Autonomy 🤸🍔✊ GMB Fitness

YouTube: A Love/Hate Story

February 25, 2021 GMB Fitness Season 3
Autonomy 🤸🍔✊ GMB Fitness
YouTube: A Love/Hate Story
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Why buy a program when there are 50 billion free workouts on YouTube? Precisely because there are 50 billion free workouts to parse through.

In this episode, we talk about the good, bad, and ugly of the free content on YouTube.

We cover:

  • what YouTube is useful for and its limitations
  • the appeal of fitness videos
  • how we learn by mirroring what we see 
  • how that differs from training and true autonomy
  • some of our favorite YouTube channels

Learn how to use YouTube to help you make the best decisions for you and your own practice.

Support the show

Andy: [00:00:00] All right welcome to the Godzilla Music Barcelona podcast. What the hell is Godzilla Music Barcelona? Well when you type the letters G M and B into YouTube or rather when I do, those are the first words that come up. 

Ryan: [00:00:18] That's pretty interesting cause for me it's typically Good Morning Britain. 

Andy: [00:00:23] Well if I type GMB then it usually just goes to our channel because YouTube knows who I am. 

Ryan: [00:00:30] Yeah there. There’s that too, right. 

Andy: [00:00:32] But if I type the letters individually that's what I get Godzilla very likely because I live in Japan I don't know. 

Ryan: [00:00:39] Barcelona is interesting. That's interesting one. 

For those of you in Barcelona, Hola, Que tal?  

Andy: [00:00:45] Welcome to the world's worst fitness-related podcast. 

Ryan: [00:00:50] Yes we excel in that.

YouTube Fitness Videos, The Good 

Andy: [00:00:53] So today speaking of YouTube, we're going to talk about YouTube fitness videos. That is one of the things that I think over the past year especially since many people have been at home more often, fitness content on YouTube has just gone through the roof. It's something that's been big for a long time. We have a YouTube channel that's been viewed by many millions of people as well. We produce a lot of videos for YouTube and we are good friends with a lot of people that produce a lot of videos for YouTube so we're going to talk about YouTube Fitness videos, what they're useful for what they're awful at, because we even though we make a lot of them we believe they're really awful at a lot of stuff.

Ryan: [00:01:40] Yeah there's a lot of videos out there and especially recently and I say recently like when COVID hit it was pretty amazing to see just the sheer volume of fitness videos that came out. Basically a lot of people who had the brick and mortar business going on and needed to get online and you saw a plethora of follow along videos fitness videos. You saw more tutorials and people just realizing that hey need to start doing something and getting the word out there. 

And YouTube, let's be honest, has some great benefits. You can see any number of video, whatever you want. You can learn pretty much whatever you want but with a caveat to it. You never know if it's actually going to be the best thing for you at that time. We're going to talk about that a little bit. There's just tons of variety out there, pretty much everything you could want is there. 

My son, I don't know how he finds some of the videos that he finds on YouTube, but he enjoys it.  A lot of other pluses, on demand you can pretty much log in and see something new every single day. And there's some really good stuff out there. We try to put some good stuff out there.

Andy: [00:02:59] So one of the things that I think is really interesting when you're looking at  YouTube as a potential fitness tool is, and we get this question a lot, "Why would I buy a program when there are 50 billion free workout videos on YouTube?" 

Ryan: [00:03:16] Absolutely. 

Andy: [00:03:17] To me the answer to that is, "Well the reason is because there are 50 billion free workout videos on YouTube." And if that were solving people's real fitness problems, then people wouldn't have real fitness problems. 

Ryan: [00:03:35] Yeah yeah, go figure yeah. 

Andy: [00:03:38] Who do you know that has not heard of YouTube? Nobody. 

Ryan: [00:03:43] Yeah. 

Andy: [00:03:44] Everybody knows YouTube. Everybody knows it exists. And I use YouTube for a lot of things. I love it. There's you know if I'm trying to learn how to, oh one great example. Years ago I was at Jarlo's house and we were trying to replace a gasket on his washer. 

Ryan: [00:03:59] Oh yeah I actually remember this yeah. 

