Dear Fitness, It's time to tell your story...the REAL one

January 10, 2019

Dear Mr. or Ms. ELITE Fitness Trainer/Model/Coach/Influencer,

 

Everyone knows how your story ends. Why don't you show them the beginning...you know, the real one?

 

Thanks on behalf of the world at-large. 

 

Kevin Mullins

Human, Coach, Writer, Fitness Person.

You know those movies that start with the ending; the ones where you have barely sat down and found that cozy spot on the couch and people are already shooting up the place, walking down the aisle, or saving the universe?

 

Yeah, those movies always drive me crazy. Although they do it in a satisfying way. Sure, we've been given a sneak peek at how things are going to end up, but shit there are so many questions. Like, why is that guy lying there dead in a photograph?**

 

**(Free copy of my e-book Elite Program Design Concepts to anyone who emails me with the title of the movie I'm referring to.)

 

Thankfully, these movies give us an instant reprieve from the curiosity and shoot all the way back to the beginning of the story. This sort of flashback style is popular in the often complicated narratives found in thrillers and bio-pics. It provides us a glimpse into the chaos that decisions can cause and creates a depth of intrigue as we begin working forwards towards our already certain conclusion. That's where the satisfaction comes in. 

 

I enjoy the experience of putting together puzzles, especially when I can use the completed picture as a reference point. Just this summer I was vacationing with my fiance' at her parents home and we decided to put together a puzzle at night while we waited for everyone else to get back. It consumed me. Once I saw how the puzzle should look on the box I was hooked. The scattered mess of puzzle pieces on the table were exciting to me, not intimidating. As one puzzle piece's plug found another's outlet to form a connection - satisfaction ensued. 

 

 

 

But that's just the thing about it. It is the act of putting together the puzzle pieces that satisfies the soul and provides the answers to the questions we have. It is a more structured form of reflection. Each step builds upon the last until you reach your destination. This is especially true when we already know the outcome, such as when we put together a puzzle or watch a flashback film.

 

It's also true when we look at fitness, especially as individuals who are already in shape, and even more specifically for fitness professionals who are paid to guide others. We already know the ending to the story; the abs, the strength, the bodacious booty, the PR marathon time, the game-changing performance in a key game. 

 

Yet, we often neglect the most important human thought behavior once we get there: Reflection. 

 

It is true. We often get to our destination and forego looking back at how we got there, and sadly, with time we actually forget the process, the story, behind the outcome. Our memories are already unreliable, but they become even more so after we've experienced a life-changing event (such as getting shredded like paper at Kinko's or stronger than the family over at "Thor and Son's Moving Company"). Our minds pick out the favorable parts and save that shit like leftovers from a five-star restaurant. 

 

The bad stuff?

 

Ah, we'll forget that pretty quickly. We'll skip over the parts of our journey that aren't as sexy. We'll leave out the part where we became massively depressed in the last few months or that we still can't look at chicken breast without gagging slightly. 

 

Which does everyone a disservice. 

 

Becoming fit and neglecting to reflect, relive, and retell your story is like showing up to a movie just in time to see the last frame before the credits and thinking that is all that matters. You got your ending, but you know you won't be satisfied, because really...what is one snapshot worth when compared to the depths of a full story?

 

You wouldn't do that with your entertainment, so why would you do this with your fitness?

 

Yet so many people have, and do, and will continue to dishonor the achievement that is fitness by focusing only the outcomes. Your Instagram feed will be full of people showing off their more plump ass cheeks, their biceps veins, their impressive six-packs, and the visual of a bending barbell being ripped from the concrete and rubber floors of their gym. 

  • They are the glimpse of Bradley Cooper sitting on a rooftop in Afghanistan without following through with the deeply complex story that made American Sniper such a memorable film. 

 

  • They are looking at the picture on the box of a puzzle and being satisfied that you know how.  it turns out and foregoing the desire to take it all a part to put it back together again. 

 

Want to know the outcome of vacation?

 

Going back to work after the vacation is over. That sort of depressing realization exists to help you frame this message one final way before we embark further. It gives you one more piece of evidence to prove that the outcomes of a given story matter so much less than the story itself. 

 

 

 

And so, I challenge the fitness community, especially those with power and influence, to tell more of their story. Stop showing your followers the outcome of your story and goading them to buy your shit, or the shit you endorse, without providing them the chance to "see the whole movie". It's perfectly fine to use your position, your status, as a means to making your living. So long as you are authentic and vulnerable. 

 

Be Real. 

 

And I'm not talking about those bullshit "I was just like you" lines that you find at the beginning of well-designed copy. The classic "relate to your customer by proving that you are their equal in many ways" marketing tactic definitely works, but it is about as authentic as the pair of Ray Ban sunglasses I snagged in Ibiza in 2016. (They were "Ray Berry's by the way)

 

You can't post a picture of your half-naked body and your freshly diced abdomen and say shit like "I struggle with my diet too. Oh my god, Pizza is my crack and I love how wine relaxes me". You can't claim to "understand the fears of getting fit and changing your old habits" if you don't actually follow through with legitimate stories about how you struggled long before you got to where you are. Even if it is true it is still phony and lacking authenticity until you actually share your story. 

 

People see right through that shit if they have their goggles on. Anyone who has been sold before can smell someone telling a phony story a mile away. 

 

Besides no one wins when deception is at play. Eventually the deceivers become the deceived. 

 

It Hurts Your Business

 

You can't take a freeze frame from the "end" of your movie and expect for your audience to extrapolate the entire story out and not give you some sort of competitive edge that they don't possess. People don't want to feel inadequate, period. So they'll see your striated quadriceps and your bulbous calves as think : "Wow, that guy really has great genetics...I wish I did too." In doing this they'll dismiss themselves from responsibility for their own actions, determine that they aren't as fortunate as you, and move on with their lives after throwing a "like" your way. 

 

Which actually crushes your ability to convert a lead. How am I supposed to invest in you if all you are showing me is an image of your scrawny body at seventeen and your now perfectly sculpted body at thirty-three? Sure, your copy says things like "it was hard for me to put on muscle" and "it was tough eating enough of the right calories." These statements might even be dead accurate. But they lack heart. What's worse is that these sort of messages usually finish like this: 

 

"Invest in my plan and I'll share my muscle-building secrets for two-hundred dollars a month in bitcoin or three-hundred on Paypal"

 

Which sounds as reliable and earnest as the club promoters who walk up and down Miami Beach (or any "sexy" beach in the world for that matter) and promise the night of someone's life if they can get them on a list. 

 

Are you thoughtful and earnest or are you here to make a quick buck?

 

It hurts you in the long run

 

You can lie to yourself only so long before that shit comes to a boil. One day you'll be sitting on a couch and you will crack in two, maybe three, pieces. You'll wonder to yourself why you are doing any of this...if you matter...if all of it matters...

 

 

 

If you let the events of your life "After Fitness" control the narrative, then soon enough you'll be saying things that aren't true. It might sell things. It might make you a hotter commodity. But it is going to leave you feeling so hollow that you'll find yourself lying in your bed at night begging for more social validation from all of the adoring "fans". 

  • Maybe you are rich and famous and people want you to sign their left biceps when you see them.

  • Maybe your DMs are full from people trying to slide head first in hopes of winning the "give me some of your shit" World Series

  • Maybe you are one of those people who has five-hundred thousand followers and people giggle like school children when you post and throw hearts at that your photos like Walgreens prepping for Valentine's Day. 

If that's the case, then I challenge you to tell your real story. The one about being picked on in your childhood, the one about how you hated exercise, about how being cut from your high school baseball team broke your spirit, about how you discovered yourself alone in your garage gym, about how you let a fit body go to your head and used your attractiveness to get what you want, about how you almost ruined it all with a mental breakdown full of Jack Daniels and energy drinks**.

 

**(All parts of my story)

 

You can only go on so long with a bloated success story until someone, or something, puts a hole in the balloon and the truth starts rushing out. Avoid that nonsense altogether by piecing together the real story. Explore the corners of your mind and remember the things you don't want to remember. Feel the emotions you subdued. Fight the demons you simply hid in your closet. 

 

At the very least this practice will free your spirit, but I bet it advances your business, and moves our industry forward. 

 

Do yourself, and the industry, a favor...

 

Tell the one that actually causes someone to stop and think. Play them enough of your movie that they feel inspired to unpack their own. See, the thing about this "movie" analogy is that for every second that passes our movie gets longer. More scenes are added daily, but none are never removed. The scars of yesterday are the proof today that we aren't a newborn. 

Be real. Be you. Be authentic. Explore the story that got you to where you are and stop pretending that you are Lady Gaga and you were "Born this Way". 

 

The world, your business, and your own soul will thank you.

 

So let me write this letter one more time:

 

Dear Mr. or Ms. ELITE Fitness Trainer/Model/Coach/Influencer,

 

Everyone knows how your story ends. Why don't you show them the beginning...you know, the real one?

 

Thanks on behalf of the world at-large. 

 

Kevin Mullins

Human, Coach, Writer, Fitness Person

 

Have you become the best trainer in your area and wish more people didn't want to train with you?Do you have every minute of your day scheduled and accounted for?

 

Then don't worry, this doesn't apply to you.

 

If you want to be a better trainer and have one minute to spare each day, then check out my new book on Amazon.com right now. Day by Day is being read by hundreds of trainers already and it has only been out two weeks. Why don't YOU be the next one?

 

 

 

 

 

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Kevin Mullins is an average guy doing above average things. He wakes up each day with the intent to put his best foot forward, to help others, and to have a little fun.

 

He is the author of the popular book Day by Day: The Personal Trainer's Blueprint to Achieving Ultimate Success, which is available on amazon.com now.

Kevin is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, Equinox Master instructor and trainer of ten years. He has over twenty thousand hours of experience under his belt. 

He has been featured on the PTDC, PTontheNET, was named a Men's Health Next Top Trainer in 2014 and 2015, contributes to NSCA PT quarterly, and speaks at a variety of conferences.

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