Welcome to the very first edition of ASK THE WIZARD. I am here to answer all your questions about life, business, and the pursuit of awesomeness. Let’s get started with two splendid questions submitted to yours truly.
“Would love advice about my new healthy lifestyle and my significant other not working on the same stuff (read: we are out of synch).”
– Working Hard For Self Love
Amazing question WHFSL! Let me make sure I got this right…. you are creating a new healthy lifestyle, but your significant other isn’t on the same journey. Maybe he/she has some habits that don’t fit in your new paradigm and part of you feels like you’re playing for two different teams. Got it so far?
Gurl, you are not alone. At MFF we hear this all the time! Ninjas work hard to make a lifestyle change and they find that their current relationships and surroundings no longer jive with their new habits. Maybe you decide to only drink booze on the weekends, but your co-workers still have that Wednesday tradition of a bottom-less margaritas at Happy Hour — what’s a person to do?! Maybe you have decided to cook all your meals, but your live-in lover insists that Dominos and Subway are the only options for dinner. It’s totally normal to feel this tug between the “old you” and the “new you” when you’re making a lifestyle change. Hang in there!
First things, first – recognize that you are creating a new version of yourself. You are working hard to change your relationship to your body, to food, to your self-image, to your confidence… and the world around you is interacting with the version of you that they have known for years (maybe decades!). Just as you need time to change your thoughts and behavior, the people around you also need time to adjust. We teach people how to treat us every single day in the way that we treat them and how we communicate our needs, and wants, and dreams. So, the true test of transformation is not in your ability to change yourself, but in your ability to change yourself in relation to the world around you. If you are able to transform the context in which people see you, your transformation is much more likely to be a lasting one. So, how the heck do you do that?
Own that this is YOUR journey. The purpose of your transformation is to transform yourself. This is not a crusade to change everyone around you (Hint: If your goal is to change someone else’s behavior you will almost always fail). This is about you. This is about you. (It was worth repeating). Living the life you want to live does not require anyone else to be anything different than they already are. However, I get that you want your significant other to respect and support this new version of you, which leads me to…
Share your WHY. The very best way to get people to respect and support the lifestyle you’ve chosen is to share WHY you’ve made the changes. Instead of telling your significant other, “I’ve decided to start eating healthy, you have to eat salad with me every night.” Try telling your significant other “I’ve decided to start eating healthier because I want to have more energy and feel more confident. I want to live a long life and be active enough to play with our grandchildren when we’re old.” Boom! That’s a much more powerful message and is much more likely to get you and your significant other on the same page.
Resist judgment. I’ll use a sports analogy here (bear with me)… Imagine that you grew up in Philadelphia and were an avid Phillies fan your whole life. Your family were all Phillies fans, your community was obsessed with the Phillies — they were everything you knew and loved about baseball! Then, as an adult you move to NYC. You live in NYC for about 10 years, and slowly you fall in love with the Yankees. Now your roommate loves the Yankees, your co-workers love the Yankees — the Yankees are everything you love about baseball. You think to yourself, how could I have ever loved the Phillies?! What was wrong with me all those years?! My family still loves the Phillies, what the heck is wrong with them?!
Now think of this in terms of your health and hotness journey. How you lived before is all you knew, and now that you are trying something new it is very easy (almost natural) to judge everyone you left behind. It’s natural to think of your current worldview and behaviors to be the ‘right’ ones and the old thoughts and behaviors to be the ‘wrong’ ones. It makes perfect sense because you are working hard to move forward, that it is almost incentive to label your old habits as negative. The challenge with that right and wrong thinking is that it judges others.
Yes, be proud and confident about your new healthy lifestyle. Shout your successes from the rooftops and keep charging forward! But resist the urge to judge those around you who are not on your same journey. See your significant other as perfect exactly as he/she is. Maybe your boo will be inspired by the change they see in you and want to make change in themselves — or maybe they won’t. You get the choice to love them as they are, or not. Try picking love!
“Partly inspired by your ninja amazingness, I opened a small gym up here in Canada for people who hate going to the gym (because I am one of them!). The problem – I can’t figure out how to entice those people into the studio. I belatedly realized that it is probably not the smartest idea to target a market that hates working out…Any suggestions?”
– Lovely Laurie
Lovely, lovely, Laurie – I love Canada! We just had an intern at MFF from Canada and he was the greatest.
A big CONGRATULATIONS for opening up your own f*cking place! That’s a big deal, especially for someone who hates going to the gym. Haha. We’re flattered the MFF was part of your inspiration — we’re constantly amazed that us crazy group of a-holes has had such a powerful reach beyond NYC!
Let’s get down to business. Based on some quick research, about 16% of Canadians have memberships to a traditional gym, which means your target market is the remaining 84% of people who don’t consider themselves a “gym person.” Brilliant! MFF is also committed to speaking to this segment of the market — the folks who generally don’t like working out, who are put off by traditional gym culture, and are convinced that they will never find a place where they fit in.
It’s a great business plan — and it’s a challenging business plan.
Here’s what’s great about your (really, “our”) business plan…
You’re speaking to a population that isn’t currently being served by the fitness industry at large. Good for you—they need our help! On the whole, fitness marketing and advertising is geared toward the adrenaline junkies and fitness freaks (I say that with love) who are chasing the next fitness fad and looking for something to hold their attention. This part of the market is already committed to fitness, they just need to be convinced that your product is the one for them. Your audience is the underserved masses who are paralyzed with fear and need to be convinced that you’ve created a safe space for them to try something new. The great news here is that when you can create that kind of culture, and get people lasting results, your market is endless—in fact, it’s the majority of your country!
Here is the challenge with your business plan…
You’re speaking to a population that isn’t currently being served by the fitness industry at large. “WAIT! WHAT? That’s the same thing you said above, Wizard!” Yup, it’s a double-edge sword. Because the fitness industry hasn’t traditionally spoken to the 84%, the 84% has stopped listening. Your job as marketer is to find out what they ARE listening to—which websites they visit, what publications they read, what social circles they’re connected to —and get their attention. That’s the easy part. Once you have their attention, what do you say??
The answer to that will be different for every business, but there is one universal truth when it comes to the fitness industry. For the vast majority of your audience, their motivation to engage with a fitness company will be…. EMOTIONAL. They want physical results, yes! But more importantly they want to FEEL differently about themselves — they want to feel confident, sexy, energized, strong, powerful. They want to feel like a better version of themselves. That is your message. That is how you speak to the 84% who don’t actually care about “fitness”—you talk to them about how your company will help them change the way they feel about themselves and their life.
Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Got a question for the Wizard?
Don’t be shy!
[Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. This column, its author, and publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.]