Are You A Sponsored Athlete Or An Unpaid Salesperson?

Original post can be found here:

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/11790-are-you-a-sponsored-athlete-or-an-unpaid-salesperson.html

Are you an athlete
Most sports supplement companies and other fitness related companies aggressively promote their products through athletes who can sing the praises of their benefits. Who could be better at describing the efficacy of a product and how it enhances training or recovery than an athlete who not only already uses those types of products, but someone who has a following and who can convince new customers to purchase from the company which they represent?

Here’s where things get problematic. The pool of bodybuilding and fitness athletes is pretty massive, and the waters are teeming with athletes who are anxious to get their so-called “big break”. As a result of this, savvy marketing teams from fitness related companies often sweep up these individuals because they are enthusiastic and can propel a brand’s exposure. All the company needs to do is to offer some free product to the athlete and provide instructions on how to use social media to get the word out that these products exist. Then the athletes post images of themselves holding or using products, and add affiliate codes so that any orders which are generated through that athlete’s post are credited to the athlete. This can be a great way for an athlete to make some extra money while competing or chasing down fitness related gigs and projects.

It is important to bear in mind that such athletes really aren’t sponsored, but are instead unpaid salespeople who provide free advertising and generate sales via social media posts which direct followers to product websites. Yes, they get commissions if they have affiliate codes, but such commissions are nothing to write home about unless someone is really blowing the roof off in sales. This is in stark contrast to a true athlete sponsorship, in which an athlete is paid to represent the brand as a brand ambassador. The sponsored athlete is chosen for his or her physique, performance history and awards, facial good looks, charisma, enthusiasm, and often the size of his or her social media following. Usually a sponsored athlete signs a contract which stipulates that he or she will receive a certain amount of free product, and in most cases will also receive financial compensation which is either paid via a monthly salary or via a contest stipend. Though the athlete usually agrees to a set requirement or recommendation to provide social media posts for the company at regular intervals, the company pays the athlete for his or her trouble. Personal appearances and events are also part of the sponsored athlete agreement and clearly described in the written contract. The sponsored athlete is compensated for use of his or her likeness on advertising materials as well.

Obviously it is a far better deal to become an official sponsored athlete for a company. Otherwise, you are just providing free advertising and cheap labor in exchange for products which are sold at a significant markup from what they are manufactured at. If you post a selfie with product that somehow goes viral, the company will certainly love the boost, but I doubt you will ever see any type of compensation if you aren’t a sponsored athlete, which means you provided your likeness for free. The truth of the matter is that there are only a handful of athlete sponsorships to go around, with a massive surplus of athletes vying for those spots. The athletes who end up getting sponsorships stand out from the crowd in some way, or fit a brand’s look and philosophy so well that it makes sense to bring them on board to represent a brand. The rest of the athletes must navigate through all the companies out there to try to find an arrangement which benefits them in some way. Sometimes it is easy to sell a product, usually because the athlete enjoys using it so much that he or she doesn’t mind providing free advertising or labor.

Sometimes a supplement company will launch a contest which is based on social media posts. One company, which shall remain unnamed, launched a huge campaign this year that was patterned on this idea, and decided to award 5 of the entrants $10,000. Sure, that sounds like a good chunk of change, but if there were 8,000 entrants, then 7,995 walked away with nothing. At the end of the campaign, the company got tons of free advertising and all those hashtags they requested for “tracking” purposes also propelled their brand in a huge way. To be honest, this is a brilliant marketing tactic, but not the best move for the majority of athletes who participated. I have also seen companies launch contests in which entrants must purchase a product, then post on social media with hashtags to enter the contest. This is another form of free advertising for the company, a great way to generate sales, a brilliant means for them to boost exposure, and yet another way for athletes to be suckered into doing free advertising. I don’t see much harm in taking part in such a contest if you truly love a product and want to proclaim it, but just remember that it works wonders as an advertising tool for the company without any benefit for you.

One thing I will never advocate is purchasing products, even at a steep discount, while also representing a brand as one of its “sponsored” athletes. If you are asked to pay for a product while also providing free advertising on social media channels, run quickly in the other direction! Basically you are dealing with a company which doesn’t value you enough as an athlete to provide compensation for your advertising efforts. This isn’t the same as purchasing a product, finding out you like it, THEN posting something on social media which lets people know how much you like it. I know of several athletes who had done this, which sparked the attention of the company which manufactured the product, eventually leading to a sponsorship deal. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT PAY for products as a way to get false sponsorship for a company.

