In October of 2011 I was working at the FMI Conference in Los Angeles and during the process of photographing various talent’s headshots I kept seeing this one person out of the corner of my eye. She was assisting another photographer who was shooting nearby; but there was something absolutely captivating about her. The moment she walked by I approached her (in the least creepy possible way) and asked if I could do some portraits of her. Thankfully she agreed (and didn’t think I was too weird for asking) as we snapped some truly beautiful headshots of her; one of which is shown here.
Since that time I’ve gotten to know a bit more about Chelsea Cruz as well as all the projects she is currently investing herself in. I chose to feature her this month as she has been developing some out-of-the-box marketing and branding campaigns that I would like to shrae with you all.
James Patrick: In looking at your resume, it is filled with a variety of activities from host work to dancing to modeling to being a writer. Which interest came first and how did it branch out so much?
Chelsea Cruz: Gymnastics was my first love! I began when I was about 10yrs old, and immediately was hooked on the physical challenge, discipline, thrill and performance aspect. As I grew older I was faced with the reality of training costs and future commitments, which led me to pursue another passion. At 14 I hurled myself into the world of dance. Dance was an easy transition since I had already learned the skills and technique required, such as body control, flexibility, and strength through gymnastics. Plus, I have always loved music so taking my tricks to the dance floor was a smooth transition. Performing and competing in dance forced me to push myself to be the best. Being the best, meant training like the best. My drive and competitive nature led me to the gym. I wanted have the most powerful jumps, the highest kicks, fastest choreography, strongest balance, avoid injury, and of course be confident doing it all…
So I really had no choice but to educate myself on the proper way to build a body that could handle all of those goals. Learning the science behind developing a strong, healthy body inside and out was fascinating to me, and created yet another passion- my passion for fitness! I gained so much from training myself to reach my own goals that I wanted to motivate other to do the same. Along with personal training, writing was a great platform for me to start doing just that. My health and fitness articles are a great way for me to educate and encourage so many others on the importance and benefits of being active and fit!
JP: With so many various activities, what are some fundamental things you do to manage your time appropriately? As in, how do you not get overwhelmed or overextended?
CC: To be quite honest, I do get over extended at times. However I have learned to manage my time more efficiently by doing the following:
I always have a clear list of priorities in my life.
A. My Faith
B. My Husband
C. My Career
D. When it comes to managing several projects or jobs at once, it’s all about planning ahead. I try to take everything one day at a time, knowing that I prepared and organized enough to handle the tasks at hand.
E. I always weigh job offers with my goals or mission statement first. Even if it seems like a great gig, it may not be in line with what my ultimate goals are. I have learned that saying “no” to certain job offers or projects can sometimes benefit a career more than saying “yes” to everything. I look at it like I am turning down the “good” to make more time for the “great!”
JP: What are some techniques you do to market yourself; knowing that you do a lot of different things? Do clients like that you are so versatile, or has it prevented you from getting types of work you really want?
CC: I used to think that it was better to specialize in one thing and just be damn good. I still think this hold true for certain careers like maybe a brain surgeon haha… but in todays world, especially in fitness and entertainment, there are so many highly skilled people educated in multiple areas of expertise. If you can’t keep up, you might get passed up. I prefer potential clients to know that I am versatile, dynamic and ready to delver. Not only can they count on me to demo exercises on camera, but I can write the script, clearly speak and educate the public on what I’m doing, edit the video and model for the pictures needed for advertising their product. I like my clients to know that I think about how their company will grow and how I can contribute in many different ways. Why hire five different people if I could do it all?!
JP: As a writer for the health and fitness industry, your work has appeared for Muscle and Fitness Hers Online, Body & Soul Magazine, exercise.com and more. Specifically, how have you used writing to grow your brand?
CC: Writing is a great way to build trust with fans and potential clients. As a fitness fan and reader myself, I wouldn’t buy into someone’s ideas or brand just because they are popular or act like they know it all. Before I can become and true fan or follower I want to be convinced that they 1- posses educated information to back up their articles and opinions, and 2- they actually have something beneficial to offer me through their product. Since this is what I expect as a fan, client or employee, I do my best to offer that to my fans, clients and colleagues. Writing allows me to express my opinions, share my experiences, and give informed, up to date information with so many people from different walks of life, which helps to expand my brand influence to a wider range of people.
JP: You recently were named the 2012 ISSA Spokesperson. Can you describe what the process was like to apply and what it took to get selected for that?
CC: The 2012 ISSA Spokesperson application process was a wonderful experience. The application was a detailed questionnaire regarding my fitness industry experience and affiliations, education, personality characteristics, and goals. Also required for this application process was a current ISSA certification, and two video submissions.
The first submission was a 5min video detailing my experience as an ISSA trainer, my reasons for wanting to hold the spokesperson title, and my future goals and plans if announced winner. The second video was a demonstration of my ability to teach, lead, and communicate the proper form and exercises to reach a fitness goal in a workout, using my training style, ISSA education and a current client. All together the application process was hard work, but absolutely worth every second!
