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Six Tips for Social Media Influencers

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Q: I’m a physique competitor with a growing social media following. How do I legally protect myself as I expand my “brand”?

A: You don’t need to be a celebrity to make money as a social media “influencer.” Many in the strength and fitness community are gaining enough followers to be offered paid endorsement gigs by natural product marketers, sports nutrition companies, and apparel lines. My law firm handles many bodybuilding and fitness matters, and Shannon Montgomery, Esq. – a Bikini competitor and powerlifter herself – handles our social media clients. Shannon and I recently sat down to discuss how influencers can legally protect themselves and their “brand.” Here, we focus on six tips.

1. Form a Business Entity. A business entity – such as a corporation, partnership or limited liability company – requires paperwork (such as bylaws), additional accounting work and tax filings, but it can shield you and your personal assets from liability for things that happen while you’re acting as an influencer (for example, breaching a contract or infringing a trademark, further discussed below). A business entity can ensure that if someone sues you and wins, you won’t lose your home or car.

2. Get Agreements in Writing. It amazes us that so many business deals in the fitness industry are done without contracts spelling out all the terms of the agreement. You should work with a lawyer to understand and even negotiate the terms of the deal, and put it in writing. Everyone may be friends when you shake hands on a deal, but when things take an unexpected bad turn, both sides blame the other. A straightforward written contract can avoid a very costly courtroom battle.

3. Know Who Owns What. If you’re lucky enough to start working as an endorser or brand ambassador, you may start creating content for their social media pages. They’ll want to take ownership of the content that is part of the brand partnership. But can they continue to use your posts – or your image and likeness – after the term of your contract with them ends? Be careful if your contract tries to give them lifetime rights to your name and likeness – or to sell it to others – without any further compensation to you!

4. Protect your Intellectual Property (IP). If you come up with a great name for your fitness business or brand, you’ll want to protect it by securing a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Trademarks are intended to prevent confusion in the marketplace. Owning a trademark can stop a competitor from trying to capitalize on the success of your brand. It’s not very expensive to do, and typically worthwhile.

5. Don’t Infringe Others’ IP. Before you invest any money into the catchy name you came up with, you’d better be sure you’re allowed to use it. Trademark clearance searches help to find other trademarks that are the same or similar to yours so you know if you can use the name without infringing on somebody else’s trademark. Copyrighted material – for example, a training course – is protected IP and the general rule of thumb is that if you didn’t create it, you cannot use it without the permission of the creator. Using photos that somebody else took – even of food or bulging biceps – can provoke the owner of the photo (usually the photographer) to threaten to sue you (we recommend using a stock photo provider for royalty-free pics). The cost of infringing others’ IP rights can be devastating.

6. Keep Your Posts Legally Compliant. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines for advertising, marketing, and endorsements that apply to social media, and you can face serious penalties for failing to follow the rules.1 The FTC is concerned with consumer protection against false or misleading advertising. If you’re getting compensated for endorsing a product or service on social media – even if it’s only in free product – you need to specify to consumers that you’re a paid endorser and you must follow the FTC guidelines. Using hashtags like “#sponsoredadvertisement” or “paidpartnership” are appropriate especially if paired with a statement within the caption regarding the relationship. The FTC policy clearly indicates that messages (posts, videos, etc.) that are not readily “identifiable as advertising to consumers are deceptive if they mislead consumers into believing they are independent, impartial or not from the sponsoring advertiser itself.” Know the rules!

The path to success as a social media influencer requires planning ahead, but legal protection can save you big later on. If you’re an aspiring influencer needing guidance, reach out to me and Shannon at smontgomery@supplementcounsel.com.

Rick Collins, Esq., CSCS [https://rickcollins.com/] is the lawyer who members of the bodybuilding community and dietary supplement industry turn to when they need legal help or representation. [© Rick Collins, 2021. All rights reserved. For informational purposes only, not to be construed as legal or medical advice.]

Reference:

1. You can read them here: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=701066299822530421fece37367c91d3&mc=true&node=pt16.1.255&rgn=div5

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How to Get a V-Shape Back

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One of the most sought-after looks in fitness is a developed V-shape latissimus dorsi. The back is a large muscle group consisting of different muscles layered upon each other. While it is important to train the entire back and all of its different areas, I would like to zero in on the lats and the best exercises for superb development.

