One Simple Piece of Advice For Fitness Pros to Consider in 2019: Put Your Clothes On
Not surprisingly I’ve noticed an inundation of “inspirational” or informative post over the past few days offering insight from “How to Save More Money in 2019” to “What Are the (Fitness) Trends to Watch Out For?” to, I don’t know, “Who Would You’d Rather Have as a Dinner Guest: Your Boss or a Balrog?”
Too, this is the time of year many people write their “stuff I’ve learned” posts to reflect on their personal growth over the past 365 days (and to totally brag about how many books they’ve read…wink, wink. Don’t worry, I’m not judging.1
This is not that kind of post.
Well, It Kinda Isn’t
Truth be told, I didn’t read that many books last year (due to a very active and rambunctious toddler at home. And Netflix), so I’m afraid I wouldn’t have many sage and/or Earth shattering “new things” to divulge anyway.
That said, in an effort to ring in 2019, I would like to toss my hat into the ring, take a few minutes, and share one good ol’ fashioned, “seasoned veteran” piece of advice to new and upcoming fitness professionals who may be following along.
Full Disclosure: What follows may come across as a bit preachy or me being a cantankerous curmudgeon.
Whatever, it’s my blog, deal with it.
AND GET OFF MY LAWN while we’re at. And GO TO BED.
Put Your Clothes On
I came across an interesting conversation on Facebook the other day, and it only came to my attention because it was started by an ex-client of mine (who’s also a trainer) who tagged me in it.
She posited this question:
“Curious, are you more or less likely to hire a trainer if they post pictures of themselves with their shirts off or in a bikini?”
Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand why someone who’s in the health/fitness industry would feel it necessary to market themselves by showcasing their, shall we say…assets.
HA – see what I just did there?
I do feel there’s a time a place for it, and I do feel there’s little harm in the occasional “look at me, I’m sexy AF, and my pecs can cut diamonds” photo op.
It’s not lost on me that a significant part of a trainer’s job is to look the part.
I mean, if someone’s going to dedicate their life to training 4-5x per week, taking spin classes “for fun,” and crushing kale & avocado smoothies that taste like algae being blown through a whale’s rectum, you better be sure as shit they’ve reserved the right to showoff the fruits of their labor.
But even then I feel there’s a spectrum of acceptable instances for someone to do so.
One thing to consider is if they’re a competitive bodybuilder, figure athlete, or even model. If that’s the case then I can definitely see a scenario where they’re allowed a bit more leeway.
The ratio of shirtless to cute cat pics should likely be bit more skewed to the former.
However, most fitness professionals aren’t competitive bodybuilders, figure athletes, or models. And, while I recognize my age (42) likely plays into my thought process, I do feel it’s in most everyone’s interests to keep their clothes on more often than not.
Reading through the bulk of people’s answers in the Facebook thread mentioned above, a vast majority mentioned they’d be less likely to hire a trainer who went out of his or her’s way to routinely pose with their clothes off.
Answered ranged from “it comes across as too self-absorbed” to “unprofessional” to “intimidating and that they might be too judgmental of my appearance.”
My former client even chimed in with the following:
“I’ve never once seen Tony G pose with his shirt off for a promotional or marketing piece, and he has one of the best physiques I’ve ever seen.2And what prompted this question to my Facebook friends is an inundation of trainers posting promotional and marketing pieces with their shirts off.
I always wonder how that resonates with the average Joe?”
I’m sure for some people it motivates them.
And that’s great.
But I think for the vast majority of people it sets an unrealistic expectation. And, to speak candidly, from a business standpoint, I have a hard time believing it helps to exponentially increase one’s bottom line.
And before anyone fires back with “well, Tony, my business targets people interested in FAT LOSS or people who want to look better naked, what am I supposed to do: fill my feed with pictures of me attending a turtleneck party?
No, that’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m Saying Is This: Looking the part is one piece of the fitness business puzzle. But it’s not the only piece. Most clients are going to be more interested in training with you long-term because you’re not an asshole, not because your delts look great using the Perpetua filter.
What’s more, as my friend from above stated herself:
“As a trainer, it’s going to stick with your clients more if you teach them that the journey is less about how they look at all times and more about how they feel about themselves.”
Fitness shouldn’t be centered around one’s ability to showcase six-pack abs in an effort to garner likes (and creepy followers) on Instagram. It should be about helping as many people, from all shapes and sizes and backgrounds as possible.
For some niche markets, I understand that this train of thought won’t resonate and that posting an incessant number of pictures of yourself with your shirt off (or in minimal clothing) does bode in your favor and helps to grow your business. This isn’t meant to come across as confrontational or that what decisions you make to run YOUR business is wrong. I have plenty of friends in the fitness industry who do it and are very successful. The thing that differentiates them is that they’re ALWAYS going out of their way to provide quality content.
It’s not just about them.
I suspect, though, that most of you reading will have enough common sense and wherewithal to separate that from my larger point.
Posting naked pictures of yourself is not necessary or mandatory to be successful.
For the bulk of potential clients out there posting shirtless pictures for promotional purposes likely won’t work, it likely won’t resonate, and it likely won’t be relatable. Rather, the better business approach will be to go out of your way to showcase your content, expertise, and knowledge instead. How can you help people? What separates you from the masses?
I doubt it’s your bicep peak.
Maybe you have a unique pull-up drill progression you’ve found successful? Maybe you have a lot of success working with people dealing with low back pain? Maybe you do have an adorable cat?
Highlight that, please…;o)