Successful Programmes are Evidence Based

Most successful fitness and weight management programmes are based on sound, solid, scientific evidence. If they are not, they are likely to fail because it is fairly difficult to go against the scientific evidence and get results. Obviously, the scientific evidence will change with time. Science is always evolving but it is not the role of a trainer or coach to be running the research to cause this shift. In other words, it is not ethical to be using your clients as guinea pigs just because you have a hunch that something might work. Unless of course they are working in an academic setting.

If you are using your clients as a quasi-experiment, then ultimately using anecdotal evidence will eventually get you in to trouble. Whether that is just losing a client, gaining a bad reputation or worse still legal proceedings. You should always be confident when you think to yourself, if I had to defend this action in court and justify it, could I do that? It is pretty difficult to come up with a solid defence for anecdotes.

If you are working from an evidence-based standpoint then the answer to the question ‘could I justify this in court’ is always going to be ‘YES’ and you can sleep soundly at night. If you are relying on anecdotal evidence e.g. something you saw posted on social media (not always anecdotal, I should add) then you might be in trouble.

You are not always going to have random controlled trials (RCT’s) that are published in reputable journals to fall back on. However, there is a lot of good evidence published in smaller studies that can be pooled together to provide a reasonable justification. This is why it is so important to be abreast of the latest research. Perhaps put aside some reading time each week to do this. It is also why it is better to be sceptical of most evidence on social media (I use the word evidence very tenuously here) unless supporting evidence is provided.

The example I always use when someone says something along the lines of “well it worked for my client so it must be OK” is this. First thing to say is that this type of evidence is a one off, so is weak from that perspective. This type of justification is exactly the same as me saying the following:

“I know someone who was knocked down and killed by a bus whilst waiting at a bus stop. Using your criteria of evidence (It worked for my client) you should therefore never wait for a bus at a bus stop.

Usually, I’ll then get back from them “don’t be ridiculous that is not the same thing”. The fact of the matter is it is exactly the same. I am taking a one-off event and then basing everything I do on this one event.

This alone should at least make you sceptical in the future of using anecdotal evidence. If it doesn’t then I hope you have a very good lawyer just in case.