Branding Yourself In The Fitness Industry!

Have you stopped to think about marketing and branding yourself? Most people just don't get it. When I say, get it, I mean they realize that you are your own brand. Learn how to make yourself your own brand!

This is the first of many articles to help you understand the importance of branding and marketing yourself in a competitive world.

You've spent countless hours working out and watching your diet but have you stopped to think about marketing and branding yourself? Few people in the bodybuilding and fitness industry "get it". When I say, "get it", I mean they realize that you are your own brand. You have to think of yourself as a product, like it or not, you are and it doesn't matter if you're a pro or an amateur moving up in the ranks.

Take a second and look at what you are wearing at this very minute. You might have a pair of running shoes with a swoosh on them, we all know what brand this is (if you don't email me and let me know what planet you are reading this from).

You might be sporting a new designer watch or have trendy shades sitting atop your head. You're branded and it says something about who you are. Why are you wearing what you are? Is it comfort, style, color, maybe your best friend is wearing it regardless you're wearing it and it is telling others something about you.

Some of you might be saying, but I have a uniform on and I have to wear it. Ok, that might suck for you but your company is branding themselves by you wearing the uniform. When you and the crew go down to the deli for lunch all wearing the same shirt everyone knows you work for company XYZ.

You can take a lesson from the "big dogs" in the corporate world and apply it to yourself. Begin getting in the mindset that you are your own brand. This isn't hard to do.

First Off, What Is A Brand? Defines A Brand As:

    a. A trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer.
    b. A product line so identified: a popular brand of soap.
    c. A distinctive category; a particular kind. Goes A Step Further & States:

    "Brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image that you associate with a company or a product. When you think Volvo, you might think safety. When you think Nike, you might think of Michael Jordan or "Just Do It." When you think IBM, you might think "Big Blue." The fact that you remember the brand name and have positive associations with that brand makes your product selection easier and enhances the value and satisfaction you get from the product"

Now that you know what a brand is and the wheels are turning up in your melon, ask yourself, if I were a can of soda what kind would I be. Many of you might respond, I don't drink soda, I'm competing. Okay, okay, I know but if you were and not competing what kind would you be? Now ask yourself why did I choose that kind? Is it because it tastes good, they are hip and extreme, maybe you like the look of the can or bottle? You chose that kind because of some relationship or experience you have with that product. Starting from this point forward you are a brand.

What Makes You So Special?

Well, ask yourself, what am I going to be known for in this world? What do I want people to think of when they hear my name? Write it down. Read it. Now read it again. Does it excite you? No. No? Then how do you expect to excite the editor of a magazine you want to get published in this month? Are you excited when you read the words and want to tell the world? You should be! If you're not jumping out of your chair wanting to tell everyone about your brand, then you should think a little harder and come up with something that will grab the attention of people.

Some of you will be thinking, oh poor me, I'm no different then any one else, I haven't won a local show or I haven't been published in a magazine yet. Ok, here's a tissue BIG FAT DEAL. Be yourself. What are your strengths? What makes you different? You are different, we all are. Identifying what makes you different will help in creating a brand unique to you.

Now that you've identified what you want people to know you for, how are you going to do it? The first step is getting noticed. You have to be visible and make your brand known. Some people in this industry already have name recognition. Do you think this happened overnight? Of course not, when I ask you who is a pioneer in the sport of fitness, whom do you think of? Carol Semple, Monica Brant, or Susie Curry I'm guessing one of them will come to mind. Same holds true for bodybuilders' Who's the hottest ticket in the bodybuilding world today? Jay Cutler, Ron Coleman or Gunter Schlierkamp.

You'd probably say one of these guys. Why did these names come to the top of your mind? Its because they are visible in this industry. This didn't happen overnight. Again, patience young grasshopper. I didnt ask you who your favorite bodybuilder or fitness competitor was because you may have said someon'e completely different. Why is that? Its because your favorite competitor has created some type of bond or relationship with you. Your favorite competitor might be Kim Seeley ( because she has the same type of diabetes as you - you can relate and share a common bond with her.

