If you grew up in any suburban household during the 1990s, there was a good chance that you had to step over your mom’s ThighMaster on your way to the kitchen for some Sunny D and Dunkaroos. With its simple design and successful TV campaign starring Suzanne Somers, the ThighMaster became one of the best-selling infomercial products ever, netting more than $100 million in sales. It’s almost too easy to use: there are no buttons, no wires, no weights. It’s just a little rubber thing you stick between your thighs.

Unlike those other fads that died in the 90s — sugary breakfast cereals, Digimon, and slime-based children’s TV programming — ThighMasters are somehow still around. But do they work? I decided to try and find out.

Before diving into my experiment, I reached out to ACSM Certified Trainer and Performance Coach at Beast Training Academy Pete Rufo to get a professional’s opinion on the ThighMaster. His answer to my question was a big fat “nope”: “the ThighMaster absolutely doesn’t work,” he told MensHealth.com.

That’s because the ThighMaster is based on the oft-disputed principle of spot training (a.k.a. spot toning), in which a person uses the same exercise to target just one specific muscle area at the expense of all others. (It’s different from performing a wide range of exercises to target a specific muscle group and build strength in that area.)

“If you’re trying to ‘spot’ train, you’re setting yourself up for failure,” says Rufo.

Nonetheless, I was undeterred. I’ve always been one to gravitate towards unorthodox solutions to minor problems, so I decided to spend $12.99 on a classic ThighMaster and use it for a week. Here’s what happened.

Monday

With the promise of strong summer thighs fueling my excitement, I unwrapped my Amazon package and pulled out a brand-new, blue and red ThighMaster. The instructions on the package recommend that you use it for 10 to 20 minutes per day, so I decided to aim for at least 15 minutes per day. I was hoping to achieve strength, tone, definition, and maybe a moment where I accidentally ripped through my jeans and felt like the Hulk.

So I put on my finest workout outfit, popped a squat on my couch and got to work.

Jeremy Glass

The first few minutes were easy — laughably easy. I wondered if this experiment would actually give me results, or if it was another crackpot scheme designed to entice suckers like me. I squeezed for 15 minutes before I put my ThighMaster down, stretched my legs, and put on The Office.

Tuesday

The next day, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to a slightly sore set of legs. Maybe I had judged the ThighMaster too quickly, and it might actually work after all. I made myself some coffee, popped off my shirt, and got going. This time, I decided to amp it up and try to go twice as fast — a move that tired me out far more quickly than I thought it would.

What I liked best about the ThighMaster was the utter mindlessness of the activity. With any other physical exercise — running, lifting, boxing — there’s a fair amount of thought you have to put into each and every move. With the ThighMaster, you sit back, put the thing between your legs, and just go for it. It’s almost like mindful meditation in a way, except you’re supposedly toning while reaching inner peace.

“I am not ashamed to admit that I ate BBQ pork at the same time. It felt good.”

Looking back at some of the old commercials, I realized that was kind of the point of the ThighMaster: it’s exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise. You grunt, you squeeze, and you sweat… but you’re also sitting in front of the TV the entire time. (At least, that’s how I did it.)

Jeremy Glass

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was tough for me. I drank too much the night before, and I had an early flight in the morning, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to pull together the strength for my 15-minute morning burn.

Luckily, when I got to my hotel that night, I found the time to do a 20-minute session. I am not ashamed to admit that I ate BBQ pork at the same time. It felt good.

Thursday

As I pressed my thighs together for the hundredth or so time that week, I wrote a reminder in my phone to mention how much I’d been enjoying my time with the ThighMaster. Sure, my thighs weren’t exactly mastered yet, but I was having fun.

Thinking back to when I was a kid and I watched my mom use this thing, I realized it had been more than an exercise for her. When she used the ThighMaster, she was in her own private world. A world without noise, distractions, or three grubby little boys trying to get their dirty hands all over her.

I knew I wasn’t going to see any crazy results by the end of the week, but it was nice knowing I had gotten good at something. I chased the happy feeling by watching the video for “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John. “This is a good video,” I thought. “It’s uplifting, if not a little culty.” You be the judge:

Friday

On the final day with my ThighMaster, I could’ve sworn my jeans fit a little tighter. I’d like to think it was from my rigorous-ish exercise, but it was more likely a result of my most recent trip to the laundromat.

If a guy really wants to make an impact on his thighs, Rufo suggests doing “Romanian deadlifts, squats, leg extensions, leg curls, and lunges. Your quadriceps and hamstrings will tone up and make your legs look slimmer and you’ll have less ‘jiggle’ as you reduce fat and add lean muscle mass.”

Either way, whether you want to slim down or bulk up, your workout certainly shouldn’t involve the ThighMaster — but in a way, that’s kind of beside the point. OK, so maybe the ThighMaster won’t turn you into the Hulk (although honestly, who would actually think it did?), but that doesn’t mean it didn’t benefit me in some way. It offers 15 minutes of pure tranquility, a way for you to rest your brain while moving your legs.

Maybe my thighs won’t be juicy and lean for summer, but I don’t care. I am my own master.

Jeremy Glass Jeremy Glass is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer dabbling in copywriting, branded content, creative strategy, advertising, and so much more.

Suzanne Somers Thighmaster Toning System

.After twenty years on the market, the Suzanne Somers promoted, Thigh Master has managed to prove itself to not be one of those ‘fad’ or ‘gimmick’ exercise machines that seem to pop up out of nowhere, become incredibly popular. Then disappear as quickly as it arrived.
When you think about it, it really is not that surprising that the Thigh Master has managed to keep his popularity. There are dozens of exercise routines and pieces exercise equipment that work on all parts of the body.
But can you think of another machine that is designed specifically to enhance the thighs? The thigh master is designed to work on two sets of muscles the adductors or outer thigh muscles, and the abductors, the inner thigh muscles.
Many people use the Thigh Master as a workout tool for the whole body with the concept that they use it to reduce fat, burn energy and lose weight, while exercising their thigh muscles.
This works because you loose fat from all over the body when you exercise. Not just particular part of the body that you are emphasizing this exercise on, such as the thighs.
Basically, it doesn’t matter which part of the body you exercise, your metabolism will remove fat from where ever it is available in the body. If you burn more calories with exercise, then you consume by eating. You will lose weight, now matter, if you are only exercising your thighs or your whole body.
With continuous use, the Thigh Master can greatly enhance muscle tone in the legs and buttocks as well as other areas. If you were to combine this exercise, with a sensible, weight loss diet such as Suzanne Somers, Somersizing the results could be substantial and dramatic.
The Thigh Master is an incredibly simple piece of technology that combines ease of use and is simple mechanics to produce a quality piece of lower body exercise equipment.
Many members of the public who use a sensible exercise regime, including the Thigh Master experience a rapid toning and strengthening of their thigh muscles. In combination with a perceived additional benefit of more sleek and tight leg muscles.
The manufacturers recommend a 20 minute a day workout, which is a realistic approach to an exercise regime as it takes 15 minutes for someone to reach a normal aerobic workout level, where fat begins to burn rapidly.
Remember, if you work out with Thigh Master for just 20 minutes a day and combine this with a sensible diet the results can be rapid and far reaching.
Thigh Master would be considered a low priced piece of exercise equipment readily available by mail order.

Although Suzanne Somers is known for her roles on “Three’s Company” and “Step By Step,” the actress has made quite a name for herself in the fitness world. Somers, who began selling the ThighMaster back in 1990, joined HuffPost Live on Wednesday to discuss the latest product in her workout arsenal — the ThighMaster Vibrato.

According to 68-year-old Somers, her product tones more than just your inner thighs.

“It’s also great — I know it’s weird — for kegel . You know, to keep that muscle tight, which actually makes sex more enjoyable. So there’s just a lot of uses for this little thing,” she told host Nancy Redd. “If you pull up on your core, if you think about it, you can keep that tight, and I think that’s something that women should do for your own pleasure.”

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Suzanne Somers here.

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The 17 Biggest Fitness Fads That Flopped

Between Shape-Ups, sauna suits, and the infamous Shake Weight, it seems there’s no gizmo, gadget, or get-skinny-quick gimmick we won’t try. In fact, Americans spend upwards of $30 billion a year on weight loss products (clearly those late-night infomercials are doing something right). But as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read on to see how Greatist ranks the biggest fitness flops, fails, and what the f*#!s?! of the last few decades— and how to avoid getting duped.

Do Not Try This at Home — The Flops

1. The Shake Weight Spoofed by Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and South Park, the wildly suggestive Shake Weight needs no introduction. And while the benefits of spring-loaded 2.5-pound dumbbell remain questionable, more than 2 million units sold in its first year on the market, and sales have more than doubled since (making our gag gift theory a bit of a stretch).

2. The Free Flexor If the Shake Weight is rated R, the Free Flexor gets a big neon XXX. With its patent-pending Circular Strength Technology, the world’s first (undeniably phallic) flexing dumbbell is said to set the forearms ablaze and “make your muscles cry.” Not exactly our idea of a happy workout. (NSFW: Best spoof ever.)

3. Vibrating Platforms Can couch potatoes really shake themselves stronger, healthier, and slimmer? Yeah, we didn’t think soEffect of 12 months of whole-body vibration therapy on bone density and structure in postmenopausal women: a randomized trial. Slatkovska, L., Alibhai, S.M., Beyene, J., et al. University Health Network, Mount Sinai Hospital, and University of Toronto, Toronto, and McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2011 Nov 15;155(10):668-79, W205.The Effects of Whole Body Vibration in Isolation or Combined with Strength Training in Female Athletes. Preatoni, E., Colombo, A., Verga, M., et al. Sport, Health & Exercise Science, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011 Nov 4. Epub ahead of print. And while some athletes might show improved performance after stepping off shaky ground, the jury’s still out on whether shelling out thousands for platforms like the Power Plate will bring better results than other conditioning methods.

4. Sauna Suits No, that’s not a trash bag. We’re just happy to smother you. These rubbery waterproof suits are designed to make people sweat out several pounds per session. Problem is: There’s nothing safe about that (think: heat stroke, muscle cramps, and fainting). What’s more, those lbs are typically gained back immediately after eating or drinking.

