Look up “fitspiration” in the dictionary and you’re likely to find a photo of Kayla Itsines. The Aussie fitness superstar and Instagram queen went from training clients in the gym to owning her own business, swiftly turning it into a million-dollar brand with her as the face (and body). And this is all before she’d even hit 30.
Itsines (pronounced it-seen-ess), who hadn’t a clue about Instagram before she started posting transformation pics of her clients, teaches women that being strong is better than being skinny, that feeling fit is more important than the numbers on the scale.
Outside of being arguably one of the healthiest role models for young women in the public sphere, Itsines has a normal life just like everybody else. In fact, normality is her brand. She even (whisper it) eats badly sometimes. This is the untold truth of one of the biggest #fitspo ladies of all time.
She was a teenage businesswoman
At 18 years old, Itinses was a qualified personal trainer working in Adelaide, Australia. Leading exercise classes comprised of mostly older women, she found herself equally as bored and frustrated as her clients.
As she explained to Bloomberg, one day Itsines broke rank, leading the group in a series of standardized exercises, which they loved. Her little sister’s friends then asked her to train them to play for the school netball team. Her cousin suggested Itsines post before and after shots of her satisfied customers to Instagram, to build her profile. Within months, wannabe clients from all over the country had discovered her via those all-important hashtags. They all wanted her to train them.
Fellow personal trainer, and her now-fiancé, Tobias Pearce helped Itsines devise a simple workout guide (which would become the Bikini Body Guide) to sell online based on those same basic routines, and the rest, as they say, is history. Even so, she remains modest, telling Business Insider, “I’ve been working for myself since I was 18. Maybe I did not see myself as an entrepreneur, but I knew what I wanted to do: Help women.”
She’s a secret millionaire
It took just a few years for Itsines to rack up millions of Instagram followers, with her BBG guides flying off the online shelves as fans sought to emulate her healthy, super-fit lifestyle. With thousands of women worldwide shelling out $19.99 on them per month, her fortune grew considerably.
The personal trainer and entrepreneur then decided to take her show on the road, with a tour consisting of wildly popular live group classes all of which, naturally, sold out in moments. “When I started with the world tour, I thought: Wow, this is really getting serious,” she told Business Insider.
She and Pearce also parlayed the BBG into a slick app, called SWEAT, that as Bloomberg noted bested even big fish like Nike sales-wise upon initial launch. Itsines and Pearce also landed on the 2016 BRW Young Rich List, with an estimated combined wealth of $46 million (they keep the particulars of the business top secret). In 2017, Forbes named Itsines the #1 influencer in the fitness category. All before she’d even turned 30.
Her inspiration is you
Itsines is the definition of a self-made success: a young woman who parlayed her job as a personal trainer into a world-conquering fitness revolution. Although the Aussie is a hugely inspiring bit of #fitspo herself, as she explained to Hello! magazine, it’s not all about her. The way Itsines sees it, her brand was made on the transformations of other women, and that’s where the focus should stay.
The secret to her success is her followers, “the fact that I’m showcasing the success of other women,” she explained. “Rather than showcasing what I do, it’s more like, ‘look at this girl, look at what she’s done’. I think that’s what’s made it really relatable for women and really inspiring as well.” As noted by Bloomberg following one of her intense boot-camps, in New York (attended by thousands of women), once all was said and done, Itsines triumphantly told the crowd, “you don’t need me. You can do this by yourself.”
She still gets nervous
Running massive events worldwide, from Amsterdam to London and back (her first U.S. tour sold out in less than an hour), attended by thousands of eager followers at a time, would be intimidating to any normal woman. But surely Kayla Itsines, the super-fit, super-popular Aussie firebrand and queen of Instagram, who posts awe-inspiring photos of her abs all day long doesn’t get nervous, right? In spite of gracing the covers of Glamour, Women’s Health, and more, Itsines still feels like the same woman she’s always been (more on that later).
As a result, regardless of her overarching success, she still gets nervous about meeting her fans in person — because their journeys are so personal to her. “I’m the one who’s always super nervous to meet all the girls. I follow their journey to health on Instagram and Facebook intensively. To me they are like family,” she told Business Insider.
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