The “hero journey” concept (or “monomyth”) is central to story telling. It’s been described by Jung, Joseph Campbell, and plenty of others.
Think about the latest film you saw, or TV series you watched, then take a look at the 12 stages on this image. The “hero’s journey” is present in the best, most compelling, most memorable stories.
And it’s SO relevant to the fitness industry, isn’t it?
Do you use the idea of a “hero’s journey” in your content?
It could be for your own story or – more likely – your clients’ stories.
Here are the 12 stages of the “hero journey” (with my own thoughts about how it applies to fitness industry content):
1 = Ordinary World
Where your client is before he finds you. He’s safe, but bored and oblivious of what awaits him on his journey. We get to know all the details about him at this stage. He’s human.
2 = Call To Adventure
Something happens to launch our hero onto his adventure (journey/transformation). Is it a threat to his health? A wake up call? It’s something that disrupts the safety and comfort of his Ordinary World. What is the challenge or quest that presents itself?
3 = Refusal Of The Call
Your hero might want to accept the challenge, but he’s got fears/doubts. There are barriers. He refuses the call… and suffers (again) in some way. Does his health suffer? Or his self-confidence? How do things get worse (and why did he refuse)?
4 = Meeting The Mentor
Here’s where you come in! Your hero needs expert guidance… and finds it. For the fitness world, the “mentor” he meets is in the form of advice, training, and practical guidance. He now has the strength and courage to go on his journey.
5 = Crossing The Threshold
Our hero is ready to go on his journey to better health and fitness. He crosses the threshold from his old, familiar world, to this new one: the fitness lifestyle. What actions does he take to signify his commitment? Where does he go?
6 = Tests, Allies & Enemies
The middle of the story. He’s out of his comfort zone but he’s not yet at his destination. There’s plenty to threaten him, tempt him and derail him. External sources (environment, foods, lack of supportive peers) and internal (self-doubt, dip in motivation, lack of self-belief). What tests does he face? What obstacles? Which os his skills are tested? How does he overcome (and how do you help him)? He finds out who can be trusted (…you!)
7 = Approach To The Innermost Cave
The “inmost cave” in our fitness context could be mindset, belief, eating issues, prior failures with diet or training. It will be a huge internal conflict and something which lots of your readers will also recognise in their own story. As he approaches the mouth of the cave, your hero once again faces his biggest personal battles. He’ll need to call on everything he’s learned. This is a chance for a pause in the story to recap on where he’s come from, how he got here, and what he learned.
8 = Ordeal
This is the ultimate test in your hero’s journey. It could be a big physical test (useful for fitness stories) or a massive emotional/psychological crisis. His biggest fear, or his most terrifying enemy. He needs to face it, and he needs to face it now. It’s time. Through this ordeal, he will be “reborn” and the new version revealed. This is the high point of the story, but everything is on the line.
9 = Reward
The enemy (within or without!) has been defeated. Your hero has been transformed (<<< ooh, what does THAT remind you of in the fitness industry?) He emerges stronger. And with a reward. The reward in our context could be better health, improved home life, or a better body (very visual and easy to use as social proof).
10 = The Road Back
Your hero is ready to return victorious. He’s not anticipating any threats or battles. Instead he is looking forward to some form of vindication. What would that be for your hero?
11 = Resurrection
Oops, there’s one more challenge for your hero to overcome before the end of his journey. He will face up to something bigger than himself, and the victory will have far-reaching consequences that leave an impact beyond his own journey. Your readers need to feel part of this: his success (or potential failure) will have a real emotional impact on them.
12 = Return With The Elixir
Your hero is back home, a changed person. He’s grown (maybe literally, in our fitness context). He’s learned plenty. He’s changed. He is the person he always dreamed of being. He is a hero. What does his journey mean to others? Hope? A solution? Proof of what is possible?
Remember the structure of the “hero journey” next time you’re writing some story-style content. If I can help you brainstorm ideas, structure content, or write copy, get in touch.
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Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.