FREE is Holding Back the Fitness and Supplement Industry

by Matt Weik

Look, I like free as much as the next guy, but enough is enough. The fitness and supplement industry is plagued by brands and “experts” giving everything away for free. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to get a little help every now and then as well as try some free supplements, but consumers are now EXPECTING this to be the norm. And when it isn’t, they want to bitch and complain and wish the worst case of diarrhea upon your brand and business.

Free content from writers

I made a social media post a few months back where I told writers in the industry to stop working for free, that you’re damaging the industry not only for every writer out there, but also setting a sub-par standard that getting free content is expected. I have no issue with new writers giving out a few free pieces of content to get their foot in the door, but you need to strategize and figure out your path to monetize. You can’t work for free all the time, otherwise you’re doing yourself a disservice as well as moving towards running your business into the ground due to zero sales and revenue.

Many writers want to build their portfolio, yet they turn the content and copywriting industry upside down by offering their services for free or for very cheap. Then when they want to monetize everyone turns them down because in the past they got it all for free—so why would they want to pay you? In addition, the publications will wait for the next guy to come along “looking to build his or her brand” and offer free services. It’s a never-ending cycle that plagues the industry.

Majority of these writers are putting out amazing content too, full of knowledge bombs. So, why shouldn’t that be worth something? I went to college, got a degree in kinesiology and business, and got certified as a strength coach, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist—my knowledge is worth something.

Do you think Steven Spielberg would write a script for a movie, and GIVE it to another person to make a movie without looking to be compensated for his time and intellectual property? Heck no! He’d say “who’s got my money?!” Why would the industry also think that it would be acceptable to take content from a qualified professional for free? Some of these website and publications don’t even give author credits!

Free programs from personal trainers

I worked at a chain of gyms here in Pennsylvania where I live when I was in college and just after graduation. While the gym was fairly successful, they never valued the trainers time. They wanted to give everything away for free. Free workouts. Free nutrition consulting. Free assessment of body composition and strength. You name it, they wanted to give it away for free as an “amenity” of joining their chain of gyms.

Again, I didn’t spend all that money getting a college degree in the field and getting certified to work for free. Therefore, I voiced my opinion and was told to fall in line or get out. So, I threw up the deuces and left.

My time is worth just as much as the next guy in line. And if he wants to work for free, then more power to him. I don’t go to the doctors and expect a free physical to be done. Or when I’m sick go to the doctor and have him diagnose what’s wrong with me and write me a script for medication out of the kindness of his heart without being compensated.

When I sit down with my accountant or attorney for advice on certain aspects of my business, he’s not slotting me into his busy day out of the kindness of his heart. I’m taking up that slot in his schedule because I’m PAYING FOR IT. They aren’t going to sit down with me and explain how I should change certain aspects of my business to help me make more and save more money and they themselves not get paid for their time and knowledge. That’s counterproductive.

Yet, people expect trainers and nutritionists to sit down with them or email them free programs and reply to their 2,000-word email asking about anything and everything related to helping to get in shape or fix their problems. You see, if you are able to solve and fix problems, that brings tremendous value and should be paid for. That’s my opinion, you might think differently, and that’s fine.

So, why should personal trainers and other professionals in the industry be expected to give it all away? The answer is because it’s what’s been taking place in our industry for years. It’s now considered a norm to do these things. And the consumer refuses to pay for it because they’ve never had to in the past.

This industry has no one to blame but themselves. This industry shot itself in the foot for every professional out there. No one wants to open their wallet for personal training these days when they can get all the information they want online for free workout programs, free nutrition plans, free exercise guidance, etc. And unfortunately, there’s no way to turn it around—it’s already out there.

Try it before you buy it

I’m not here to say the supplement industry is an honest industry to be in. But, there are plenty of good, honest brands out there doing things by the book. Many brands these days have product samples—especially when it comes to launching a new product or a new line. Retailers across the US get flooded with boxes of samples to help them move the new product or line off the shelf.

This, however, can come at a cost. Not only is it an expense to the manufacturer, but it conditions the consumer to think they are able to get samples of just about any product out there, which isn’t the case. And when they ask for a sample and don’t get one, they get agitated and refuse to use the product or brand claiming they “won’t buy anything they haven’t tried first.”

This is idiotic. I wish I was able to try everything in life before I bought it. I wish I was able to try that flavor of ice cream from the grocery store before I paid for it and brought it home, only to find I hate the taste. Or I wish I was able to wear those jeans and wash them to see if they shrink before I buy them just to find out after one wash they turn into capris. I wish I was able to try that cell phone service at home to ensure it provided a clear signal before I spent all that money on the $800-$1,000 phone itself and monthly service plan. Why all of a sudden are we programmed to think we deserve freebies or free samples of everything?

These types of behaviors and business practices need to stop. They are de-valuing our industries. Your time and knowledge are worth something. VALUE comes with a price tag. If you can solve someone’s problems, the price tag shouldn’t matter. I know when I was in need of help and I found products, software, whatever, that solved said issue, I opened up my wallet immediately to eliminate that problem from my life. I simply can’t wrap my head around why people would demand something be free when it solves their problem(s).

I understand my view on this and opinion might be different than yours, but I hope some of the points brought up made sense and had you think a little differently. If you aren’t a business owner and don’t see the costs involved with doing things or the time and money lost by not getting paid for services, you might be more willing to agree with what is said in this article.

Let us know in the comments if you agree or disagree with the points in this article. We would love to hear your feedback. In addition, let us know if you are a business owner or consumer so we have some point of reference to go off of.

 

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