It isn’t a bad thing to work as an unpaid salesperson in the fitness industry as long as you know your place and value. Once your following builds, the smart thing to do is to leverage your visibility into getting an athlete sponsorship. The main thing is to make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of in the process.

Link To All Ten Videos In The Ab Video Series

Here is a link to the RxGirl.com Ab Video Series which IFBB Men’s Physique Pro Ian Lauer and I put together. This playlist link will take you through all ten videos in the series. Now get those abs you have been wishing for!

Why Zinc Is So Important

zinc-image

Here is an article which I wrote a few years ago and which still applies to general health:

Zinc is a vital mineral which is found in every tissue in the body due to its involvement in cell division. In the world of fitness and bodybuilding, zinc has a number of roles, including maintenance of normal hormonal levels, proper endocrine function, body composition, energy levels, optimal physical performance and protein synthesis. Thus it is crucial to maintain normal levels of zinc in the body when training or prepping for a competition.

Zinc is highly concentrated in meat, dairy and some seafood. This is why vegetarians most commonly suffer from zinc deficiency. So how can you tell if you suffer from a zinc deficiency? Common symptoms include an altered sense of taste which leads to cravings for sweets and salty foods. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency include low energy, infertility, low libido, memory problems, poor immunity and diarrhea.

A relatively easy way to test yourself to see if you are deficient in zinc is to do a taste test. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of zinc sulfate (you can get this at health food stores) and add to a cup of water. If it tastes just like water, you are very zinc deficient. If you experience a slightly metallic taste, you are moderately zinc deficient. If it is strongly metallic and unpleasant, you most likely have normal zinc levels. Please bear in mind that this test is never as accurate as a blood test, but at least it will give you an idea of what your levels are.

For those of you who want to know the specific health benefits of zinc, here is a list of benefits.

Enhances Strength and Athletic Performance:

Zinc plays a major role in anabolic hormone production which makes it a key player in optimizing athletic performance and strength. When zinc levels in the body are normal, more growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 is released, which result in enhanced muscle growth and performance. Researchers have also noted that zinc enhances the conversion rate of androstenedione to testosterone, which improve strength gains during the recovery phase.

Enhances Reproductive Health and Fertility in Both Men and Women:

The cells of the male prostate require an extremely high concentration of zinc for proper function. To give you an idea of how much zinc is necessary in the prostate, male prostate tissue requires ten times more zinc than other cells in the body for normal function. There is a correlation between low zinc levels in men and increased risk of developing prostate cancer and infertility. There is also evidence to support the link between low zinc levels and low libido. Another implication with low zinc levels is its importance in maintaining optimal testosterone levels. Men with low zinc also tend to have low testosterone, which puts them at greater risk of andropausal symptoms.

In women, proper levels of zinc are essential for egg maturation and ovulation. Zinc also optimizes utilization of estrogen and progesterone and regulates their levels. During pregnancy, zinc plays a vital role in ensuring proper cell division in the growing fetus and helps to prevent premature delivery.

Essential For Taste, Smell and Appetite:

Zinc activates areas in the brain that process information from taste buds in the mouth and olfactory cells in the nasal passages. In addition, levels of zinc in the plasma influence taste preference and appetite. Many programs which treat anorexics use zinc to revive taste and appetite.

Makes Skin, Hair and Nails Healthy:

Zinc accelerates skin cell renewal which is why it is commonly used in diaper rash creams, acne treatments and creams which are used to treat dermatitis. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has a soothing effect on rashes, burns and blisters. Some shampoos contain zinc to help prevent dandruff. What you may not know is that zinc is important for healthy hair and that low zinc levels can cause hair loss, dull and thin hair, and loss of pigmentation.

Essential For Vision:

Zinc is found in high concentrations in the retina, but this level declines with advancing age, precipitating age-related macular degeneration which is characterized by a partial or complete loss of vision. Zinc also has a protective effect against the development of cataracts and night blindness.

