When I joined the fitness industry 15 years ago, social media didn’t exist.
The only thing our mobile phones could do was call another number, and the tiny minority of people who described themselves as ‘fitness models’ could actually be found on the covers of magazines.
Fast forward to 2015 and we have a wealth of social media platforms, our phones can make videos, take photographs and connect us to the entire world through the internet, and every other person in the fitness industry describes themselves as a fitness model!
I see young women coming into the industry, eager to get noticed, and falling into a trap. They’re selling themselves short, losing touch with their identity and taking on persona’s that either lack authenticity or are unlikely to lead to longevity in the industry.
There are amazing opportunities and ways to develop a career in the fitness industry. If you want to get famous in fitness be sure you’re not making these mistakes and swap them for ways more likely to get noticed without compromising your integrity.
1. Stop taking half naked fitness selfies
Just stop it, no buts (definitely no butts) or maybes. The bottom line is (yes that’s a pun) the only thing you’ll attract are ‘likes’, stalkers and a raised eyebrow from your mother. You can’t build a business on the pertness of your butt, and please stop with the ‘Hell yes I squat’ and ‘Booty gains’ nonsense.
People won’t buy from you based on your physical progress however ‘inspiring’ it may be; they are only interested in your service and what you can do for THEM.
Swap selfies for quick instructional exercise videos. Use an app like PicPlayPost on Instagram and deliver valuable content to followers who will remember you for what you have given them for FREE. You’ll find it much easier to convert them to a customer of your online personal training business or a one-to-one client this way than through 100 fitness selfies, however great you look.
2. Stop talking like a bro or hoe
Killing it in the gym today
Ripping it up
Beasting my clients
Ruined my legs
Get sh*t done
Do the f*cking work
Suns out guns out, working on my wheels, and boulder shoulders
The male narrative on training sounds more like a war zone. Women understand the battlefield of the body, most have been locked in an unhealthy relationship with it for years, but adopting this ‘bro speak’ does nothing to promote yourself as a serious professional.
You didn’t spend all those hours educating yourself on muscle activation, biomechanics, and the psychology of behaviour change to talk like a gym rat. Your clients are terrified by this language even if your peers pretend to find it motivating. Quit with the swearing on social media too, even if society seems relaxed about women swearing in face-to-face discussions it rarely translates to the written word well.
Swap the bro talk for a narrative that is authentic to you as a woman. Find your own unique voice and don’t be afraid to speak from your feminine perspective. If you’re struggling to find your female ‘voice’ look to authors of popular flick lit and romantic fiction for inspiration. Why argue with a woman like Barbra Cartland; a billion book sales can’t be wrong![Tweet “Swap the bro talk for a narrative that is authentic to you as a woman.”]
Cognitive scientists study what happens in people’s brains and bodies when they hear or read certain words. They understand how we can be moved to tears or laugh out loud at something we read. It’s not happening TO us but our brains project US into the world we are reading about. We connect emotionally to the language. The art of selling is all in the seduction, and selecting the right words for your audience unlocks the secrets to success.
Now read that last paragraph again, notice how it is sprinkled with feminine adjectives ‘authentic’ ‘romantic’ ’emotionally’ ‘seduction’ ‘secrets’. Powerful words aren’t always pumped and violent, evoke passion in a female audience and tempt them with carefully chosen words that speak to their hearts.
3. Stop praising or criticising people, and yourself, for outside appearances
If you’re busy liking fitness photos and praising physiques, or surreptitiously joining in the body-shaming epidemic – too thin, too fat, too much muscle, not enough definition, real man or real woman – you’re responsible for perpetuating the belief that a person’s worth can be measured by a number on a scale.
As women we’ve absorbed a lifetime of subliminal messages from society, our mothers, and other women who are constantly on a diet, hate their bodies and are frightened of the ageing process. We have the power to halt this negative relationship women have with their bodies right now.
The minute we engage in either praising someone for the way their body looks or criticising them, or more often ourselves, for a certain physique we continue the cycle and message that there is an ‘ideal’ to be achieved.
Swap talking about physical appearances and what the body looks like and instead shift the focus to what our bodies can do, starting with you! Celebrate strength, speed, power, and flexibility; promote sport, team activities and fun competitions. [Editors note: One great place to start is a website called Girls Gone Strong.]
Demonstrate and embrace the enormous variety of ways to engage people in a healthier more balanced way to appreciate the human body. Banish talk that implies judgement based on appearance, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and strive for a more inclusive and diverse approach. We are not an exclusive tribe in fitness, and if we are we should be ashamed.
4. Stop being frightened of competition
We’ve all heard of the ‘Old boys network’ men have long since embraced the idea of collaboration for mutual benefit. Women can be very wary of one another. Sometimes the roots of this behaviour can be retraced to teenage years where insecurity and jealousy were common place. Women can find themselves feeling threatened and nervous about competition.
Swap your fear of competition, not measuring up or worrying that other women are better than you by learning the art of collaboration.
- Form beneficial partnerships.
- Find women with complementary skills for joint ventures.
- Seek out those who are good role models and smart business women to mentor with like the Women in Fitness Empowerment group.
Women-only networking events can foster a supportive environment where knowledge and advice can be shared in a safe environment. Spending time with other professional women can be a very empowering experience and helps you identify where your strengths lie.
5. Stop sitting in the audience
When you find yourself sitting in the audience at training events and seminars then you probably can’t fail to notice women are often in the minority; you’re sitting in a sea of male delegates listening to mostly male speakers. So what’s stopping you from standing at the front?
Swap blending in with the crowd and step forward, speak up and stand out. Presenting and public speaking at training events and seminars is a powerful platform for those seeking greater recognition. What stops most of us from stepping forward is fear, fear we are not ‘expert’ enough, fear we will be ‘called out’ and fear we are an imposter. Men have more bravado and bigger egos, otherwise known as testosterone, which might explain why they dominate the stage!
Women sometimes lack confidence in their knowledge and are often filled with self-doubt; we know our stuff but are terrified that we are not good enough. Picking the right audience will go a long way to allay these fears.
Start holding small seminars or talks for your clients and choose a subject you get frequent questions on. Build your confidence with smaller groups where you are definitely the ‘expert’ before branching out and considering presenting to your peers at industry events. Keep in mind your role as a speaker is either to inform or inspire, do both and the audience will love you.
Once you recognize the seductive power in embracing an authentic feminine perspective you can be the sort of woman other women respect and aspire to be more like!
All image credit to Emma Shamaya.