There is just too much information out there. With the Internet, you can get lost in all of it very easily. Eat this or eat that, do your cardio this way, train your muscles that way, perform heavy weight sets, perform high rep, light weight sets, this is dangerous so don’t do it, etc… It’s pure information overload. Since everyone has an opinion and everyone is an “expert” these days, it is vital for the average person to question everyone, and to be very careful whom you take advice from and whom you do not.
With that said, it is not an easy task. These days most people will “Google” the person in question (i.e. some nut on the Internet that has his own Blog, their personal trainer, and even an author of numerous articles) hoping to find as much information about that person as they can. Not a bad way to go and not a bad idea either. It will give the person a start. The danger in this is, everyone seems to have a web page or blog now and that can immediately set that person up as an “expert” to the untrained eye. So what can you do?
Quick tips on what to look for:
- Look for experience first. People who have worked in the “trenches” for a long period are usually the people who know the most. Find out how long the person in question has been in the business and how long they have actually worked with people, hands on.
- Do not get fooled by Internet fame. In other words, be careful of the people who have written a ton of online articles, have a fancy web site and have positioned themselves as the “expert” in spite of having little or no real world experience. Articles are great, and legit writing can be an awesome gauge of a person’s level of understanding, but the person needs to back it up with experience working directly with people.
- Check a person’s certifications and educational background. There are some certifications that are just garbage. Do not be afraid to “Google” the certification and become informed about it. If it is one that can be acquired simply by attending a weekend seminar, it’s probably not a quality one. Look for certifications that are backed by a National Organization, that require both a written and practical exam, as well as numerous prerequisites.
- Formal Education. University degrees are not everything and although I am a firm believer in experience first, there is a lot that can be said for finding someone with an educational background. Find out if your “expert” has a degree in the field or at least a related field. Advanced degrees such as Masters and PhDs demonstrate that the person has studied the subject matter in far greater detail than the average “expert” out there.
- Approachability. Is your “expert” approachable, either through email, phone, or in person? Does he/she not respond or worse yet, seem irritated when asked a question? Noteworthy experts are open-minded and usually enjoy helping the people they work with and are always looking for the opportunity to learn from their clients too.