Join or Die: Fitness Management Scams

by Matt Weik

The phrase “Join or Die” is most well-known for its use by Americans in 1765 to urge colonial unity against the British. These days in the fitness industry it has a different meaning for it. Either you sign the contract or you don’t place. It’s that simple. There is a fairly well known individual who not only takes photographs at NPC/IFBB shows, but who also has his own management company where he works with women in the sport. It also just so happens that the guy who is managing these female competitors in the sport also has a father in the same sport who it’s safe to say is the “big kahuna”. If you’re following along, you already know the people/family I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about, it’s probably for the best.

Pay to play

Here’s where things start to go a little sideways. This management company is having athletes sign on the dotted line, taking much of their overall income in return for better placings in shows (it’s not directly spelled out like that in the contract but it’s pretty well assumed). Don’t believe me? There’s plenty of information floating around the internet on how athletes who placed terribly in every show all of a sudden started placing in the top 5 of every show they enter with the same look on stage as when they weren’t in the top 10—many times placing better than people who clearly have a better physique than theirs (who aren’t clients of this individual). Still following along?

So how does this work you ask? Without giving away his name and for the sake of this article, let’s refer to him as “son”. And likewise, let’s call his almighty powerful father, “dad”. So, “son” starts his own management group where he takes athletes under his wing and helps them make a name for themselves in the industry. Is there some shady stuff going on between him and some of his female clients (you can use your imagination of what they are doing)? I’m told so. So we already have that issue right off the bat. And mind you, “son” is also married with children. But then you have competitors under his management who are going on stage in front of his “dad” who controls the IFBB/NPC. See something odd going on here? How is there not a conflict of interest when you have a “son” and a “dad” in the same industry, where the “son’s” clients are being looked at and judged by his “dad” or heavily influenced? If “son” makes money off of his clients under his management company, wouldn’t you think “dad” would want to help out his “son” and have his clients place well in shows so that not only does it get more exposure for his clients/athletes, but it also puts money in “son’s” pocket from his client placing well enough in a show to take home a check? Hmm, interesting.

Overnight celebrity

Look at the female placings at shows and then look specifically at who’s in the top 5. Notice anything? Majority of them are under contract with “son”, and most of the shows where one of his clients is competing is won by one of his athletes. These females are also plastered across the magazines in the industry, many times getting on the cover. Let’s not take anything away from these competitors, they work hard to compete and in most cases do look good on stage, not always great or deserving of their placing, but good. They definitely work hard to achieve their physique; this article is simply shedding some light on some “benefits” of working with “son’s” management company. But this situation needs to come to light and be made public as it’s honestly yet another dark cloud over the industry. These athletes are paying “son” for his services under his management group and it’s honestly like a bribe in a way that these women pay to be one of his “girls” to ensure they place better in shows and get exposure in magazines (one of which “son” owns and contributes around 90% of the content/pictures for). These women could place outside the top 10 in a show and sign a contract with “son” and in their very next show be in the top 5 without changing their look/physique at all and stand next to the same women who beat her previously. It’s appalling what is going on in the industry. Honestly, it’s what frustrates many athletes enough that they completely leave the NPC/IFBB and go to a different organization to compete in. I can’t say I blame them.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

We all have the power to make change in this world and in this industry. Expose the bad and negative and try to turn it into a positive through change. We all have a voice which is meant to be heard. The sheep in the flock that surround this industry all sound the same. The same thing goes on in the supplement industry that I was a part of for almost 10 years. They too have things going on behind the scenes that is shady. But it’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing that will destroy the flock. This wolf could act alone, or he could have accomplices who form a group to go after the negativity surrounding the sport and organizations. Either way, change will happen. It all begins by one outsider calling foul. If something doesn’t look right or has a smell to it, it’s probably bad. People need to act on their emotions and intuitions. If something seems off or too good to be true, it probably is. And if you feel like you have to sell your soul to the devil in order to place better in shows, than shame on you. There’s politics in this sport without a doubt. Either you learn to live with it and the placings they “give” you (many times you don’t place where you deserve to be) or you get out completely or change organizations. If the “pro league” is where you want to be then you might just have to shut your mouth and deal with it. That’s the harsh reality. None of the other “pro” organizations hold a candle to the NPC/IFBB. With NSL now making moves to steal competitors, maybe that’s an avenue for you to go if you don’t like what you see and are dealing with currently?

In my opinion, overall these types of shenanigans going on inside the organization should not be tolerated, especially in a professional atmosphere and league. We all understand the sport is subjective. On any given day a judge can see an athlete one way and a totally different way the next day. That’s unfortunately just the way it is. However, how can “dad” come down on “son” without completely exposing what’s going on? It will never change until the regime in place right now is pretty much overthrown or leaves the organization. Honestly, I don’t see “dad” ever stepping down, rather I see him passing away at an old age still being the “head honcho”. I think these two individuals want what’s best for the sport and enjoy the industry as a whole, but they are also interested in what’s going to put money in their pocket. They have a lot of friends in the industry and probably just as many enemies as well. You have to applaud them though for creating a place where athletes can compete. It gives them a path to express themselves creatively on stage and show everyone the physique they worked hard to create throughout the years.