Supports Cardiovascular Health:

Zinc is vital to normal cardiovascular function. When levels of zinc are low, the endothelial layer in blood vessels becomes inflamed and accumulates cholesterol deposits, both of which increase one’s risk of heart disease. Low levels of zinc can amplify the negative cardiovascular effects of diets which are high in fat and cholesterol, whereas adequate levels of zinc will inhibit the progression of heart disease.

Increases Insulin Sensitivity:

The presence of zinc is essential for normal function of most hormones, including insulin. Zinc binds to insulin and aids in storage in the pancreas as well as release of insulin in the presence of serum glucose. In addition, zinc is found in the enzymes which enable insulin to bind to cells so that glucose can be utilized for fuel, a process better known as insulin sensitivity. Why is this important? If zinc levels are low, enzyme levels drop, insulin sercretion drops and glucose remains in the bloodstream, a process which can lead to diabetes if it is chronic.

Improves Mood:

Dopamine, a chemical in the brain which boosts mood and energy, is partially regulated by zinc, so zinc once again plays an important role in the body. There is also evidence to support the theory that the presence of zinc boosts serotonin levels in the brain.

Supports Immune Function:

Zinc supports T cell function and is thus strongly tied with combating inflammation. T cells are responsible for mounting an immune response to invaders such as bacteria or viruses.

Has Potent Antioxidant Effect:

Zinc can remove toxins from the body and prevent accumulation of harmful compounds in tissues. This mechanism has a protective effect against the development of cancers, especially in the prostate, ovaries, pancreas, breast and colon. In addition, zinc prevents the buildup of heavy metals in the brain such as aluminum, which has been closely linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

If you suspect that you are deficient in zinc, you can supplement daily with 20 to 30 milligrams.

(Original post can be found here: http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-lab-supplement-school/7294-why-zinc-is-so-important.html?hitcount=0)

Are You A Sponsored Athlete Or An Unpaid Salesperson?

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Wednesday, 12 November 2014

This was the most popular article I ever wrote for the site, getting over 2,700 likes.

SponsorshipSlide
http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/11790-are-you-a-sponsored-athlete-or-an-unpaid-salesperson.html

Most sports supplement companies and other fitness related companies aggressively promote their products through athletes who can sing the praises of their benefits. Who could be better at describing the efficacy of a product and how it enhances training or recovery than an athlete who not only already uses those types of products, but someone who has a following and who can convince new customers to purchase from the company which they represent?

Here’s where things get problematic. The pool of bodybuilding and fitness athletes is pretty massive, and the waters are teeming with athletes who are anxious to get their so-called “big break”. As a result of this, savvy marketing teams from fitness related companies often sweep up these individuals because they are enthusiastic and can propel a brand’s exposure. All the company needs to do is to offer some free product to the athlete and provide instructions on how to use social media to get the word out that these products exist. Then the athletes post images of themselves holding or using products, and add affiliate codes so that any orders which are generated through that athlete’s post are credited to the athlete. This can be a great way for an athlete to make some extra money while competing or chasing down fitness related gigs and projects.

It is important to bear in mind that such athletes really aren’t sponsored, but are instead unpaid salespeople who provide free advertising and generate sales via social media posts which direct followers to product websites. Yes, they get commissions if they have affiliate codes, but such commissions are nothing to write home about unless someone is really blowing the roof off in sales. This is in stark contrast to a true athlete sponsorship, in which an athlete is paid to represent the brand as a brand ambassador.

The sponsored athlete is chosen for his or her physique, performance history and awards, facial good looks, charisma, enthusiasm, and often the size of his or her social media following. Usually a sponsored athlete signs a contract which stipulates that he or she will receive a certain amount of free product, and in most cases will also receive financial compensation which is either paid via a monthly salary or via a contest stipend. Though the athlete usually agrees to a set requirement or recommendation to provide social media posts for the company at regular intervals, the company pays the athlete for his or her trouble. Personal appearances and events are also part of the sponsored athlete agreement and clearly described in the written contract. The sponsored athlete is compensated for use of his or her likeness on advertising materials as well.

Obviously it is a far better deal to become an official sponsored athlete for a company. Otherwise, you are just providing free advertising and cheap labor in exchange for products which are sold at a significant markup from what they are manufactured at. If you post a selfie with product that somehow goes viral, the company will certainly love the boost, but I doubt you will ever see any type of compensation if you aren’t a sponsored athlete, which means you provided your likeness for free.

