Take Shape for Life is a multilevel marketing program based around weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes.
Instead of just selling you supplements, Take Shape for Life incorporates meal replacement and exercise guidance into its business model.
Its two staple programs are the “Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan” and the “Optimal Health 3&3 Plan,” which are designed to help you lose weight and maintain weight loss, respectively.
Take Shape for Life is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Medifast, a large health and wellness corporation with annual revenues of almost $300 million. It’s been around since 1980, so it knows its way around the weight loss business. Take Shape for Life is just one part of its market strategy in the weight loss category.
The company saw a mild boost in search volume around midway through 2010, but searches now are trending about half of what they were at that point. At no point in the last decade did the company experience any major surges in popularity and name recognition, so it’s a small player in the weight loss MLM arena.
As a “program-based” weight loss MLM, your sales as a Take Shape for Life distributor will depend to a large extent on how well you can sell the packaged programs.
For weight loss, the Optimal Weight 5&1 plan involves switching out most of your daily meals to meal replacement products sold by Take Shape for Life, and eating one standard “lean and green” meal per day (mostly vegetables and protein).
The meal replacement options are sold in packages that last for 30 days. Unlike with other MLMs, where you have to manually select what you want, Take Shape for Life includes a range of meals, like nutrient bars, pasta, and pancakes. The kits range in price from $350 to $400 per month, but remember, this covers the majority of your food intake during the month.
Other than the meal replacement plans, all you need to cook for yourself is a lean protein and vegetable meal. This might be chicken and bell peppers, fish and spinach, or tofu and broccoli.
The meals themselves involve some of the classic techniques used in weight loss programs. The foods tend to be high in fiber, high in protein, and low in fat and sugar. If you are a low-carb fanatic, the Take Shape for Life meals don’t typically fall into that camp, and if you are not into processed foods, you also won’t really be a fan of the process.
Still, this is a reasonably sound strategy. Increasing fiber intake is a good strategy for decreasing your weight and increasing your feelings of fullness, as described in a 2001 scientific article by Mark Periera, PhD and David Ludwig, MD (1).
The authors note that increased dietary fiber intake has a suppressive effect on caloric intake: high fiber foods decrease your desire to eat more, since you feel more satiated, and as a result, you eat less food.
This is why fiber-free foods like soda have a tendency to cause you to gain weight: because they have no fiber, you don’t feel full after eating or drinking them.
Increasing protein intake is also associated with increased sensations of fullness. According to research published by a team of scientists at the University of Toronto, whey protein stimulates your satiety response through a number of biological pathways, leading to a similar outcome: when you eat a meal high in protein, you feel more full afterwards, which should decrease your future desire for food (2).
Indeed, a 2008 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that a whey protein supplement, when added to the diet of a group of overweight patients who were on a diet, increased the amount of fat lost and also helped preserve lean muscle mass.
The Optimal Health 3&3 Plan is very similar to the Optimal Weight 5&1 plan, except you only consume 3 meal replacement products per day, and eat three balanced meals per day.
The selection of meal replacements is the same, but guidelines change on what constitutes a balanced meal. You’re no longer restricted to a lean and green meal; you can add in carbs too, as long as they are healthy and part of a well-balanced diet. This means high in fiber, low in sugar, and still including a good amount of fruit or vegetables.
To become a “health coach” (Take Shape for Life lingo for a distributor), you need to buy a training kit which costs $200.
This is a much heftier cost to join than other MLMs, but the premise is that you are also receiving training on how to advise your own clients on their health choices.
The plan is a little unusual in that there are no wholesale discounts for health coaches or clients. In both cases, you order your products directly from the company. So, all of your income is related to commissions and bonuses related to the orders of your clients.
Now, no wholesale discounts are a bit of a bummer, but the commission fees are great. You get 20% commission on client orders, plus once you move up the rankings, you’ll qualify for a growth bonus based on the product volume you can move.
These percentages look good on paper too, but product volume is only about half of the retail price of a product (so a $400 order is only about 200 PV).
With a pretty solid weight loss program, plus an unusual but attractive compensation plan, you’d expect Take Shape for Life distributors to be raking in the cash, right? Well, not necessarily.
The lack of brand popularity hurt its income, and no wholesale discounts definitely cuts into profits. According to the income disclosure statement from 2015, 28% of all take shape for life coaches made no income in a year. Another 54% made $2,500 or less.
So, Take Shape for Life might be a good side hustle if you can get your customer base up and running, but don’t rely on it for a full-time income.
Less than five percent of all distributors make over $20,000 per year, and it takes them years to do it.
If you’re doing it for the money, there are better ways to kill your day job.