedly healthy gymfluencer life.

The Way to Keep in Shape All Year Round (By Lying)

When your whole brand revolves around your near-unattainable body, you have to find ways to keep your physique the same all year long. Between Holiday Feasts, water weight and hormonal fluctuations, this is impossible for many of us. It is also impossible for these influencers, and so they have to use some sneaky strategies to seem as though they are constantly in shape.

Fitness TikToker @thatguyaon reveals the way in which these influencers manage to seem constantly in top condition.

First, diet with unsustainably low calories and low body fat. Then go on an exotic holiday. Then make sure to take thousands of pictures in a plethora of different locations. You can even take laxatives to look bulkier or skinnier. Finally, go back home and return to eating a healthy amount of calories/bulking, all the while using the content you filmed on holiday until the next time you go abroad.

The Way to Keep in Shape All Year Round (By Lying Even More)

Of course, some people don’t want to waste time and energy dieting and going abroad to get optimal content. There’s a far easier way to keep an unrealistically proportioned body.

You guessed it, it’s Photoshop.

fitness frauds, gymfluencers, fitness influencers on tiktok using photoshop
Fitness frauds use Photoshop to mislead their followers. Credit: Shutterstock/ Kaspars Grinvalds

Technology has moved on from the days of Facetune, where you’d whiten your teeth and maybe stick an unconvincing pair of abs onto your holiday pics. You can now edit photos and videos almost undetectably to make your arms bigger, waist slimmer and bum rounder. Take a look at Brut’s post on video editing apps to see how easy and convincing they are to use.

One of the main creators exposing this is @goob_u2 on Instagram.

@goob_u2 often has his videos reposted by fans on TikTok. One of which reveals the extent to which influencer Paige Hathaway (@paigehathaway on Instagram) photoshops her pictures. Pictures that are seen by thousands of women desperate to have her body.


❌ Stop trying to be like your favorite influener because they’re too busy trying to be someone else. @Goob_u2 #fitness #gym #dietculture #fit #bodypositivity

♬ original sound – Workout Videos & Exercise Tips

But perhaps this isn’t that much of a surprise. Female influencers of all sorts: lifestyle, fashion, love island stars, are well known to use a hefty dose of photoshop. So why should we ever trust female athletes not to do the same?

It’s not just women photoshopping, though.

These accounts (and fan accounts of them) also expose bodybuilding men for their Photoshop skills.

Reacting Very Maturely to Their Photoshop Being Revealed

In a recent scandal, an anti-photoshop account, @noah_bermudez collaborated with @goob_u2 to take down photoshopping bodybuilding influencer @jordynleeross. After @noah_bermudez exposed @jordynleeross on his TikTok channel, she immediately started to bully him in his DMs, sending him proof that she did not edit her pictures. He immediately apologized and rescinded his claims.

@goob_u2 then also got involved on Instagram reels, contacting @noah_bermudez so he could see the proof. He then figured out that she had manipulated the metadata behind the photos to stop it from looking like Photoshop.

Fitness influencer, fitness frauds, shitfluencers, TikTok, fitness, gymfluencer, @goob_u2
Clips from the @goob_u2 video exposing fitness fraud Jordyn Lee Ross. Credit: Instagram/ @goob_u2

After discovering this, @goob_u2 arranged a call with @jordynleeross and managed to get her to admit to manipulating the metadata on camera. He then proceeded to expose her on his own social media accounts, as well as @noah_bermudez rectifying his apology.

In recent months both @goob_u2 and @noah_bermudez have been banned from TikTok, with all of their videos being taken down with their accounts. Influencers rightfully exposed by these creators are behind this. They encouraged their fans to spam report videos so that TikTok would flag the accounts.

It just goes to show how far gymfluencers will go to hide the truth behind their bodies and their brand.

@goob_u2 now operates solely on Instagram, but @noah_bermudez is attempting to retrieve his old account. He has posted a video on an account called @noahbermudez2.0 detailing how you can help him get his videos back.

Make sure to help him out so that he can continue to expose the influencers and fitness frauds who lie to their followers.

How to Avoid Being Misled

@goob_u2 has posted a reel on his Instagram teaching you how to spot Photoshop on your favorite influencers.

@goob_u2 exposing fitness frauds, fitness influencers, TikTok
Teaching you to spot fitness frauds on TikTok.
Credit: Instagram/ @goob_u2

His methods include checking tagged photos to find pictures that the influencer would be unable to edit and comparing them to their social media feeds.

The link to the video is here.


Most of what gymfluencers do can be categorized as good: getting people active, releasing their endorphins, and inspiring people to work on themselves both physically and mentally. But we should still be aware of the bad apples amongst the lot: the ones who make you feel bad about yourself, the ones who obviously use Photoshop. The ones who sell diet plans, and laxatives and make claims that are too good to be true.

Be aware of these bad apples, and unfollow them if they show red flags. They’re not worth your time and support.

Written By

Hi, I'm Georgie and I'm currently studying at St Andrews University, Scotland. I love writing about social media trends and unpicking the ways which platforms like Instagram and TikTok give rise to certain cultural phenomena. I'm writing for the Life section of Trill at the moment, so look out for my articles!

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