The truth of the matter is that there are only a handful of athlete sponsorships to go around, with a massive surplus of athletes vying for those spots. The athletes who end up getting sponsorships stand out from the crowd in some way, or fit a brand’s look and philosophy so well that it makes sense to bring them on board to represent a brand. The rest of the athletes must navigate through all the companies out there to try to find an arrangement which benefits them in some way. Sometimes it is easy to sell a product, usually because the athlete enjoys using it so much that he or she doesn’t mind providing free advertising or labor.

Sometimes a supplement company will launch a contest which is based on social media posts. One company, which shall remain unnamed, launched a huge campaign this year that was patterned on this idea, and decided to award 5 of the entrants $10,000. Sure, that sounds like a good chunk of change, but if there were 8,000 entrants, then 7,995 walked away with nothing. At the end of the campaign, the company got tons of free advertising and all those hashtags they requested for “tracking” purposes also propelled their brand in a huge way. To be honest, this is a brilliant marketing tactic, but not the best move for the majority of athletes who participated.

I have also seen companies launch contests in which entrants must purchase a product, then post on social media with hashtags to enter the contest. This is another form of free advertising for the company, a great way to generate sales, a brilliant means for them to boost exposure, and yet another way for athletes to be suckered into doing free advertising. I don’t see much harm in taking part in such a contest if you truly love a product and want to proclaim it, but just remember that it works wonders as an advertising tool for the company without any benefit for you.

One thing I will never advocate is purchasing products, even at a steep discount, while also representing a brand as one of its “sponsored” athletes. If you are asked to pay for a product while also providing free advertising on social media channels, run quickly in the other direction! Basically you are dealing with a company which doesn’t value you enough as an athlete to provide compensation for your advertising efforts. This isn’t the same as purchasing a product, finding out you like it, THEN posting something on social media which lets people know how much you like it. I know of several athletes who had done this, which sparked the attention of the company which manufactured the product, eventually leading to a sponsorship deal. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT PAY for products as a way to get false sponsorship for a company.

It isn’t a bad thing to work as an unpaid salesperson in the fitness industry as long as you know your place and value. Once your following builds, the smart thing to do is to leverage your visibility into getting an athlete sponsorship. The main thing is to make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of in the process.

How To Beat Down Excuses That Derail You From Your Fitness Goals

Originally published on RxGirl on Wednesday, 07 May 2014

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/10839-how-to-beat-down-excuses-that-derail-you-from-your-fitness-goals.html
excuse
I am grieving as I write this, because a very dear friend whose end of life care I was assisting in just passed away less than 24 hours ago. Though I am very rattled by this, I made sure to hit the gym first thing this morning, and I ate clean all day, packing and carrying my meals, with only one transgression which was a bottle of cold sake I had promised to myself and my friend once he had passed on. No matter how rough life is, I will not jeopardize all the hard work I put into building muscle and sculpting a physique that I could proudly display on the IFBB Pro stage this year.

A similar situation occurred with one of my clients whose father had suddenly died. Instead of making a plethora of excuses, avoiding training and abandoning her meal plan, she told me she wanted to channel her grief into her contest prep program, and so she did. She honored her father, continued to plug away at work, and took care of two small children while still honoring her commitment to herself and her fitness goals, and for that she is a true warrior.

Illness and death of a loved one are difficult to handle when one is in full contest prep mode or adopting a full blown fitness overhaul, but thankfully rather rare. The more common culprit in fitness plans falling by the wayside is the day to day life craziness that always threatens to pull us off our path. If we are not diligent and consistent about sticking to a regimen regardless of how hectic things get, a journey to ultimate fitness can dissolve into a jumble of self-doubt, fear and excuses. The most common pattern I see in competitors is one in which effective time management is lacking, resulting in missed workouts and meal prep that never happens. Let’s face it: we are ALL busy, but when one is determined and consistent, it is possible to adhere to a fitness plan or contest prep regimen.

