Help Your Client Overcome Their MONSTER (story telling for fitness business marketing)

April 3, 2018

You already know that your content needs to engage people on an emotional level – and that doesn’t mean steering clear of negative emotions. Yes, joy, wonder, and curiosity are valuable. But so are fear, frustration, and disappointment.

In my previous post, I talked about “types” of story you can use in your copy.

It’s widely accepted (thanks to Christopher Booker’s 2004 book “Why We Tell Stories“) that every story ever told falls into one of seven categories: Comedy, Tragedy, Voyage and Return, Rebirth, Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches and The Quest. Fun fact: he worked on the book for over 30 years.

The book looks at why humans are psychologically programmed to imagine stories this way – and why we react so strongly to them.

I want to talk to you about three of them – the three I think are most useful for fitness businesses and brands.

Up first – “Overcoming The Monster”

What barrier is your reader facing? What stands in the way of where they are, and where they want to be (or what they know, and what they want to know)?

And how can you provide the solution – get them from A-B?

Your client is the underdog of this story – and they need to “win”. Your job is to make them the hero.

In OCM stories, our hero sets out to challenge and destroy an antagonist. It can be an individual or a force, but it’s usually bigger or seemingly greater than them, and it threatens him/her, the family, the community, or the entire future.

It will take a lot of courage and strength for the protagonist to Overcome The Monster – they will often face difficult choices, decisions, losses, and will experience painful growth along the way.

They are never the same at the end of the story.

>> Think Star Wars, Terminator, most Westerns, Rocky (and most boxing films) David (of defeating Goliath fame), and – if you remember your mythology – Perseus and Theseus.

= For your purposes, the “monster” is unlikely to be a physical creature looming into town. It’s going to be your client’s fears, anxieties, biggest dread, self-doubt, self-sabotage, or perhaps the words of someone who has told them not to bother, or that they will never be sporty or that “everyone in this family is fat” =

>> Some examples to Overcoming The Monster in fitness advertising: Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign…. and pretty much anything Nike has ever done since they created the “Just Do It” call to arms in 1988.

There are five stages to an OTM type story – and you can use these to structure your copy…

1. Anticipation and Call
What is the monster? Why does it seem powerful? What type of threat does it pose? This is where your hero needs to accept the challenge.
2. Dream
Your hero prepares to battle whilst they are still some distance away (think about all those training montages set to music!)
3. Frustration
The monster shows itself, and its power is revealed. Has our hero bitten off more than they can chew? It all hangs in the balance.
4. Nightmare
The battle is on. At first, our hero seems to be getting crushed by the monster. It looks bleak. But there’s no giving up. It looks like it’s all over for the hero…. but hang on, what’s this? The battle is about to take a turn.
5. Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster.
Hooray! Our hero wins (of course). Monster is defeated, hero is victorious, and he/she gets presented with riches or some kind of reward and returns home the conquering hero.


Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

Recent work for sport and fitness clients

January 21, 2011

I initially intended this blog to be split about 50/50 between posts about my work as a sport and fitness writer, and posts about my own sporty endeavours.

Somewhere along the line, the balance has been lost! So today I’m going to post about a few recent projects I’ve worked on for sport and fitness clients.

Website copy for a personal trainer

I wrote website copy for Mack Parnell of Reboot PT, a personal trainer in North London. He asked me to redo his existing homepage text and write copy for a new FAQ page. He also asked me to write copy for his services pages, including weight loss, nutrition, muscle building and kettlebells. It was right up my street and I turned the project around – from quote to sign-off – in a week.

Mack said: “This all looks great, exactly what I was looking for.”

Press release for local fitness bootcamp

Another recent job was writing (and distributing) a press release for a charity fitness boot-camp held locally. I wrote the press release, including sourcing a quote from the charity which would be benefitting, researched a media list and then sent the release to named individuals at the target publications. The result? Coverage in the main local newspaper (and on the paper’s website) and an interview on local radio. And my client now has a researched media list she can use in the future.

Heidi from Fasttrack-fitcamp said: “Thanks for your help, it got us on the radio and in Wokingham Times which is great as we would like to raise our profile in Wokingham more.”

Content for triathlon wetsuit website

I was contacted by a client looking to create a website devoted to triathlon wetsuits: which to choose, how to get the right fit and tips on caring for the wetsuit. I was the right person to ask, having written a number of triathlon wetsuit kit-test features for triathlon magazines (and worn my own fair share of wetsuits in races!) I researched and wrote the wetsuit reviews and also supplied content for three short articles: a beginner’s guide to triathlon wetsuits, tips for wetsuit care and performance tips (ie how to get the thing on and off!).

Richard Sykes from said: “It has has been a pleasure working with a real professional – someone who contributes ideas as well as copy – and delivered at incredible speed.”

Of course, I also still work as a freelance sport and fitness journalist, writing features for consumer magazines. I’m terrible at a) buying the magazines I’m featured in and then b) tearing the pages out and c) scanning them in (even typing that out makes me feel tired!) but here’s one I have got on file. It’s from Body Fit magazine and looks at how to keep your fitness mojo going over these cold, dark months. Since I’m currently shivering in my study, it seems a timely one to share. Enjoy! 🙂

Recent work for sport and fitness clients is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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