I have been a personal trainer and health club manager for over 33 years. I have worked hard at building a reputation as someone that can be trusted to provide accurate information to both the layperson and to fitness professionals. I pride myself as a force of progress and innovation, always seeking to make the industry more effective for those needing health and fitness information and to help improve the careers of other personal trainers.
Through the years, I have been approached a billion times (at least) to sell various nutritional products via network or multi level marketing (MLM). The “multi level” aspect of this is that, not only do I sell the product, but I get others to sell for me, and they get others to sell for them, etc. The draw is that you get a little piece of what everyone below you sells/makes. The higher in the network you are, the more money you can make.
My biggest problem with signing up to participate in these programs has been that I haven’t believed that any one of these companies is significantly better than the others. How can I in my right mind choose sides?
I also take issue with many of the people participating in the MLM. They don’t really have a clue as to what they are recommending to customers. One company goes so far as to call the person selling the products (qualified or not) “coaches”.
This brings me to now. I was approached, yet again, to sign on to one of these companies. This time it was by a fitness professional friend that I respect. It was enough to make me give the idea another look.
As Simon Sinek states, “Start With Why”. Why would I consider being part of this? I can help people by doing this. I’ve always said that people don’t need to take supplements if they eat an individually appropriate diet, and I believe that. But, in spite of recommending that approach, most people still have lousy diets, are missing key nutrients, and could benefit from using a supplement(s). They also may believe that supplements are a quick fix and end up buying supplements haphazardly to try to reach their goals. I’ve had clients that have informed me that they have been taking ____________ in spite of our “eating approach” discussions. If I became the source of where they got their supplements I would know what they were taking from the start and that the quality was good. Also, to be completely transparent, I am not beyond looking for another source of income. Who wouldn’t like to make more?
Now, I looked at all of the top MLM supplement companies to remind myself of who else was out there. Herbalife, Usana, Isagenix, AdvoCare, Beachbody, and Visalus to name a few, are all out in the mix. Are the products good quality? As far as I can tell (I’ve tried many of them), yes, barring some serious mislabeling. What about the claims? Well, here’s where I make a distinction. Several make claims about certain products that I can’t substantiate, hmmn?
How will I keep my integrity as I sell various supplements? I’ll provide research (from peer reviewed journals) on the supplement in question, won’t suggest anything that won’t benefit the client, and I’ll make sure that it’s a quality product.
How do I say that this is the brand to use? Here’s why I agreed to become an AdvoCare distributor over others. I don’t know that the quality of the products are better than some of the other companies. This is the brand that my collegue invited me to participate in (That’s my initial reason for giving MLMs another look). Of course that’s not enough. The company has been around since 1993 and is one of the top MLM supplement companies. Also, it doesn’t hide the ingredients under a “proprietary blend” guise (the secret ingredients) like some other companies do. Advocare gives you the ingredients and nutrition labels. i.e. Advocare Muscle Gain Protein Shake. Finally, William J. Kraemer, PhD, FACSM, CSCN, FNSCA is on the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for AdvoCare. I’ve known Bill for many years through the NSCA and if he puts his stamp of approval on something, I trust that it works.
Writing this has helped me think through my own doubts about this decision. Thanks for hanging in there with me. What about you? What are your thoughts? I would really would like to know. Do you think I’ve sold out?