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Thread: Inspired by Rolling in the Deep by Shawn Ray.

  1. #1

    Default Inspired by Rolling in the Deep by Shawn Ray.

    The bodybuilding/physique athlete today has to be on top of everything if he/she hopes to have a successful career. Unlike other professional sports (and even some amateur), the mere ability to step onto the playing field and excel in your athletic performance does not guarantee success we often associate with the glory of a champion today. The bodybuilding champion of today needs to know how to set goals (beyond adding 10lbs to your bench) find leads, make connections, understand how to market him or herself with a clear understanding of what he/she wants to attain. To quote IFBB Pro and Hall of Fame bodybuilding champion, Shawn Ray, you have to be ready to do, ďThe Business of BodybuildingĒ.

    Itís not enough that youíve written in your training journal every detail of your regiment, that youíve suffered hours pressing and pulling pounds of iron or the hundreds of miles youíve put on your body walking, running, sprinting, swimming, climbing to come in peak condition under restricted calories, and fine tuned your presentation with posing session after posing session to exhaustion.

    Yes, even with God-given genetics, wasp like waist, phenomenal size, shape, symmetry and proportions, the faces of this billion dollar industry will look upon it all and what youíve accomplished in your athletic pursuits and with a straight face ask, ďAnd?Ē

    The doors of opportunity are fenced, gated, locked and under watch for physique competitors; amateurs and professionals alike. To those with the means to support the endeavors of aspiring bodybuilders have come to view the athlete as no more than a bunch of beggars that are a dime a dozen (save for a select few; Muscletech, TeamGat, EFX come to mind). For women in the sport, itís even worse; a nickel for a carton of twenty-four - if that!

    Itís unfortunate, because this type of mentality will only disenfranchise up and coming talent with more to offer in terms of growth (outside public and private interest)in this continually evolving sport. Instead of being lead by the crŤme de la crŤme it will showcase sub-standard athletes, which happened to have the financing to compete.

    2-time Arnold Classic Champion Kai Greene once stated that he would compete for the title for no money, something that resonates with the core of what bodybuilding is: a multi-faceted discipline of self-mastery (we can agree to disagree on that). At the end of the day though, even on the amateur level, someone is making lots of money and it isnít the athlete who budgeted for their prep, paid contest fees, hotel and travel, and even bought tickets for their friends and families to come and watch them (essentially marketing the contests and upping the attendance). Let it be known though that there are a few contests that DO well in taking care of their registered athletes. Dexter Jackson, Lonnie Teper, Paul Dillet, Jay Cutler, Branch Warren have contests that Iíve been told look after the athletes and truly do give back.
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    There are indeed things the sport needs to change in their contractual policies and incestual business practices. What is the athlete to do? How is it possible to rage against the machine, walk-out, strike, protest? Remember the sub-standard athlete I mentioned? Thereís a hundred willing to take the place of those with ethical/moral codes, to grab that title/trophy and feed their ego while going hungry.

    Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr. Olympia to his credit once stated at an ffice:smarttags" />lace>Olympialace> seminar, ďWhy complain?Ē No disrespect to the legend, but had he and other top athletes joined forces (creating a union of sorts) and complained the squeaky wheel might have gotten the oil and have created a better playing field for future athletes. But he is right, complaining isnít going to get an athlete anywhere. So, instead, I believe the athlete should step up their game and branch out and expand. Stop viewing the sport as a means to an end, but a stepping stone to other ventures, and you will find many more opportunities!

    IFBB Pro Rich Gaspari, the CEO of Gaspari Nutrition, recently released a video on the topic of marketing yourself that can be found on their Gaspari TV website. I wonít go into complete detail, but it outlines that every athlete needs to create a portfolio or body of work to potential sponsors. Whatís the point of getting in top condition if you canít show prospects that have never attended your competition let alone know what youíve done. Schedule photo shoots after your contest and use them to build a portfolio (think for modeling, business cards, personal websites etc).

