For many of us, our fitness lifestyle is simply nothing more than a hobby. Granted some of us take it a little more seriously then others, but unless you work in the fitness industry in some capacity, you simply maintain your lifestyle through passion.
You still have a 'day job' so you can keep feeding your passion - right?
I believe being a competitive bodybuilder/fitness athlete is one of the most arduous activities you could ever undertake. No other sport requires you to be so diligent with your training, nutrition, supplementation, recovery etc for months, if not years at a time. Even our Olympians don't work as hard as we do!
This is why I want to tackle the tricky subject of succeeding as a physique athlete in the real world!
It Takes More Than A Killer Physique
Unfortunately, many of my fellow athletes have become somewhat disillusioned. Many believe that to be successful on stage simply means having the goods on stage when it counts. I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms, but if you just follow along with me you will see where I am coming from.
Sport today is BIG business, and as in any business, sport needs the best people to represent its interests. Now when it comes to bodybuilding/fitness, not only are we looking for the best physiques on stage, but also ambassadors for our sport. These ambassadors display the value of following the fit and healthy lifestyle to the general public - this is what the public wants to see.
Everything today (even our sport) requires publicity to survive. You as an athlete need publicity to survive. You as an athlete need publicity to WIN!
Surely I have lost my marbles now. What does me being in the public eye have to do with winning on stage - everything!
Say you compete this year and place a respectable 2nd. Now what is it going to take to move into the number one position next year? Yes a better physique for starters, but as any top-notch athlete knows, you need to stay in the public's eye. If you compete only once a year, it is very easy to be forgotten.
Look at it this way. If you actively promote yourself over the next 12 months and compete in next year's show, you will carry so much more influence over the competition.
The competitors will know who you are, and so will the judges. This could mean that they spend that little bit longer looking in your direction, they might be aware of the changes you have made in your physique because of your constant industry attention, or maybe your name just sits in their head a little longer. It doesn't really matter, but it could be the difference between 1st place and 2nd place.
It frustrates me no end that many athletes simply fail to use publicity and marketing to advance their sporting careers.
How Can We As Fitness/Bodybuilding Athletes Generate Exposure?
So, what's the first step? Many athletes just don't realize building a profile creates work.
As some sit back and wait for the supplement companies to give them free products because they did extremely well in their last contest, they think publicity comes the same way. Surely the magazines will be knocking on my door to do an 'exclusive' interview because I am the champ! Sorry, it just doesn't work like that. You have to get out there and make yourself known.
There are some many avenues to get your 'image' out into the industry throughout the year. Here are 5 ways to get you out there:
- Fitness Magazine - Write a letter to the editor inquiring if they are looking for models for the magazine. Send in a few of your 'best' shots, and tell them that you would appreciate any opportunity.
- Your Gym - Ask your gym manager if you could have some professional pictures displayed in your gym. They would be crazy to say no - this will make their place look great and shows they support their clients. If you can impress your own crowd, your half way there.
- Supplement Companies - Ring up a few companies and see if they require a promotional model. Most companies will run a promotional drive, or change their advertising at least once a year. This is a great opportunity to promote yourself to your direct market. Also, be prepared to do this for free - it's the exposure you are after remember.
- Television - Get yourself to a casting agent. Imagine the impact you will carry into a competition if you are regularly seen on TV.
- Internet - The Internet is such a powerful tool. Here you have worldwide impact! If you ever have aspirations to compete overseas, you need to get yourself online NOW! Judges are always surfing around to see who's new on the scene. Why not carry some weight into your next international experience, have the judges say 'hey, that's that new natural sensation from…' instead of being a no body.
Ok, so how do I really make it as a fitness professional?
Making It As A Fitness Professional
Our sport is full of potential superstars. Thousands upon thousands of people all around the world train hard in the gym and eat the right foods every day with the hope that one day they will be able to make a living from their passion. Many believe that all they need to do obtain the illusive 'Pro Card' to make a living from bodybuilding. The athletes who do look for the bigger picture very rarely see past personal training.
What an accomplishment - to receive your Pro Card. To have your peers believe that you are worthy enough of walking the pro stage must be such an accomplishment. Plus the joy you can experience from helping people 'one on one' (as you do with PT) is fantastic, but I'm telling you that to make it big, you need to look at the bigger picture.
