The Web is a pit of contagion.

It’s infected with fat loss and muscle building douchbaggery. Do you have a fitness website? Do you engage in any of these behaviors? If yes, then you might be an Internet fitness douche bag.

 

1. Your image is a cartoon
Instead of a photo of a real person, you hired some art school dropout whose full time job is doing caricatures of tourists down by the beach to draw up some ripped and muscle-bound version of you that is splattered across your home page.

I prefer to get fitness advice from a real human being, not Elmer Fudd.

 

2. You make outrageous promises that involve inches or pounds
You make claims like “Lose [insert stupidly high number of pounds of fat here] in only [insert ridiculously low number of days here]. Or you do it with inches. Or you change “lose” to “gain” and “fat” to “muscle.”

Not only are the claims you make ridiculous, they work on the misguided belief that everyone can be shoved into the same cookie-cutter program. It doesn’t take into consideration genetics, current activity level, life situation, body weight, injuries, illness, psychology, emotional trauma …  everyone is the same to you and if they’ll just grab their credit card and BUY NOW! then miracles will, like, totally happen.

 

3. Your name, followed by the word “scam,” is an actual URL
Dafuq?

Say you’re a fitness dude whose name is John Smith. People are concerned that perhaps your weight loss / muscle gain program is a scam, so they type “John Smith scam” into Google. And what’s the first link that shows up? It’s JohnSmithScam.com.

And the descriptor says something like “Is John Smith’s Blast Your Belly, Build Your Biceps a scam? We tell you the truth!”

But it’s not the truth. It’s all about how your program is totally NOT a scam. It’s a fake review about how bitchingly awesome and righteous you are and how expletive amaze-balls your program is. Here’s the link! Buy it now! BUY IT OR GOD WILL KILL A KITTEN!!!

 

4. Your social media numbers don’t add up
You have a hundred thousand followers on Facebook, but hardly anyone Likes or comments on your posts. Your Twitter followers are through the roof, but the Retweets and Favorites are sorely lacking.

In other words, you paid for followers to make yourself look more popular than you really are. That’s just as deceitful as buying fake reviews or using a photo from 20 years ago on your eHarmony profile.

 

5. You have bots that spam the comment sections of articles on legitimate websites
HotAndSexyTopCommenter says: “James makes a great point in this article about abs, but if you really want to build muscle you need to check out SexPackShortGut.com!” – (This comment gets seven Likes)

In reply to HotAndSexyTopCommenter, MeLoveYouLongTime says: “I agree! SexPackShortGut.com is the best! You need to buy it now or you’ll stay weak and puny your whole life!” – (This comments gets five Likes)

The machines have risen up. It’s like my article just slipped in the friggin’ Matrix.

 

6. You use the word “alpha” a lot
Humans are not a pride of lions, where only the top male gets ALL of the sex. Life isn’t about dominance over those pussy betas. Humanity is not a zero sum game where you’re either a winner or a loser.

Being a strong, confident and capable man is a good thing, but too many use the term “alpha” as an excuse for douchebaggery. I can get away with being a bag of dicks because I’m an ALPHA MALE! Bow before me, puny betas! Women, rip your clothes off in submission to my awesomeness! No fatties!

 

7. You have the word “Savior” in your tagline
I’m largely ambivalent about religion, but if there is a savior, I’m pretty sure you ain’t it.

 

8. You make video advertisements that promise a solution to being “weak and puny”
SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!

 

9. You won’t let me leave your site without navigating some convoluted popup
A popup I can get rid of easily is okay. You have a business to run. I get it. It’s a small price to pay for free content. But when I want to leave your site and your popup tries to keep me hanging around? That’s way not cool. Yes, I’m sure I want to leave your site. That’s why I hit the friggin back button. Do I hit ”OK” or do I click “Cancel.” Which is the button that translates to “Leave this shit fucking website”? Just let me go in peace, you jackass. You’re like some creepy scumbag boyfriend who won’t admit that his ex has moved on.

 

10. You identify yourself with attaining a specific body image, like building biceps or having six-pack abs or getting a body for wi—Oh, SONOFABITCH!

 

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James S. Fell, CSCS, is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and AskMen.com. He is the author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada.