Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover…

Posted on: May 21st, 2013 by Rachel Cosgrove

“Why aren’t you on the cover?”

“The model on the cover doesn’t look very strong?”

“I’m surprised at the choice of the model on the cover?”

I have been getting some feedback about the model they used on the cover of my newest book, Drop Two Sizes, and I wanted to take this opportunity to respond…

My first book, The Female Body Breakthrough, I poured everything into including my own personal story, every tidbit & coaching story I use with my clients, my philosophies, the science, EVERYTHING! My picture was on the cover and throughout. This was my first experience writing a book. (If you don’t have a copy of it pick one up now!)

Choosing the model for this first book, they sent me pictures in an email of each model. Of course I picked the one with the most muscles, looking the fittest of the group. She looked great and could do all of the exercises (except I will admit she could not do a chin up).

When I flew out to do the photo shoot I ended up also working with Adam Campbell on his Big Book of Exercises Books, which were Men’s Health & Women’s Health Branded. He had a number of Women’s Health models but did not use the model I had chosen. I didn’t realize at the time but now looking back I understand why, because she was not approved for the Women’s Health Brand.

Women’s Health is a brand with a very clear vision and idea of their target market. They know their audience, what inspires them, what resonates with them and what will motivate them to buy a book or a magazine. Their mission statement of 2013:

Women’s Health is the must have action plan for today’s modern woman. From Beauty to style to fitness, Women’s Health gives readers the tools they need to make instant, positive changes in their life.

They know their target market better than anyone, motivating and inspiring 15.6 million of these 18-24 year old women to buy their magazine making it one of the most successful women’s fitness magazines.

If you own a gym or have a business as a personal trainer you too should know your target audience as well as Women’s Health does and take a few lessons from this –

1)   You are not your customer.

2)   You must meet your customer where they are.

I have worked with Women’s Health now for 6 years and over that time have also become familiar with their target market and have realized I am not their target market (A 38 year old gym rat who’s been lifting weights for over 20 years, with a goal of deadlifting 315 lbs). I “get” this because I am also not our gym’s target market.

I would never use the above picture in our marketing & understand why Women’s Health wouldn’t either, although more and more of our female members are at the point, where the above does inspire them (instead of intimidate them) but only after being on their journey at our gym for a number of years. Eventually more and more women will too.

I recently interviewed one of the editors of Women’s Health for our mastermind coaching group and we talked about this and how she is so grateful that I “get” the audience and can speak their language yet give them the right, scientific information that they need putting it in terms they can be inspired and motivated by, meeting them where they are at while still giving solid advice. I’m further along on my own journey of strength training and fitness but can still put myself in their shoes as they are just getting started on the path to transforming their body. After all, I do this everyday with new clients joining our gym, meet them where they are at.

I was very proud of my first book. I did everything I could to promote it and had a goal of inspiring as many women as possible to start to strength train. The book has done really well, sold 20,000 copies so far and has inspired a large number of women.

The audience of 20,000 that I reached with my first book is extremely small compared to the audience of

15.6 million

that Women’s Health has. I still wanted to reach this much larger audience. My first book was just a little too “hardcore” to connect with this audience. Maybe the model did have something to do with it? The squat racks & barbells? Or maybe the cover picture showing off my guns :) had something to do with it…who knows? The larger demographic wasn’t ready for it yet in the package I delivered it in.

Let’s put it this way, Oprah wasn’t calling yet…

My idea for my second book started to form after running the Jeans Challenge at our gym and coaching other trainers who have run it successfully with their clients. I originally called it a “Skinny Jeans Challenge” in an effort to connect with the target audience in their terms. That language worked and still to this day many of the women who do the challenge still call it that. I don’t like the word “skinny” but again I am not my target audience. If I can hook them in with the word “skinny,” then I can inspire & motivate them to get strong and reinvent their body to be the best version of themselves – smaller, fitter, stronger, leaner…and if they want to call themselves “skinny” or “toned” I’m fine with it as long as they have learned that “skinny” doesn’t equal a number on the scale anymore, instead it equals rocking your jeans using strength training as the priority to do that.

When I found out my new book would have the Women’s Health Brand on it I was so excited! Having Women’s Health behind me to help promote & reach this much larger audience was exactly what I wanted with this second book. I wanted to resonate with even more women than my first book.

Having the Women’s Health brand did mean that the book would look and feel like the Women’s Health brand, which means I would be using one of the models they have approved for their brand.

What I would not compromise on was the content, which is exactly my message and what I wanted to say to this audience with a program that is exactly what we use at Results Fitness and what works.

This time around when they sent me the pictures of the models for the book right away I noticed that none of them had as much muscle definition and so I asked if I could request the same model I used in my first book. The response was –“Her muscles are too developed for Women’s Health.”

Of course my first reaction was – what?!?!?!  If you think she’s too developed, you must think I look like the hulk???

But then, after a deep breath, remembering I am not the target market, I realized her being “too developed” means that the audience we are after has no muscle definition, is just getting started on their journey and so we need to meet them where they are at. Some muscle definition but not too much will resonate with this audience, too much might intimidate them. I chose the one with the most muscle definition and of course she was already booked for something else and so I got my second choice who had even less muscle but that is ok because she matches the brand that resonates with the audience of 15.6 million to finally reach them to start lifting weights.

Am I compromising my message by having a model who has less muscle definition? Not at all.

