Presentation Follow Up: Social media in the Fitness Industry

As I said in my presentation last week, the fitness industry has taken the Instagram world by storm. In the Instagram world they are known as the “#fitfam.” Professionals and amateurs alike use Instagram to promote their fitness products and attract new clients. For amateurs especially, Instagram offers them a way to become insta-famous insta-fast, turning their small start up personal training business into a worldwide sensation.

IMG_2700Before social media revolutionized the way fitness experts communicated with potential and current clients, people who wanted to get in shape had to pay big bucks to either join a gym, hire a personal trainer, or buy the latest fad workout video. Now with the help of social media users can easily access fitness and nutrition advice via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress.

By utilizing a social media platform like Instagram, fitness trainers can reach clients from all over the world. Many personal trainers have taken advantage of this worldwide stage to share their healthy living advice and fitness success stories via social media. So much so, that Instagram feeds across all of these platforms are flooded with fitness and nutrition information, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Breaking into an industry that is already on social media information over load may seem impossible, but a handful of personal trainers have found a way to rise above the noise.

IMG_2718Although there isn’t a one-way path to success, here are a few takeaways from the most insta-famous trainers in the industry about how to engage potential clients via social media and grow a small training practice into a worldwide business:

1. Upload easy and accessible fitness videos.

Most trainers upload short videos of highly effective workouts to their social media accounts. These clips of trainer’s workouts can give their followers a taste of what their fitness program is all about. This is an opportunity for clients to actually try one of the workouts for themselves. Many potential consumers may be hesitant to buy into a full-fledged fitness program that they don’t know much about. They want to know if they will actually have a chance at executing the workouts before they buy in. If successful, these snippets of your entice followers to join the trainers full fitness program. However, it is especially important to make it clear how followers can move forward with that process. To do this, many trainers have a link to their website’s purchasing page in their bio.

2. Inspire change.

By far the most engaging posts on trainer’s Instagrams are quotes. Some are inspirational, some are humorous, but all of them tap into the emotions of anyone struggling through a fitness journey. By most engaging, I mean this type of post tends to earned the most likes and comments, which are key signs of customer engagement.

3. Offer advice and respond to questions.

Instagram provides a platform on which to share simple tips and tricks that can help your clients reach their fitness goals. Many trainers will share nutritional advice about which foods best complement their workout regimen. Some also will talk about tips for keeping proper form in certain moves or tricks for using various pieces of equipment in order to achieve the best results. Even more importantly, many trainers use social media to listen and respond to fitness questions posed by clients. Instagram allows trainers to answer their client’s questions and concerns either in a private, via a direct message, or public setting, via public post.

4. Share success stories.

Sharing success stories can kill two birds with one stone. First, it advertises the success of your fitness program, inviting new customers to buy into your program. Secondly, it motivates your current clients to stick with it. After all, nothing motivates people to get off the couch more than seeing others succeed at reaching their fitness goals. Trainers do this by collecting authentic quotes from clients who have personally experienced the effects of your fitness program and instagraming “before” and “after” photos of the client captioned with the testimonial.

IMG_27395. Build a personal connection.

Fitness and health are innately personal and emotionally charged topics. However social media platforms like Instagram can diminish this key aspect of the trainer-client relationship. Trainers must make a conscious effort to connect with their followers on a personal level. Many do this by posting about their fitness journey struggles, their health philosophies, and real life achievements of well-being. This may take the form of photos, quotes, or quick anecdotes. These relatable insights into a trainer’s personal side may also reveal parts of their everyday life too. For example, some trainers post pictures with their families, photos of their pets, or snapshots for their latest vacation adventure. Ultimately these posts show followers their personality. In the fitness industry, the trainer’s personality is their brand, and it should shine through these authentic posts.

By following these simple steps, many trainers have built their small local business into worldwide operations, complete with world tours and more. I imagine we will see more amateur trainers break into the fitness Instagram scene in these ways and other new, unique ways. It will be interesting to see who is the next new insta-famous fitness star is and how they will push the limits on social media client engagement.