5. 8 Minute Abs Don’t kill the messenger here, but eight minutes cannot a six-pack make (no matter how serious that spandex is). The 80s “8 Minute Abs” craze was essentially just that. Crunch all you want, but a washboard stomach requires full-body conditioning including strength training, cardio, and a healthy diet to match.

6. Exercise in a Bottle Yup, that’ll be the day. And the Federal Trade Commission was just as disappointed as we were. In 2000, Enforma, the company behind Exercise in a Bottle and other weight loss “miracle drugs,” was forced to hand over $10 million as consumer redress. Do not pass go, do not get America’s hopes up.

7. Toning Shoes Tried wobbling around town with the best of them? Turns out these unstable, curved soles are little more than a fashion faux pas (honestly, no real woman looks like this in Reebok Easy Tones). Recent studies reveal that “toning shoes,” including these and the original Sketcher Shape-Ups, don’t help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories, or improve muscle strength and tone.

8. Power Balance For $29.99, this performance bling claims to improve balance, strength, and flexibility through special hologram frequencies. The reality: Studies have found that Power Balance bracelets actually work no better than a placeboEffect of the Power Balance® Band on Static Balance, Hamstring Flexibility, and Arm Strength in Adults: The Lifespan Wellness Research Center. Verdan, P.R., Marzilli, T.S., Barna, G.I., et al. Department of Health and Kinesiology, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011 Oct 24. Epub ahead of print. So any improvements to that game are, as they say, all in the head.

9. Ab Rocket Five minutes a day to “sizzling rock hard” abs? After a $14.95 30-day trial, some users beg to differ. And while the Ab Rocket might do something for that midsection, the neck and back supports aren’t exactly cushy, and the whole “workout-plus-massage” part? Talk about failure to launch.

10. Big Wheel Skates Whoever said bigger is better wasn’t referring to the in-line skates on Venice Beach. Still, monster-wheeled Chariot Skates and LandRollers went big, making those trips, slips, and falls 900 percent more embarrassing (and likely more painful).

11. ThighMaster Suzanne Somers may be the face of 80s “As Seen on TV” fitness, but there’s a reason her ThighMaster is collecting dust in most attics across America. All that squeeze, squeeze, sqeeeezing is kind of exhausting. Skeptical? Why would you be? Its developer, Joshua Reynolds, was also the mastermind behind the (wait— why’s it always blue?) Mood Ring of the 70s and 80s.

12. Vibration Belts Marky Mark once told us to feel the vibrations. But we’re pretty sure he wasn’t talking about these. While vibration belts continue to captivate the late-night market, the FTC isn’t buying electronic muscle stimulation as a means of melting abdominal fatComparison of two abdominal training devices with an abdominal crunch using strength and EMG measurements. Demont, R.G., Lephart, S.M., Giraldo, J.L., et al. Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, PA, The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 1999 Sep;39(3):253-8..

13. Toning Apparel While less studied than the kicks, toning clothing raises a few red flags, too. Take the FTC’s $25 million settlement with Reebok for “deceptive marketing” of their toning shoes and apparel. The built-in resistance wear may have potential, but until we see hard evidence, we’ll keep that money in the bank.

14. Ab Lounge Last we checked the “lean back” wasn’t exactly for the abdominals. But if the sight of a flimsy lawn chair just makes you want to bust a move, go ahead, get your crunch on! (No money-back guarantees, of course.)

15. Phiten Carmelo wouldn’t lie— would he? These celeb-backed titanium bracelets are supposed to reducepain and fatigue, improve strength, and aid “bioelectrical flow” (sound fancy, huh?). But according to the research, there’s no All-Star easy button— at least not yet.

16. Ab Circle Whipping around on a circular track looks fun, but does it really work the abs? Backed by The Hills alum Audrina Patridge (sold, right?), the Ab Circle promises to banish jiggley love handles with its Circular Force Technology. Trouble is: there’s still no research that proves this device does more than whip that hair back n’ forth.

17. Dumbbell Utensils Believe it or not, these weighted utensils aren’t just for laughs. The creator of the 1.5-pound Knife and Fork Lift says the idea was born from frustration in diets that ultimately didn’t work. So he made each bite harder work. Unfortunately, hard work never fazed us.

Don’t Get Got — How to Avoid Getting Scammed

Ready to throw in the towel on all fitness products? Not so fast— shaping up doesn’t have to mean getting burned. Just keep these tips in mind before handing over that first easy installment.

  • Don’t believe the hype. If a product boasts “secret formulas,” “magic unicorns,” and other equally far-fetched claims, just stay calm and carry on. Chances are, the latest greatest magic weight loss pill is too good to be true.
  • Remember, results take time. Three minutes a day to washboard abs? Rome (a.k.a. this rock hard bod) wasn’t built in a day. According to the research, putting in work is the key to seeing— and sustaining— real resultsPhysical activity and training against obesity. . RISK Egészségügyi Szolgáltató Kft. Budapest, Hungary. Orvosi Hetilap, 2010 Jul 11;151(28):1125-31.. That means cardio, strength training, and a healthy diet— not just the all-abs-all-the-time workout routine.
  • Be weary of reviews.Don’t let celebrity endorsements and customer testimonials sway you one way or another. (Of course, we’ll make an exception for anything The Rock is cooking.)
  • Check the books. Not familiar with the product’s maker? It’s always best to check the company’s track record with a trusted consumer agency. And FTC lawsuits are always a red flag.
  • Stick with what works— for you. Go ahead, mix it up with new equipment, workouts, and training plans. Just remember that no single product will likely “revolutionize” your anything. So keep on keepin’ on with whatever keeps you happy, healthy, and on the move.