    Build a following on social networks such as Facebook (the poor manís marketing tool). Offer daily training tips or record and upload training footage. With an already established following youíre going to be looked upon much more favorably than someone no one knows about.

    Your approach to any potential sponsor should be just like you would approach any regular employer with phone calls, inquiry letters, scheduling interviews and being persistent! Be prepared! Have your portfolio ready and be sure to have done the research into the company and its products.

    Remember weíre looking for opportunities beyond the normal sponsor avenues. Look for channels of support not associated with bodybuilding industry that would love to be associated with health and fitness and most importantly something that you use and believe in. Sure a training or major distraction spread in Muscular Development would be great, but what about modeling watches, wedding dresses, shoes, business attire or subculture magazines (tattoo, hip hop, cooking, gardening ..WHATEVER YOU ENJOY!)? With the advent of womenís bikini and menís physique there is TONS of potential crossover.

    Thereís no reason our sportsí women shouldnít be gracing the pages of a mainstream magazine like Sports Illustrated.

    Also, I canít believe I havenít seen Arnold Classic Champion Branch Warren in a hunting magazine yet. Get on it Branch!

    I canít stress the importance to be sponsored by someone that manufactures something you actually use, particularly when it comes to your image in a sport where fans continually call the athletes pathological liars and snake oil peddlers. People will have a lot more respect for you if you wear or use the items that you push and are knowledgeable about them

    Realize that with our heightened physiques we are the center of attention everywhere we go no matter what we are wearing. So always have your best foot forward, be presentable (even if youíre in athletic wear) and find nice business, business casual or evening wear clothing for lunch and dinner meetings.
    Above all be professional in your code of conduct and understand that this aspect is not limited to the businesses youíre hoping to work with, but with the people you interact with on a daily basis in the gym (your second home).

    When you train at various gyms be respectful of other members and put your weights away when youíre done with them. This is where most of your public relations work will be done and you never know where a contact or lead may appear just from offering a spot or a little helpful advice on diet. People in general are curious about what you do and the sport! Yeah, I know youíre dieting on fish and boiled chicken and tired but smile anyway and tell them what you enjoy about it!

    I have met so many different athletes with so many different talents! Embrace those talents and use them to heighten this sport youíre so passionate about. I know a girl who recently began making bikinis for fellow competitors, she made her own and other girls took notice, and now one girl has turned professional recently in one of her hand crafted bikinis. Again, remember treat the sport as a stepping stone. Thatís right you can be innovative and create your own opportunities. I also recently watched an old series from Better Bodies, which was an agency for physique competitors, WAY ahead of their time.

    Be above tasteless nude work, gay for pay, schmoe-servicing. This only serves to degrade the athlete and in turn the sport. Be better than this!

    So now what? Action is required and once the athlete is no longer tied to just attempting to be sponsored by Supplement Company A or Magazine X he or she can step on the stage already taken care of with sponsorships (maybe even with large companies like Nike as they sponsored IFBB Pro and Hall of Fame bodybuilder Kevin Levrone). Maybe Iím being too optimistic, too simplistic. Iíll admit, itís a long shot, but I know it would change the game in favor of the athlete at the bargaining table.

    If anything I hope it begins some much needed dialogue amongst IFBB and NPC athletes.

    But seriously, like Big Ron said, "why complain?"

    ~The Adam

  2. #2
    Juggernaut El_Spiko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Santa Cruz, CA


    It's in the best interests of the powers that be (Weider, the Manions, NPC/IFBB, magazines and supp companies) to keep bodybuilding competitors down and with few opportunities, because then they are the gatekeepers to any kind of success through the sport and they can get the athletes to do more for less. While bodybuilding is small and niche, they can run it like Mafia dons and feel like big fish in a little pond, but if it got bigger and there were more opportunities they lose their monopoly on power and money within the sport. Why else have the ifbb/npc missed so many opportunities to expand and grow the sport and the opportunities that are available?
    I min/max my physique

  3. #3
    IFBB Hall of Fame Shawn Ray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Southern California


    Nicely written and informative!
    Thanks Adman!!!!


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