Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or just someone who finds themselves scrolling through social media, you know who Kayla Itsines is. She’s kind of hard to miss with her 10.6 million following, best-selling eBooks, worldwide stadium tours, widely popular app and as the fearless leader of the largest online female fitness community. At just 27 years old, Itsines’ health and wellness empire has landed her the literal title of Internet workout queen, coming in as Forbes’ Top Fitness Influencer of 2017.
But as someone whose job it is to post pictures of themselves and whose physique and fame can seem intimidating to most, Itsines’ unexpected relatability is what makes her a social media superstar. She comes from humble beginnings, as a small-time personal trainer in her hometown of Adelaide, Australia whose sights have always been set on helping people and nothing more. Today, you won’t see any sponsored content on her feed or overly edited photos, but rather inspirational quotes, real life before-and-after body transformations and how-to workout videos. I recently had the chance to speak with Itsines who opened up about her rise to fame, refining the BBG program and how she’s using her platform for good.
You were a personal trainer before launching the Bikini Body Guide (BBG). What interested you in fitness in the first place?
Being fit and active has always been a part of my life. When I was younger I played a lot of sports including basketball and netball, and loved how it made me feel. I would finish the game, and whether we had won or lost, I’d leave the court feeling like the best version of myself.
When I finished high school and had to choose a career path, I knew it needed to involve health and fitness so I studied to become a personal trainer. It is my honestly my dream job, getting to help women everyday from all around the world to feel like the best version of themselves through improved health and fitness.
Can you describe the BBG method? How did you create and refine this program?
In 2014 I started running women-only training sessions in my gym. My clients loved the workouts and how fun and varied they were. Word started to spread, and not long after starting my training sessions I was booked out for weeks in advance. I still really wanted to be able to help my clients and other women all around the world who were reaching out to me, so my fiancé and Sweat CEO Tobi Pearce and I developed the Bikini Body Training eBook (BBG).
BBG is now available in the Sweat app. It still follows the same circuit style of training as the first sessions I had with my clients in 2014, and can still be done at home with minimal or no equipment. The resistance-based workouts take 28 minutes, and can be completed three times a week. On the other days, you can complete either low-intensity cardio or high-intensity interval training, with one rest day recommended each week.
BBG Stronger was launched in the Sweat app in 2017, and is perfect for women who love to train in the gym. Like BBG, it is also a 28 minute workout, however it uses more weights and gym equipment. I was really excited when I launched this program as I wanted to help women not feel intimidated when they enter the weight room at the gym. By teaching women how to use the gym equipment in my BBG Stronger workout, I hope to empower women to feel more comfortable and confident in that space.
What has the Sweat app allowed you to achieve that you weren’t able to before?
Having my BBG and BBG Stronger programs on the Sweat app has given women easy access to over 130 weeks of my BBG and BBG Stronger workouts, access to over 400 recipes, and a digital way to connect to the Sweat community. It has also made the whole experience even closer to that of a one-on-one workout session with me.
Women can choose to access their workout on their phone, Apple Watch or Apple TV. They can also chose to listen to my audio cues, designed to help talk you through the workout. You can also get sweaty listening to my favorite workout tracks on my Apple playlist.
What drove you to project that passion onto social media? Has it impacted or changed your approach to fitness?
Using social media has given me the ability to reach women all around the world, over 40 million! It also gives women the space and opportunity to connect with each other and be a part of our community. I love nothing more than to see women encouraging and supporting each other on our social platforms.
The content that I share on social media always has and always will be focused around our community. Whether that is a quick ab workout for beginners, tips on how to stretch after your workout, or nutritional inspiration, if it will add value to the community I will share it.
You were also once named as Forbes’ Top Fitness Influencer. What was that like?
It was an incredible honor. I still feel very humbled to be able to reach as many women as I do around the world, and help them on their health and fitness journeys.
There are thousands of other fitness and nutrition bloggers out there. What do you think makes your platform so receptive with followers?
I think that people recognize and connect with my authenticity. I still run my own Instagram account and only post content that I know will help the community. I also use my platform as a space to celebrate other women’s success in all the different ways it exists. By sharing transformation posts and stories of women all around the world, not only does it celebrate their achievements, but it acknowledges how unique and special each of us are.
You’ve just announced that you’re expecting. Congratulations! How will becoming a mom impact your platform?
I’m so blessed to have such a strong BBG community, including many BBG moms throughout the world. I’m so excited to relate to my BBG moms even more through my pregnancy journey.
What’s your training routine like? Do you follow your own program?
I wake up early each morning, around 6 a.m., and like to start my day with a 20 minute walk on the treadmill. It really helps to wake me up and get energized for the day. I am also using my BBG Stronger program, and I’m up to week 14 at the moment. I’m loving the challenge!
How do you stay motivated not only to work out personally, but to keep creating new content?
I genuinely love what I do and am very self-driven, but like everyone, I too have moments when I feel low in energy and a little unmotivated. For me, I know that if I skip my morning walk, for example, I will feel sluggish throughout the day, so I always make sure I schedule time in to do it as a non-negotiable.
I am also constantly inspired by my community to create new content for them everyday. I see the positive impact that it can have in their lives, and honestly nothing motivates me more to keep going.
Do you any have advice for someone looking to start or get back into exercising in the new year?
A lot of women tell me about their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ they are going to set. Whilst it’s fantastic to want to start the New Year with a new health and fitness routine, it can be easy to get carried away in the moment and set goals that are unachievable, or commit to too much at once. My advice is to start small and pick a few goals that you can commit to. Maybe it’s going for a 20 minute walk every morning, or not adding sugar into your coffee, even little changes can make a big difference.