Did we forget your pick for biggest As Seen on TV exercise bust? Tell us your favorite spoof-worthy products in the comments below!

The Complete Guide to Developing Your First Online Fitness Product for Under $20 With or Without a Website in 16 Steps

Every trainer should create intellectual property (IP) to sell.

The first major thing that you sell (product, course, book, etc.) should have the potential to fundamentally change your business.

This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. An amazing print book that’s professionally put-together from the design to the editing to the networking required to get the book out to a large but purposeful audience.
  2. An online fitness product that has the potential to infuse a lot of money into your business.

This article, at first glance, is contradictory to my theory.

First, a bit of my background and how I stumbled into recognizing the power of both items above:

My first print book, Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career, was released in April 2012. The book took 3 years to write, cost over $12,000 to produce, and has since changed my life. It’s now being used as course material in colleges and mentorships around the World.

Aside from enabling me to live life and run a business on my own terms, the book is primarily responsible for the growth of the Personal Trainer Development Center, this site, that helped 4.56 million trainers Worldwide in 2015.

Here’s what many don’t know.

After writing Ignite but before releasing it I consulted with a few online fitness marketing experts for help in polishing and promoting the product. They promised the World and, for a small (not so small) fee, would turn it into an Ebook and sell millions. Somewhere along the lines they seemed to miss the step about how they were planning on selling millions. Nevertheless they were happy to sell me on a dream and take my money.

Ignite as a digital product might have done OK, who knows. What I do know is that if I had made the decision to go the easy route and make it digital I wouldn’t be here writing this to you right now.

A well-received print book has the potential to fundamentally change your life. Print books are cherished, shared, and dog-earred. A book gets displayed proudly on a shelf for the owner to show off his or her breadth of knowledge to any passers-by. A digital book, on the other hand, often gets lost in the 100s of gigs of data on a hardrive.

If it was a digital book early on, there’d be no way I could have compiled a Facebook album showcasing trainers with the book.

Additionally, a high-quality print book is exceptionally hard to produce and even more difficult to promote, especially if you’re self-published. You need an audience and a network; you need to navigate the publishing World; and you need great interior design, editing, and distribution.

So the book came out – that was cool. A few years later I released my first online fitness product. After a painstaking research, development, and testing process, 1K Extra – How to Build a Scalable and Efficient Online Personal Training Business, was released.

1K Extra’s first release infused so much money into my business that I was able to hire 8 contractors the next week to do 8 different jobs that I was previously handling myself. Aside from finally being able to breathe, I had provided myself an opportunity to spend the majority of my time being proactive.

And turning a reactive business into a proactive one is what I want to help you with today. And it all starts the first step.

Corollary 1 – Online Training Vs. Producing a Low-cost Ebook, what’s better?

This is a complete guide to creating and selling your first low-cost fitness Ebook for sale. As you’ll soon see, it can be done in an afternoon and for under $20.

If you’re stuck – working long days with no end in site – then an Ebook is a good option to get unstuck. That said, this isn’t going to make you a ton of money. A few hundred extra bucks a month if you do it right. The goal of it for those who are time-poor is to generate a bit of extra money and buy back some time, a few hours each month, that you can then use for step 2, which is online training.

If you aren’t completely overwhelmed right now and have a bit of free mental energy and time then I think you should start with online training. My reason comes down to math:

Let’s say that you want to make an extra $12,000 this year.

To do this, you’ll need to sell 600 Ebooks at $19.99 (not including taxes and fees) (19.99*600=12,000).

Obviously finding and taking care of 5 clients is much easier from a mental, administrative, and quality-control standpoint than trying to find and provide support for 600 customers.

Because of the math above I think that 95% of trainers should skip an Ebook and go straight to online training. It will take a bit more up front work but the resulting rewards speak for themselves.

That said, if you really need a few extra bucks and don’t have any time, an Ebook produced using the model below is your first step and online training second. If you decide to start with online training then producing Ebooks or other intellectual property to sell comes later, once you’ve already established a baseline clientele online to supplement your in-person training (or replace it).

I have a guide on how to start an online training business here.

Moving on.

How to Transition Out of a Reactive Business Model – You Need a First Step …

Below is a step-by-step strategy to develop your first-step – an Ebook – an asset.

I say asset because an asset works for you. A healthy business works for you, not the opposite.

This is a simple Ebook. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be perfect. And it’s going to be something that you’ll look back on a few years from now and laugh at.

But it’s a first step. And a forest begins with an acorn and the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step yadda yadda yadda.

At the end of a hike to the Ink Blots in Johnson Canyon in Banff National Park (one of the 16 National Parks my girlfriend and I hiked through during the fall of 2015)

Now it may seem like I’m contradicting myself. I said above that the first product that you put out needs to be awesome and should fundamentally change your business. This won’t do that. What this will do is provide yourself an opportunity to allot the required mental energy, time, and money into producing something special. That, or freeing up a bit more time to build an online training business.

