The Gym: Breaking a PR Sweat

1 02 2013

Scenario: Gym
Subject: Exercisers
Topic: Positive and Negative Personal Branding Tactics

The new year has come and gone, but according to a list posted on the website one of the most common goals is getting fit and healthy. In order to do this many people make diet plans, swear off unhealthy things like soda or candy, and go to the gym. The gym is an interesting place where a wide variety of people gather together. It is always interesting to go and see the variety of people and interactions that go on. Some of those interactions negatively affect our personal brand through bad PR practices and others positively affect our personal brand through good PR practices. I hope to take some of the ideas and methods discussed in articles from The Ladders and Forbes and adapt them to the gym. While they are adapted to a gym scenario, these principles can be used in every situation we encounter.

 5 Negatives

Be Fake

You can’t start building your brand until you understand who you are, what you want and what makes you exceptional.

Deciding what your purpose is for being at the gym is an important step to having good PR at the gym. Just like it is important to be transparent in business PR it is also important to be transparent in personal PR. If you act like you are there to work out, but instead you spend the majority of the time flirting with other people, you lose all credibility as an exerciser and as a potential dating companion because of your lack of tact.

If you go to the gym to flirt, then you should flirt.

If you go to work out, you should work out.

If you go to socialize, you should socialize.

Be Wishy-washy

Trying to be all things to all people is the opposite of branding.

Few things are more frustrating than having your “workout partner” take a nice break because he wants to go help a nice young lady with her “form”. I’m sure it is equally annoying to have your running partner decide she wants to do some power-lifting on your scheduled cardio day. If you only occasionally show up for scheduled workouts, regularly stray from the exercise plan, or can’t focus on the task at hand then you are on your way to PR destruction.

Act Before You Think

If you don’t have a clear plan — a message that you want to communicate consistently along with a strategy for expressing yourself — you will create confusion rather than build a fan club.

Tough guy.
I’m tired of being overweight.
Fan club.Muscles.
Future triathlete.
Pretty boy.
Sporty Spice.
Whatever the message is that you want to send, if it’s not consistent, then it’s not being received. Every message has actions that support it. With so many different areas to pursue it is easy to get caught up in multiple messages, but when the message gets garbled the sender gets forgotten.

Switch Tools Often

Choose the…tools you are going to use and commit to using them regularly.

Gyms are full of a wide variety of tools and workout plans. There is always that temptation to try everything. A few things happen when you decide to see what everything does. First, you look like they have never been in a gym before. Second, you don’t get as much out of your workout, or flirting, or socializing as you could if you are less worried about the tools, and more worried about the outcome. Third, you lose all credibility as a gym-goer.

Talk About Yourself

Just as people use DVRs to skip TV ads, they will start to tune you out if you come across as an immodest self promoter.

Whether it is working out, flirting, or socializing that brings you to the gym, talking about yourself is a sure way to ruin your future chances at having an enjoyable gym experience. People stop working out by you or intentionally mock you if you talk about the new supplements that you’re taking and how incredible your body looks after only three-weeks or anything else along those lines. It is fine to think you are amazing and to be totally into the fitness scene as long as your passion isn’t forced on others in an inappropriate way. This applies equally to flirting and socializing. If you don’t let the other person know they are important, then they won’t stick around.

 5 Positives

Master Your Craft First

Do a little research, find out a little something something, and come prepared to undertake the gym endeavor of your choice. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a fitness expert or a body builder, just know what you’re going for and be prepared to do it.

Be Known for Something

If somebody sees you at the gym multiple times, they should know why you are there. Whether you are there to work out, flirt, or socialize, there should be a consistency to your behavior that people can depend on even if you never actually interact.

Leverage What You Have

Not everyone is a supermodel, a superstar athlete, or a personal trainer. That is fine. You have a unique set of skills, abilities, and personality traits that you can employ to your benefit. If you can’t run very far, then some slower treadmill warmups may be just what you need before you head off to your usual weightlifting. If you are nervous around the opposite sex but have a lot of friends you feel comfortable around, then go as a group. Nobody has the short end of the stick in every case, so find something that works for you and run with it.

Transform the Personal Into the Business

This is connected to the Be Known for Something and Leverage What You Have sections. As you start to go to the gym and establishing a dependable pattern and using what natural abilities you have, then it is a simple matter to capitalize on those opportunities to maybe expand into an area of gym life you may not have touched before or to build on some fledgling skills you have discovered. This takes a concerted effort on your part, but it will usually have a big payoff.

If It Doesn’t Match Your Personal Brand, Don’t Do It

The key to having good PR is maintenance. When you have tried to eliminate all the negative PR habits and worked on improving the good PR practices you must continue to do that same thing every day. If you have established a good workout regimen, you have a set schedule, you use the same equipment, and have finally established yourself as an established “exerciser,” the last thing you want to do is ruin that by hitting on the employee at the front desk. Why? Because then you have to start all over, and unless you are trying to rebrand yourself, then it is much easier to maintain your good PR practices rather than trying to reestablish them.

The gym is just one place where personal PR is evident. The principles of good and bad PR are universal to every situation. The gym is a great place to observe a wide variety of specific PR practices. There is something about sweaty individuals peeled back to their physical prowess that seems to intensify some of those principles and exaggerate the good and bad practices. So the next time you’re in the gym, try to figure out how your PR is doing.




One response

3 02 2013

nice job writing this up in a manner that most people can understand.

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