JP: You’ve done a lot of online work from educational health and fitness videos to live webcasts. I’m curious to hear how you got into doing so much online work and how you feel it has benefitted your career; especially the video work.
CC: In today’s digital world, the internet is an invaluable asset and resource for personal and business advancement. So when Clark Bartram told me about an opportunity to get involved with a brand new online company, Exercise.com, I had to jump on it! I have always been a hard worker trying to do everything to the best of my ability. When I book a job, I always walk in with the mindset that this gig is also another audition. I try to think ahead to what’s next, or how I can turn one opportunity into five new ones. I make sure to let my employers know that I am always ready to work and have plenty of great ideas to help advance their company. I have a special place in my heart for the people who have given me a chance to shine, and I love finding ways to give back and grow together.
That mindset helped me build relationships with my co-workers and superiors allowing me to become part of their team. I am always thinking of opportunities and ideas that would be mutually beneficial to the company and myself. This has opened so many doors and allowed me to expand my online influence to multiple platforms.
JP: I know you’ve done an abs DVD and did both video and web advertising for another fitness company. What are some of the strategies you’ve used to market yourself to these types of clients?
CC: My strategy for marketing myself to potential clients is based on my people loving personality. Most of the jobs I book have been from relationships built from past gigs. I do my best to stay in touch with people I have worked with, or for in the past by supporting their current endeavors and keeping them posted of what I am currently involved in and capable of. I try to always be prepared for prospective clients and jobs by having pictures, videos, and a positive web presence to advertise what I have done in the past and am currently involved in. Networking has also played a large role in helping me secure new jobs. Reaching out to people through friends, family, co-workers, current and past clients is a great way to connect and branch out to new opportunities.
JP: Overall, what are some marketing techniques and branding techniques you’ve found to be very helpful in your career?
CC: I am using 3 different approaches to marketing myself to new clients.
2- Networking with other fitness professionals as well as past co-workers.
3- Maintain and develop relationships with current employers.
My branding technique is fairly simple. I have found that when it comes to developing a brand, consistency is key! I always keep my goals in the forefront of my mind when doing photo shoots, writing articles, shooting video, and hosting. I have found that continuously reminding myself of the goals I want to achieve, and the standards I will maintain while achieving them, helps me to stay consistent in my image, job choices, and overall brand.
JP: Flipside, what are some things you’ve learned were either a waste of time for you or did not have enough return on your investment?
CC: I believe every experience in life, good or bad, can be an opportunity for learning and growing. Every conference, job, shoot, or class I have participated in I took away at least one tool or gem of wisdom that I had not had before. However, there are definitely some experiences with a much better return on investment than others. For example, I attended a conference which featured speakers highly immersed in the entertainment and hosting industry. Talented businesswomen were there to speak on their experiences in the industry and the wisdom they have gained being in their position. Although the conference was fun and I was able to glean their unique perspective on several issues in entertainment, it was unfortunately not the highly informative conference session I paid for.
JP: Can you explain a little about what The Cruz Movement is and how you’ve incorporated that into your marketing strategy?
CC: The Cruz movement is an exercise program I created and developed through exercise.com. It includes daily workouts following my exercise videos, as well as custom meal plans, and online trainer support from me! There are only 24 hrs in a day, which limits the number of clients I can help. The Cruz Movement allows me to take on countless new virtual clients at the same time, throughout the course of a day. There could be anywhere from 1 person training with me on The Cruz Movement, or 1,000 or more at one time. I want to motivate and teach people how to live life to its fullest, and programs like The Cruz Movement allow me to reach out to a much larger audience. Online training gives me a platform to reach out and market my brand to a demographic of people that may not be able to reach with gym training. There are so many people out there who do not enjoy going to the gym, or working out in public, so this is their solution. For people who may not be aware of who I am or what I am about, The Cruz Movement it a great way to build awareness and give a little sneak peak into my training style and image.
JP: What are some upcoming things we can expect to see from you?
CC: I am so excited for this year, and have so much planned! I just got back from The Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio doing interviews with fascinating fitness personalities and working with the ISSA team! I will also be with the ISSA at the Olympia in Vegas later this year! You also can expect tons of educational and motivational health and fitness videos on my YouTube channel and other online media. I am also working with the Pink Method Program, through Exercise.com, and am hoping to team up with CBS, the Dr. Phil Show, and QVC in developing and selling a workout DVD for the PINK Method members. I will continue to write fitness related articles with inspirational photos and videos to back up the content! Who knows, there might even be a Chelsea Cruz siting in one of your favorite fitness magazines! Overall, I have lots of fun and exciting things going on this year, and will be a very busy bee! But I can hardly wait to see what all of the hard work reveals and develops into!