The system below will walk you through taking a workout that you’ve already written for a client and turn it into an e-book for less than $20.

This will help you make a little extra money for no extra effort and it can be done in an afternoon. From here the process compounds as you cut out a few hours of training and organize your schedule better.

Corollary 2 – Is it Irresponsible for a Young(er) Trainer to Sell Template Workouts Before Gaining A Lot of Experience?

There will always be people who operate with low integrity. Throw them out the window.

A relatively new trainer is still training clients in the gym. There is still somebody who is paying them to work so it is their responsibility to know their place at that point. Their place is “I know how to work with this one person” . You have a 20 year old who has put on muscle. Well, he knows how to get 15-20 year old man with no injuries to put on muscle.

The original intellectual properly (IP) should provide you an opportunity to gather a bit more freedom in your life to be proactive in your business. At that point proactive probably means that you’re going to spend a lot more time studying. Package the workout into a template and .pdf via the system below and sell it to friends and family who meet those same guidelines for $19.99. You’re not marketing it to the World based off of sensationalistic claims.

All this allows you to do is make a bit of money outside of the gym which allows you to spend a bit fewer hours in the gym which allows you to spend more time on your continuing development.

Now on to your guide.

The Complete Guide to Developing an Online Fitness Product

Steps to Creating the Book

1. Identify the top 3 requests that you get from friends and family (i.e., fat loss, bulking, cutting). These should be pretty general.

2. Choose the most popular request. (This should be pretty obvious to you)

3. Pick the best program that you have already written for a client that suits that goal.

4. Put each exercise within that program on a template, noting the important exercise variables (sets, reps, tempo, rest, etc.)

5. List 1 to 2 progressions and regressions for each exercise.

6. Take a picture or film a video for each exercise. If you don’t want to create your own, find a YouTube link to a video from somebody else and put it beside your exercise.”¨ These can be done in an afternoon. Each video is two reps, 5-20s.

7. Write a 2- to 4-line description of each exercise. (You can Google these for almost every exercise.)

8. Write a short intro for the program that describes a) who the program is for; b) why the program works (include the hook, or why they should care); and c) important considerations for participants.

The purpose of the intro isn’t to sell the program, so there’s no need to be promotional. Simply explain the purpose of the program and why it works if somebody adheres to it. Ideally you’ll have a “hook” , i.e. this program is for more advanced trainees and takes advantage of a concept called overreaching and supercompensation to result in more muscle growth than anybody has ever experienced anywhere. In the World. Because science.

9. Write a half page or so that describes how to know whether to progress or regress an exercise (i.e., if you can perform all reps, progress the exercise. If at the most advanced exercise, then progress the weight).

10. Describe the variables of the program (sets, reps, tempo, et cetera). You can Google these.

11. You can also include notes on gym etiquette. (This is optional.) I suggest including a list of 5 to 10 gym etiquette considerations like putting the weights away, wiping down equipment, and the like. Here’s a few gym etiquette rules to get you started:

12. Describe how to fail with the program, such as not lifting heavy enough or not taking enough time off between workouts to recover. Here’s a slideshow I put together for Livestrong with workout mistakes you can “borrow” (read: steal).

13. Give them advice about what to do next; generally, this will be a call to buy another program or hire you for in-person or for your online personal training business.

14. Include a disclaimer. Look at any workout book in the bookstore to find one to emulate. It should say something like, “This book is for information purposes only. Consult a physician before starting any exercise program.”

15. Include copyright information (optional).

16. Upsell (optional). This might include a call for more money for a custom nutrition plan or an affiliate link to buy a recipe book online where you get money if they buy. This complicates things and there are a ton of options of ways to make more money after you’ve sold the initial book. If you want to simplify your life, just sell the basic book.

Steps to Editing/Polishing the Book

Decide on a name. Don’t overthink this for a basic book. A simple descriptive title that communicates the main benefit (i.e. Feel Better Naked) works.

Get a cover designed using fiverr. It should cost you $5. If you want to get a more expensive and better-looking cover, you can use eLance or 99Designs.

Get the book edited. A service called Scribendi is high-quality and cheap(ish) or get a friend or family member to do it.

Compile your document into a .pdf file and include separate workout templates. You can use existing ones that you have or get free ones online. A site called exrx.com is a good option.

Sign up for a free PayPal account (you’re only charged a percentage of the sale), connect to your bank account, and create a payment button for the book. Charge whatever you like; $19.99 is reasonable.

Have a system for delivering the book. There are a host of options but here are 3 simple ones to choose from:

1. Have your PayPal button redirect the user to a hidden page on your website (if you have one) where they can download the book.
2. Connect PayPal to your email marketing system and have the first auto-response message contain a link to download the book.
3. Manually send the book file via email to the buyer whenever you receive an email that notifies you of a successful payment made via PayPal.

Steps to Promoting/Selling the Book

Make a list of everybody who you know who has a goal similar to the one that the book is designed to help people meet.

