Helping more people by seeing through their eyes

I’ve been in this “industry” for 15 years… You know the industry that revolves around helping person A reach goal B. (Athlete getting a college scholarship. Overweight desk jockey losing 50 pounds. Single mom teaching her kids about health and good nutrition.)  The majority of my “clients” have been of the athletic or strength athlete variety. These are the ones who already have an understanding of exercise and training and a basic knowledge of good nutrition.To them, and us, this stuff comes easy.
I reached a point where I was tapped out with how many clients I could train in person and online. This is why many trainers either stay the same, move on to a high-end health club that pays more, focus on group training, or find other sources of income because you can only work so many hours a week.
julia ladewski coach
And for someone whose “niche” was fitness-minded folks already, it really narrowed down my market to a very small population. Which I would be ok with, except that I looked around at some close friends and family ….
“How are you not inspired by my fitness lifestyle? Doesn’t all my fit-talk and health-hullabaloo just make you want to go workout and eat broccoli all day? Gosh, this stuff is easy!”
Au contraire…It’s not easy for them. Exercising is not fun. Eating right is hard. And “getting healthy” is not enough motivation (unless they are whacked in the face by their doctor with some major health issues). What I quickly realized is that these people, these general population folks, are struggling. Ups and downs and insecurities and frustrations and lack of support…it’s exhausting.


My mom said it best when she said, “I don’t want to look like you (no offense of course), and I want to be able to enjoy foods… I just want to fit in my pants a little better, feel better, not ache all over, have some more energy and enjoy my grandkids.”


It finally hit me – my life is not hers – no matter how I felt about it. I needed to see it from her eyes, not mine. As much as I like working out 6 days a week and I like eating perfectly on plan, it just wasn’t realistic for her. But there had to be a way to get her to eat better, exercise a little more and make some health changes, albeit slowly.


So a couple years ago when I was approached by a few different people be a part of health network marketing companies (think Mary Kay, Avon, Scentsy, Thirty-one Bags for fitness), I immediately said “NO!”  No way, it’s not for me or my strength athletes that I coach. But last year, I decided to give it a shot as a way of supplementing my income and I became a distributor for a company. I could direct my clients to some multi-vitamins, fish oils, shakes and other necessities.


After nearly a year of almost no support from my upline and making only $100 over the course of the entire year, I was done.


A few weeks after I decided to step back from being a distributor (affiliate, whatever you want to call it), I was having a conversation with a fellow figure competitor, Jacqueline Carly. She mentioned that she had attempted to be a part of the same company that I was a part of and how she also had a terrible experience as well. (Jacq is also a mom, business owner, entrepreneur, nutritionist, PhD candidate, coach and competitor.)  Then in the same breath, she mentioned that she just got on board with a company called Visalus and how absolutely amazing it was going.


Yeah, yeah, I thought. But I was curious, since her prior experience was similar to mine. What’s the difference and how, as a figure competitor, is she using it with her audience?


So I hopped on the phone with her team, Jenny Lynn and Monica Brant (remember them? Oxygen mag models, Fitness Olympia champions? Yeah, I read their stuff back in college) and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked to hear that they were both involved as well. Why are two well-known and well-respected fitness gals involved with this company if they already had a name and a career for themselves?
It boiled down to the mission of the company.
Most of those companies say:
  • Buy our products
  • Buy our workout DVD’s
  • Get some people to buy our products and DVD’s
  • Make some money
Well, Visalus is VERY different. I learned that:
  • They “reward” the customer AND the distributor for actual results.
  • Visalus has a 90 day challenge that could either be weight loss oriented, fit/active oriented (running a 5k, Tough Mudder, triathalon, powerlifting, etc) or physique/model challenge (think figure and physique competitors who are then rewarded with photo shoots, prize money, etc). So based on your goals, you do the 90 day challenge and are rewarded at the end for doing so.
  • Project 10 challenge: encourages people, general population, overweight, out-of-shape folks who know nothing about health and fitness, to just lose 10# at a time. Every time they lose 10# (or you can also build 10# of lean mass), Visalus donates 30 healthy meals to kids fighting obesity.
  • The distributor makes money by getting results. (Have you ever gotten paid more as a trainer because all your clients lost 10 pounds or body fat or inches?)

visalus project 10

This was WAY better than the other companies, but I still wasn’t sure how this would work for me. If people don’t want to live the “24/7 fit life” like I do, then what could I say that would benefit them in any way? Trust me, I’ve tried for years.


They need something they can relate to. 99% of the population would say, “Sure, I’d love to lose 10 pounds!” And that’s when I began to see it through their eyes.


The simplicity of the business model became clear. Promoting a challenge that is just enough for people to bite off and believe in and get results. (And one that both the customer AND the distributor would get paid for.) Sure, I could affiliate a few big supplement companies and make a few dollars, but general population people look at supplements as “only for bodybuilders”. They think that supplements are for “building muscle” and “putting on weight” – all things that they don’t want to do. They want to lose weight and lose body fat. Remember, seeing it through their eyes is key.


Like my neighbor… 60 pounds overweight and health problems.  She would’ve NEVER asked for our help, or even take our advice if we told her to get to the gym 3 times a week. Instead, we got her walking to the stop sign and back 3 times a day and now she can make it around the block. She drinks 1 shake a day instead of eating the overly processed breakfast she was eating before. She LOVES tossing in new fruits and making new flavors and it’s prompting her to make better food choices at her other meals… boom, 6# down. And now she has the confidence that she can do this.


“Well, why can’t she just choose better options without the challenge?”


REALITY: If she could, she would’ve done it already.


So why this? Why not another weight loss company? Or refer people to popular celebrity diets and systems? Because Visalus is doing more than just “selling weight loss.”  They are:
  • Giving back to kids (kids in your community, as you can choose which organization meals get donated to)
  • They are rewarding people for their own results (as we know, people stay motivated and on task when they are rewarded for their efforts)
  • They are providing a simple platform that gets your average Joe off the couch.
I listened to 20 different stories of people who simply got challenged by a friend or family member to lose 10 pounds…and they ended up losing over 100 pounds. It literally changed their life.


This opened my eyes to the fact that we can help MORE people – through our team and through the simplicity of the challenges – instead of trying to write individualized diet plans for a 60# overweight woman who probably won’t stick to it anyway. (Let’s face it, gen pop people don’t want to follow a diet with macros and nutrient timing and carb cycling). Finding something that was bigger than me and something that your average person could believe in.


After being in this industry for 15 years and learning that my “hardcore fitness ways” don’t resonate with everyone, I have realized that most people just need simple solutions that they can live with long term and that will get them results. 


(Warning: here comes the shameless plug.)


For years I fought against this because it never made sense. I would direct people to protein supplements and affiliates, all as a way to support what I was already doing – helping people reach their goals, whatever those might be. As “fitness professionals,” we don’t get into this industry for the money but for the love of helping people, right? I have turned down getting paid for consultations, speaking gigs, training programs and diet help all because I “just wanted to help people.” Well, now, I can have the best of both worlds.


Visalus, along with my online clients, speaking engagements and apparel company allows me to support my family and help even more people. We have an entire TEAM, consisting of a nutritionist, fitness competitors, NY Times Best-selling author, nurse, and more.
This might be for you if you’re trying to help more people, if you want to be part of giving back to your community, and not feel bad about making money.  We NEED more fitness professionals and “fit people” helping out those that don’t know… would it be weird if I asked you to join our team?? For the kids??  🙂
Remember… us fit-minded folks are a different breed. See things through the eyes of others.