This blog is possibly going to upset some people, some people close to me even. But you know what? I am upset! I am upset because once I again I have received a Facebook message that begins:
“I’ve just started my own business in the last few months working with a multi billion pound Health & Wellbeing Company promoting products for all the family.
I’m working on getting the products ‘out there’ and as your business is also in this sector….”
Yes almost two years ago (with daughters aged 3 and 5) I opened a business, a fitness and Personal Training studio. I did it because I genuinely believe there is a need for such a product in my area. I achieved it by writing a comprehensive business plan which I took to the bank and borrowed a large sum (secured against our house). And that was just the beginning of working my butt off. I’ve built, I’ve cleaned, and I’ve spent many an early hour staring at my bedrooms ceiling with my brain refusing to stop asking itself circular questions. Do you see where I am going here? To compare our ‘businesses’ is incorrect and borderline insulting.
Owning and managing a business means there might be times your husband finds you in tears on the kitchen floor when lease negotiations fall apart the week before signing. It’s about the hours spent sweating trying to nail that one bit of choreography, it’s about some days starting at 06.00 finishing at 22.00, it is about a constant juggle of paperwork – planning, accounts, marketing but somehow walking onto that studio floor shining, and making your client feel like the most important person in the world – BECAUSE THEY ARE!
BUT BUT BUT owning and managing a business is also about the look on your client’s face when they realise that 4 weeks ago they couldn’t do what they are doing now. It’s when you get a text on a Saturday afternoon saying ‘I’m wearing that dress at my friends wedding and I feel great,’ it’s when a toddler peers though the windows and sees people exercising but more importantly having fun doing it and it’s about those 5 minutes at the end of a busy day looking around at what you’ve created and thinking ‘yes, I made this’.
To me it’s never about approaching often vulnerable acquaintances (the mother who doesn’t feel ready to return to work, the friend who is unhappy with their weight) and presenting them with a non-descript ‘business opportunity’ or quick fix solution. It is not about cryptic messages on social media (dm me), faux aspirational memes or ‘faking it till you make it’.
It’s so very prevelant in fitness (and with parents of young children – yay I get double the fun) and I understand this – really I do – that fitness can be a tough industry to earn a living in. There are many hidden costs – licenses, insurance, music, licesnes to play your music (yes) and of course the ‘on the floor’ hours are only the tip of the iceberg of your working day. For each hour you train there are many more spent marketing, learning choreography, reading….which is why the idea of a residual income could be tempting.
But FITNESS colleagues I ask you this – do you hand on heart believe in the products you are selling, endorsing or recruiting others to sell? You made the time and invested in yourself, often as an adult – as a career change, studying hard to gain qualifications in sports nutrition, to memorise the anatomy of the human body, and much more ongoing further education. You are a professional. Never stop believing that and that you have so so much to offer.
We have a nationwide health crisis with increasing ever increasing rates of obesity and associated illnesses. What individuals need right now is not quick fixes. It is not diet shakes, vegetables made into capsules, coffee with added mushrooms, 9 day detoxes and so on.
They need fitness professionals who are passionate about what they do, but are empathetic and meet them where they are now. It is about the fitness industry using evidence based information and research to create individualised, appropriate and enoyajable fitness and nutrition strategies. And they need their friends and colleagues support them through any lifestyle changes with no business agenda.
Many thanks to Samantha for writing this post and for being an ethical and honest fitness trainer. If you’re looking for someone who will not spam you with overpriced multi-level marketing products, Samantha’s your go-to.