The Powell Pack: Transforming Lives, One Instagram at a Time

“One person, one year, one amazing transformation. My name is Chris Powell and this is what I do. PUSH, I WANT TO SEE YOU PUSH YOURSELF. GET UP OFF THE GROUND AND KEEP GOING. THREE, TWO, ONE, GO. TIME TO WAKE UP, TIME TO START LIVING. What you’re about to see will be the most important year in one person’s life.”

Every Tuesday during the summer, I have a perfect routine. I work during the day, go to CrossFit at 6:30, eat dinner with my parents and my sister at 7:30, then rush to turn on the television at 8:00.  I tune in to ABC and as soon as I hear those words, I can’t look away. Extreme Weight Loss, formerly called Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, is a show where morbidly obese people are given the chance to receive lifestyle training from Chris Powell, an expert in health and fitness. Unlike The Biggest Loser, this show isn’t a competition.  Each episode is devoted to one person undergoing the transformation of his or her life, often losing 50% of their body weight which usually equates to around 150-200 pounds.

ImageI’ve been a big fan of the show since it came out in 2011 and my love for Chris Powell and his family has grown tenfold since then, largely due to their social media presence. Both Chris and his wife, Heidi, are active on Instagram and Twitter. Their posts center around three different topics: the show and their clients, their personal fitness, and their family. First, the Powells became “famous” as a result of Chris’ show. Heidi makes a few appearances each season and plays an active role in helping to train and connect with their clients. Both Chris and Heidi post “before” photos of their clients on Instagram which prompts viewers to tune in to see the “after”.  As soon as I see who is going to be on the show each week, I feel personally invested in their success.


Next, Chris and Heidi post pictures and tweet about their workouts, which usually consist of a tough CrossFit WOD, a hike, or a competition. This is helpful to viewers who are trying to follow Chris’ workout plan on their own and it also provides motivation. When I see Heidi post a photo of her 5:00am workout, I decide that I want to work out at 5:00am too (although when my alarm goes off that early, I quickly press snooze and go back to sleep).

Lastly, they use social media to introduce the world to their family, which they’ve dubbed “The Powell Pack”.  Not only are their three children blonde and adorable, but they make viewers fall in love with Chris and Heidi even more. The Powells have invited viewers and fans into their lives which creates a deeper connection and an element of trust. Further, it makes them appear more human.  Despite their flawless appearances, they aren’t Superman and Superwoman.  They’re parents who deal with the struggles of raising three kids (with one more on the way!), just like everyone else. They show viewers how to live in a healthy way while balancing work and family as well.


I’m a loyal follower of Chris and Heidi, always checking in on their social media profiles, watching their show, and reading Heidi’s blog. I even downloaded the Vemma Bod-E app, a fitness program which the Powells are partnered with.  This app includes recipes, meal schedules, and daily videos with tips from Chris and Heidi. Following this program prompted me to buy a certain brand of protein powder simply because a picture of Chris is on the label. I feel like I know the Powells on a personal level, especially after being let into their family pictures and stories, so I trust them – of course I would spend an extra $20 to get protein powder that they promise will work best for me.

To top it off, I bought Chris’ first book “Choose More to Lose More” which details his diet and exercise plan. I don’t typically buy books like this – I’m not obese and been pretty active – but as soon as I saw Chris on the cover, it was a done deal. I read it from cover to cover, carefully writing down recipes and making lists of suggested workouts. Would I have even given the book a second glance if I didn’t love the show and follow the Powells’ lives online? Maybe, but not likely.

Although most celebrities are on Twitter and Instagram now, not all of them are using it in a positive way that also serves as a powerful marketing tool.  The Powell Pack is portrayed in an influential, positive light that appeals to viewers and encourages them to watch the show and buy the products. Their social media image is part of what makes them such a power couple – looking at their family photos and loving tweets, it’s impossible not to love them. Just watch one of their videos and you’ll fall in love, too. 


