The problem with “It Works!”: It Doesn’t.

Unless you have been living under a rock over the past year, you have probably come across a barrage of unsolicited advertisements for “It Works!” body wraps and supplements, a direct-sales company specializing in health, wellness, weight-loss, and anti-aging products. Some people disregard these ads without much thought, others find them interesting and a potential product they may purchase. I, on the other hand, find myself overcome with amazement, created by anger ignited by annoyance. How can a silly company and its representatives cause such a negative response in this 25 year-old’s mind and soul? If you don’t mind spending the next 15 minutes in my (uncensored) eyes, I would love to show you.

Let’s start with a little background, eh? I have always been a competitive and passionate person, when it came to sports that was amplified to Nth degree. I worked hard and would do anything to better myself in the competitive arena. Enter 16 year-old self. In our summer program (weightlifting and plyometrics) for football I was introduced to the world of ergogenic aids. Every kid was mixing a different powder in their shaker cups and nearly all of them were bigger and stronger than me. I convinced myself that I HAD to get some supplements in order to compete with these guys, the only problem was these things cost money! That summer I worked 10-15 hours a week at a golf course washing golf carts. I made a flat $7.00 an hour and had the financial responsibility of MC Hammer. I managed to save up $250 and went straight to GNC with no plan, but knew I was not going to leave empty handed. There was a younger guy working, maybe 18-20 years of age. I told him I wanted some things to help get bigger and stronger during weightlifting. He confidently pointed out a handful of different supplements to me and I just gazed and said “Yes”. I spent every penny I had but was so happy that I was finally going to be big like the other guys. The result? Three months later I found out the supplements I purchased were bullshit consisting of filler ingredients, and the polite salesman at GNC actually made commission on all the products he sold to me. I was absolutely devastated. I worked hard and saved money, only to be torn apart by a person I thought I could trust. A person who knew better than to sell bullshit to an uninformed teenager, but didn’t. Shame on me. 9 years later and here I am, typing my first blog in the wee hours of a Saturday morning. I carry that incident with me every single day. It drove me to trust nothing, and research everything. Those kind of incidents are happening every single day, many of which to young adolescents or individuals who don’t know any better. My goal is simple: Stop it.

CONTENTION #1: the “Product”??

From a business standpoint, the sheer amount of advertising “It Works!” receives is amazing. You can’t go on social media without seeing a post about their company every few minutes, but what do these posts even display? Do they highlight the product and how it works? Well yes, if we’re talking about the actual product they are selling. Do you ever wonder why the majority of IW (abbrev. for “It Works” used to save time :)) posts only talk about how that person has “finally achieved financial freedom” or how much money they have made by distributing for IW? Pretty fucking strange. That’s because they don’t actually have a product, they have a job opportunity. They don’t give a shit about the actual physical product (e.g. body wraps, Greens powders), they want you to become a part of their IW team. Let’s take a look at how the chain of command works over at IW, shall we?

KF is a top distributor of IW. Her team consists of : A, B, C, and D.

Her team buys supply (THE FUCKING PRODUCT) through her, which KF receives commission on.

A, B, C, and D then all go out and form their own teams. It looks something like this:

Team A: 1, 2, 3, 4
Team B: 5, 6, 7, 8
Team C: 9, 10, 11, 12
Team D: 13, 14, 15, Becky

Those team members will all by their supply through their distributor (either A, B, C, or D), all of which have to buy their supply through KF, who receives commission on all of that. This fuckery will continue until they either give up or run out of possible team members.

This, my friends, is known as multi-level marketing. That is the type of company IW is, not a health and wellness company. So why don’t they advertise the physical product at all? Alas, I thought you would never ask!

CONTENTION #2: but does it really work!?