Developing Your Lats

Throughout my career, people have always inquired as to how I developed my back, and specifically my lats. While I attribute much of my back development to performing deadlifts, my lat development can be specifically attributed to basic movements such as pull-ups, chin-ups, and wide-grip angled pull-ups. When I was 11 years old, I had an early morning routine at the park in which I incorporated pull-ups and chin-ups. These two movements helped me to create both width and length of my latissimus dorsi. Pull-ups, performed with a wide, overhand grip develop the width of the latissimus dorsi, while chin-ups, performed with a shoulder-width, underhand grip develop the length of the lats from origin to insertion. Another variety of chin-ups can be performed with a close grip.

The wide-grip, angled pull-up can be performed as a pull-up exercise where the hands are positioned with a wide, parallel grip. Or, as a variation, you may use the wide-grip angled bar designed for universal or cable pull-downs as a weighted pull-down exercise. If you’re not able to locate a high parallel bar pull-up bar, most parks have apparatuses that contain different bars that are spaced in such a way that this exercise may be performed.

In the film Rocky III, Mr. T as Clubber Lang performs wide-grip, angled pull-ups using ropes around a wooden beam and you can check out this clip to see the width and hand position of this particular exercise. Over the years, it has become one of my favorite back exercises, and I find that it targets the lats in a precise way that differs greatly from pull-ups and chin-ups due to the positioning of the hands.

Good Form Is Key

Any of the exercises that I have described should be done with controlled form.  I advise you to focus on a slow, controlled upward and downward motion, bringing your lats to a fully stretched position. Let your lats expand and contract from origin to insertion, and from positive-to static-to negative. You won’t get as many repetitions this way, but excellent form produces excellent lats. You’ll witness many trying to increase repetitions with sloppy form, muscling themselves up with a violent motion. But when you use controlled form, you will feel and see the difference in your lats. Think through the exercise, feeling the attachments of the lats stretching and expanding. You’ll find that good form is much more important than repetitions for these specific exercises.

Incorporate these three basic, yet proven and time-tested exercises into your weekly back routine for a couple of months, and witness the astounding change in your latissimus dorsi development. In both width and length, the superb V-shape back will emerge as one of your best body parts!

The author is pictured displaying a side lat view along with a massive biceps peak. 

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Concussions: Healing and Relief

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When you have a competitive spirit, it is difficult to avoid putting it all on the line within the realm of sports and hobbies. Most sports have a level of contact which at times can impact the body to the point of injury or damage. But often, the brain is an area that is overlooked in regards to sports impacts and the effects of extreme sports. I’ve had my fair share of concussions, and they have all had a prolonged effect on concentration, focus, and the handling of daily stress. I fought competitively for several years and have had many jarring head and body impacts. My wife received a concussion in a horseback riding accident. Our younger daughter had a terrible head collision in a soccer game. All took months to years for recovery. Symptoms can vary from headaches, to blurred vision, to lack of concentration, to anxiety, and to agitation to light and noise.

Over the years, we have all reduced our lingering concussion symptoms with the help of vitamins and minerals. The proper vitamin and mineral intake greatly improved the efficiency of the synapses, which permit the passage of electrical and chemical signals between neurons or to effector cells of the brain by increasing blood flow and naturally reducing swelling of the brain tissue.

Our personal results have been astonishing. My wife and I feel one hundred percent better. My daughter is still improving and though it has taken a little more time, she is feeling much better. I should note that her concussion was the most recent of the three. I have gladly helped many athletes and clients who have received concussions and who had experienced the effects of impacts to the head. Most have reported a great improvement.

In addition to our daily vitamin/mineral intake, here is the vitamin/mineral approach that we take for healing from concussions:

With Meal One

(1 capsule) Vitamin B (Nature’s Way B-100 Complex: B1, B2, B6, B12, Choline)

(500 mg) L-tyrosine, (free form amino acid)

With Meal Two

(250 mg tablet) Nature’s Made Magnesium

(100 mcg’s) Selenium

With Meal Three

(1 capsule) Vitamin B (Nature’s Way B-100 Complex: B1, B2, B6, B12, Choline)

(250 mg tablet) Nature’s Made Magnesium

PLEASE NOTE: Always seek advice from your physician before beginning a supplement regimen, especially if you are taking medication.

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Quick Air Squat Exercise Instruction

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