It all goes back to who you are the substance you bring to the table. What you say and how you say it are very important. Style also has a lot to do with it. This industry, like many others, is full of gossip and rumors take the high road, have some class and do your own thing in style. People may not agree with you or like you but they will at least respect you and the brand you're creating. Remember word-of-mouth marketing is very powerful. You all have a network of friends, family, colleagues or clients.

You need to be consciously aware of the brand you are creating because all of these people will be some of your best ambassadors. A great example of this is Lana from Lana's Egg Whites ( She has several of the top people in the industry using her product and they're telling others how great it is. This word of mouth marketing is more powerful and creditable then any magazine ad. It is reputation power.

r In the coming weeks I will cover more on banding and creating your own brand. One of the most powerful, cheapest and effective ways to get your brand out there is by having a Web site. Anyone can have a Web site but how many of them do you go back and visit every day or every week?

Words Of Wisdom From Current Web Site Owners

Carla Sanchez

A website is a marketing tool that reaches the entire world! When you decide to have your own website, you must put some thought into how you want to be represented to the world. Throwing a site together just to have your name and photos on the web, without much thought of design or content, is like reaching into your closet with your eyes closed and settling to wear whatever you pick out!

It just may not be the way you want to be seen! You are your business and your website is advertising who you are, so treat it like a business and know what kind of image you want to portray. Once you know that, research dozens and dozens of sites to see what you like and find out who designed those sites. You want a site that reflects who you are and is professional, inviting and easy to navigate. Be prepared to spend some money!

Don't think a good, professional website is cheap! If you can't afford to spend a lot of money, then keep the content simple, but don't skimp on the basic design. Once you find a web designer, be patient with the individual and be clear with him/her about what you want. Ask for an estimate and be sure to get everything in writing.

A contract should be written up, so both parties know what to expect and what the cost will be. I am very pleased with the design of my website that was created by Conor with Fitsights. He created exactly was I was looking for! The only frustration was that because he is so good, he became too busy and was unable to update my site regularly! So, I was on the hunt for a new webmaster to take over updates and create new sections.

I am very fortunate to know Isaac Hinds with Lift Studios who just happens to live in my hometown! He has been extremely helpful with updating my site, offering ideas and creating a new site for my Performance Ready Fitness Team. He is prompt, professional, creative and fun to work with!

It also helps that he is very into the health/fitness world so he can relate to my ambitions with my sites! Having a website is fun and a great way to promote yourself, but it takes a lot of time, money and energy to keep it maintained and updated. Be prepared for the extra effort involved and have fun building your home on the web!

Carla Sanchez

Lana Battegello
Owner - Lana's Eggwhites

I started my business 8 years ago and didn't know much. Lots of trial and error. A work in progress. Since I feed many bodybuilders and fitness girls that have websites I decided that perhaps everyone was right.

I needed to be seen by ALL! Create your own website they told me! Of course you hear from a friend and another friend that their web fella is the best. I just flipped a coin. The cat was ok. Then I found a GREAT girl, but she was too busy.

Then, Isaac found me. Honestly, I pushed him away. But he persisted. I pushed him away once more but he came back and politely told me that he believed in my product and said I could reach so many more people by having some changes and getting more exposure.

I thought: I know everyone in my industry all the whooz who peeps. He couldn't help me... Was I wrong. DEAD wrong.

First off, I was REALLY impressed with his persistence (in a very classy way)

Secondly, I thought, well, hell, he is ALWAYS at his computer (I swear it is attached to his magic fingers) THAT in itself, LET ME TELL YOU is the NUMBER one thing I LOVE about Isaac.

If your web guy ain't answering you in one hour, DUMP his a__! NOW! I could write Isaac RIGHT now and he will answer me within 5 minutes. THAT is the most important thing to me now that I have it. How many of you reading this are saying "

Yeah, she's right, my guy hasn't gotten back to me in three days! Or a week!" ( don't they have the best excuses? ) I've heard them ALL. NOT Isaac. He says what he means and means what he says. ( & damm, he's cute)

Umm, ok, moving on, when he told me: "Gimme a few days, I am gonna knock your socks off when u see your new site!" (I was like, yeah right) He better had saved my old site in case I kick this Bozo to the curb. Guess what? My site kicks my own ass.