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The fact that this question needs to be asked is exactly why companies like IW exist in the first place. There is not one piece of scientifically evaluated material that would even hint that body wraps are effective. They use buzzwords like “tone” and “detoxify” to try to get the attention of vulnerable consumers. There is no such thing as toning muscles, that is called having a low body-fat percentage. Wrapping your body in plastic does not burn fat, exercise and a caloric deficit will do that. “But what about the photos of people after using the wrap for 30 minutes? They look thinner!”. Don’t be so fooled people. Supplement companies are notorious for using photoshop to edit photos for before and after photos, you can even do it yourself without photoshop. Take a photo of yourself, exposing your midsection, right now. For the next 15 minutes, alternate between doing sit-ups and push ups, doing as many as you can in that timeframe. Take another photo. See a difference? Exactly. Is it a real photo? Yes. Did you manipulate your body to display a false image of yourself? Yes.

Now IW also sells a plethora of supplements such as Greens drinks, essential oils, fat burners, and even an anti-stress supplement. Holy shit what a bargain! Now unfortunately for IW I have a brain in my head. Nearly all of their products ingredients are hidden behind “Proprietary Blends”. For those of you who do not know this term, here’s an example:

I could make a calcium pill marketed towards women. The ingredients in this particular pill are calcium and dextrose. I set the serving size at 500 mg, or one pill. These pills contain 450mg of dextrose and 50 mg of calcium, but I market them as 500mg Calcium tablets. Under the ingredients list I can put “Propietary Blend: 500 mg” followed by calcium and dextrose, not disclosing the specific amounts of the active ingredients. I can then charge a premium price, even though customers are not getting what they think they are purchasing.

This is a very common practice in the supplement industry. It allows companies to fill their products with cheap filler ingredients, like dextrose, and make huge profits selling incomplete products. This is exactly what IW has done with nearly all their products. Not only do they use shady “proprietary blends”, they also use ingredients that just simply don’t do what they state, or have any research backing their usage. For example, IW offers an “anti-stress” tablet they call Confianza. Though it hides its dosages under a proprietary blend, the 2 active ingredients in this product are epimedium grandiflorium and tribulus terrestris. Epimedium grandiflorium, otherwise known as horny goat weed, is commonly used by men who suffer erectile dysfunction, while tribulus terrestris is often used by steroid users to regain normal testosterone levels. It Works! goes above and beyond by describing this product as a special blend of natural herbs to aid you in combatting stress. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Their Greens powders are marketed as an easy way to alkalize your body and receive 8+ servings of fruits and vegetables. That sounds brilliant. Who likes eating fruits and vegetables anyway? My concern to you, expert wrapeneurs, is if I’m getting 8+ servings of fruits in vegetables in one serving of Greens, where are my servings of vitamin A and C? Hmmm….. something doesn’t fucking add up. I have an idea! How about instead of spending $79 (and that’s the Loyalty Customer price! LOL) onyour bullshit supplement, I buy REAL fruits and vegetables and eat those?

CONTENTION #3: What is so bad about this?

Believe it or not, I am a very empathetic individual. Times can be tough, sometimes it feels like your barely keeping your head above water. For most of us, money, or lack thereof, is the basis for these hard times. I think most of us can agree we would all love to have more money than we currently have. I have a job that I work hard at, and I make a decent living, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I would love to have even more money. That’s why these people participate in companies like “It Works!”, right? To make some extra money to help make their lives easier, right? I’m sure, and that is completely fine that they want to better their lives. I always believe in progression and improving my own life each day, so why should others not live the same way? Well, this is where we divide the class into two separate groups: Those who believe that bettering your life, at all costs, is ok, and those who believe that bettering your life is only fair if it’s not at the expense of others.

So what is so immoral about the practices of this company? Well lets start with what we have already covered. They deceptively advertise what they are about, and the physical product they actually sell is incomplete and useless. (OK, but you already said that)………..

What else is wrong? Well lets talk about who the representatives of “IW” target as potential buyers. I think we can all agree there are two characteristics of an individual that can truly make them vulnerable: Socioeconomic status and body image. Whether you struggle with one or both of those characteristics, they make you vulnerable. Nobody wants to be poor, and nobody wants to be overweight or unhealthy. Many people who deal with financial or health issues are often at wits end, willing to do anything to better themselves. Who better to market “It Works!” towards? They prey on their vulnerabilities. “Oh, you want to get rid of that stubborn belly fat? Try our body wraps!”, SOLD. “Struggling to pay rent and put food on the table? You should join my IW team! Look at how much money I made last month! I can make you Emerald status by next week!”, SOLD.