As an athlete you can only go so far, no matter how much exposure you generate. As an athlete, at one point you will reach the 'absolute' where you simply cannot go any higher. Ronnie Coleman (8 time Mr O) is the undisputed 'king' of our sport. No matter what side of the bodybuilding fence you sit on, you simply have to take your hat off to the man. His only problem now is that as an athlete, where does he go? He has been at the sports pinnacle for 8 years now, there is no higher level to achieve as an athlete. The day will come where Ronnie will have to be content, and move over for the new king.
No matter what your sport is (bodybuilding, fitness, figure), there is that absolute. Granted not every athlete will ever get near this level, but I would just like you to understand that one-day you simply cannot go any further.
As an athlete, you know the dedication and determination is takes to get to the top. Imagine having the same dedication and determination in the business world, and making generous sums of money in the process! If you have a sincere 'passion' for health and fitness then the possibilities are endless. If you are only in fitness for the money, then you will not survive. This industry is so ruthless, often it is only the passion you have that gets you through the tough times - and trust me you will have a lot of those.
No matter how tough it is though, you will love every minute of it. Whoever said that 'if you love your job you will never work another day in your life' could not have said summed it up any better. Making a living doing what I love to do is great, and I'm glad to be able to share these strategies with you.
Creating Your Profile
Before you can do anything, you need to create your profile. Your profile sums up who you are (or who you are trying to be) within the fitness industry. Your profile is basically a representation of yourself, so someone knows at a quick glance whom you are, what your niche market is and what you are trying to achieve within the industry.
Too many times athletes try to tackle the business side of the industry simply as an athlete and wonder why they are only marginally successful at best. The reason being is that very few athletes are taken seriously as business professionals (hey, just the way life is). Athletes are athletes, and the industry business folk are just that - all business.
What you need to do is break the mould so to speak. Show the industry that you not only know your business on the stage, but off stage as well. There are no 2nd places here. Your professional profile can mean the difference between success and failure - it's that simple. No matter what your market is, make sure you know your business, and that your profile reflects this.
What's A Niche Market?
Your niche market is the part of the fitness industry that you devote all of your energies to. This is where your passion lies, and as such it only makes sense to target this market. As you would no doubt guess, mine is Natural Bodybuilding.
My passion for natural bodybuilding covers all facets of the sport, from helping competitors with competition strategies, to writings articles such as these for bodybuilding.com.
I was 'in the trenches' so to speak as a personal trainer trying to spread the word, before I discovered that I wanted more. I now concentrate 90% of my efforts over the internet via my website.
Your market does not need to be as broad as mine is. If your sole interest lies in helping novice figure competitors, then this is where to need devote yourself too, no matter how obscure it may seem sometimes. If this is where your passion is, then go for it. Remember; passion is the first step to success.
Ok, you have your profile and you know the market in which you want to focus your energies in, now what? Before you can do anything now, you need to decide how you want to help people. With my passion for natural bodybuilding, do I do what every other athlete does - obtain my personal training ticket and train people - is that all there is?
I've been there and done that, and while I loved the social aspect, full-time PT just wasn't for me. I can handle about 2 sessions per day, and that's about it. But what about the rest of the working day? What can I do that will use my passion for natural bodybuilding but keep me out of the gym?
I'm telling you, if you want to make it BIG in the business of fitness, you need to think outside of the square. There are so many more options to personal training, yet people think that this is it. In fact, there are so many options I find it hard just concentrating on one thing at a time. I have about 10 projects going on at once myself.
Below find a very small list of just some of the things you can do in the fitness industry apart from 'one on one' training:
- Group training - this is the future of all personal type training.
- Fitness modeling.
- Hold fitness seminars at your local school/hall.
- Host your own fitness radio show.
- Become a writer in a fitness magazine.
- Become a writer for fitness websites.
- Become the 'fitness expert' for your local paper/TV station.
- Build a fitness website.
- Host your own fitness television show.
- Become a personal trainer over the internet.
- Create your own fitness products.
- Write fitness books and sell them on your website.
- Produce an exercise DVD.
- Write programs and sell them.
- Become an authority on fitness and do the talk show circuit.
I'm telling you, this very abbreviated list is just the icing on the cake. As I said before, in this industry you really are only limited to your imagination.
So now you have your profile and know the niche market you want to work with. I have also opened your eyes to the unlimited possibilities that the fitness industry has. In the next installment I will go into a little more detail on how you can generate leads and get yourself actively involved with the 'business' fitness industry.
About The Author
Josh Dickinson is the driving force behind www.physique-essentials.com. This is the only site you will ever need if you are serious about your natural bodybuilding, health and fitness goals. Sign up for his free newsletter here.