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When I was preparing for my first fitness competition, I really had no thoughts or expectations beyond training hard, stepping on stage, and doing my best. It wasn’t until after my second show that I realized there’s a whole world of self-promotion and branding among the bodybuilding, competing, and fitness industry. Creating your brand is essential to opening up opportunities within the fitness industry, connecting you with the people and companies you want to work with, and helping you avoid any awkward, uncomfortable, or potentially damaging experiences along your journey.
After my second show, I was given an opportunity to shoot with a photographer relatively well-known within the fitness community. The photographer’s specialty was glamour and although I didn’t really want to shoot glamour – I knew it wasn’t my style or personality – I also didn’t want to pass up on this opportunity; after all, this was one of the best-known photographers in the area. So, I suited up in some lacy underwear and put on my best sexy face.
The problem was, I didn’t feel comfortable during the shoot, and the results showed it. I looked uncomfortable, rigid, or just plain stunned in most of the photos (probably because I was so shocked by what I was doing).
I know posing in underwear might not be a big deal for most people. I mean, it’s the same amount of coverage as I have on stage – as the photographer kept reminding me. And girls post “progress pictures” in underwear all the time; but I’ve never felt the need to and have never felt comfortable taking those pictures or posting them – it’s just not me. Now I want to be clear, this article isn’t about the pornification of fitness – there are plenty of articles on that. This is not meant to call anyone out for their approach to fitness or branding – in my opinion, to each their own. This is about finding YOUR brand in the fitness industry, and representing it proudly to everyone’s benefit.
Sticking to your beliefs and being true to yourself is hard to do. Especially when you see so much success coming to those who abide by the trends, and everyone around you is pushing and pulling you this way and that. The key, however, is to focus on what works for you and your brand – find what makes you happy; find what produces the best self-promotion; put them together, and rock that shit.
The only way to do this is by trial and error – and trust me, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Like I said, I’m not “sexy” – at least, I would never describe myself as that – so doing glamour or sexy photo shoots doesn’t suit my personality. I don’t really enjoy them, the images I’ve produced from those shoots haven’t been my best, so they don’t contribute to the brand I’m building for myself.
I like to promote and work with growing local athletic apparel brands, such as Ripped Angel, because I love fitness apparel and buying local. There are so many great companies and brands from my home province – New Brunswick – and my current home – Ontario – that need more recognition and promotion for their awesome products and contributions to the local fitness industry and athletes. I also love to promote organic and natural health products because that’s what I use and love. For example, brands such as Rumble Supershake, BluDot Tea, and Pur Gum are easy to represent because I love them all so much and use them anyway. I proudly represent these brands because they represent what I believe in and use on a daily basis.
There are plenty of options for branding, marketing, and promotion out there to suit your style, personality, and approach to fitness. There are more than just supplement companies for sponsorship, promotion, and branding opportunities (no, you won’t get your free tub of protein each month, but you might get exposure that leads to even better opportunities)! The key is to tap into those opportunities by flying your flag (brand) high and proud. This attracts like-minded people and companies and gets YOUR brand rolling.
The best branding and self-promotion shows your true personality and love of fitness. When you’re happy and feel comfortable with the image and message you’re sending, it not only makes your life easier – it makes everyone happier! You get to promote your favorite people and brands and they get better promotion because you’re happy and comfortable – a win-win situation for everyone!