I caution ladies (and guys, too) to avoid slipping into occasional rationalizations like, “Oh, I’m too tired to lift tonight…I’ll do a double lift tomorrow,” or “a couple of quick meals through Taco Bell isn’t really going to throw me off my prep,” because such rationalizations can develop into a regular pattern which will sabotage one’s fitness efforts. Please do NOT turn into one of those ladies who pushes a contest date back repeatedly because you don’t feel ready. Is it that you don’t feel ready, or that you are constantly throwing roadblocks in your own way by caving into peer pressure and eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, getting insufficient sleep and going through the motions when you train? You need to ask yourself if your lack of discipline, whether expressed by putting yourself in certain social situations, binging on unhealthy foods at home because you are frustrated with your slow progress, or not making the time to prep and pack your meals regularly, is getting you the results you really want.
Stop-Making-Excuses1
A repatterning must occur when excuses begin to creep across your mind. Instead of thinking that a binge could count as one admittedly huge cheat meal, think of how you will end up feeling after binging. You belly will be distended, you will physically feel sluggish and weak, I am willing to bet your self-esteem will sink. So why do it in the first place? Keep tempting foods out of your kitchen, and remind yourself of your fitness goals. If you go to events or dinners, consider packing your food and bringing it with you.

People have grown so accustomed to me bringing my own food that they don’t even blink when they see me with my food cooler bag. I have attended medical dinners with my food bag in tow, consuming clean food while my colleagues dove into meat selections with sauces, heavy starch dishes, and decadent desserts. To be honest, when I see how my colleagues look, I am thankful that I practice such clean eating.

If you tend to make excuses about getting to the gym for workouts, remember your GOAL. If you need to refer to images of people whom you aspire to be like, then do it. Pack your workout gear in a bag and keep it in your car if you have trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym once you get home from work. Take the energy you would put into making excuses and get to the gym right after work! Also be sure to schedule your workouts so that they become a priority in your life.

Be consistent, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, and you will ultimately attain the fitness goals you seek.

Eating For Two: Nutrition For Competitors During Pregnancy

Originally published on RxGirl on Thursday, 09 January 2014

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/9990-eating-for-two-nutrition-for-competitors-during-pregnancy.html
Kettlebell pregnancy
Female competitors may already find it challenging to keep up with proper nutrition during prep, but pregnancy confers even more nutritional demands. As a general rule, increasing caloric intake during pregnancy by 300 kilocalories per day meets the essential nutrient needs of the growing fetus for the majority of women, regardless of whether they compete or not. So if you are already struggling to get calories in, guess what? You will need to add an extra meal or two in your regimen to meet the caloric needs of pregnancy.

One of the physiological challenges which pregnancy creates in an effort to make enough glucose available to the growing fetus is insulin resistance in muscle tissues. This is similar to the insulin resistance which often occurs when the post-workout refeed one-hour window is missed. As a result, the practice of consuming smaller and more frequent meals among competitors works very well during pregnancy as well. Every meal should include lean protein sources, and protein intake should be increased by about 10% to support proper fetal development and increased blood volume in the mother.

Let’s also look at the carbohydrate needs of a female competitor during pregnancy. It has been shown that sharp decreases in blood glucose occur in the late stages of pregnancy following strenuous workouts. Such precipitous dips in blood glucose may compromise delivery of glucose to the fetus, so pregnant women need to consume adequate carbohydrates prior to exercise. An ideal quantity is 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates which would be consumed prior to the workout, with an additional 25 grams if the workout period is prolonged or especially strenuous. Pregnancy is NOT the time to fear carbohydrates! Stick to lower glycemic index carbohydrates for

pregnant belly
If you are already accustomed to drinking ¾ gallon to a gallon of water each day, and you plan to exercise regularly during pregnancy, you will also need to consume an additional 8 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of physical activity to maintain proper hydration and blood volume for you and the baby. Make sure to get clearance to exercise from your obstetrician, since certain pregnancy related medical conditions are contraindications to exercise. You should also take a good prenatal vitamin, as well as 800 micrograms of folic acid per day to guard against neural tube defects. Other recommended supplements which pregnant women can safely consume are magnesium, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and B-complex.

Though many competitors already refrain from consuming “white” foods (table sugar, table salt, enriched white flour), it is especially important to avoid such foods during pregnancy, not just for the reasons mentioned above, but also because white foods cause the breakdown of elastin in the skin. What that means is that your skin’s elasticity will diminish, increasing your likelihood of tearing during the process of labor. This is especially important in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. If you practice clean eating with the above guidelines in place, you will optimize your chances for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy, happy baby.