I originally discovered Kayla Itsines and her fitness empire the way that I come across many things these days—Instagram. I remember scrolling through my feed and seeing five of my friends “like” one her posts. Inevitably, I clicked the photo to see what it was all about. The Instagram account, @kayla_itsines, contains hundreds of before and after photos of women’s body transformations from using her “Bikini Body Guides” (aka #BBG on the Instagram community). Along with these almost unbelievable body transformations, the Instagram account contains pictures of the fitness trainer herself, the foods she eats, and motivational quotes. While this was only a few months ago, Kayla Itsines is now a social media celebrity with over with over 4 million Instagram followers.
Australian trainer Kayla Itsines originally built her fitness empire around a twelve-week e-book program (Bikini Body Guide), which anyone could download for around $50 through her website. The program consists of 28 minute workout intervals targeting all aspects of your body, including your abs, arms, and lower body. The e-book ended up doing so well that she created a twelve-week sequel, BBG 2.0, along with a recipe book, which guides users through what they should eat for every day of the twelve week program, including both meals and snacks. As more and more women began trying her workout regime, Kayla Itsines continually posted content on her Instagram account. While the popularity of the guides could possibly be attributed solely to their great quality and the fact that they actually work, I think that what really made Kayla’s brand take off is her brilliant use of social media.
Kayla Itsines has not only gained a huge following, but has also begun a conversation among women around the globe through Instagram. By adding simple hashtags at the end of her posts such as #BBG and #TheKaylaMovement, Itsines has allowed for women who do not even know each other to come together and motivate each other to stay fit and healthy. In an interview with USA Today, Kayla Itsines explained that she runs her own Instagram account and now, with her global following, must plan her posts for a worldwide audience. This means a lot of different time zones and posts every three or four hours. However after searching through Instagram for a mere five minutes, it is clear that Instagram users worldwide are continuing in Kayla’s BBG conversation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As you can see below, the hashtags #TheKaylaMovement and #KaylasArmy both have over 1 million posts each from women all over the globe. Moreover, the hundreds of hashtags including the BBG brand name exemplify the popularity Kayla and her guides have gained throughout the Instagram community. Kayla has created a huge online fitness community exclusive to women following her brand.
Kayla and her #BBG training program continued to evolve on social media so much so that celebrities such as actors and Victoria’s Secret Models are now following her. Her social media following has allowed her brand to gain enough success to now switch from a PDF e-book format to an App with a subscription based monthly fee.
After having used the guides for a few weeks, I can attest to the fact that they really do work. Even when walking through the Plex here at BC, the popularity of her guides cannot go unnoticed. I see BC girls using her guides almost every single time I walk through the Plex. I think that the key to Kayla Itsines’ success is the fact that she built such a strong virtual community, one that has millions strangers talking to each other over a photo sharing platform. While it seems as though she has perfected the business of Instagram, I am very curious to see what she will do with her brand as she continues to gain traction among celebrities and to see how many fitness trainers will attempt to follow in her footsteps.