  1. I’m not sure I “have” to love them, but what it does is a great job of attracting the people who will love them and gives them the opportunity to interact more with these “celebrities.” So, it’s important for these people to make sure that their social media image attracts they type of people they want to in order to develop a strong an intimate following – as it sounds like the Powell’s have done well

  2. Great post! I love seeing healthy/positive social media concerning work out plans. There are so many social media outlets that are negative (i.e. thinspiration/pro ana) so it’s inspiring to see a couple that is helping people lose weight the right way! I find it interesting that they are not only helping people lose weight, they are helping build a community of people that are passionate about healthy living and fitness. It’s bizarre how we can feel like we know celebrities through social media. It seems like Instagram is the social media application for them. Visuals of working out or healthy meals are perfect to motivate and inspire. Your post made me want to follow them on Instagram, they sound like a cool family!

  3. When I first started reading your post, I thought it was going to be about how Chris Powell uses Instagram to advertise his show. However, now I can see he has done so much more than that. Though it is obviously advantageous for the Powells to utilize social media to advertise their show/products, they are actually doing a lot more than that. Since social media makes people feel more connected, they are actually creating a way to help more people than just those on the show. This is a pretty inspirational way to utilize social media and reach as many people as possible.

  4. The part that intrigued me the most about this blog was their Twitter tactic. I think by posting a “before” and “after” photo really gets followers to check in on the status of clients and maintain their status as followers as Twitter. Often times I will check celebrities accounts of Twitter but don’t “follow” them as I don’t want my Twitter feed clogged up with their every movement. However, I think the “before” and “after” tactic might encourage more loyal followers who really want to see the results of the show.

  5. I had never heard of the Powells before this post, but I used to love Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition, and my family and I would watch it every Sunday night in high school and (let’s be honest) usually shed quite a few tears for the family featured in each episode. I can only imagine how much stronger that emotional connection would’ve been if we had been following Ty Pennington–the show’s host–on Twitter, or Instagram! I love hearing how much the show has inspired you, and feel free to pass along that motivation to workout, because I know I could use it ;)

  6. Yes! I’ve seen a few episodes of Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition and find them very inspirational and moving. The Powells are amazing and encouraging people; and I completely agree that their family is gorgeous. I love it when celebrities use their social media accounts positively. It may not be “fair” but because they have larger followings and a bigger influence on the population, they should be using social media positively. I remember Chris Brown once got into a Twitter argument with a female comedian who made a snarky comment about him abusing Rihanna. That kind of stuff is just unnecessary and so negative. Anyways, great post! Now I feel like working out haha.

  7. What’s interesting about your post is that, as Jerry said, you seem more personally invested in Chris and Heidi because you have been able to connect with them on some level. I love hearing stories of good, regular people who have some sort of extraordinary product or talent and are able to tip themselves into the public domain through various strategies, including social media. I keep thinking of the YouTube videos with Sam Gordon outrunning every boy on the football field and she was recognized through a variety of media outlets. I only watched the first season but Chris does seem like a genuinely great person who cares about his clients, and he has contributed to their success by connecting with his fans through social media.

  8. What a great post! I, too, tune in each week to EWL and follow Chris and Heidi on Facebook. Many times I have questions or leave comments and always get a response. I feel as you do, part of the family. I feel as though the Powell’s care about me even though they have no idea who I am. It is that connection that has led me to read Chris’ books and soon begin carb cycling. I feel inspired by this duo and owe much of my success to their very public, yet inspiring spirits!

  9. It seems like the Powell’s are very strategic in the way they have broadcasted themselves over the various forms of SM. They have created a brand that you obviously can’t ignore across multiple products. What’s funny is I have completely done the same exact thing with Bethenny Frankel (known from the Real Housewives of NY, Skinnygirl Cocktails, etc). I’m probably more obsessed with her than you are of the Powell’s, having read all of her books, following her on twitter, and watching her brand new talk show Bethenny. I almost feel relieved that it’s no longer weird to be completely invested in someone you don’t even know! (Or maybe we are both weird). SM and these very open “celebrities” make it so easy for you to feel like you know them.

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  11. Reblogged this on Social Mumma and commented:
    A great post about how you can use social media to build loyalty, develop trust, demonstrate authenticity and deepen relationships with your audience and customers

  12. […] The Powell Pack: Transforming Lives, One Instagram at a Time ( […]

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