Andy: [00:04:01] Yeah the part that we needed, we had the tools but installing these things is tricky sometimes so we just typed it into YouTube. We typed in the part number and the model number of his washer and there was a two minute video of a guy installing the exact damn gasket. We watched it, we did it, it was easy and done. 

Ryan: [00:04:20] Brilliant. Yeah brilliant. 

Andy: [00:04:22] It's a million. So YouTube is fantastic for that and you can find a lot of things like if you know you need hip mobility for your Brazilian jujitsu. 

Ryan: [00:04:32] Yeah. 

Andy: [00:04:32] If you know that you want to work on your spinal flexibility so you can do a bridge because you want to get into acrobatics. Or if you know that you've hurt your ankle and it's causing you pain and you don't really know what to do so you just need to look up ankle exercises very generally and see what kinds of things exist so you can even know where to start to look for something specific, I think YouTube is great for discovery, for finding things.

The Limitations

Andy: [00:05:00] But I also think that beyond that point, again if you have an ankle injury, if YouTube could fix that,  you would have a lot of people whose ankles are perfect and don't have any pain and don't have any problems. 

Ryan: [00:05:15] You would also have people doing some absolutely amazing skills right away.  Quite possibly  one of our favorite comments on YouTube is, "I watched your video and I tried it once and I can't do it." 

Andy: [00:05:30] Yeah this was on one of our handstand tutorials. You could probably see at least 500 versions of this comment, "I watched it and I still can't do it. Please give advice." 

Ryan: [00:05:41] Yeah please give advice. 

Andy: [00:05:43] And  it's funny because this is also one of the problems with YouTube is that if we post a video that's a tutorial that tries to teach you how to do something people assume that watching the video, that the information in the video is the thing and neglect the necessity of actually doing practice. 

Ryan: [00:06:05] Yeah right. 

Andy: [00:06:06] Again, there's a positive and a negative to all of these things. YouTube is great because you can find it to teach you how to do anything that you need to do but you still for many skills or for like losing weight, getting stronger, being able to do a handstand, improving your flexibility, improving your endurance, all of these things also take time and repeated effort. 

So what do you do if you have something, and let's just take like our most popular video, if you need to improve your hip mobility. 

Ryan: [00:06:43] Yeah. 

Andy: [00:06:43] What do you do with that? Because we have a video that's been viewed many millions of times on a hip mobility routine that a lot of people, probably if you're listening to this, you may even use it. And it's great and at the same time, we still have many of the people who have watched that free video also then go on to purchase our actual Mobility program. 

So here's the thing. The free content on YouTube can be valuable and people can still imagine that progressive program with more detail will still be valuable. Both of those things can be true. I think that's the trap that is too easy to fall into if we start thinking that if YouTube is the only thing. Again YouTube is great for discovery but it can't take you all the way into actually learning things. 

Ryan: [00:07:31] Exactly. There's kind of two parts. There's that process. And then first of all knowing actually how to use it in order to apply that process. This is where yes of course you can watch our hip mobility video. You can try out one of those moves and you might find that you get a little better at it within a week or something. But how do you actually use that and apply that to whatever else that's going on in your life? And be able to do that in a way to know that you're going to continue to make progress?

 And I think that's really what the big thing is because just looking at that  YouTube video, you're only seeing a small glimpse of how that fits in everything else that's involved around that. Again that knowing how to use it in the programming side of it as well as the process for getting to where you need to go.  

That's why just doing a single video, you can possibly get a little better at that thing but you're just missing out on the whole other side of things. And what's really truly going to help you by putting in the time and knowing how to do it in order to work towards that overall goal that you have, not just a particular trick.

Follow Along Workout Videos 

Andy: [00:08:45] Yeah so let's just go on and talk about this because this is the thing that my personal crusade in life is to completely end follow along workout videos. 

Ryan: [00:08:57] Yeah. 

Andy: [00:08:58] They suck. They're the worst. They are the worst. The thing is they're deeply ingrained in Western consumer culture of what we think a workout content should be, fitness instruction should be. And it all goes back to Jane fucking Fonda.

