[Elle:] In the #antiMLMmovement, we think its important to hear both sides of the coin. In this case, our guest writer Jocelyn [not her real name] came forward, to tell us what she loved and hated about her time with multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme Team Beachbody.
Before reading Jocelyn’s story, please remind yourself that all views presented in this blog are as told to us by the authors, and simply reflect their own opinions. Your own personal experiences with MLM companies may differ, negatively or positively. All names have been changed at the author’s request.
[Jocelyn:] Thank you Elle and everyone at the coalition. I am completely in two minds as I write this. See I LOVE Beachbody products but HATE multi-level marketing! The MLM side is called Team Beachbody.
I had never heard of MLMs before this. Sure, I had mates who peddled Forever Living, but thankfully they never approached me. I ended up signing up as a Beachbody ‘Coach’, not really understanding what was going on!
I initially discovered Beachbody in 2011 with the INSANITY® workout. I was serving in the military, and the American soldiers had brought the workout DVDs to Afghanistan, therefore introducing us Brits to it. I loved that workout SO much; I love exercising but am quite lazy at designing my own routines – I’d much rather follow someone else’s!
A few years later I bought Shaun T‘s FOCUS T25® and Tony Horton‘s P90X3™ Workout with a bag of Shakeology® imported from the USA. That shake stuff was rank and very expensive, so I didn’t order any more.
Time goes on and it turns out that Shaun T is coming to Manchester to do a live INSANITY® workout – it cost £65 but no way was I missing that! I planned to meet with friends who had started a Beachbody Facebook fan group – we all supported each other, whether encouraging each other with our fitness goals, losing weight, or overcoming life’s hardships. We were all so excited when the launch was announced. Sure, it was 6 weeks after I had my baby, but I didn’t care – I still booked a ticket, Shaun T was doing a live workout after all!
The event itself was so strange. We wore customised ‘team’ t-shirts and were all fangirling over the ‘fitness stars’ we had seen in the workouts. The event heralded the fact that Shakeology® was now on sale in the UK, having been modified to European Union (EU) standards. (Not all flavours or products were being unleashed though; the uplines said it was to see if there was a market here first). Anyway, during the event people got up on stage and talked how Beachbody had changed, no wait, saved their lives. You couldn’t help it, you felt the same as the buzz reverberated through the room. You buy a Challenge Pack, and sign up to help others change their lives – simple!
I went home, and tried the all-new Shakeology® and loved it – it wasn’t as bitter anymore. I promptly signed up to be in an 80 Day Obsession™ fromAutumn Calabrese’s ‘coach test’ group. I lost 11lbs and went from a size UK 16 to a UK 12 (USA 14 to USA 10).
You can go through training, so for example, if you want to help people with their diet you can do extra training (that you pay for) to become a ‘2B Mindset Mentor’ (that’s kind of like a Slimming World consultant). Or, you can attend and train as a instructor for workouts like INSANITY®, PiYo LIVE etc). You know, I just LOVED doing those workouts, but unfortunately couldn’t get anyone to buy them from me.
So, here is the list of my problems.
Once I learned what MLMs were, I saw that I was being told to post the same boring happy, positive quote posts as all the other ‘Coaches’ [for further information on this practise, check out Chapter 7 of Elle’s #Poonique Tale]. I was encouraged to post videos of me working out, to even do it via Facebook Live! I was expected by my uplines to literally confront my friends and family, and ask them to “invest into my business.”
I was told to make my husband sign up. I was told to buy lots of sample bags of Shakeology® and let people taste them. I was told to sign up, train and teach classes of INSANITY® (I am actually doing this as I have always wanted to be an INSANITY® instructor). I was told to sign up other ‘Coaches’ in order to “remain active and to get commission, commission, commission!“
I stayed as a ‘Coach’ for about 6 months before I quit, but I still use the products.
Why, you ask? The sad thing is that the Team Beachbody MLM arm was the worst thing to happen to the Beachbody UK community – it split us all into three types of people:
- The desperate ‘Coaches’ who are trying to earn money and end up resorting to buying the products themselves (the commissioning scheme makes it almost impossible to earn good money).
- The ones who hate their fellow ‘Coaches’ and do nothing but bitch and complain about it.
- Those like me who have now, after many years, became disillusioned and left.
For me, this MLM company is slightly different, because the demographic is different. My coaching friends are mostly men, all have lost incredible amount of weight from exercise and healthy eating. The idea behind coaching is that you set up like-minded groups of people and you all support each other. It’s just a shame that the MLM aspect has ruined that.
I still love the products to this day. However, I must point out that here in the UK we only have a limited product range – the various DVDs, Beachbody On Demand (everyone should try this in my opinion!), Shakeology®, and the Beachbody Performance™ line (pre and post-workout drinks).
From what I understand, the European Union have tougher rules on product ingredients than the United States, which is why we tend to not have some of the other crazy stuff. I have done lots of my own research into Shakeology® and from what I have found, it is safe, it is good for you (as a snack, not as a meal) and it’s basically a protein shake with extra ‘superfood’ crap added to it.
My biggest complaints are the over-inflated cost, obviously, and that the quantity of these so-called ‘superfoods’ aren’t shown, so it’s not really known just how good for you this drink is.
I remember once there was a little flurry of drama in one of our Beachbody support groups, over one of the ‘Coaches’ being told in a social media row that the products were responsible for causing miscarriages. I don’t personally believe that it does, but I will point out that it says on the bags not to consume if pregnant or nursing, at least it does here in the UK.
I continue to use the workouts, especially Shaun T’s ones, but as for the MLM side…well, I am finding it really hard to not let it destroy one of my favourite hobbies, and many friendships. I mean, found the challenge groups to be super helpful. They provide a safe place full of encouragement and support. You don’t put each other down. You help keep each other up.
In my personal experience, it wasn’t like I was expected to make people lose weight just by selling them a health drink. It was by getting them to commit to a workout program, improve their diet, and get results the proper way. Sadly, like I said, I just couldn’t get anyone to buy them from me.
The problem with this MLM is that once someone buys a workout pack from you, you have nothing to earn from them again. Not unless they order Shakeology® or the Beachbody Performance™ packs monthly. That’s the only real way to make commission, but as with any MLM, you need to sign up new ‘Coaches’ into your downline to earn decent commission off them, and you need to place regular orders in order to be classed as active. There is no point having ‘Coaches’ in your downline who don’t place monthly orders, as that ruins your ranking too!
From the outside, being a part of Team Beachbody sounded empowering and I really, really wanted to make a go of it, but once I became a ‘Coach’ I saw it for what it really is – just another manipulative MLM.
When it comes to the amount of hours you put in for little to no money, it’s simply not worth it.
(Featured Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash)
[Elle:] Thank you, Jocelyn, for kindly sharing your MLM experience. If you have any questions for her, please add them below and we will ensure they reach her.
- If you find yourself in Jocelyn’s position, take a look at this selection from our General Advice category: