Clark Bartram and Mike O’Hearn Discuss Brand-Building in the Fitness World

Episode 26 of The Mike O’Hearn Show was published on Generation Iron‘s YouTube channel on Dec. 23, 2022, featuring a conversation between the show’s namesake and fitness model and host of American Health & Fitness Clark Bartram.

The discussion covers how Bartram made a living for himself as a fitness model capable of both gracing the cover of magazines and articulating how he acquired his physique via the article feature contained within said magazine — a breakdown of brand-building. 

I always had a marketing mind. Not knowing I had one, but having one.

Check out the entire interview in the video below:

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Bartram recognized the value of having a brand based on the discrepancy of pay for a magazine cover shoot versus the price of a full-page ad in the same magazine. Recognizing that early in his fitness career led Bartram to focus on building his brand to maintain enough clout worthy of more magazine covers instead of becoming an elite professional bodybuilder.

I’m Clark Bartram, I’m always in shape. That became my brand.

The gap in the fitness space for models like Bartram was that bodybuilders who were competing were only cover-ready a few weeks each year based on when they were competing. Outside those windows, they were either bulking or otherwise not in the requisite shape. Bartram recognized an opportunity to be the go-to guy for magazines like Muscle & Fitness if he stayed in shape year-round. 

I don’t want to be a bodybuilder as much as I want to be a brand.

Bartram furthered his brand by having a tagline that coincided with his name — Clark Bartram, America’s Most Trusted Fitness Personality. That tagline later evolved from using the word “personality” to “professional.”

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Five Tips for an Up-and-Coming Fitness Professional

O’Hearn asked Bartram what advice he would offer someone younger in modern-day having to contend with social media. Bartram offered the following tips:

Clarify Your Goals

Bartram encountered a young man with a stellar physique in the gym. Bartram inquired as to what this gym-goer’s goal was. They responded with their aspiration of winning their IFBB pro card but not with why that was their goal. Bartram thought it was an oversight not to have clarity about what a pro card would offer them once acquired.

My goal was to make money. I’ve never had a job. At age 60, I still don’t want to get a job.

In this case, Bartram was adamant that a bodybuilding pro card is unnecessary if the goal is to make fitness a means of living.

Define a Path

In a world where everyone is in shape and/or good-looking, someone looking to break through the crowd will need a “unique selling proposition” (USP), and a bodybuilding pro card is not that. Bartram’s USP was that he would always be in shape for a photo shoot, no matter when it was happening. 

Narcissism gets in the way of profitability. 

Success in fitness requires more than a physique or a pretty face. It requires a good story. Whether it’s like O’Hearn overcoming dyslexia to become an actor or any other adversity, a story is “what gets people talking” and will allow for a means to differentiate from the crowd.

Sustainable Lifestyle

Whatever the goal in fitness may be, maintaining it for a lifetime requires it to be sustainable over the long term. Bartram considers himself an anomaly to maintain a calorie deficit off a low-carb diet for as long as he does without compromising muscle mass — he understands he has genetics that are apparently predisposed to his fitness aspirations.

[Related: 2022 Mr. Olympia Results — Complete Official Scorecards]

What’s Your Why?

Bartram suggests creating a mission statement to use as the motivation to get up every day. It’s a constant reminder to strive for something. Bartram’s “why” is to positively impact everyone he interacts with daily.

Living out one’s “why” is a mindset framed around thinking long-term and embracing the journey rather than thinking short-term to achieve something finite. Sacrifices will likely have to be made for the “why,” but maintaining the will to continue a sustainable lifestyle is more likely to lead to success in fitness than whatever the short-term sacrifice is. Check out the entire interview between Bartram and O’Hearn to hear more details about Bartram’s ideas about building a brand.

Featured image: @clarkbartram on Instagram