Fitting in with the Fit

Since this fall, I noticeably have pulled myself away and out of the fitness industry where I made a name for myself. Various competitions, sponsorships, and relationships later, I haven't been too honest about my real experience in the fitness industry. 

This post isn't meant to discourage anyone from pursuing a place in the industry or anyone who currently is involved in it. I've met my best friends through it and I wouldn't change that for anything. I guess I just want to be honest about what can happen in hopes that it can help someone else stuck in a place I may have been in. I had a lot, and I mean a lot, of negative and awful experiences in it the past couple years that I think are important to share.

1st Place at my first competition in 2015

I'll start with the beginning. I went into my first competition in 2015 with little knowledge about the industry what it was going to take to be good at it. I had never counted a calorie in my life and had to google how to count macros to figure it out. My first mistake was going into it without considering how counting calories would affect me mentally. Having never counted before and having struggled with eating in my past, I should have been more self aware that it probably wasn't a good choice for me. Without doing my research, I was working with a coach without knowing much about them. That was my second mistake. (I talk about tips for finding the right coach here). My coach would ignore my questions, answer late for check ins, and was nowhere to be found post show despite my waves of texts. Sadly, because of my lack of experience with competing and macros, I rebounded hard. I didn't realize that would happen because I sincerely had no idea, and my coach wasn't there to do their job. It was heartbreaking for me. I had always been proud of my body since I had started lifting a year before and had been in a really good place mentally. It ruined my relationship with exercise and food, and it has taken almost 2 years for my body to feel somewhat normal again. As much as I resent that experience, I hope by sharing what I learned, I can help someone else avoid it. 

Despite this experience with competing, I was manipulated into working with a company that made a lot of empty promises. After months of promised photoshoots and payment that I never received, I quit. After this, I attended my first expo, the LA Fit in 2016. There, I met people I had seen on social media and got to experience what it would be like to be a part of the industry. I loved getting to meet new friends and the amazing people that have followed me since the beginning. I loved hearing all of their stories and I would never take that back for a second. That's what got me hooked. I loved helping people. It's why I still take so much time to write and create free content. 

By Andre Nguyen

Eventually, through connections and social media growth, I had a short partnership with JFitnessWear for the Arnold in 2016 from winning a contest they held, and a short relationship with The Pardomas which ended in summer of 2016. Simply put, I was not being appreciated for all of the work that I was putting in. For the amount of postings, advertisings, and work expected for free, I couldn't do it. I'm a student in university trying to make a living. I didn't have time to do shoots, workshops, etc for no pay. I didn't like the images I was receiving and disagreed with the notions of the company as I moved forward. Brittany Lesser made a video talking about her experience if you're interested in watching, I had the same experience and we share the same views. 

I also had a short relationship with Gymshark as well in 2016. I had been buying from Gymshark for a year at this point and was excited to work with them. Yet again, I was not appreciated for the content and work I put out. For photoshoots I did that eventually got published on the front pages of their website, and the advertising I was required to do, I realized my worth was much more than I was being given. This was a hard thing for me to realize, but I'm happy I did. Once I realized my worth, I was able to stand up for myself. It is a bummer, really, because I do love the clothing and have nothing bad to say about it. Sometimes business relationships just don't work out, and that's that. 

Having worked with various companies and having some tough experiences, I've been called unreliable. The thing is, if a business relationship is no longer beneficial for me, I don't have time to be a part of it. Sometimes it has to do with negativity, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. Anyone else who wasn't getting paid enough at any other job would leave too. It's no different for me. Considering the endless supplement opportunities I've been offered (for a lot of money) that I've never taken because I don't believe in it, it makes me sad to get talked down on for making job changes. I always began working with someone/something because I believed in it, and once I didn't, I left.

Throughout other experiences, I learned about and became part of drama I had no intention of being a part of. I heard my name in ridiculous rumors and cruel words, received endless hate mail, and didn't understand where I went wrong. Often times, I was spoken to inappropriately by members of businesses, and it ended up looking bad on me, not them. I heard negative comments about my body and morals from people I thought were my friends. I saw people subtweet and talk so much crap about me and people they called their friends. I watched people I had looked up to scam people for money. I watched businesses and influencers lie to people that look up to them. It broke my heart. I was 19 years old. I was tired. I realized all of this wasn't my intention when I started sharing my story. It wasn't why I was there.

I wasn't involved in the fitness industry to sell clothing, supplements, scams, or start drama. I wasn't fit because I wanted to be lean and aesthetic. I was fit because it saved my mental and physical health, and the more I became involved in the business, the less I cared about fitness. 

It's so sad to see so little fitness in the fitness industry. I was blinded by everything that came with it for so long that I didn't realize I wasn't me anymore. I felt like I had to look and act a certain way to "make it". I really just wanted to be me, and that's finally who I am now away from all of the chaos. 

I hope that understanding the possibilities of the negatives that may happen, can help you be more self aware of where you are or what you're getting into. I hope that the fitness industry can get a better rep soon. I hope it can change for the better. It starts with speaking up and it starts with being a real influencer of real health, not aesthetic or financial health. It starts with you.