How do you avoid the fitness snake oil salesman and enter the world of skepticism yourself?
To quote the Rene Descarte;
“If you would be a real seeker of truth , it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt as far as is possible all things”.
This philosophy is a great starting point.
Doubt and question everything. If that sounds a bit extreme it shouldn't. As children we're naturally inquisitive but evolution also gave us an inherent credulity and for good reason. Those children who didn't believe their parents or elders when told that it wasn't a good idea to investigate the rustling bushes didn't survive to have children themselves!
Unfortunately this tendency to believe what we are told sticks with us into adulthood and it makes us easy prey for the unscrupulous. As adults you should't just believe something because someone tells you it is true. You should use that natural inquisitive nature and do some investigation.
Start by asking yourself this; "is what is being touted plausible?" For example; can a rubber band with a hologram on it really improve your sports performance? (this is a real thing!!) Sounds a bit iffy to me! Can eating a ‘superfood’ boost your health immeasurably? Sound too good to be true? Then it most likely is.
Ask yourself “ Is there any proof to the claim?” and remember, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. If the evidence isn't proportional to the nature of the claim, (anecdotes and testimonials don't cut the mustard!) then dismiss it out of hand and don't touch it with a barge poll.
Learn how to fact check. If a product, therapy, diet or exercise regime asserts something as fact, check whether it is, especially if the assertion doesn't sound plausible. Contrary to popular belief the internet is a wonderful resource for this. Wikipedia and google scholar would be my first stop.
Doubt all things
Finally, going back to where we started, never give anything the benefit of the doubt.
It's not always easy to separate the wheat from the chaff but a little skepticism goes a long way and in the world of health and fitness (and pretty much every other walk of life) it's a very useful skill to have.