Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Slim & Shady

I'm far from a fitness expert, and in no way a professional. That much is obvious to anyone reading this blog. I am happy to share my opinions on the products I use and the events I participate, and to be honest I would absolutely love for companies to send me products to test and review. So I was intrigued a few days ago when I received this e-mail in my blog's mailbox:


I hope you're having a nice week! I am reaching out to you because I recently came across your page:http://earnyourdonuts.blogspot.com/2011_05_01_archive.html

I have a few questions for you; if you could get back to me at your convenience, that would be great. I look forward to hearing from you!


Now, I was intrigued, but I should have suspected that this was spam when the address listed was my blog archive from May and not a real post, but I followed up and received this response:

Hi Brian,

Thanks for getting back to me :)

I am reaching out to you because I saw you had some awesome fitness and health related posts on your blog. Are you familiar with the Beachbody brand? If not, we are the makers of the popular p90x, along with many other fitness programs. I was wondering if you would be interested in adding a short post with a couple of our links on your blog. The Beachbody brand is so relevant to the content on your page and I think your site viewers would find our products very beneficial. If this is something you like to discuss further please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you!

"Awesome fitness and health related posts"? Were they really reading my blog? Still, here's where it seems like they're asking me to endorse a product. Again, I'm no expert, but what credibility I have comes from me giving my honest opinions. I'm not comfortable endorsing something I haven't tried myself. I asked if I could have a copy of one of their programs to try:

Hi (Name withheld)
Thanks for the quick response. I've heard of p90x, although it would be a stretch to say I'm familiar with it. I would be happy to put up a post with some links, under a couple conditions:

1. I am not comfortable endorsing something I have not tried myself. Would you be able to send me any programs to try?

a. If so, I will put up a post with a link to the Beachbody website and a link the program or programs I'm trying.
b. I'll keep my readers posted with some updates along the way and then a review of the program after I've used it through the proscribed length of the program.

2. If condition #1 is ok w/Beachbody, I want to be very upfront with my readers that I was asked to share information with them and provided w/things to try.

3. If condition #1 is ok, I would like to maintain my flexibility regarding the context/tone of reviews -- I'm going for a mix of seriousness and humor on my blog. I love writing product reviews, but in them I try to balance a solid review with a little bit of humor. For example, I made fun of all the little brand names & labels (like the "Geofit" label inside them) on my Adidas running shoes that imply their advanced technology. That said, I reviewed my first impression of their performance and as they reach the end of their lifecycle in a month or two I'll write a longer review of my experiences with them. In context, I'm not a professional trainer or coach, I'm just a regular guy -- I'd like review your products in the context of "this is what I liked about them/this is what I didn't like" and "this is why there were a good fit for me/why they might not have been the best fit".

Your e-mail is catching me at the right time -- I was pretty consistent, although not very scientific, with a weightlifting program for many years, but have really gotten out of the habit over the past year as I've gotten busier at my job and with training for longer races. I want to catch the fitness (and not just the running) bug again during 2010, so I hope we can work together on this.

This is the first year of my blog, but I have been getting about 1700 readers a month, and I hope to continue to grow my readership as well.

Thanks again,

No products for me:

Hi Brian,

Thanks for getting back to me :) Unfortunately at this time we are not able to offer products for review or compensation for linking to us. If you have any other ideas - I am open to suggestions! Let me know how you would like to proceed :)

So let's review. Beachbody wants me to link to, in effect advertising or endorsing, a fitness product that I've never used? No way. And if that's the kind of referrals they're looking for, that leads me question their credibility.

I'm not just trying get free stuff here, and this isn't buying ad space that they're talking about. I don't think a blogger having ads or selling ad space necessarily means that they personally endorse those products. They reached out to me to add a post about their product. That's a little different from my point-of-view. I enjoy writing reviews of the products I purchase and use. I still owe a review of the new hydration belt that infuriated me so much during my 20-mile run. I'd be thrilled to be sent products to review. But how am I supposed to post about something I've never tried? Really, they don't have a spare set of DVDs lying around?

I debated posting this, and I debated naming the company, since I'm in effect giving them exactly what they wanted. I'd have been glad to try one of their programs and share my thoughts on it, but instead I'm putting up a post and telling my readers that I think the company is a little bit shady.


  1. Wow, you put a lot of effort into that. I got a similar e-mail, only I told them that while I was familiar with their products I never tried them and wasn't interested in promoting anything I haven't tried. Usually they'll respond with an offer of something to test in exchange for links or a review. I never heard back from the Beachbody people...

  2. Yeah. This was just supposed to be a quick rant and then ended up being much longer than I thought. I probably made too much out of no big deal, but I thought it was a bit suspect.

    In response to their last e-mail above I just sent a quick sorry-this-isn't-going-to-work e-mail, and at least got a pleasant, polite reply.

  3. Thanks for posting this.. I just got the same e-mail on my blog, exact same text. Google led me to you, which let me confirm my suspicions. :)