Unless with your eyes covered and your fingers in your ears for the last 25 years, you've probably figured out that the fitness industry is run and controlled by the supplement industry.

The supplement industry cranks out billions a year in revenue and shells out money and products for shows, competitions, and sponsorship contracts. These companies get flooded with emails from everyone and anyone with one show or meet under their belt (or even less) looking to get that oh-so-sweet sponsorship contract that is rightfully theirs. After personally seeing a lot of these emails, one comes to mind of a competitor emailing a company stating that they would rep their brand on YouTube in turn for money and supplements. After all, they just competed in their first bodybuilding show and won their class. Heavens to Betsy, take all my money!

Most people just don't have a clue what’s really going on. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country! If I had to choose one bone to pick with today’s young adults (oh man, I'm getting old) I could sum it up in one word: entitlement.  I see it in the people my company hires/fires, I see it in the sponsorship requests we get, the requests my contemporaries get, and with the posts I see on Facebook. It goes on and on. If you want to become a sponsored athlete you need to realize something first and foremost: the world does not owe you anything, and companies do not care about your level-one show first place weight class trophy. They don’t care about your federation, bodyweight, age class, equipment class state or world record. What companies do care about is what you can do for them.


A sponsorship is a business agreement, and you are seen as an employee, nothing more. Ask yourself who makes more money, you or your boss? Why does your boss make more? Because they're the one taking the risk and shelling out the big bucks, putting their life savings on the line for a dream and giving others a way to put food on their tables. A supplement company is no different. You’re not taking much of a risk, but these companies are putting the image of their brand in your hands, and that’s big risk. The answer is plain and simple: if you want to get sponsored, make yourself attractive to supplement companies. Show them that you have something that will bring them profit. If someone can look at you, who you are, what you stand for and what you do, associate it with a product and go out and buy that product, you’ve got a chance. If not? It’s time to reevaluate. When you can bring profit to a company, that company will kick some of that profit back your way in the form of free supplements, exposure and (more rarely) expenses for your hobby. (OMG bodybuilding and powerlifting are just hobbies?!)

Social Media

Gone are the days of the six-page supplement advertisemet-article in print magazines. In 2015, companies have pretty much all migrated to social media. You’re probably thinking, "that's great to hear Mr. WatchDog! My Myspace and ICQ are on point!" (okay, now I’ve really dated myself). Sorry to break it to you bud, but in most cases a lot of companies have even abandoned Facebook because it has become too expensive and too difficult of a way to reach their audience. They’ve turned to the current cash cow: Instagram.   Companies are paying top dollar for people to give shout outs to their brands in order to gain followers and exposure. Instagram has very little regulation (for now) on how people can advertise, so it's a great way for brands to get their name out there for much less money.


I recently had dinner with a very big industry company executive who explained that most of these people representing brands don't even compete. In fact, a lot of them are nothing more than gym rats who have quit their day jobs to become full-time Instagrammers. If you message some companies looking for how to become a part of their team, one of the first questions you get back is going to be, "How many Instagram followers do you have?" If this is something that interests you, get Instagrammin’ and learn the art of hashtaggin’!


Another very big thing to consider is the kind of image you portray on social media. What, if any, supplement company will your behavior attract? But good news! Whether you’re taking boot and thong pictures in your dirty bathroom mirror or posting lifting videos with tips and tricks on how to improve, there's probably a company out there for you. There's no reason to change or fake who you are for a chance at a supplement contract, just make sure you know who you are and own it. Hone in your craft, hone in on who you are, push what makes you unique and outwork anyone who stands in your way. If you attempt to appear as someone other than yourself, it will be painfully obvious to the company and those viewing your social media. Can you imagine if Dave Tate posted mirror selfies instead of giving strength advice?

Now that the ‘ol Watchdog has gotten that off his chest, I will follow up this article with a much more in-depth investigation of sponsorship and what makes it a challenge and a benefit to both the companies and the recipients.

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