Lovely lady I'm sure, just a real peach but, and I know a guy that used to masturbate to the VHS of the Jane Fonda workout just being honest there but this is interesting though because this is ingrained in our culture is that a workout is something that you watch and follow along with the person on the video. 

And there's a few things there. One is that yeah you're looking at a picture of somebody who is sensibly very fit and probably attractive and spending time watching attractive people shake their butts around on video. And you may not personally get turned on by this but you have to understand that there is a degree of this and it's built into it. And the YouTube algorithm knows this and the people posting this content know this. It's not an accident that this is produced to stimulate you and to,  there's some low grade porn effect that's happening here. It's not necessarily an insidious thing. 

Ryan: [00:10:11] Yeah to keep you wanting more and to coming back to it. 

Andy: [00:10:14] Right but if you type the word fitness into YouTube and scroll down through the first few pages of results that come up, I guarantee that at least 7 out of every 10 videos you see, the little teaser picture the thumbnail picture that pops up will be some woman's lycra-ed ass or some dudes shaved pecs. One of those two and you know it's true. And why is that? Oh no they're not really selling sex. It's actually they're just you know you know what this is why. And you say, "Oh but that's not why I'm clicking on it." 

And it might not be the main reason you're clicking on it but it's why thousands of other people have clicked on it, which is why it's showing up in your feed which is why you're clicking on it. Even if you are goddamn monk and you are completely above the pleasures of the flesh, in which case I pity your life, but if that is the case you are still being influenced by the porno effect algorithm and of the impact that that is having on other people too. You can't deny it.

This is something that is baked into these things and yes people will say, "Oh well I like to watch videos of tan shirtless guys doing pull-ups because I can see which muscles they're activating." Let me tell you which muscles you activate in pull-ups, like almost all of them. So seeing the guy's fucking lat twitch when he does a pull up is not teaching you anything. You're not learning something when you watch a guy's lat contract when he does a pull up. You're learning exactly zero things. 

So seeing him shirtless, you have to think, why do you want to see him shirtless? And the time has come as adults for us to admit to ourselves that we like seeing jacked shirtless dudes get sweaty. That's okay. I'm not fucking judging you but just admit that you don't want to see shirtless people because you think you'll learn more. 

Ryan: [00:12:24] I love it when you go on a rant. I'm just sitting here just going, "Yeah Yeah." 

Andy: [00:12:31] So that's part one of what's wrong with follow along videos. The rant continues. The other thing is that it's just pedagogically poor. You don't learn anything from it. You don't learn anything from it. And I think that there is a time and a place for having an instructor coach you along with something and take you step-by-step through things. And we've made some of these videos and I think again they're good for introducing a thing but when was the last time you got better at anything by following along with a workout on YouTube? And I think the answer for most people trends towards the asymptote of zero. 

Ryan: [00:13:11] Yeah. If you're actually aware of it and really that's what this whole thing is coming down to is is bringing better awareness into what you're doing so that you can move forward, whatever that means to you. But yes and I'm going to go a little bit deeper here and say similar thing about mirrors.  If you're looking at, whether it be martial art, whether it be in the weight room or anything, I think that mirrors can be great in the beginning to help give you a reference point about what your body's doing but you got to get away from that. 

If you truly want to improve and get better at what you're doing, similar to follow along videos what you are saying Andy, is that you can't just blindly follow along. You're not going to be getting better. You need a break away. 

You need to focus on exactly what's going on in your body when you're doing something. And actually think about what you're doing instead of again just be blindly following along with something thinking that you're going to get better and you don't have to worry about it because this person in front of you, I'm going to look like this person because they're doing it, and you know they have all the answers. Nope. Sorry. 

Andy: [00:14:20] And the thing is is even if you are just very intelligent and very self-aware and I'm saying this because I think most of our audience is in this category. And you can say, "Oh well, I can look at the follow along video and I can understand that I'm not supposed to look like this person and that I can make adjustments for myself." And that's possibly true to a degree but you have to understand that the way the human brain works is we have mirror neurons and we have a very very deep compulsion without realizing it to attempt to mimic the things we see.