  1. I really enjoyed your presentation. I follow kayla and love seeing her posts. I have tried her workouts and could not walk the next day. It is crazy to imagine how different her life would be without instagram. The platform has allowed her to build her empire and become a workout icon. I’m sure she is making lots of money due to her instagram success.

  2. You mentioned great takeaways that I think a lot of fitness accounts do not necessarily take into consideration. Offering advice and responding to questions is a significant one. If clients don’t feel like they are being considered, they can easily find another account that will fill this void. This idea relates to many companies on various platforms because online customer service has become so widespread. Customers want responses and they want them to feel personal.

  3. I think your list of 5 take-aways is extremely powerful. I follow Chris and Heidi Powell, the hosts of Extreme Weight Loss on Twitter and Instagram, and they effectively use all of these techniques, particularly your number 3, offer advice and respond to questions. During the airing of the shows, Chris and Heidi stay on twitter the whole time, responding to questions and offering advice. I think it is such a powerful tool for them to share their expertise and to portray themselves as people who just want to help others. It’s crazy seeing people tell them- “I just lost 5 pounds!” and they take the time to say- “Congratulations! Keep up the good work.” It is really interesting to see how even the most famous fitness gurus are using this platform! Great blog post.

  4. I’ve found the recent rise of “Instagram celebrities” like Kayla to be one of the most interesting outcomes of the social media era. It’s amazing to me that average people can elevate themselves to celebrity status using the same exact tools that we use in everyday life. It’s also interesting how as little as 10 years ago, people were still paying a ton of money for fitness DVDs like P90X and Insanity, whereas today you can find similar (if not better) workouts and fitness plans for free on Instagram and YouTube. In a similar way, I’ve self-taught myself bass guitar by simply watching YouTube videos of bass experts, who became famous just like Kayla Itsines by simply utilizing social media and building a following. We’ve seen a lot of negative outcomes of social media in this course (like privacy concerns, or public shaming), but the example of Kayla Itsines is definitely one of the positives to come out of social media. Overall, you did a great job in this post of analyzing the factors that led to the success of Instagram celebrities like Kayla Itsines, and then presenting them in simple takeaways for the average social media user.

  5. I really like your post and how it ads to your presentation from last week. I like the takeaways about how a fitness accounts can become more popular. In my experience I really like accounts that give workout examples or videos, so I can learn what should I do at the gym. I am really not a fan of inspire transformations, because it only sells the idea of losing weight and its a way of advertising the account.
    But overall I think it is really interesting how fitness accounts have become so popular in the past years. Fitness is a present trend that has increase because of how social media simplifies the process of being known out in the world.

  6. I’ve always been fascinated how fitness gurus and personal trainers are leveraging SM to develop their own brands, even on a very local level.

  7. ashleighpopera · ·

    I really enjoyed your presentation and the takeaways you offer in this post! I have a lot of friends that follow Kayla and are really inspired by her thanks to her social media presence. When it comes to the #fitfam, I really think that building a personal connection with followers on social media is the best way to inspire change. By offering advice, sharing success stories, and being extremely accessible, Kayla represents all of the takeaways you emphasize and is a great example of successful consumer engagement. I think her presence on Instagram really makes her followers feel like they know her personally and is her key to success!

  8. Thanks, @taylorckenyon! I enjoyed this follow-up to your presentation as well! I started following Kayla right after your presentation and have been able to witness the effectiveness of her techniques. Have you seen her engage in live streaming? I think that could add to her following by making many fans join her for live workouts or meal prep sessions. This would add to the personal connection piece and her overall brand. Thanks again!

  9. Thanks for the follow up post, Taylor! After your presentatio, I decided to follow Kayla and agree with all of the points you made above. Her posts are real and they relate to the average consumer. I love that she interacts with her fans and posts more than just workout videos or her meals. She is inspirational. I think more young women need role models like Kayla.

    I agree with @ngandia – it would be great to see her interact with fans via live streaming. I know she does online coaching with ebooks but using streaming could show prospective clients what her services include.

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