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Periodic Periodicals

building musclesThis is a guest post from Todd Boyer

It was like a scene in “A Christmas Story” — 9 year old Ralphie runs to the mailbox after school, hoping to find his “Little Orphan Anny” decoder ring. Then one day it arrives! Ralphie tears open the package as he runs to the one room in the house where a man can find privacy.

There was a time when I subscribed to nearly a dozen magazines. Every month I would receive in our mailbox various car magazines, gun magazines, bodybuilder magazines, etc. Not to mention the ones that I’d pick up at the grocery store every week. Each one a source entertainment, and information. Plus they gave me something to contemplate while in the “reading room”.

The pattern was always the same. The beginning was to thumb through the pages–looking at the pictures and getting a feel for the issue. Next, I’d read the articles that caught my eye. This was then followed by a more thorough reading of the other parts as time permitted.

When finished, one of two things would happen. If there was an article that I would likely come back to, I may keep the whole issue, and in some instances I’d cut the article out and insert it in a 3-ring binder. More often than not, it would end up in the garbage (this was pre-recycling).

One day I had what you might call a revelation—the overall majority of what I found in magazines was complete and utter s***! The beauty part was that I was paying for it to be delivered to me every month.

My epiphany

It didn’t matter what the subject matter was. The car mags were always hyping the newest gadget that would make your car a tenth of a second faster in the ¼-mile, or add .1G on the skid pad. Even the cars that were on display were nothing more than a list of name brand parts, and who installed them. My gun magazines were always going on about another new product that was coming out that pretty much did the same thing that the last one did, and none of which were as good as the one that John Moses Browning designed a hundred years ago.

There were the occasional nuggets of awesomeness. These were few and far between. Often, there was just enough to keep me coming back month after month. You would never find any objectivity though. None of them ever raked the companies over the coals because a product was complete garbage. After all, that could affect their advertising bottom-line.

The fitness and bodybuilding rags were the worst of all. It’s always about the newest supplement that will make you bigger, stronger, or faster. But if you pay attention, these are just one big advertisement, between the paid ads and the suck up ads disguised as articles and reviews.

Of course the fact that none of the claims that they make can be backed up with scientific data is left out. The FDA does not make supplement companies provide proof of their claims. That makes the supplement companies the modern day version of the snake oil salesman.

Some of these supplement companies are even owned by the publishing companies of the magazines. “Take Pill X to increase your squat by 200%”, by the little, teeny, tiny fine print that reads, “Pill X is proudly made by us.” No self-interest found there. Even the bodybuilders and athletes that say that they use these products are spokesman for these companies. Are these a legit source of information if they are being paid for what they say.

Do what Lee Haney does

After I became fed up with paying my hard-earned money for pages of advertisements, it got me to thinking back to earlier times. When I was in high school, just starting out with a regimented exercise routine, all that I had to go by was Pumping Iron, which turns out is a bit of a staged documentary, and the bodybuilding mags.

Every month the magazines would highlight the bicep workout of Phil Heath, or the quad workout of Tom Platz. (These references don’t date me, do they?). When you’re a budding gym rat, why wouldn’t you want to do what they do? After all, these were the best bodybuilders in world, and that’s what I wanted to look like.

What they didn’t tell the readers was that these examples were way too much for the average chump. They were horrible examples of what to do… or not to do. Over training, injuries, poor results—these were the results for many that followed their advice.

Still, all these magazines are still published, and purchased. Even better still, there are even more around.

Buyer beware

Don’t get me wrong. The mags are still entertaining. While I don’t subscribe to any magazines anymore, I do pick them up occasionally at the store, or when I’m traveling. I would just caution you to be wary about the information that you read there.

We have to be guarded about information received no matter where it’s coming from. Websites, blogs, etc. will potentially have a more honest review, or advice. But keep an eye on their motivations as well.

At PhitZone we use affiliate advertisers. I selected them based on two things; do I use them, and am I satisfied. If I think something sucks, I won’t peddle that crap. If you look in the archives, you can find our honest reviews. Some are good. Others might be bad. I have ripped products to shreds, in addition to going on about my man-crush on others.

It’s all about integrity. As bloggers, we value our readers above all else, even before making a buck. Can the magazines say the same?

About the author:

Todd Boyer is the creator of Phitzone, where he blogs about fitness, nutrition, and more.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Giulietta Nardone July 28, 2010, 5:30 am

    Hi Todd,

    Enjoyed your guest post.

    Yes, we need to do our OWN research before we do/buy anything. Remember the traveling medicine man at the turn of the century who drove around the country in his colorful wagon? He’s now everywhere trying to sell us stuff.

    The real irony is that the “stuff” folks need most – like how to see the amazement is life – is hard to find.

    thanks, Giulietta

  • Todd July 28, 2010, 6:18 am

    Thank you, Giulietta. You’re right on point.

  • Eric | Eden Journal July 28, 2010, 7:53 am

    I had a similar epiphany a number of years ago. I ditched all my magazine subsription and replaced my reading time with good books. The only magazine I subscribe to now is Consumer Reports, and that’s mostly to get access to their website when I am planning a purchase.

    Most magazines I had subscribed to were just full of fluff, with no real meat to them at all. I hardly even felt entertained after reading them. They also tended to increase my desire to have new gizmos and gadgets, which I really had no need for.

    Replacing that reading time with books was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

  • Todd July 28, 2010, 8:35 am

    @Eric that’s a great idea to move that effort to reading books. By far a better use of time.

  • Ryan J Pitts July 28, 2010, 12:33 pm

    Todd,
    Good stuff! Date you? Man, Lee Haney, Lee Labrada, Mike Christian, I couldn’t wait to get one of my 4 mags a month in the mail so I could read the outrageous routines and be bombarded by supplement companies. What’s crazy is the supp ads are even worse today! The training info, the same as it was back then. Then again those mags have no stake in your health. In today’s online info smorgasbord a common sense look at views and suggestions will let you make your own decision on our own health and strength. I will check out your blog. I just posted a blog today reminiscing about my training years ago with the bodybuilding mags as my guide and the absurdity of it.

  • Todd July 29, 2010, 6:39 am

    Thanks Ryan. I checked out your site. Very cool stuff for sale there.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 29, 2010, 5:14 pm

      Todd, if you start buying from Ryan, you’ll never stop. It’s like crack, but crack that makes your hands strong!

  • Dan Szepesi July 29, 2010, 4:20 pm

    As you mention, the internet and bloggers arent sancrosant either. I can’t tell you how many fitness and strength sites and blogs that I read that all end up pushing their latest and greatest revolutionary way to . I get real tired of it because you get to the point where you just can’t trust anything anymore. Obviously if the person is selling something then that is what they are going to convince you that you can’t live without it.

    Something seedy about the fitness industry. Too many people are looking for a quick fix and too many people are all too willing to convince them that it exists. Some are more clever about it than others but its the same story that they are all pushing. Their latest and greatest system for shortcutting genetics and hard work. Such drek.