This is an absolutely key thing. And so where that's good with a quality fitness training video or workout video is where somebody's demonstrating something with excellent form and we can see what that looks like and we can try to mimic that. Of course if you don't have the strength or don't have the mobility or don't have the endurance or something you will have to adjust it. The right form for you will be different than the right form for somebody 150 pounds at 12% body fat and has never been injured in their lives, right? 

Ryan: [00:15:31] Absolutely. 

Andy: [00:15:32] So maybe you have enough experience that you can make those adjustments but still your mirror neurons are at work. They're saying, "Oh I have to match this person's pace. Oh I have to go as deep on the left side as this person is going. I have to do this many reps. I have to keep up with their count." You don't think this in your mind but you subconsciously are spending more effort trying to mimic the person you were following along with then you are being aware of your breathing. 

Oh you thought I was going to say form there. No, breathing. You don't think about your breathing when you're listening to somebody talk. So this is another thing with follow alongs is is that it's not that the people making them are dumb or stupid or anything.  Most of them are truly excellent people. 

The problem is just that when you are in the mode of watching a person do a thing, you are not in the mode,  your neurological activities of internal feedback loops of understanding where your, of taking cues from the nervous system. These things aren't happening at an efficient rate when your ears and your eyes and your brain are focused on watching someone else do a thing. And it's just not efficient for learning.

So you could theoretically just put on a 20 minute thigh burner or let's, that sounds like I'm talking down to people that use it, I'm not. Let's say you could follow along with a 20 minute pull up workout on YouTube like four days a week or something. And you would be doing pull-ups for 20 minutes, four days a week. That's great. 

But still, would you be getting better at pull-ups? And the answer is a little bit. Because you would be doing a volume of pull-ups and you will be getting stronger. But it will reduce your ability to learn the way a correct pull-up feels and to increase your efficiency in the movement because a very big part of your brain and your nervous system are engaged solely in keeping up with the person on the screen. And this is my real issue with follow along workouts is that they are really bad for skill acquisition and for physical learning. 

Ryan: [00:17:49] So something to touch on there too that we can deep dive into is where demo videos are actually in the same light where you watch a person and you see that they do it. And they have good intentions. Using me as an example where I show something in a demo video and a person sees me do it and gets frustrated or they become, get down on themselves even in thinking that they can't do that.

They saw me do it and they tried it and they can't do it. And thinking that they should be able to do it instead of trying to look at that as simply a reference point in order to work towards. So this is something obviously you know over the years that we've tried to change by not having me demo in videos, by showing examples of that, we even say in there, "This is simply a reference point to try. You're all going to be in different levels." 

And so what you spoke about earlier in that even though we might not be thinking it, subconsciously we are actually thinking about, "Oh my goodness I, there's no way I could be like this." Forgetting the fact that the person on screen has been doing this for many many many many not repetitions but possibly years of doing this and trying to compare ourselves.

And this is just human nature to do that. And so you know coming back though to the follow along thing, how can you get good at what you're doing when you're already moving onto the next movement without having understood what you just did? That's another way of looking at this. Instead of trying to just follow along by stepping away and trying to own that movement. Bring physical autonomy to that movement means having an understanding of how you are performing that movement. And the only way to get better at doing that is to fully fully understand what your body's doing at a pace that's good for you without having someone rush you through the process. 

Andy: [00:19:53] Right and you bring up a really good point there that if you're watching somebody on a video doing something that you can't do, it's easy to let things become a barrier. You're trying to learn how to improve your mobility so you watch a stretching video but you're not as flexible as the person in the video. So you say, "I can't do that." 

And we have these, we have thousands of these comments on some of our videos like, "Oh the guy in the video that's teaching me how to stretch is already flexible." Well of course he is. Would we want to learn how to stretch from someone who's not flexible? I hope not. 

What does somebody who is as stiff as you have to teach you about getting flexible? The answer to that question is zero And you know it. So what's the issue? You know that you want to learn from a flexible person but you compare yourself. We all compare ourselves. So we naturally, it's easy to get frustrated. And I'll tell you, stretching sucks. Stretching 

Ryan: [00:20:52] Oh yeah.

Andy: [00:20:52] It is frustrating. It takes too long. We sell stretching materials. And I think they're pretty good but stretching as a whole is, for most people, uncomfortable and takes too long for them. It takes a long time to see results. So when you're stretching and you see somebody on a video who's like, "Oh it's no problem. Do it like this." And you're like, "No actually Jackass, this hurts and I'm getting frustrated." Well yeah you're gonna be frustrated and rightly so. And so that's why that's another reason why comparing yourselves to videos is really hard. 

YouTube Channels We Love

Andy: [00:21:54] And again so, we're not just trying to say that all YouTube videos suck because I think that there are some very positive ways that you can use YouTube and let's talk about some of those because I don't want this to be a rant fest.

There's some excellent YouTube channels. We haven't prepared for this. We don't, we're not like channel affiliate ambassador partners or whatever the whole thing. 

Fitness YouTube channels that I like. Let's start there. And I'll name one, then you name one, then I'll name one. All right. 

Ryan: [00:21:52] Sounds good. Wow. 

Andy: [00:21:53] Obvious one because his hair is so good. Dan Vadnal, Fitness F-A-Qs, Fitness FAQs. 

Ryan: [00:21:57] Yeah he that kid, I love him, love him to death. He's great. 

Andy: [00:22:01] Gleaming pecs. 

Ryan: [00:22:03] Yes, he's yeah. I hate him because he's so good-looking. And we're friends with him and I'm just joking when I say I hate him. I actually lovehim. I'm just kidding around. Another one for me, I'm going to kind of throw some other like maybe random kind of stuff out there. Chip Conrad. His videos, they're fun. He makes it fun and he does some weird stuff. Also he's got dogs in there so you know I love that.

 Andy: [00:22:26] All right man I thought this was going to be easy, but it's really hard. Oh what's that guy's name? I say Oh is it the Fitness Marshall? So he does these like dance fitness videos with him and like some friends. 

Ryan: [00:22:37] Yes Yes Yes. 

Andy: [00:22:39] It's fabulous, glamorous and very millennial and high energy music. And dude if I were just going to do a 20 minute dance cardio routine, I would absolutely follow along with that video. I just completely negated everything I just said but it's fun and it's hilarious. And you will sweat. And I think if that's what you're trying to do it for I think that's absolutely cool and it's okay. I don't think that should be like the number one staple of your physical health or practice but they're hilarious. 

Ryan: [00:23:11] Those are really good. I'm gonna throw another one out that that if you're listening you might know, fabulous stuff. Well-produced also looks fabulous: The Strength Side. Great material. He's got some great material and he's just killing it. There's one for you. What else you got Andy? 

Andy: [00:23:30] Let me see. I'm actually cheating. I'm looking at Oh one I'll say, The Ready State, Kelly Starrett stuff. 

Ryan: [00:23:37] Oh hell yeah. 

Andy: [00:23:38] He's been on thee there for a long time and they've got some really good tutorials. So one thing I think is really interesting is Kelly has great camera presence. 

Ryan: [00:23:47] Oh he's so good. Oh yeah. 

Andy: [00:23:48] But also their demonstrations of exercise are just very very much on point. 

Ryan: [00:23:52] Yep. gonna throw one out here that some of you will might be a little surprised. It's the bodybuilding side of things. And there's a guy named Ryan Humiston.  I think it's Humiston is his name. The dude is hilarious. I love how he presents himself on camera. He makes it fun. Irreverence thing, it's fabulous. Ryan Humiston I believe is what it is. So check him out. Again it's bodybuilding but still I mean it's great. You can learn a lot of stuff from what he's doing. He's another guy to check out. 

Andy: [00:24:26] Cool all right another one: Red Delta Project. 

Ryan: [00:24:28] Yes definitely. 

Andy: [00:24:29] Super strong guy martial arts background but did a lot of kettlebell stuff. It seems like lots of body weight exercise. Very occasionally one of his videos he'll be wearing a GMB shirt and so mad respect to that. Just really really solid guy that makes a ton of videos with just really interesting concepts and excellent advice.  

Ryan: [00:24:49] I'm going to throw it out, we gotta get some females in here. Okay. We gotta get some females in here and I'm going to give a shout to one of our GMB trainers, Mercedes. I think if you go on YouTube and you look up Modus Athletica, Modus Athletica. Check it out.  She's also amazing got some good stuff out there. I'm trying to think of some other females. Goodness gracious. There's I dunno because we haven't prepared anything but there's a lot out there. 

Recap, When to Use YouTube

Ryan: [00:25:14] And I think the thing is that I want to say this, we, you know and Andy you said this too. We look at YouTube. I love YouTube. I'm on there a lot, not just fitness. For me you know in terms of language learning and things like that I'm always on there all the time. Andy and I share videos with each other about guitar and things but I think if you look at YouTube though as more of a reference point. 

Reference the material and as well it can be a great thing to spark your interest about a particular topic so that then you can do a deep dive and go and learn more about it. For example, if there is a particular skill that you're interested in whether it be the planche, handstand whatever it doesn't matter. You can go on there use that as a reference point and then research on how that would how would you be able to put that into the programming but as far as a follow along and things like that? Nah. I just I can't see that for that kind of thing. 

Andy: [00:26:13] Right. So let's just say then so what are the things that YouTube is good for?  Well,  getting reference about and solving a problem. What is a good exercise to do for this goal? Or if you're trying to find out what's a program that you could follow to do too. 

You can  find these things on YouTube and you'll see that like us there are many of these channels that produce content for YouTube but that also have, because they recognize the limits of YouTube, also have programs on their own websites or wherever that they sell that will go more in depth and take you beyond just here's a routine you can do but put these together with progression, some more detailed instruction, some better adjustments to personalizing it and that kind of thing.

So you can just start typing things in and you can sort of try before you buy in terms of personality and the way they approach and the way they teach things. And you can see who you like and then you can see you get a good idea of is this teacher or is this a good thing for me to invest in further. I think YouTube is great for that. I cannot tell you how many products I have purchased both educational and just like home gadget kind of stuff that I've found on YouTube and been like Oh yes, that is the that is the one.

Ryan: [00:27:33] That is a fabulous point that you just brought up there. And I think really that kind of nails it for me. Because if you if there's a particular product or something that you're interested in and you go on YouTube and you see how that person presents themselves and you're like, "Wow. Yeah. This is the kind of person I want to learn from." I think that's a great thing as far as the reference point.

I also want to say that we're total hypocrites because last year during the whole COVID thing I put out a few follow along tutorials on YouTube So uh there you go because total hypocrite. 

 Andy: [00:28:05] We are. And I'll also to further the disclosure there say the reason that we did these is because one, we knew people were looking for two when you get somebody to watch a 20 minute video on your YouTube channel YouTube rewards you with more views. So yeah it's a game.

Ryan: [00:28:26] Incentive. It's a total game. 

Andy: [00:28:27] This is why I can say as a channel with like just shy of like 200,000 subscribers and something like 25 million views, not that that makes us a hot shot. There are many much much much more popular channels but I'm saying that from the inside we can see the weaknesses of YouTube as a fitness training platform at a very granular level. Let's just say that And I think it's great for discovery. It's great for research. It's great for just finding something fun. It's like entertainment. YouTube excels at entertainment.

 Ryan: [00:28:59] Absolutely. 

Andy: [00:28:59] But it is not a platform for, it's not really a platform for deep learning. It's not a platform for developing your own awareness and it's not for really progressing your own skills and your fitness beyond just simply capacity increased via doing more. Yeah. 

Ryan: [00:29:19] Good stuff man. Love the rant. That was good. 

Andy: [00:29:22] That was like 2.5 rants in one. 

Ryan: [00:29:24] It was good. I liked that man. More of that you know . So hopefully all you are Barcelona People enjoy that one. 

Andy: [00:29:30] That's right. Well I know Godzilla's watching and that's what.

Ryan: [00:29:33] That's important. 

Andy: [00:29:34] All right. Thank you for listening and cheers. 

Ryan: [00:29:39] See you on YouTube.

YouTube Fitness Videos, The Good
The Limitations
Follow Along Workout Videos
YouTube Channels We Love
Recap, When to Use YouTube