The fact is – It isn’t easy to gain muscle definition & size (despite what some women still think- that they might sprout huge muscles the moment they pick up a dumbbell). That is what this whole book is about- how women can gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 10 pounds of fat and be smaller, “skinnier”  & “toned” like the model on the book.

Women who start to lift weights in the first year will have developed muscles that look similar to the model on this book. I have clients who are tall and thin who fight for every pound of muscle they build and the first year working with us look just like the model on this book with a little bit of definition in their triceps and abs, looking more “toned” (not ripped with a 6-pack showing and guns).

In fact, just this week one of our clients reminded me that when she joined our gym 8 years ago we discussed how she was “skinny fat.” Not anymore! Eight years later she now has developed muscles, sculpted shoulders, six pack abs, looks amazing and has built a strong, fit body. It has taken her 8 years. The first year she looked similar to the model. It takes years of lifting to really see serious muscle definition and that is not everyone’s goal especially when they are just starting their journey.

This reminds me of when I did my first triathlon and thought people who did a full Ironman triathlon must be completely nuts! How could you ever even think about doing a race that would take all day to complete. A marathon is a long way to drive people!!! And you do the marathon after a 112-mile bike ride and 2-mile swim? Completely insane!!! I distinctly remember telling a friend – I would NEVER do an Ironman. After I did my sprint triathlon of a ¼ mile swim, 12-mile bike and 5K, I decided I could probably do an Olympic distance and did, which was double the distance of the sprint. Once I had completed that goal I started to comprehend and talk myself into that I could do a Half Ironman…and so the journey continued until one day I became one of those INSANE people who trained for and completed an Ironman! Day one I was not ready to grasp ever doing an Ironman. I never would have signed up to do a triathlon if an Ironman was my only choice because initially I had no interest in an Ironman.

It wouldn’t work to meet a target audience who has never lifted weights before with an image of someone who has been lifting weights for 5-10 years or like myself for 20 years. Instead we meet them where they are. Baby steps.

Eventually this target audience, as they “get” it and are inspired hopefully with this book, will want more and more muscle definition, realizing they can be strong and stay feminine. Overtime as we inspire this bigger audience to lift weights we’ll see models with more and more muscle definition in the magazines.

Unfortunately, we just aren’t there yet…proof that my first book didn’t make the impact I wanted it too…

This is why I put total trust in Women’s Health & the Women’s Health brand to reach this larger audience that they have experience reaching. I don’t know if this is also why they chose to not put my picture anywhere on or in the book…since I do have muscles and I’m also older than the target market. They haven’t told me this but I’m assuming if they thought the model from my first book had muscles that are too developed. Since I have been developing my muscles for 20 years, mine are definitely too developed. The fantastic part is that I am on the DVD’s along with other real women, not models, to coach and encourage this audience to be strong- showing off my “developed muscles,” flexing… :)

At the photo shoot when I met the model in person she looked great, had a great body and worked her butt off for this book. I owe her a big thank you! We shot all of the exercises in 2 days and I worked her. She was so sore on day two but sucked it up and did another whole day of shooting phase three exercises, which got more and more difficult. This girl is in shape. Being a fitness model is hard work especially when it is one of my routines. This girl did lunges, squats, planks, push ups, deadlifts over and over, rep after rep and every time had to look fresh, with excellent form and not complain. Yes she’s a model with long legs and a fantastic body but she works hard. Look at the pictures of her doing the Phase Three exercises and keep in mind that is at the end of a long two-day shoot. Respect for this tough chick!

“Get Off The Scale” was the original title of this book. The talented marketing department at Rodale pointed out that the women reading this book don’t want to “Get Off The Scale.” That doesn’t solve their problem and they won’t buy the book. The title was changed to “Drop Two Sizes.” This new title solved the problem that the target audience has, which will inspire them to pick the book up and buy it…and eventually get off the scale…

As you can see, a lot of time, thought and expertise goes into the marketing, cover and design of a book. My job was to provide the solid content inside with an effective program to follow while trusting Women’s Health to handle the rest. A company like Women’s Health knows how to get through to their target market and get them to pick up a magazine or a book. I’m so excited that this book will be picked up by a larger audience leading to more women being inspired and changing their lives.

The program and content within is a solid program based on what we do at Results Fitness. It is a proven plan that we have used over and over again. Anything you ever see me publish has been used at our gym with real clients and works. If you already own the Female Body Breakthrough, you’ll learn new updated information in this new book and most of all will get a dose of motivation & inspiration.

The moral of the story is- If you are further along on your journey because you followed my first book you can still follow the program in my new book, learn even more and get a great workout. The warm ups are laid out more specific and detailed, the TRX is included and the metabolic workouts are a step up from the last book.  Also this new book is laid out so fantastic (speaking of design) that it will really keep you motivated to stick to it and stay consistent. Plus my first workout DVD’s are available of this book! You can have me coach you through the workout!

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover unless…you are part of the Women’s Health demographic who is just getting started on your journey and the cover resonated with you and hooked you in. If that’s the case – then WELCOME and please don’t be intimidated by the picture or my mention of a 315lb deadlift above :)

If you are fitness professional, be aware and careful not to have a self-righteous attitude about what you know and where you are at on your journey. You’ll be able to inspire a lot more people if you let go of that and instead put yourself in your client’s shoes seeing it from their point of view, speaking their language working to understand where they are coming from to connect with them. If they want to be “toned” and fit in their “skinny” jeans, if you speak their language, you can show them the path and get them exposed to strength training, changing their body and changing their life for good.


Related posts:

  1. The Female Body Breakthrough Book Tour
  2. A False Ideal