I felt like a celebrity it rocks so hard! And that's exactly what Isaac's power is. He makes you a Supah Star. He takes what you have and works it like no other. Isaac is the shit that happens. He doesn't have time to mess around.

When it comes to his work, his ego is large because he is an artist. That is what I want. Someone that is a perfectionist. A man that knows he did his greatest work when he hands it to you.

Another thing happens when you use Isaac the Great. Our 'Master' as we all call him. (Webman hell, 'Webmaster Ike' To All Of Us!) :) Isaac Makes Sure To Link Each And Everyone Of Us Together, Creating A Large Family. Check Out My Links Page, Go To Thier Sites, We Are All Connected. And Now We Are All Good Friends. We Support Each Other!

Lastly, I have fallen in love with Isaac. He is my friend. He is the best friend you could ever have. EVER. Loyal, trustworthy, always there for you. Caring, compassionate, TRUE. Down to the wire. Isaac is my rock. IF you are lucky, he will be yours too.

Lana Battegello

Shelly Fields
National Level Female Bodybuilder

My first website was done in 2002 by a company I just happen to come across in a advertising magazine. It was poorly done never got updated on time, needless to say I started looking for someone else to do my site and two of my friends how are with Lift Studios told me about Isaac.

I looked at their sites and the way it was laid out and absolutely loved the way their's was done. I sent Isaac an e-mail asking if he would be able to construct a site for me and this was August of 2003 it took him 2 months to get it up and one month after to get the member's section going.

Before I contacted Isaac I was also speaking with another webmaster to do my site, I contacted him in May and he was so busy with his own site he never got anything done not even a splash page. Hence forth I decided to go with Lift Studios and cancelled the other web company.

It's been four months since my member's section been up and I extremely happy with the timely updates I get from Isaac not the mention to pride he takes in laying out my photos.

I really would consider myself lucky to be on board Lift Studios hearing about all the horror stories from my other friends in the industry whose sites have fallen behind in updates and in the event having lost lots of members due to this.

Lift Studios You The Bomb!

Dré Dillard
National Level Female Bodybuilder

I trained a webmaster in turn for personal training sessions. He was supposed to do my website for me. I trained him up to $5000 worth of sessions and diet.

He started my site and never finished it and skipped out on me. I was devastated. I felt so betrayed and used. I felt as if I was so behind because I wanted my website up.

My advice to anyone looking for a website:

First do your research on the person/company. If you know someone ask them lots of questions. If you don't, email some of the company's clients. Get plenty of feedback because if you decide to utilize the company you want to make sure that they are reliable and professional.

Secondly, be patient. Sometimes we as clients want things up and running before the webmaster can actually get them up... remember, you are not their only client. If they are good, they will get back with you in a reasonable amount of time.

Last but not least, make sure that the individual/individuals are creative. You want a site that doesn't look like a template; and comes off really boring.

I love working with Lift Studios. I did my research and found that Isaac Hinds is not only professional but extremely creative. He has a lot of websites that he has created and none of them look the same.

I get compliments all the time stating that my site is far better than a lot on the net. I recommend to anyone looking for a site to let Lift Studios create one for you.

Dré Dillard

Carmen Garcia
Fitness Cover Model

When I began fitness modeling in 2000 I decided to launch my official web site so I can market myself online and I would later add a members area. The first thing I had to do was the necessary basic steps like register a domain, find a reasonable web host company, gather up web content etcÅ  But first, I had to find the right web master to develop my official web site that highlights who I am (my work) under the best light.

In my quest for the perfect web master, my experience was a constant roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, I had gone through about six different webmasters until I was finally referred to my current web developer/designer, Isaac Hinds (Lift Studios Inc.) through mutual friend and model/competitor Jennifer Chamberlain I'm 100% happy with his work and doing business with such a professional and trusting person.

