Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both?

The internetwebs – particularly social media – has flattened the landscape somewhat. It’s democratised things. Instagrammers with a good set of abs and a frisky amount of followers brand themselves “fitness models”. Clients no longer necessarily need to see their PT. And prefacing your online biography with the word “[aspiring]…” seems enough to do away with the need for a portfolio, qualifications, or real-life experience. In any sphere.

I feel I may have got off on the wrong foot with this one. So, before you all think I’ve got an axe to grind (I haven’t – if I had, I wouldn’t waste time grinding it, I use it to tackle my garden), I’ll explain the context for today’s post.

My client-now-friend Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting recently posed a question to his Facebook followers: “do you need to actually train people to coach online and write about fitness?”

The video post prompted responses from trainers, coaches, PTs and PT clients. And from me. I responded as a copywriter. More than that, as a copywriter who specialises in writing about, and for, fitness businesses.

So, of course, my reply to the writing portion of the question was a resounding “no”. Although I do have extensive experience of training, being coached, and even competing in various sports, I don’t think this is a deal-breaker. After all, I also write for a funeral car company, and I’ve never designed a car, driven a hearse, or arranged a funeral. My fitness clients include businesses whose niche is running (I haven’t run properly for years) and post-partum yoga (I don’t have children, and corpse pose is my favourite because it involves lying down and having a nice sleep).

Now, granted, the context of Mike’s question was a PT who had approached him, asking about moving into exclusively online coaching and writing about fitness, rather than face-to-face PTing.

But it got me thinking.

In this online age, where boundaries get blurry and self-styled job roles merge, what do clients actually prefer?

A copywriter who can write about fitness?

Or a fitpro who can write?

Does it no longer matter? What’s more important: official training and experience in writing, or hands-on experience of the topic being written about?

Can a writer understand enough about a topic to be able to write about it with authority? And can a topic-expert know enough about how to get inside a reader’s head to write content which persuades and engages?

I don’t know. But I’d love to know your thoughts, particularly if you have ever commissioned anyone to write content for your business (or publication).

*No axes were ground during the composition of this blog post*

Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


5 Responses to Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both?

  1. Karen says:

    My ex husband is an economist, he works for WPP a global media agency, his clients include Ford, Intel, Unilever.

    What does an econometrist know about cars, computer chips & convenience foods. Nothing.

    But he knows how to statistically model markets, apply common sense & create a pan-Asia media marketing strategy.

    He can also play pool.


  2. Georgina says:

    Coming from a non-writing background it was (and still is) a big learning curve for me to understand how to write to keep people’s interest. It’s funny how you can think you’ve written something absolutely golden, only for it not to get a good read-rate or interaction.

    On the other side of the coin, I think if you’re a good writer and can do your research, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t write about something that’s not your field of expertise.

    What I love about both industries is that the opportunities to learn are endless 🙂


    • Nicola Joyce says:

      Thanks for the comment, G! I think there’s also a huge difference between writing for magazine (digital or print) features, online articles/blogs and then all the other types of copywriting in sales and marketing. This has been an interesting debate (here and FB)


  3. Helen says:

    I think writing about fitness and coaching online are 2 different things. Do you have to be a PT to write knowledgably about fitness? No. Do you (or should you) have some qualifications and face-to-face coaching experience before coaching online? My opinion is yes.

    Also I am perplexed by the number of people who think 6 pack abs = health and knowledge.


Please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: