Happy Talk Shit Tuesday! Today I’m going to take down a cult. A cult that I somehow almost got roped into by my naivete and basic assumption that all humans are inherently good. Friends, if you didn’t already know (everyone except me did) Herbalife is a Pyramid Scheme. If you don’t know what a Pyramid Scheme is, please click the link I gave you because I can’t be bothered to explain it, and honestly don’t know how to. I was a Film and Television major, remember.
A day in the life of unemployed Katrina Nicholson usually begins with eggs, bacon, and general feelings of mediocrity and inadequacy. She listens to some depressing Spotify playlist, thinks about how the mighty have fallen… Then she opens the Craigslist jobs section. She considers the “$$ HOT MODELS WANTED $$ BIG MONEY LOTS OF FUN” and even the “AMATEUR ADULT FILM STARS, NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY, MUST BE COMFORTABLE WITH SNAKES” but usually settles for the more innocent ones.
Like this one. In theory it was a great fit for me. I work out, I eat right (most of the time) and I am unemployed and desperate. I also wasn’t familiar with Herbalife. I wrote a very earnest email about how I’m a former athlete, I love to help people, and this seems like a great opportunity to help people achieve their fitness goals. I felt very good about what I wrote and I was certain I’d get a reply.
And I did, not even an hour later. A man with the name of a nationally observed holiday emailed me and requested I watch a YouTube video then get on the phone with him. The YouTube video was just him sitting in an empty gym/studio talking about nothing but making it sound flowery and exciting (I would post the video but then you’ll know his name.) I was roped in. I was VULNERABLE.
We got on the phone, chatted about gains and lifting and fitness. He seemed nice enough, normal enough, not a serial killer. He asked me to come in for a meeting at their “FitLab” the following day. He said I should wear athletic clothes because we “might do an upper body workout.” I was excited because finally I could stop wearing my go-to uncomfortable interview outfit that I can hardly walk in. Also- imagine wearing workout clothes to work. You’d be the casual cool guy that everyone wants to get to know.
The address is in Culver City so I’m pumped about that because I’m moving there anyway. I’m in my Buick, driving along happily to what I imagine will be a GREAT JOB while I look for my next real job. And it’ll give me a reason to SHRED MY BODY.
Then I arrive at an industrial/office complex with no outer signage. I think to myself “Okay, that’s not weird… Soccer Blast was weird and industrial looking too and it was totally legitimate.” So I gave myself a pep talk and approached the unmarked door. I saw one of those giant orange Gatorade jugs so that seemed like a good sign.
I walk inside. It’s completely empty. Not a single piece of fitness equipment in sight. Just tables, chairs, speakers, a TV and lots of empty space. Oh yeah, and the massive dude from the video. Part of me wanted to turn and run, but then I remembered my new idiotic mantra “It’ll be a good story.”
“Welcome!” He greets me and gestures to a bar-setup complete with a marble counter top and stools. I immediately notice this bar is stocked with nothing but Herbalife products. I don’t even think they had water that didn’t say Herbalife on it. So my friend, this enormous built man who could kill me with one swift punch to the throat, let’s call him George for continuity with yesterday’s post… George makes me an Herbalife tea drink. He says it’s similar to preworkout, so I assume we’re gonna workout.
It tastes like shit. I pretend to love it. It makes me feel a little coked out, the best way to describe it is like Twitch from Holes. If you get that reference you’re a gem and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I consider that he might have drugged me. But then quickly suppress that consideration.
Another woman drops into the gym. She’s gorgeous, fit and extremely friendly. We’ll call her Brittany. We hit it off immediately talking about Track and Field, I feel like I might have found my community. All of these people used to play sports and now they’re just getting a healthy lifestyle back into focus. I figured maybe they could convince me to drink less. (haaaaah, sorry Mom I had to.)
Brittany and I are chatting and she starts telling me about the product that I just drank. She calls it something like the “ab shredder” because apparently it “boosts your metabolism and shreds the fat on your abs to make them more visible.” I took the bottle and looked at the ingredients. Tons of things I couldn’t pronounce. Excessively long. I just smiled and nodded but gave her a pass. Still felt a little coked out.
Once I finish the tea, George makes me a massive shake. I was very excited by this because I hadn’t eaten lunch and was about ready to stop at 711 for a hot dog and Bugles. The shake is absolutely delicious but it reeks of Stevia or Splenda or some other thing that isn’t sugar and doesn’t even pretend to taste like it. I look at the ingredients again, massively long list full of chemicals and probably fetal corpses. I smile and nod.
Slowly I start to realize I’m in a timeshare presentation. I feel like at every corner I want to ask- so what’s the catch? These people are charming, driven, and passionate. They seem to really want me to be part of their community, they seem like they’d be good friends to me.
My favorite part was when George pulled his “mentor” Lauren onto FaceTime with us from Chicago. This was the point where I felt the most emotionally violated (afterwards.)
She’s a beautiful, blond, former volleyball player who is six feet tall. Immediately when she saw me she said “You remind me exactly of myself three years ago.”
I explained to her that I was going through a rough time, unemployment, moving, breakup, general “what the fuck am I doing with my life?” I nearly teared up, but didn’t because something started to feel OFF about everyone. I couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
She told me her Herbalife journey and how it completely changed who she was as a person. And how she doesn’t have to sit behind a desk and how the world is her oyster and she was able to move back to Chicago. I sat and listened, and slowly as she continued to smile and rattle off all these stories it felt more and more like a rehearsed routine.
Once we hung up with her, George closed in. He asked me what I thought.
“I think it all sounds great… But I don’t really understand how it works.”
That’s when you know it’s a Pyramid Scheme, when you’ve sat for an hour-long presentation and still have no idea how the company works.
“Well first I want you to get settled in with a new job and do this on the side, because we have a $65 initiation fee to get you registered with Herbalife.”
Aha, the first catch.
“Then you have to buy all of the products to start selling them to more people.”
“Do you think you know people who would be interested in things like this?”
I mean, yeah we live in Los Angeles and people will do literally anything to avoid the hard work it takes to lose weight. Anyone will invest in an easy way out if they have the money to do so. Actually, they’ll still do it if they DON’T have the money…Because Los Angeles is full of lazy, crazy, insecure people.
But I don’t want to be one of the people who takes advantage of that. I felt protective of the crazies, I wanted to keep them from these even CRAZIER sociopaths who want to exploit their desire for a healthy lifestyle in order to profit. These people chose me because I was an easy and vulnerable target who needed something in my life to strive towards. They promised me I’d be in the best shape of my life and I was embarking on a physical transformation that would change me forever.
Guess what, fuckers? I don’t need you and your shitty potions to motivate me. I don’t need to profit on other people’s ignorance. You can try to justify what you’re doing by pointing at the “results” but the truth is, those results have NOTHING to do with your product. The people you’re recruiting to be “Health Coaches” are all former athletes who likely already spend a lot of time at the gym. Not to mention, you have NO advice on actual fitness and you don’t even have equipment in your stupid “FitLab” all you have is CHAIRS and SHITTY SMOOTHIES.
Oh and, by the way, your LOGO IS A POT LEAF.
If you want to learn more about this nonsense, this website is very informative.