Email these people a week before the book is released, and tell them to get on a pre-sale list by filling out a Google form (this is free) or simply emailing you; enter their names into a spreadsheet to capture their emails. You can also share a “coming soon” notice on your social media accounts telling people to join the pre-sale list.

Bonus tip – You can probably pay whoever you hire on Fiverr (or wherever) that makes your Ebook cover an extra $5-$10 to make you a nice-looking image to publish to social media with your book and a ‘coming soon’ tag.

Create a “products” page on your website and sell directly through there (optional).

Wait for people to approach you with questions. Remember that this is an asset for your business. The idea isn’t that you sell millions the first week. It’s meant to serve as something to offer people if they ask for your advice, if they don’t live close, or if they can’t afford your in-person rates. This is not something that you overthink or overdo with promotion. It’s meant to free up a bit of time for you to work on the next step. Nothing more.

If you’re actually good at what you do, you will already have friends, family members, and mutual contacts asking health and fitness questions of you.

And if you’re not already good at what you do, don’t write a fucking book about stuff that you’re not good at yet.

If you follow the steps I listed above, the book should cost you less than $20 to produce from start to finish; possibly a touch more due to editing depending on length. A single sale and you’ve made back your entire investment. Two sales and you’ve made a profit!

I suggest creating 2 to 3 books (one for each major issue that your training solves). Even at a single book sale each week is an extra $1,040/year. Not only that, when you write you become an expert. You’ll be surprised at how much an e-book like this will drive awareness of your training and build your reputation.

Consider this: if you sell 3 to 5 e-books each week, you’ll make an extra $3,120- $5,200/year on top of your regular training income.

Don’t go buy stupid stuff that you don’t need with that money. Instead use it to replace income as you scale back and better organize your time in the gym.

Then, and this is the fun part, commit your extra time and mental energy to becoming a better writer, networking, and putting together something special – something that will fundamentally change your business, and life

The Author

Jonathan Goodman is the founder of the Personal Trainer Development Center and author of multiple bestselling books for personal trainers. In addition, Jon founded the first-ever certification for online fitness trainers, the Online Trainer Academy. Originally from Toronto, Jon and his wife Alison spend their winters traveling the world with their baby boy, Calvin.

Are you selling health & fitness products online?

Maybe you’re launching a new vegan superfood or adding online fitness coaching. Maybe your store is ready to scale a weight loss product or you’d like to increase gym memberships.

In all cases, you need to get in front of health-conscious people, get them excited, and help them take action.

What’s the best way to do that?

Read on as we break down the process of identifying and speaking to a health-conscious market. 🏋️‍♂️

The Basics of Health Advertising

The world of e-commerce is noisy right now. Retailers are pushing magic pills, get fit quick schemes, and yet another “5 Secrets They Don’t Want You To Know”… but don’t worry: our first tip is don’t try to do what everyone else is doing.

I have some good news and some bad news… most of the outrageous facebook ads you see online are not working. We’ve taken over enough failing ad accounts and seen plenty of campaigns with ads that fell flat… because they didn’t genuinely speak to their audience.

And believe me, all of those people know those magic pills and get fit quick schemes don’t work either…

The good news: your qualified customers are smart people who will take action in their best interest. Your job is to understand their wants, their needs, the specific words they use when they talk to themselves, and the images that are already in their mind.

To do that is an exercise in marketing research, and putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time… plus understanding the industry trends and the nuances of digital marketing technology.

The right message in front of the right person at the right time encourages action.

Need help applying these best practices to your store?
Email me at [email protected]

Target Market

Let’s start with asking who is your store’s ideal customer? Do not try to list every possible customer. It’s easy to add new segments to a campaign that’s working, but it’s much more difficult to know which segments to remove from a large campaign that’s not working.

Here’s what you need to define:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language

E-Commerce stores can target the locations to which they ship. If your product is in brick and mortar stores, such as grocery chains, we recommend starting your campaign in those locations.

Gyms and fitness studios are best to target at most a 7-mile radius. Doctor’s offices may target the current city.

Another way to think about age is what stage of life is your target customer in. Are they college students, young professionals, middle-aged parents, or older?

Facebook Location Targeting

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Interests

The most important part of audience targeting is Interests. Demographics are fine to leave more open when you’re unsure, letting the algorithms find and optimize towards the people who respond, but interest targeting is the key to identifying what is unique about these people. Facebook and Instagram know what people Like, Share, and Comment about. Facebook, of course, knows what Groups these people belong to, Events they attend, Pages and Profiles they visit… and what they chat about in messages.

Facebook’s Health Food Targeting Options

When selecting interests, it’s also best to choose a single interest to target. Audiences sizes are most optimal over 100,000 people per $10 in ad spend per day, so if your resulting segment is less than that, it is recommended to add a second or third interest.

For example, if your ad budget is $100/day, you should have an audience of at least 1,000,000. And if you’re spending $25/day you should have at least 250,000 people. Smaller audiences will see their creative “exhaust” (when the majority of your audience have already seen your ad and performance typically starts to drop) and will need to refresh your Facebook ads more often.

If you’re a local retailer, you’ll probably have a smaller audience size because of the physical limits of your business.

Health food products can target food categories such as Organic food, Veganism, or Vegetarianism.

