Behind Those Before-And-After Instagram Photos: Money, Marketing And Meal Replacements

By Anna Orso
Philly.com

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Experts in diet and exercise worry coaches for companies like “Beachbody” can easily trespass into health advice they’re not qualified to dispense.

Philly.com

Alyssandra Docherty can tell you everything you need to know about Shakeology: how the protein shake curbs cravings, how the vegan or whey protein lines taste, what “superfoods” they’re made of, which of the nine flavors are best, and the cost: $130 for a one-month supply.

And then she can sell it to you and collect a 25 percent commission.

The 30-year-old Pennsport resident is a coach and saleswoman with Beachbody, a national company that uses independent contractors who leverage social media to sell fitness and nutrition programming like P90X, Insanity and 21-Day Fix.

In return, the coaches — who are also customers — are promised discounts on products plus a commission from sales and coach recruitment.

Companies like Beachbody that use the direct sales model are the Instagram-generation version of Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and LuLaRoe. The companies refer to the model as “multilevel marketing.” Critics call them pyramid schemes.

Either way, some experts say consumers should be wary of their high school friend promising weight loss.

There’s a difference between makeup and health, and experts in diet and exercise worry coaches for companies like Beachbody can easily trespass into health advice they’re not qualified to dispense.

But the coaches see themselves more as cheerleaders for products that changed their lives.

The before-and-after photos are ubiquitous — thousands of Americans say they lost weight, gained confidence, addressed chronic pain and turned their health around because of Beachbody, Isagenix and programs like them. And the online communities comprise folks keeping each other accountable, largely on social media.

“[Social media] used to be a vice to kind of escape the stresses of the day … now that becomes my motivator,” said Dave McClain, a Beachbody coach from Willow Grove who lost 160 pounds with the program. “When I see somebody with three kids working and having all these responsibilities still getting their workout in, what’s my excuse?”

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