Thursday, July 25, 2019

Gresham's Law and The Modern Training Age

There is a monetary principle known as "Gresham's Law" which holds that bad money drives out good money. A common example of this principle is in a system with two currencies, such as pennies with copper and pennies with very little copper, people will hoard, melt down, or illegally sell/barter the pennies with copper, while using the cheaper pennies for day to day transactions. Eventually, there will be scarcity of copper pennies, and a preponderance of pennies without copper.

The principle can apply to many fields (perhaps in the modern era most notably 'news'). The fields of strength and conditioning and fitness are no different - the bad drives out the good. Not always and completely, of course, but certainly often and dramatically enough to warrant scrutiny.

In the health and fitness industries, 'bad money' is comprised of fluff articles, diatribe videos shot from the inside of a Tahoe, and books that are heavy on regurgitated platitudes and fun anecdotes, but light on meaningful content. "Bad Money" is poorly researched, poorly substantiated, and poorly written. Why do they gather attention? Because they are glossy eye-candy. Because it's 'edgy'. Because it's 'real'. The purveyors are attractive and charismatic, and they include just enough of the right jargon and pepper it with half-truths to make the product seem legitimate. Bad money, shared by the right people, very quickly drowns out legitimate valuable training information that may lack the polish, bells, and whistles necessary to survive in today's like-driven culture.

So, what is a training newbie to do? If they don't have enough knowledge and experience in the field, who can they trust? How can they know if they are dealing with 'good money'? Here are some suggestions:

* Look for legitimate experience.
Any professional, a true expert, would find it difficult to fit their relevant experiences onto a one-page curriculum vitae. A good coach with any degree of experience should be able to give names, dates, and places that give them credibility in the field.
Beware of statements like "XYZ has worked with many athletes from age-group to Olympians". "Worked with" can mean "had a conversation once at the gym water fountain". If a coach has actually coached an Olympian (even if being humble), they should be able to give you a name and a time frame.

* Look past the Instagram photos and number of Facebook 'likes'.
Is this coach delivering content, or just inspirational quips and hot-bod shots? Is every video a Rocky Balboa training video that would kill the average person, or are the training sessions reasonably attainable?
There are MANY legitimate coaches in sport, S&C, and fitness that have zero internet game. Most likely, they aren't rich because they don't know how to play 'the game', but virtuoso coaches (who truly care about their CRAFT) are often too busy actually bettering their athletes to worry about virtual 'likes'.

* Don't be afraid to shop around.
It is okay to withhold judgement on sources. Too often people get sold on 'bad money' and then are reluctant to follow 'good money' because they don't want to admit that they made a bad initial investment of time, energy, and (perhaps) money. Don't fall victim to the "too invested to quit syndrome".
By the same token, it is okay to return to a training method or coach after leaving them for a time. Just like relationships - sometimes you don't know what you got until it's gone or until you've experienced other contexts. It is perfectly okay to swallow your pride and say "You know what? That was good for me. I'm going to start doing that again."