Fitness products can target their sport, such as CrossFit, Triathlons, and Marathons.

Facebook Fitness Interest Targeting

Pro tip: Put just one interest in each ad set audience (if they’re large enough) so it will be clear which are the best performing.

Not sure what interests to target?

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool is a great way to uncover and hone in on the highest affinity audiences. Start by entering your most relevant audience and then clicking over to the Page Likes tab. The highest affinity and relevance audiences are the ones with the most overlap to your original interest. This is a great way to find new, similar interests to target, and other related offerings in the marketplace. It’s also a great way to do competitor research.

For example, if you’re targeting the CrossFit community, we see the following related audiences. Diet & nutrition products may want to target Eat to Perform. Exercise devices probably want to target people interested in Rogue Fitness, and events/competitions can target Warrior Dash.

Find the most relevant audiences using Facebook’s Audience Insights tool

Search Ads

If your product or service is in a well-established industry that people know and are actively searching for, then you want to make sure your business can be found when people are looking for you.

The best way to do that is Google Search.

Research current search results and suggestions for your product or service

Start by doing some Google searches of your own to see what keywords are being bid on (which display ads when you search), and what those ads say.

Pro tip: Also, scope out the bottom of the search results page (SERP) for the “Searches related to” section. Based on all of the queries that Google sees these are the closest related searches people also search for, and is a great place to find additional keywords.

A tool like SpyFu will also give you a history of Google ads. You’ll see trends in the ad copy and headlines, and typically the longest-running are the best ads.

Use the Google Keyword Planner to research search volume and competition levels so you know which are the most active keywords and where are the opportunities.

When choosing keywords, start off more specific, longer search strings and using exact match, phrase match, and modified broad match, so that you do not bid against more general, and more expensive, keywords. Avoid broad match and 1-word strings.

See Your Competitor’s Google Ads with Spyfu

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Pro Tip: Health & Fitness Groups

Social media helps people organize around their interests and passions, and people interested in health & fitness are often highly engaged. It’s likely that your target market has a Facebook Group, such as Marathon Runners or Low Carb Done Right.

Groups are an awesome way to directly connect with your target market. Find these groups and participate in the discussions. Help answer questions and share tips, with the occasional link or mention back to your page or products/services when appropriate. Don’t join and immediately spam an “ad”. Before you promote, it’s best to ask the admin and read the group rules.

And if there are not many groups, or none at all, for your niche… create one!

Meetups are another great source of local groups.

Facebook Groups are full of highly engaged people

Speaking To Your Audience

Health is important to people. Fitness goals can be a very personal conversation. And if they have a health condition they need help with, that’s a serious topic.

Your message should talk to people in the same manner. The best content is direct, clear, and realistic. Use specific numbers and examples when you can. Avoid overusing exclamation points and use a down-to-earth tone. The Facebook and Google algorithms both automatically detect and flag misleading ad copy. Don’t get flagged!

Ads that over-promise or make claims too good to be true don’t resonate with people. Just like silly billboards, people will fly on by.

If you really do have a world-changing product – awesome, use video testimonials and share case studies to build trust.

Even Tony Robbins, who has his attendees yelling and jumping at his live events, uses ad language which simply states what you’ll get from this offer.

Use direct and clear ads to get your message across

Choosing Visuals & Creative

Your prospect either has an active need (help with a health condition) or a latent want in the back of their mind (would like to lose 10 lbs).

Associated with this they also have a series of images in their head of what this looks like to them. When they’re driving in their car and their mind is wandering… there’s a mental picture there, whether they consciously visualize it or if it’s subconscious.

As people scroll through their Instagram feeds, reflecting this image back to them is the most effective way to catch their attention. People process visuals first, the headline second, and then post text third. An image of something they’ve already been thinking about is the most likely to stop them in their tracks, and then gives you an opportunity to speak to them in the rest of your post.

What images are already in your prospect’s head? Probably their dinner plate!

What does your prospect want to look like when they workout? Show them!

For food items, focus on pictures of the food itself. For sports gear, center on someone wearing it and playing the sport.

Also, if you have the ability to get specific in your product photography, show images of guys to male audiences, and for female audiences feature a woman using a product. Sex sells… sometimes, but people are most interested in themselves.

Pro tip: Facebook now allows you to see the ads that every Page is running, in an Info and Ads tab. Take those related interests and audiences from the Facebook Audience Insights tool and then scope out their Facebook ads – look for trends to identify their best ads.

Scope out your competition’s ads by checking their Facebook Page

Ready to sell more products?
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Convert & Sell

You’ve identified your audience and have started designing your ads and your message.

Next, what is the action you want your prospect to take?

If you’re selling a low-to-midrange price point product, you probably want them to buy online. If you’re a doctor’s office, you likely want them to schedule an appointment. High price points and high-touch sales processes may require a conversation, and your goal may be lead generation.

Facebook’s Conversions objective is the most common choice for e-commerce businesses. These ads will direct the user to your website to purchase.

Typically you’ll see the best conversion rates by sending people right to the Product Detail Page, which is a page specific to that one product and has an Add to Cart button. This page should also have all of the information that a consumer needs to make a decision. It should contain all of the product specs, images, videos, pricing options, FAQs, and testimonials. Amazon’s product pages are good examples.

