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Op-ed: The Sham of Chloe Ting ⁠— How to Be an Expert at Anything on Social Media

This article is about Chloe Ting. She’s the name that appears at the top of your search bar whenever you look for home workout videos on YouTube. Hers is also the name which has been shamed of late, accused of her bad exercise forms, and the health inaccuracies she preached. A sham, essentially.

If you are looking for a fact-finding or defence article for Chloe Ting, this is not the right place. (I am only a fitness enthusiast!) This article is built on two definitive premises—how Chloe Ting got to be this popular and the misstatements in her videos.

Who is Chloe Ting?

Credit – Chloe Ting

Chloe Ting, a Brunei-Chinese raised in Australia, is a YouTuber well known for her fitness content. To date, she has posted approximately 280 videos—primarily fitness—and garnered more than 10 million subscribers in her YouTube channel. This enshrined popularity is indisputable—it will take more than ten lifetimes for most people to reach one-tenth of that fame.

Being curious about Ting, I did a brief research on the trusty Internet and found some interesting facts on the Melbourne vlogger. Ting studied Business Statistics and received three degrees from Monash University, including a Master’s of Philosophy.

She used to work as a corporate statistician before the unconventional career switch to become an online content creator.

Rants from the Fitness Experts

The first recent rant video came from Greg Doucette, a Canadian Bodybuilder and powerlifting world champion. To add accolades onto his already stunning fitness portfolio, the professional lifter has also smashed the world record for sumo deadlift with an astonishing 9,130 kg.

In the 19-minute video, the world champion debunked the credibility of Ting’s workout by referring to two of her videos—”Best Time To Workout To LOSE Weight & BURN BELLY FAT” and “10 Mins Toned Arms Workout | No Equipment”. He called out several inaccuracies; such as her method of determining the optimal heart rate zone and her bogus nutritional advice.

Hot on the heels of Doucette’s video and trending in social media last week is the 62-part series of Instagram stories by a Singapore bodybuilder who goes by the Instagram handle of @dinokang, who we will refer to as NK in this article.

Credit – @dinokang

In this short social media series, NK also exposed Ting’s unreliable facts such as her spot reduction theory, how calories are treated, and her use of technical terms like “glycogen” and “fat-adapted”.

In short, both opinions chorused the fact that Ting isn’t qualified to teach and is spreading “fake information” to her followers.

Here’s how to be a ‘Chloe Ting’

In our hardworking culture, we are taught the importance of having knowledge and that “knowledge is wealth”. Her popularity, unfortunately, contradicts what we are indoctrinated to believe.

“How did someone with limited knowledge get so far in a technical industry like the fitness circle?”

Being a truth seeker, I ploughed through her videos and though I did not learn anything new from her fitness videos (watching and doing fitness videos is one of my favourite past times), I learnt how Chloe Ting paddled her inaccurate narratives about health and wellness to impressionable viewers and how you too can do a Chloe Ting and get away with it.

1. You need a pretty face

Beauty is subjective; so it’s perfectly fine if you hold a different opinion. However, I guess we can all agree that Ting falls into the definition of what conventional beauty entails—porcelain complexion, big eyes, and sharp features—basically, a polished appearance.

Next, her physique is petite and lean, with a thin waist and feminine lines at her abs. It’s a figure most women yearn.

2. Good marketing is half the battle won

In journalism lexicon, a good title is half the battle won. Recall the times you click on a random link from your newsfeed. Congratulations! You have baited yourself as a prey of a good marketing tactic, which includes excellent use of keywords and a compelling title.

Ting’s marketing spiel is superb. Even NK—one of the protagonists—agrees. Take a look at some of the titles of her workout.

“Get Abs in 2 WEEKS | Abs Workout Challenge”
“Abs Workout [Fire emoji] Get that 11 Line Abs in 35 days”
“10 Mins ABS Workout To Get Flat Belly in 30 Days”
“Tiny Waist & Round Butt Workout | At Home Hourglass Challenge [peach emoji]”
“10 Mins Lower Ab Workout | LOSE Lower Belly Fat”
“Get a Smaller Waist in 28 DAYS | Plank Workout Challenge”
“Butt Workout – Grow Booty NOT Thighs | At Home Hourglass Challenge”
“Slim Thighs & Legs Workout that WORKS | Burn Inner & Outer Thighs Fat (No Jumping)”
“GET RID OF BRA BULGE & BACK FAT | Arms & Back Workout”

Don’t they call out to you? Indeed, every single vein and tissue in me is screaming “Yes, I want that”.

Credit – Chloe Ting

These titles hold great promises, but they also propagate a misconstrued mentality of “do my workouts and get the body”. As a female consumer, these are the thoughts I will naturally conceive: “After doing this, I can wear my cropped top again”; or even “downsize my skinny jeans by 2 inches”; “I can sashay down the streets with just my sports bra and attract envious stares”.

