I’m really excited to announce that in the next couple weeks I will begin a vlog on YouTube! I’ve been watching people in the fitness community for a long time, and some of them are truly amazing: Knowledgeable, skilled, polished… Then there are those who… aren’t. I’ve watched for many years, but hadn’t really studied and analyzed the community until much more recently. I’ve identified five categories:
Calisthenics & Weight Training
Calisthenics & Weight Training was one of the first vlog channels to captivate me, and it’s been exciting to watch the subscriptions expand. It’s operated by a Swedish god of an athlete named Kris. He has many different types of workouts; however, the main thrust is bodyweight exercises that he performs on simple, common objects or pieces of equipment. He isn’t interested in competitive shows or doing photo shoots. He’s one of the single most aesthetic creatures I’ve ever seen on YouTube, yet he remains mostly anonymous. Despite his perfect appearance, he exudes no arrogance. I admire him not only for his zen-like dedication to perfect form, but also his total absence of machismo. There is no yelling, there is no bro science. There is only you and the movement. He encourages his audience to train for the joy of it, not for size or ego.
CalisthenicMovement is the channel for Daniel Vadnal, and is really helpful for breaking down exercises into nuanced progressions. He has a very charming and warm personality. His advice is based not only on the experience of his own training, but also upon his degrees in Exercise Science and Physiotherapy. He’s very encouraging, and has a calm demeanor.
AthleanX belongs to Jeff Cavaliere, and I think his entire brand is genius. By contrast to the others I just mentioned, his energy is more raucous and energizing. He knows his stuff thoroughly, and his videos have evolved beautifully as his empire has grown. He offers vlog entries for many modalities of training. He’s not only a remarkable athlete and coach, he’s also a very savvy businessman. And be on the watch for the muscle marker. As an educator I was always telling my students that if they want to understand what a muscle does, look at the direction of its striations. I was really happy to hear Jeff summarize it with: “Follow the fibers!”
Juggernaut Training Systems
Juggernaut Training Systems is one of the first vlog sites I visit when the bros start making statements or claims that confound me. If I find myself thinking, “That can’t be right… or is it?” Well, then I head over to see if the guys with Ph.Ds discuss or debunk whatever has me scratching my head. The coaches on this channel dedicate their lives and studies to exercise and fitness. I trust them any day over the anecdotal channels.
Jeff Nippard is easily one of the single most methodical channels in all of the YouTube fitness community. His channel is a perfect balance of brain, brawn, and heart. Of all the channels I follow, this is the guy I’d most want to be friends with. I love his style. Oh, and if Jeff busts a myth… I consider it busted. Period.
Sean Nalewanyj cuts through bogus fads like hot knife through butter. And he does it without being mean. He simply addresses misconceptions and explains why they aren’t true or helpful. His practical advice is sensible and straightforward.
BodyBuilding.com is a monster of a channel. With practically anything you can think of that relates to health and wellness, there’s information for practically any question you can think to ask. The site features content experts for their articles and video updates. The writers often include citations in the footers of articles, and the production quality of the videos is generally impeccable. One caveat: If you go to the site, it’s generally best to avoid the community forum. There is so much contradicting, false, and potentially harmful advice being thrown around that it really isn’t worth getting through all the ignorance to find the wisdom. It’s like panning for gold. There are nuggets, but good luck finding them.
Gym Dudes is one of my favorite channels. These two brothers (Hudson and Brandon) are fantastically experienced and have a treasure trove of ideas and suggestions, which they deliver with clever humor and effortless charm. I place them in the anecdotal category only because I don’t know them to have educational credentials or citations. But if they were to show these, I’d immediately place them into the Informational/Scientific vlog category. An excellent and accessible channel with lots of character that balances bro and pro.
Alan Thrall is a powerlifter with an extraordinary story about determination. Although I will never be a powerlifter, I find his determination and ingenuity inspiring. His entire brand is about connecting with people on a completely transparent level. When I need to remember to remain nimble in business, or just want to hear about how he succeeds despite setbacks, this is the channel I watch.
Alphadestiny serves as a reminder of what I specifically do not want my channel to become. With absolutely ridiculous advice and homophobic ranting, I watch these videos as a reminder to myself that confrontation brings out the basest parts of people. Also, the comments on this channel are even more toxic than usual. Remember, like attracts like: I have to be positive, so that I can attract positivity. I, too, can get into rants, and this vlog exemplifies why that undermines credibility.
Roasts (typically of the anecdotal channels):
Infinite Elgintensity is the watch dog, whistle blowing comic of the YouTube fitness community. He uses deadpan delivery to utterly eviscerate other channels if they purposefully spread misinformation. As a lawyer, his wit is keen, and no one can really compete with his level of sheer cynicism. You know you’re doing something right when CrossFit sues to remove your channel after you say what everyone else is already thinking. The reason Elgin is so effective is that all he does is repost the videos others have already make. He simply allows people to demonstrate why he’s roasting them. He serves a very important role in the community, despite being a lightning rod for anger. My one and only criticism is that his constant use of homophobic taunts adds nothing to the value and genius of his updates.
Cult of Personality:
Mike Thurston, without question, is one of the most genetically gifted people on YouTube. Whereas my personal training aspirations brought my focus to the calisthenics channels, I still appreciate weight training. I also use it as an important part of the coaching I give to clients. Mike offers series of videos that are not only informative, but also very easy to watch… MWAHAHAHA! He’s one of my faves, and I’ve followed him since he had only hundreds of followers as opposed to +100,000 (and counting). His gym is flawless, his production values are amazing, his form is perfect, and he’s got a British accent. So yeah. A total freak with a perfect life. My baby daddy. Sorry, not sorry. LOL (Oh, and a side note: I hired Mike for a 12-week program during the summer of 2017, and I can confirm that he is just as approachable and thorough as I was hoping. I developed tendinitis doing his program, but I think my ongoing struggles with sleep had as much to do with that as the volume of the programming.)
Scott Herman is a fixture in the YouTube fitness community. He was one of the very first guys to recognize the potential of a vlog, and has built a huge following. I have very mixed feelings about Scott. For a while he seemed to be gay baiting. This happens when an attractive straight man flirts with gay men to manipulate them for some advantage. He was always a strong proponent of natural bodybuilding; however, his most recent updates show results that I simply cannot believe he accomplishes by hard work alone. I admire Scott’s savvy, but his information is often suspect. His technique in older videos is not good, and he seems to now use steroids. I watch his channel to learn what he does that people find compelling.
Train to Look Good Naked
Train to Look Good Naked is the channel I follow to laugh at. This one gets rowdy. I don’t know this guy’s name. I don’t really need to, because he’s entertaining. And although I really enjoy his energy in very small doses, everything else about this channel is a reminder of exactly what I do not want to do. The misogyny and homophobia are real. The pranks are buffoonish and/or mean. His diet is an absolute mess, and proper form is completely absent. I can take about three to five minutes for the wow factor. After that the frat boy/bro/dude nonsense just overwhelms me too much. Pretty much the “Don’t Let This Happen to You” chapter in the wellness ebook I’ll eventually write.
Most of the channels are some blend of at least two or three of these archetypes. I plan to look at the best traits of each category of videos and put them all together at once. I’m really excited as I work on the template for my individual entries. Check out the links I provided to the channels within each category to get a sense of the type of influences that are informing my own.