Checkout Amazon’s product pages for some inspiration

Conversion rates drop if users have to navigate to other pages and parts of the website for more information, or if they’re distracted away from that page via pop-up promotions or other widgets.

But, how many times have you clicked over to a site and purchased right away? Probably not that often…

Display advertising, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, is interrupt-driven. You’re injecting your ad into someone’s day that may have a million things going on. They might be opening Facebook just to send a message or get the address of an event. Or the viewer may only have 5 minutes in line at the grocery store, where they see your ad.

These people are also likely on their mobile phones. The majority of web traffic is mobile AND the majority of e-commerce sales are also mobile, at 63.5%!

The most common scenario is that visitors hit your website and check out your product. They were interested enough to click through, but they’re on the go and suddenly their busy day calls them away from their phone.

The average e-commerce transaction requires more than 5 interactions with the prospect!

As an online retailer, you must deal with this reality and depending on which step in the funnel you’re seeing that drop-off, that’s the point at which you must capture your prospects so that you can help them through the rest of the checkout process.

Retargeting and Lead Magnets are great tools for doing so. Email marketing and automation are also key.

Lead Magnets

There are many times that I’m on the go and I see an interesting post in my news feed. But I’m walking through my office on an average busy-enough day, and I’m not about to sit down and buy those cool workout shorts right now… so I don’t even bother clicking on the post.

Other times I see posts which say “Sign-up Now For Free Shipping” or “Get The Runner’s World Guide to (fill in the blank) ”. I know I’m not going to use it or read it right now, but it’s something I’m curious to look at later… so, sure, I’ll spend two clicks and sign-up.

That’s a lead magnet – a small piece of value that you can offer your audience in exchange for their email address, contact information, or a quick visit to your site (so that your Pixel can track them).

This is key for both you and them to be able to follow-up at a more convenient time. Plus, once you have their email address or phone number, sending a message is direct and free. Your email list is an asset.

Some common lead magnets are:

  • Guides, PDFs (cookbooks, exercise guides, blogs)
  • Image Galleries
  • Case Studies & Interviews
  • Request More Info
  • Add to Wish List
  • Save For Later
  • Call Now

Pro tip: with contact information, automate follow-ups via email or text message using marketing automation tools such as Zapier or Infusionsoft. It’s best to send the first message immediately, to make the connection while they’re sure to remember you, and then you can initiate an email marketing drip sequence that reminds them where they left off.

Retargeting

If you already have followers, store visitors, and past customers, then retargeting will likely be the most profitable piece of your digital marketing machine.

It’s typically much cheaper to sell again to someone who has already purchased from you than it is to acquire a brand new customer. Also, people who get to the cart or checkout page and just aren’t ready to buy at that time are your warmest prospects. Help remind them to take the next step.

  • Do you have a customer list? Upload it to Facebook to match for retargeting.
  • Have the Pixel on your site? Create a custom audience for on pages visited, such as Cart and Checkout.

Retarget customers who add to cart but don’t checkout

Dynamic Product Ads

Dynamic product ads (DPAs) are where most campaigns see the highest ROI. As we mentioned above, showing someone THE image they’ve got in their mind (or have seen recently) is the most effective way to capture their attention.

DPAs do just that. Sync up your product catalog, Facebook Pixel, and Ad Set, and Facebook will automatically advertise the same products to someone has expressed interest in the past. Shopify and BigCommerce are very easy to setup.

So, if the prospect was looking through your fitness trackers last time, they’ll see those same devices in the ads. 👌

Use dynamic product ads to automatically retarget using products the prospect viewed

Next Steps

Once your campaigns are launched and attracting people to your store, you’ll begin to see the performance data of different audiences, ads, and landing pages.

Be sure to look at both the big picture of the full customer journey and real purchase performance, as well as the granular view of individual ads.

As you collect performance data, you can turn off the low performers, and spend more on the high performers.

Let this performance data guide future campaign direction, and you’ll see conversion rates and ROI climb! 📈

We help stores hit 3-4x ROAS and higher.
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STUDY: Shake Weights Don’t Do Anything Except Make You Look Like A Doofus

A study from the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine finds that the “as seen on TV” exercise product Shake Weight doesn’t actually increase the strength of people who use it.

If you’re unfamiliar with Shake Weight, the product is basically a dumbbell whose ends are attached to the handle by a spring. Propelled into the mainstream by a series of easily misinterpreted TV commercials of attractive women shaking the weights, the product claims to tone the arms and shoulders of people who use it.

Researchers found, however, that the 25 young adults they tested displayed no more muscle activity than they did using regular dumbbells. What’s more, the study found that people who did the shaking exercise routines prescribed by Shake Weights did not do enough work to increase muscle strength.

These findings compound other complaints from fitness experts, according to Yahoo, notably that Shake Weight users do not go through a full range of motion or put on more weight once the exercises are no longer challenging.

For those still in the market for a sexually suggestive exercise contraption, we recommend taking a look at Korea’s “Ace Power” horse riding imitator, which simulates the experience of “riding a horse” through repeated pelvic thrusts.

The “Ace Power” demonstration starts 30 seconds in:

Leg exerciser as seen on TV

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