Kayla Itsines: Collectivizing The E-Training Industry

The growth of fitness trackers in the form of devices like the Apple Watch and the Fitbit that connect to smartphones have sparked growth in the e-fitness industry. The ability to train on your own time without having to leave your home or office space reflects a trend gaining traction that has consequently produced a niche market in the tech industry. Deemed by Forbes as “The Internet’s Workout Queen,” Kayla Itsines has become a household name in this market. With over 9 million followers on Instagram, Itsines, a personal trainer from Australia, has capitalized on the at-home fitness trend and established herself as the most famous fitness guru on social media.

By providing guided instructions to a 28-minute daily circuit workout, her Bikini Body Guide (BBG) Program has attracted a mass following of women of all ages and body types throughout the world. Itsines’ exercises are predominantly focused on body-weight can therefore be done independently from gym equipment in the comfort of one’s own home.

In January 2014, she created and sold the first two BBG PDF programs: one that introduced her exercise plan, and the other that introduced corresponding nutritional advice. The mission statement of the BBG program reads: “I want to help as many women as possible achieve their ideal body, their confidence, and their happiness.” Itsines encouraged users to take photos throughout the 12-week program in order to measure their own progress and very quickly, empowered users began sharing their “before and after” success stories on social media forums like Instagram with a #bbg at the end, referencing Itsines’ brand in the caption. Clicking on the hashtag led viewers to similar success stories and suddenly, the BBG program was being popularized not necessarily by Itsines herself, but by the community of women using her guides.  

In fact, the viral community that emerged as a result of Itsines’ BBG program has permeated into branches of smaller communities behind individuals who use their success stories as a platform to encourage the participation of others. By building a community around her brand, Itsines has uniquely developed a platform that benefits others while simultaneously promoting herself.

Since the release of the first PDF BBG program, Itsines’ empire has expanded to include recipe books, a global “Sweat Tour” which brings together women at a stadium to participate in a workout with Itsines herself, and finally, the release of a “Sweat with Kayla” app that has generated over 17 million dollars in revenue and was the most-downloaded fitness app in 2016. What separates Itsines from her counterparts in the e-fitness industry is her unique ability to instill her passion for living a healthy lifestyle onto millions of followers who then experience the success of her transformative guide and impart that wisdom on newcomers, creating to a self-perpetuating cycle of empowerment within the online community.

Itsines dominates the online community of fitness, and she has inadvertently sparked a more influential shift towards viral fitness training that is both more affordable and convenient than an in-person personal training session. While most smartphone apps are isolating and addictive, Itsines’ brand is counterintuitively communal in its mission and execution. Users are initially united by a common goal towards an overall physical and mental transformation, which is then replaced by an ongoing common appreciation for each other’s successes as the program continues. While the BBG brand has been wildly profitable for Itsines, she remains committed to a greater vision for building a community around working out; the evidence is there to support this claim.