Picture this: you wake up with good intentions, eat well all day but a crazy-busy schedule sees you abandon your quest for fitness (yet again!). You collapse on the couch after kids’ bedtime, inhale your body weight in after-dinner calories then spend a few lazy hours Insta-stalking fitness gurus with tight abs, toned butts and daily motivational mantras, promising yourself you’ll start fresh tomorrow.
Or how about this? You eat clean, train hard, smash a fitness milestone and suddenly you’ve got the bug. You are au fait with all the Insta fitness accounts, from six pack abs to booty builders, using their posts as motivation to go further, get faster, and be part of a community that values health and wellness as much as you.
Whichever way you picture it, #fitspo is one of the fastest, biggest trending themes on social media right now. And it seems all it takes to win legions of fans is a hot bod, a beautiful location, the latest workout gear and some challenging poses (hello, hollow back yoga moves in a teeny tiny bikini by the beach at sunrise). But this is potentially big business – and while there’s been a spate of media of late shining the spotlight on some unqualified and downright dubious online fitness ‘experts’, we got the lowdown from two fit femmes who are killing it, combining expertise with proven results, an authentic ‘voice’ and a knack for nailing the social platforms.
Kayla Itsines is the poster girl for #fitspo. Accessible, aspirational, personable, and with fitness credentials to back her claims – not to mention her league of #BBG (Bikini Body Guide) followers whose ‘before and afters’ inspire fans internationally. How does a 23 year old girl from Adelaide take the world by storm, using social media as her key communication channels? Kayla says, “Once I graduated high school, I actually started studying beauty therapy. However, my love of sport and basketball lead to me to take up personal training, and that’s when I discovered how much I loved helping people to become healthier and happier! I have never looked back since. For me, it was a great life changing decision. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“In 2008 I started my fitness journey at the Australian Institute of Fitness. After working for a few years, I began uploading my workout circuits and inspirational client transformations, and quickly developed a rather large following online. In addition to working 60+ hour weeks with my one-on-one clients, I was receiving a huge amount of email enquiries from girls all over the world and was so upset that I could not help them all! This is when I came up with my eBook concept. I then spent the next six to nine months developing my first Bikini Body Training Guide, which includes all of the exercise methods that my clients were seeing great results from.”
Now with 2.8million Instagram followers, a website, product range and currently undertaking a world tour, Kayla has changed the digital vocabulary. Terms such as Kayla’s Army, Kayla Movement, BBG and Death by Kayla are common Insta hashtags, and her followers form a tight-knit and engaged community. Just check out a single post on @kayla_itsines to witness the ongoing dialogue, inspo and support that followers spread via their comments. No longer simply personal training in her parents’ backyard and uploading some pics to a personal account, this is now big business for the home-grown fitness guru. Think international media coverage, over-subscribed events nationally and around the globe, and a continuously growing band of followers.
Closer to home, #GetBendy guru Elle of @ellefitactive has turned her love of yoga into an online business, with her Get Bendy and Get Split guides stretching to followers far and wide. Queenslander Elle says, “At first yoga was a means to an end to try and ease my sciatic and lower back pain from scoliosis. Before seeing photos on Instagram I had no idea that yoga could be so fun and challenging, I think that’s what got me hooked. I am a certified Acrovinyasa teacher (which is a mix of vinyasa, acroyoga and inversion training) and am currently completing Level 1 and Level 2 yoga teacher training.”
With an Insta following of more than 200,000 followers across her two accounts (@elle_fit & and @ellefitactive), Elle says, “I started the @elle_fit Instagram page over two years ago purely as a way to track my yoga and fitness progress. I guess the growth of my Instagram can be attributed to my regular posting, being featured in some articles, fitspo pages reposting images, but mostly friends tagging friends (online word of mouth). As of late I’ve been trying to get more guys involved with the stretching. I’ve had a great response from athletes looking for some more stretching ideas.”
With guest star yoga-pup Klaus and collab with sister, fitness instructor Dana (@activewithd) catering to the pre and post natal markets, Elle Fit Active’s appeal is broad ranging. Elle says, “I think people appreciate me being me. They like to know what I’m up to, what I’m working on, photobombs by our Leonberger Klaus, progress photos of me and also people using my products, and videos tend to be quite popular too. I don’t really have a plan of what I am going to post each day – most of the time I just post things as they happen.”
Taking a break from her law degree, Elle has turned a passion into a business, with the Get Split guide recently released and an upcoming Get Inverted guide launching soon. “Get Bendy has been out for just over a year and I have recently released Get Split which is a comprehensive lower body stretching guide for front, middle and standing splits. I am currently working on Get Inverted for all things upside down – headstands, handstands and a lot more. I can’t wait to share it!” says Elle.
Whether you’re inspired by the physiques, the fitness prowess or the social savvy of these fitness sensations, there’s no denying they serve up a daily dose of #fitspo. And with online guides you can do from the comfort of your own home, perhaps this winter is the time to mix up your routine with a little Insta-fitness.