There is a line being drawn in the fitness industry, and it’s important to be aware of that line.  It’s important to know which side of that line you stand on, and who populates each camp on either side.

Adam McVey, my friend and host of the GEAR’D Up podcast, likes to make it very simple and call it the “good guys vs. the bad guys” in the bodybuilding industry.  I prefer to think of it in more descriptive terms: the real hustlers and the pranksters.

A client of mine started asking me numerous questions about social media star Simeon Panda a few months back.  I had to inform him, with a serious expression, that I had no idea who this Panda guy was.  And so I looked into him a bit.  And while Mr. Panda has a phenomenal physique, and might in fact know a thing or two about fitness, I had to confess that he was not the type of individual I would be looking to for advice, guidance, or quality ideas on how to get in shape.

Why?  Because he’s a fake hustler.

And so it goes with the modern throngs of social media fitness gurus—the Rich Pianas, CT Fletchers, Kali Muscles, Bostin Lloyds, Simeon Pandas, and on and on and on.  The people who are now inspiring a new generation of lifters and exercise fanatics.  Inspire them to do what, precisely?  As far as I can tell, their goal is to inspire kids to be as stupid as fucking possible.  But let’s take a step back.

Why am I not going to spend my time listening to the rants of a Rich Piana or a Kali Muscle?  Well, the question I would pose to you: why would I spend time listening to them?  What have any of these individuals actually accomplished in the fitness industry?

Have they written amazing and insightful educational pieces that helped to guide people down a reasoned and scientific path regarding their bodybuilding endeavors, training, and nutrition?


Have they taken throngs of average-genetics individuals, and transformed them into champions winning overall titles and pro cards in the competitor community?


So what exactly have they done?

As far as I can tell, they have used a lot of sensationalistic swearing and posturing in front of the camera, while over exaggerating and/or completely fabricating the actual facts of what competitive bodybuilders do.  All while whooping, yelling, and “motivating” people with nonsensical form, cursing, and camera shenanigans.

Once you are actually doing vlogs on why it’s valuable to have small testicles, you have jumped the shark.  Yes, I’m looking at you Rich Piana.  Maybe the 5% moniker is a reference to the amount of brain utilized during said rants?

I informed this client of mine that instead of following the likes of pseudo-intellectual fitness gurus, I dedicated my time to reading and following the works of actually accomplished individuals in the game—the Matt Porters, Shelby Starnes, Dante Trudels, John Meadows types; the individuals who had been banging for years if not decades, who had put in the time and the work to study the science and learn the actual mechanics of training and supplementing to maximize building muscle; the dudes who actually gave a shit about seeing their people change and actualize their potential.  You know, that small crew of guys who had real accomplishments behind their names, rather than just a phonebook directory of morons clicking “like” on their videos.

The entire divide reminds me a bit of the hip-hop community.  Remember when it became cool sometime in the 90s to rap about nothing but how wealthy you were, how many bitches you were sleeping with, and how much gold you had hanging from your neck?

So we had a handful of real hustlers—let’s take Jay-Z as a prime example.  And then, we had all of the fly-by-night gangsters, who rented exotic cars from dealerships, and literally borrowed stacks of cash to throw around in their music videos, in an attempt to convince the world that they, too, were hustlers.

But they weren’t.  They were rent-a-hustlers at best.

This latter group of “artists” didn’t have the legitimacy or cred of a Jay-Z.  Why?  Because they hadn’t gone through the process, and they weren’t capable of putting out music that had the same power.  They were hoping simply to be accepted and sell like Jay-Z, by association alone—maybe if they, too, do the things that he did in his videos, they would also be multi-platinum artists capable of buying their own jets.

The real hustlers put in their time, and put forth something of value, which allowed them to stake their claim in this world.  And the phonies, well, they rode on the coattails, followed the trends, and lied to the public about their “status”, so they could also be considered gangster.

And so it is now in our fitness world.  We have those “leading the charge” at the front of social media—and leading a pack of lemmings off the edge of a cliff, filling video after video with pure bullshit hype, no legitimate content, no legitimate substance, no original ideas or concepts.  Just hoopla and shock tactics to momentarily divert your attention from the real hustlers, those who actually figured out how the body works, and can actually help you to achieve your goals.

Everybody wants to be a hustler, but not everybody wants to put the work into truly earning the status.  Be careful who you follow, and who you listen to and take advice from.  What have they accomplished?  What is their agenda?  Are they all hype, a product of the marketing machine known as social media?  Or do they have something of actual quality to contribute?

It’s your time and your journey.  Choose wisely who you want guiding you.

-David A. Johnston


David Johnston - TEAM Warrior WithinDavid Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within.  You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.

David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.