You’ve probably stumbled across at least one transformation picture that gave credit to Beachbody and Shakeology on your social media. Beachbody is one of the biggest fitness companies in the USA & Canada and is estimated to be worth over $1.2 billion. Unsurprisingly, the company was eager to expand, and after a year of buildup, Beachbody UK launched in October 2017. I’m a fitness lover, so I was naturally curious about the latest and greatest trend.
Beachbody has an ingenious business plan. In the late 2000’s it switched to a model that utilized regular people and their social media contacts. The new ‘sellers’ of the Beachbody product were called ‘coaches’. These were customers who used the product and were then recruited into the company. Currently, Beachbody has around 360,000 coaches (I am estimating the number of coaches that have joined in the UK).
The coaches earn income by getting commission from ‘challenge packs’, Shakeology, gear and by recruiting new coaches. The coach recruitment is the best way for coaches to up their income. Beachbody gives coaches regular monetary bonuses for the number of coaches they have recruited below them (if this seems like a pyramid scheme, it is a very similar setup). Some of the more famous Beachbody coaches make over six figures per year. Becoming a coach is billed as a great, easy, fast way to make money at home.
The posts I saw on Instagram by these coaches made it seem so good. They got to work out, get paid, and “help others live a happier life”. I was skeptical, but if this was legitimate then it was perfect for me. Unbeknownst to my friends and family, I joined Beachbody as a coach to investigate the inner workings of the business and to understand what was going on behind closed computer screens.
Below is a list of all the things you will never be told by Beachbody coaches or in the training, in addition to my personal warning about why you should not fall for the Beachbody mystique. Let’s start with the limited benefits Beachbody offers you.
- The ‘meal plan’ given to you is very similar to what most doctors recommend for losing weight. The emphasis is on portion control and getting your daily amounts of fruit, vegetables and protein. All this information is readily accessible online. Beachbody contributes by giving you Tupperware containers to divvy out your allotted portions for each food. The containers are color coded but the same thing you can buy from Walmart.
- The workouts are decent. Some are a bit dated in clothing and music, but otherwise you get a good sweat. Each move is explained and demonstrated. You also get a day by day workout, so you don’t have to plan anything. Overall, I think Beachbody has a good thing going with their workouts. However, the price is a high compared to similar things on the market like Fit Body Guides or Fitness Blender.
- They have a helpful customer service. I had to call customer service twice, once for a postal inquiry and once for a refund question. Both times I got the answer I wanted and the staff was very friendly.
Now, for the many problems I found with Beachbody.
- You must invest way more than people tell you. To begin as a coach, you pay £39.95 to join, then you are forcefully encouraged to purchase a challenge pack that includes your first months Shakeology, access to workouts, and the online coaches training. This costs you £160.00 + VAT, but you get a 25% discount as a coach and you get the £39.95 coach fee waived with purchase. This works out to an even £160.00 just for your first month! After that you pay £15.95 per month for access to your coach website and the training library, and £95.00 for your monthly order of Shakeology. So, the monthly running cost is roughly £120.00 including VAT + shipping. To break even, in commission you would need to sell a minimum of 3 challenge packs a month. Coaches try to play this amount down to potential new coaches by saying it is a small price to pay to be your own boss. But…is it?
- It is not a quick or easy way to hustle some side cash. The social media posts I saw from Beachbody coaches made it seem simple! Post work out pics, show you are drinking Shakeology, and people will want to join your challenge group. What Beachbody neglects to tell is that you must constantly talk people into joining your challenge or coaching group.The work doesn’t stop there, after you have walked people through the joining/payment process, you now must put in effort to guide them through workouts, provide emotional support, and basically be a life coach for half the money you would normally get. I would estimate that you need to network for at least 3 hours per day and assist in your challenge groups at least 1-2 hours to earn a slight profit.
- You become the creepy stalker character from ‘Friend Request’. To get new coaches below you (so you earn bonuses) and customers you must stalk, harass, and annoy people into working with you. Beachbody even have a suggested formula that coaxes people into agreeing. First, you study their profiles, and find something you have in common. Then, you randomly message them with something like ‘I see you are an avid hiker like me! That is so cool, where are some of the places you have climbed?’ Now, you have a conversation going and you can eventually slip in that they should join your Beachbody challenge group. In case they have some objection like money or time, Beachbody has pre-prepared responses designed to refute their concerns. It is straight up stalker material.
- You are persuasively encouraged to drink Shakeology. Shakeology is one of the biggest sellers for Beachbody. It is a drink with a ton of added vitamins and herbs that is supposed to curb cravings, make you eat less, and basically help you lose weight along with the workouts. I was most cynical of this aspect of Beachbody. It tastes good, like cake batter, but immediately after my heart was unnaturally racing and I got the runs. Concerned, I went to a pharmacist to ask about Shakeology and interactions with my medication, and was told that there was no way to know because so many of the ingredients weren’t tested for interactions and were likely not fully researched. I told my Beachbody mentor that I wasn’t comfortable selling a product I couldn’t drink for health reasons. She reacted aggressively, saying my concerns were unfounded, and I should try to drink it for at least 8 days for my body to adjust. Her suggestion that I should drink it for at least a week made me think there was something else going on. I took my bag of Shakeology and went through the ingredients list. It shared ingredients with soda, and energy drinks, as well as using artificial sweeteners that haven’t been thoroughly studied. I can’t say positively (I am not a medical professional), but I’m suspicious that Shakeology might be mildly addictive.
- It is almost cult like. Once you are in Beachbody it is really, hard to get out. Your coach will put in a lot of effort to keep you in the program. If you want to cancel your coach membership you have to file online paperwork and then wait weeks before they officially cancel your membership. You must also call to separately cancel your monthly Shakeology. You cannot cancel this online anywhere. And, if you want to return any products for any reason, it is a trial! In the UK, the official return address does not show up in the Royal Mail Postal system. I tried calling Beachbody for a different address, was given the same one, then told to pay to use their special Beachbody courier who sent it to an address in a different region than the one advertised on the Beachbody UK site.
- It is concerning that Beachbody puts all legal responsibility on its coaches. If you do not follow their scripts word for word, and someone attempts to sue for injury, breach of contract, whatever, the coach, not Beachbody is liable. A dangerous place to be if you are a small business owner with no insurance.
It’s difficult to find any negative reviews about Beachbody and their coaching scheme online. It took deep internet research to find a few blogs that had somewhat un-positive things to say, but they all still had pro-Beachbody quotes worked in. I attribute this to a very strongly worded coach contract all new coaches must agree to prior to accessing Beachbody. One section forbids an active coach from posting ANY negative reviews/comments/opinions online while still working as/with Beachbody.
I began this project because I wanted to see if Beachbody’s overwhelmingly positive reputation was as honest as it appeared. It wasn’t. Personally, it was an extremely hostile experience. I had internet trolls comment on my photos, my mentor attempt to brow beat me, and I got ill off Shakeology. I suggest that you do not join Beachbody as a coach to earn money. If you are purely interested in the workouts, they seem safe and effective, but drink Shakeology after seeking a doctor’s advice.
In a bid to quiet the people who might suggest I wrote this because I am upset I didn’t make any profit, let me give a breakdown. Several weeks into coaching, I did have several people who were ready and willing to pay to be a part of my challenge group and several people ready to join me as coaches. I would have gotten a profit from both aspects of the Beachbody business if I continued. I worked the program exactly as outlined by Beachbody. I want to also clarify I returned all profits and cancelled my Beachbody membership before I wrote this, I made zero profit from the business, and I have not violated any confidentiality. All of this information is accessible on their website and via research.