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The Death Of Credibility (Show Notes)

In this episode, I’m going to deep dive into the truth behind credibility in our sport of bodybuilding, who has it, and most definitely who does not. The fact is, most people today still find out about bodybuilding through word of mouth. This can be good or bad depending on the circle of people you are surrounded by.

Let me tell you — bodybuilding is a highly unregulated sport. There is no standard that coaches and other services in the industry have to adhere to that regulates professionalism and quality control. Plus, your entire experience in bodybuilding will be completely different depending on what federation and what division you compete in as well. It’s truly the Wild West!

So where do you even start? I am going to deep dive into what makes someone credible in an unregulated sport and explain some of the risks you take by not vetting out industry professionals before working with them. I’ll share other common components of bodybuilding besides coaching that are often not vetted out so you are aware of them. I am going to talk about three things you can do to vet out any type of coach or industry professional. And I’ll share with you where to not compromise on quality just to save some money.

So get ready, because we are going to learn some exciting stuff today!


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Welcome back to the everything else in bodybuilding show!

Very excited that you are here again. Thank you very much for taking the time. I know this is info that will directly influence your entire experience in bodybuilding and perhaps even your longevity and overall enjoyment in the sport. Hey guys, today I am going to talk a little bit about, I want you to know what makes someone credible in the sport of bodybuilding and why credibility is dying. I’m going to talk about some of the most common bad habits to look out for, how to vet out a coach, and what types of coaches are worth the money. I am going to tell some stories from directly working with clients and also from experience as a judge and a competitor myself.

I remember back when I owned my fitness facility this one day….I had been working with a first time competitor on her posing and presentation for her figure competition. It was the Tuesday of her final week of prep. her show was Saturday. So again, she was only four days away from her first amateur show on a small local stage. Her divisions included novice and she was going to try the open division as well. I’ll never forget this person crying in front of me because she was so tired and so hungry. She was dizzy, light headed, and she was struggling to find the oomph to do the extra cardio she was prescribed by her prep coach (and when I say prep coach I mean nutrition and training coach). And she still had three more days to go. I had been working with her for quite a few weeks and had seen her body continue to wither away. And not in a good way.

The goal of a bodybuilding prep is to maintain as much muscle mass as possible while losing body fat. Her trainer had her on tons of cardio and very low calories which caused her to lose a LOT of muscle size. With her body type, she should never have been on that type of protocol. And now she was four days away from her first show and emotionally crumbling before me. The irony is she didn’t even look as good as she could have with a protocol that matched her body type better. Her first show should be exciting and fun, and what she was doing was not only unsustainable, it was setting her up for a massive rebound after the show. I remember going into my stash to grab her some of my b vitamins to help her feel better and the absolute fear on her face of having this b vitamin drink. Guess what she was afraid of…. The like THREE grams of carbs in them.

She was in mental agony from consuming a few carbs and fearing it would ruin her show prep. She had never done a show prep before and had no idea that what she was going through was not OK. She didn’t know any better. And she was trusting her coach. The funny part of the story was, she felt better with some vitamins, but a week after the show she contacted me to grab the same brand but wanted to know the ins and outs of the vitamins before getting them herself and talk about the protein powder I take. In fact, her spouse wanted to sit down and go over ALL the ingredients. Of vitamins you guys. Nothing crazy and no, this is not a secret code of sorts to call PEDs vitamins. Just b vitamins. So the irony of the story is there was more time spent vetting out the protein and vitamins and how they would affect her body than there was the competition prep coach and how THAT entire process would affect her body.

Up until this moment I had heard other horror stories from competitors and friends in the sport but this was the moment that I encountered someone’s suffering first hand and realized how much of a pattern it really is in our sport. And this was without PEDs. I’ll talk about PEDs on another episode. So the pattern in our sport…

It goes something like this:

Someone calls him or herself a prep coach and shows pictures of what the physiques on stage look like. Competitor now thinks such prep coach has a magic wand and can make him or her look like that. Competitor has never fully felt happy with his or her appearance before and wants to do something extraordinary. Competitor believes prep coach has a magic wand so it doesn’t occur to question the process or ask for any additional credentials. The Bodybuilding diet must be hard since the word on the street is it’s common practice to bring suitcases of desserts and wine to the show so you have it to eat the minute you get off stage. So the competitor just goes with whatever the prep coach says to do. Good or bad. they have no clue that this person is going to be responsible for their physical, mental, emotional, and overall health. But watch out for those b vitamins though!!

And it’s not just with prep coaches that competitors don’t fully vet out the process, I see this lack of research and understanding in many other areas of competition prep too. From stage attire, stage performances, and here is a biggie.

How about the costs involved in competing. You guys, this sport is not an inexpensive sport. Expect it to cost thousands, not hundreds of dollars to compete. I’ll deep dive into specific costs involved in the sport on a later show but just know that financially, bodybuilding, is like golf. It’s just as much of a hobby and you will spend more for better quality supplies, lessons, accessories, and venues. You get what you pay for…but with bodybuilding the risks are much higher if you go cheap because now your health is at stake.

Another common trend people underestimate is how individual this sport is with not just nutrition, but posing and stage presence too. For many, their first show is literally the first time they have ever performed on stage before except maybe that one time in middle school 20 or 30 years ago. Most of the people that would come to me for an overhaul of their stage presence underestimate how much work it is and how much time it will take to be great at it.

The biggest pattern I see with many of the competitors I work with is how many have areas of their body they have little mind body connection. Many times you guys are so darn tight or completely unaware of muscles you are not even firing that are not only inhibiting your training gains, but making my posing instruction something much more of an overhaul than you anticipated. Think about dancers for a second. They are limber, agile, and completely aware of every part of their body in space. Now think about bodybuilders. They are great at performing exercises at the gym, but curling a dumbbell, squatting, or hip thrusting like a boss isn’t the same thing as performing posing sequences on stage. Posing is more like a dance on stage and requires you to be a different state of mind than at the gym where your eyeballs pop out of your head during a heavy lift. And this posing epiphany often doesn’t happen until you get judges feedback that says your posing was a hot mess on stage and you need to do something about it. It’s only then that you realize there is a lot more to competition prep than just diet and training and you need to find someone with the proper set of skills to help you.

Perfect example, I remember this one time I was judging a show and a competitor with an amazing physique was given third place instead of first. She was competing in a division that had a column on our judging sheets for stage presence and overall presentation. This column represented 1/3 of her score. One. Third. I remember distinctly how she stood awkwardly on stage, how she was creating weird shapes with her posing and how unflattering it made her look, and how she didn’t smile or even look like she was having a good time. Her stage presence was one of the worst on that stage. So when she scored lower in the stage presence column, it brought her overall score down and she placed third. She came up to the judges after the show to receive feedback and I told her that her stage presence needed improvement. She was baffled and not expecting to hear this. Although she had a coach that helped her with her nutrition and training, she completely underestimated the other components to competing that should have also been part of her protocol. And now she wasted an entire prep getting her body stage lean only to not score as high as she could have had she been more prepared for the actual stage performances.

Sooo where do you even begin to vet all this stuff out? Well, some of what I am about to share is going to be unpopular …. but someone needs to say it. Are you ready?

Ok here are three things you can do to vet out any type of coach, and really this can apply to any of the custom services offered in the industry as well.

Number 1, find out their credentials.

And by credentials I don’t mean number of social media followers, how great they look in their come-hither photos, or the one show they did last year that they got a first place trophy at. Find out their education background and unless they have a ton of experience, it better be more than just a personal training certification since I believe personal training and competition prep training are two separate professions. If you are researching a prep coach, he or she needs to have advanced knowledge about nutrition, exercise, health markers, and proper recovery since competition prep is a dance of all of these components. Your body will be taken to very low levels of body fat so someone who has advanced education such as a phd in nutrition and or exercise physiology is my preference.

Think about it — would you go to a doctor that never went to medical school? If a prep coach does not have a phd with a formal education, find out instead of he or she has earned a higher level of education based on the amount of years and clients they have worked with. If you have never read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell it’s a fascinating read about the best, the brightest, most famous, and successful people and what made them different . He mentioned in the book a 10,000 hour rule which basically means that in order to achieve greatness you need an enormous amount of time under your belt. He goes on to say that you can achieve this 10,000 hour rule in any profession after just 20 hours a week for 10 years. Some people can rack up the 10,000 hours in a lot less time than others. So having said that, a prep coach can be an expert with enough years of consistent experience as well. So I suggest finding out how long they have been coaching, any advanced education they have, and how many clients they have worked with.

The second thing you can to do vet out an industry professional is to ask for references. If they push back I would consider that a red flag and wonder what they are hiding. You want to talk with others this person has worked with to find out about their demeanor and their level of responsiveness. How do they treat their clients? How quickly do they respond to questions? And are they receptive to questions? You want to make sure that the personality of a coach is something you WANT to work with. And you WILL have questions. You want someone that will take the time to answer them and not make you feel stupid for even asking them.

There are coaches that are humble, respectful, enthusiastic, and want to see you succeed. And there are coaches that more than anything want to see themselves succeed and will boast about the number of wins they have. The road to the competition stage is a long one and a very personal experience for you. Don’t underestimate how important it is to work with coaches that mesh with your personality.

And the third thing you can do to vet out a coach is something that most often never even occurs to people. The third thing you need to do while vetting out industry professionals is to find out if they have any preference or restrictions on coaching athletes for specific federations. This goes for not just prep coaches but also posing coaches, suit designers, and group workshops. When I started in bodybuilding you could compete wherever you wanted and there wasn’t this stigma attached to you if you tried a different federation. I’ve competed in 6 different federations over my career and I’m happy I did so because every federation experience was different and I learned first hand where I fit best and where I’ll never compete again. It also gave me the foundation to coach athletes on their stage performances across all divisions and federations too. Today, it’s much more complicated. With the rise of social media there has also been the rise in the popularity of teams with prep coaches as leaders. People walk around wearing clothes with their team logo at shows and for many that can be attractive to feel like they are a part of something. It can also be limiting because often times prep coaches will only prepare clients for specific federations. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s something to be aware of when you are vetting out a coach and want to try different federations. Same thing with posing workshops, suit designers, and posing coaches. Often there are people that only know the posing style of one federation. And regarding suit designers, there are different looks for suits depending on the category and the federation so it’s important to find someone who knows the specifics.

So there is one principal I want you to take from this episode today. This one principal you need to see right now is that there are different specialties in bodybuilding that need to be vetted out separately because literally anyone can call himself or herself a contest prep coach or posing coach simply by self proclaiming they are a coach. This means that someone can literally compete in one show, win a trophy, and go on social media to market themselves as a posing coach or contest prep coach…and get clients. Often they only know or work with one federation or one division and this can be limiting for you if you aren’t sure where you want to compete.

Also, this is absolutely critical you guys, there is a major difference between a personal trainer who is educated in teaching you how to exercise, correct form, and can provide a general overview of healthy nutrition. This is lifestyle. Then there is contest prep where in most divisions you will bring your body fat levels down from fit to a level of leanness that would be unhealthy to maintain for a long period. There is also a major difference between going to posing workshops to learn how to pose from someone who has earned pro status and poses well themselves in that one federation. They will show off their beautiful stage presence and tell you to watch and follow what they do. This is generic and you are simply learning the basics. You won’t learn how to be great or how to structure your posing practice so you can get better on your own. Then there is hiring someone who analyzes your strengths and weaknesses, gives you a structure to follow to get better, and helps you create your own individual persona so you are a stand out and not a hanging out like a potted plant on the side of the stage during prejudging. Bodybuilding is not an inexpensive sport in more ways than just financial. Take the time to vet out prep coaches and posing coaches. Prep coach and posing coach fields are like the dentist versus the orthodontist. They are related fields, but two very different specialties. If you have the right team of people, bodybuilding can be a fun hobby you can do into your 40,50s, 60s and beyond.

Hopefully you enjoyed this episode and hopefully this lesson was powerful for you. That’s the biggest thing I want you to see. Hey Michele I’m a competitor already. That’s great. Often you can be doing well but there could be reasons you could be doing better. One could be that you might not be working with the right people and don’t even realize it. I am going to talk more about that. Hopefully you enjoyed the episode today. If you did please go ahead and leave me a review on Spotify and itunes . I really appreciate that. I want to keep doing these and it’s jus fun to see the feedback and see if you actually like it. Give some honest feedback. Idc if you hate it. Feedback in general would love that. And if you would like to go ahead and get a pdf download on 5 tips you need to know before your next competition at guys I’ll see you in the next episode!

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