Health & fitness is the one activity I love more than anything else in the world. I love weightlifting, educating myself with knowledge on training and nutrition, and I proudly own a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Bemidji State University. I have been working out 3-5 times a week for years, and I still am nowhere near my end goals I have set for myself. That’s the thing about humans. We will never be satisfied with the body we see in the mirror, no matter how far we come, we always want more. The health/fitness/supplement industry has taken full advantage of that susceptibility. They have PIMPED us out, making us believe we can achieve all of our health & fitness goals by swallowing a pill or drinking a powder. Do you remember in 2012 when Dr. Oz promoted Raspberry Ketones as the “Miracle fat-burner”, only to be proven it was all a fabricated lie? Stores could not keep the product on their shelves, as hundreds of thousands of people flocked to buy them! Why? Because we all want to believe achieving our fitness goals is as easy as taking a pill! Unfortunately my parents were victims of this hoax. They spent nearly $100 only to realize they were had.

Two years ago my dad had bloodwork done, which revealed he had high blood pressure and cholesterol. He started going on walks each morning, and called me to ask for diet and exercise advice. I gave him a list of very subtle diet changes (e.g. switching to skim or almond milk, going from white to whole-grain breads) and some bodyweight exercises.Two years later and he’s down over 30 pounds, exercising 6 days a week, and eating healthier than I do. He’s 58 years-old and works over 50 hours a week, and he was able to better his life without the use of ergogenic aids. So what the fuck is your excuse? Why do we believe a simple pill or powder will change our lives?

We are human beings, we have been conditioned to make our lives as easy as we can. We use GPS navigation to drive from different locations on the fastest route possible. We shop online because God forbid you have to put on pants to buy a car! We all need to come to the harsh truth that not everything in life can be achieved so easily. That dream body you want is only going to come through hard work. A good exercise regimen, a macronutrient balanced diet, genetics, and additional lifestyle factors can all help contribute to that goal, but you need to put in the work. If you exercise but eat like shit, you will not reach your goals. Likewise, if you eat a good diet but do not exercise, same result.

“You still haven’t convinced me that It Works! is such a bad company.”… My goal is not to show that it is a bad company. My goal is to educate and offer some perspective on this topic, in hopes that you will be able to digest the information and make your own informed opinion. Is it wrong of me to question “It Works!”? Should I not let my voice be heard, even though they sound-off every day like an occult family?

I would like to extend an invitation to any and all “It Works!” members, especially those in Bemidji, MN. I want to be proved wrong. Provide me with evidence proving your product does, in fact, work! I would absolutely love to be invited to an “It Works!” launch party, as a matter of fact, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday! But let’s be honest, we know these requests will go unfounded. Why don’t you minions promote a healthy lifestyle, rather than trying to reach (insert random mineral) status! If you back your product so much, why don’t you tell people that the stuff you are selling real does NOT work!? Because you don’t give a damn about bettering peoples health or wellness, you care about making my money by pimping out little Sue and Jane from down the road. I’ve seen so many photos of 65+ year old females at launch parties, too. I mean why the fuck would a  65 year-old (or older) female need any of the bullshit you are selling?? THEY WOULDN’T. But, if they buy-in, that = potentially more $$ in your pocket! Maybe I am alone in being bothered by that, and that’s ok! I stick by what I said earlier. You should live your life the way you want. If you’re okay with selling garbage to uninformed sheep, then so be it.

I made a promise to myself when I was 16 that I would do whatever I could to prevent my misfortune from happening to others. This post is the combination of years of frustration, general concern for others, acquired knowledge, and a new wave of diabolical snake oil salesmen known as wrapreneurs. I’ve always been a believer in sharing information and insight if it carries a positive message. I believe I have done that, even beyond the somewhat ostentatious undertones.

Just remember one thing regarding anything in the health/fitness industry: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.