Besides, most of her video titles provide a foreseeable timeline to the desired results—”2 weeks”, “35 days”, “30 days”, “28 days”—it coaxes people to try it because these time frames are short. This marketing strategy cashes in on the impatience of consumers who want fast results in a brief time.

It’s great content creation and effective marketing while keeping the competence of the sellers and the effectiveness of the products out of the picture.

3. Present your opinions as facts

Both fitness gurus have pointed out fallacies in Ting’s understanding of sports science, including her wrong use of technical jargon.

However, one crucial factor Ting did right was her ability to pass off her opinion—false and misleading as it may be—as truth.

Apart from the misinformation, her speech, tenor, and expressions are delivered persuasively. Without delving deep into the details, I would wholeheartedly trust Ting and accept her tips as accurate. The trust earned removes personal discernment and makes me vulnerable to fallacies.

Being vocal and utterly convinced with my newly acquired “knowledge”, I might even share it with my close friends and family. Therefore, becoming an effective communicator of fake news.

4. Tell people what they want to hear

Good news is always the best news. Ting is charismatic and very encouraging. For example, in the “1 WEEK of Intermittent Fasting | My Thoughts, Tips + Before After Results“, she was encouraging her viewers to take progressive steps to do intermittent fasting by starting with a 12-hour fasting window before gradually increasing the fasting period. Being inspiring is a powerful way to motivate people to take that step of change.

Furthermore, Ting conveyed cajolery that fuels the desires of many people to reach the ideal weight or size.

“Intermittent fasting is not
about restricting your calories”

– Chloe Ting

Everyone wants to lose weight without restricting their food intake but the efficacy of this solution is a debatable one. She preaches to people that you can lose weight while still eating whatever your heart desires, making it an irresistible and highly attractive solution.

By doing so, she is successful in selling a painless solution to her followers, and her solution is a painless one and that, in itself, is impressive.

The role of social media: Polarising and Ironic

Her seemingly ‘undeserved’ popularity has caused indignation amongst qualified gurus in the fitness industry.

“Why is it that people like this are so successful? They prey on what you don’t believe and what they don’t know”

– Doucette

Though fans of Ting defended their muse with her merits, the aggrieved experts felt that it was not “socially responsible” of her to disseminate false information given her acclaimed popularity.

However, that is the irony of social media—it is an effective platform for information acquisition, yet the low barriers to pen your thoughts and absence of policing makes it an equally influential hub for any misstatements.

To the wanna-be fitness gurus, here’s what you need to know.

1. Popularity is not an indication of your competency

Subscribership is an indication of popularity but it does not speak for your competency. Audiences and customers are emotional creatures and are attracted to charisma and personality.

Sadly, it’s not always the most skilled teacher who gets the “best teacher award”, neither is it the best financial advisor who understands the most clients. Rather, it boils down to many other intangible factors like the ability to relate or if your target audiences like you.

Competence is essential; but more often than not, it takes a backseat to other more superficial factors. This is a sad truth in a world that does not run solely on logic.

2. Subscribers do not equate to followers of the workout

“I follow brand X’s Instagram account, but I might not own any brand X products.”

This is more so for a famous person’s account where there’s a curiousity about how they lead their lives. Influencers are also “trendsetters”, and they help us keep abreast of the latest happenings.

With this social media fitness blast, I have been following Ting’s YouTube account rather closely. Despite being singled out negatively by experts, her YouTube subscribers are swelling—just last week it was 10 million, and today, it was 10.4 million.

Public attention in the media industry is a fascinating creature of habit—viewership moves in tandem with your popularity and infamy. Unlike the usual saying “no news is good news”; for the famous, any news is good news.

3. The road to fitness is a lifelong journey — it might just be a start

Fitness is a lifelong journey, and there is no one-size-fits-all program. As a personal reflection, I started my fitness journey five years ago and the type of exercises I first did was different from the type of exercises I do today.

Like a journey, objectives and goals changed over time. At the outset, it’s a question of building the discipline to inculcate fitness as a habit and lifestyle—an issue of motivation. Subsequently, with a fitter body, we set higher goals and what workouts match my objectives—an issue of suitability and compatibility. Along the way, as we are more exposed to a variety of exercises, we narrow down to what we enjoy doing—an issue of passion.

It is not a mere journey of becoming gradually fitter and healthier but also understanding your body, your goals, your likes, and dislikes.

Of course, it is with great hope that we become discerning individuals, and having said that, a lifelong journey entails keeping our body as injury-free as possible. Great workout form helps to achieve that, and following a well-skilled teacher does likewise.

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