The first guy who called himself a web master approached me online (red flag #1) and charged me an arm and a leg for something a kindergarten child could have done. I say it is a red flag because I don't know how he found me and he was from out of state. Most of webmasters I've found are out of state. This makes it really difficult to run a background check if need be. He had shown me some of his previous work, but when he finally launched his design it didn't match his past work. It was too late for me as I paid him more than half of his design fee.

This person was a control freak so I told him how unhappy I was with his services. Needless to say, he kept blaming his "employees" for not updating the site in a timely manner and making endless mistakes. He didn't want to hear how unhappy I was. One day I logged online to check my site and he just shut it down without notifying me! Luckily, I had a long talk with him and he transferred over the domain name. I strongly recommend you own your domain name by registering online or by phone yourself.

The second web master referred to me by a model was lazy and sloppy, but I had no choice. I was desperate. He did a sloppy job on the web site and was very careless about maintaining the site. I was so frustrated at this point. One random day, a few people e-mailed me regarding my member's area and how it was exposed to non-members. These are only a few examples early in my quest for the perfect web master. Promises were made by all of these people who called themselves "webmasters", but there was no deliverance at all.

There was one web master that I thought I trusted, but I ended up firing him for many reasons. I had nightmares about this guy! I caught him in constant lies about everything. He had his "employee" update the site and the employee didn't photo shop any images etcÅ  Photo shopping was stated in our written agreement. My paychecks were always late and the numbers didn't add up.

I had this web master host the site and that was a huge mistake. I learned to have either my own merchant account or a third billing party. My checks were simply not adding up and web updates were late. There were also constant errors on the web site and broken links. When a link was finally fixed, other things went to hell. In essence, it was a total disaster to find the right person whom I can trust with my content, a nice design and good maintenance.

Like shopping for a new car or a home, one must shop around for webmasters too. Do your research. Don't get desperate to find a web master today. Take your time or you'll regret it. There are many online (and offline) scam-artists preying on models that are desperate to launch their site. Ask for a mockup (or more) of the design before you pay out any moneys. Get your mutual agreements down on paper. Don't be afraid to ask for references and a lot of background.

Make sure you do a little research on how to be happy with your web site. Discuss every single detail on what you expect from each other. Remember, it's better to put your site off until the right person comes along that can offer a fantastic design highlighting you well. You should ask for at least 5 referrals from the prospective web master to make sure you know who you are doing business with. It's your money. It's your time. And most importantly, it's your image connected to your Webmaster's work that reflects off you!

Kim Seeley
National Level Fitness Competitor

After a few years of surfing fitness sites, I figured it was time to develop my own. In all honesty, I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I had seen tons of sites that were great and some that were not so hot. Lucky for me I was competing at the Carol Semple Classic a few years back and I met Isaac.

Isaac and I discussed what I wanted accomplished from my site. I had a chance to view some of his work at Lift Studios. I found that his layout was easily navigated and he was creative in his design.

This was exactly what I wanted. His turn around on finalizing the site was so quick. I could not have done it without him. I highly recommend Lift Studios for anyone in need of a site. Reasonable, efficient and creative. Thank you Isaac.

Julie Shipley-Childs
IFBB Pro Fitness Competitor

After a few years of surfing fitness sites, I figured it was time to develop my own. In all honesty, I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I had seen tons of sites that were great and some that were not so hot. Lucky for me I was competing at the Carol Semple Classic a few years back and I met Isaac.

Isaac and I discussed what I wanted accomplished from my site. I had a chance to view some of his work at Lift Studios. I found that his layout was easily navigated and he was creative in his design.

This was exactly what I wanted. His turn around on finalizing the site was so quick. I could not have done it without him. I highly recommend Lift Studios for anyone in need of a site. Reasonable, efficient and creative. Thank you Isaac.

Julie Shipley-Childs

If there are any sites you go to repeatedly, related to fitness, bodybuilding or health, please send them to me at and tell me why you visit them often. Feel free to email me any questions or comments as well as any topics you'd like to see covered.