Thousands of miles from the New York City trainers we know and love (so much we might just watch them from our couches on a weeknight), or the A-list-favorite Los Angeles instructors with ridiculous wait lists, there’s a new kind of fitness celebrity: the kind born on Instagram, and who has millions of followers tracking their every (healthy) move.
Among the social media platform’s many nutrition stars and yogis reigns Kayla Itsines, an Adelaide, Australia, based personal trainer who used the app to launch her PDF Bikini Body Guide into the cluttered stratosphere of fitness YouTube videos, books, apps, and DVDs, and has made giant sweaty mark on fitness-lovers in North America and around the world.
More reading: What fitness instructors eat for lunch
Her success, she claims, is kind of accidental. “Social media is a fundamental part of the success of any business,” Itsines said to Well+Good. “But I started my Instagram as a personal way to keep track of all my client transformations and home workout videos in one place,” she says. She never quite expected that there would be 3 million-plus people following what she calls her “personal training journey” or considering themselves fitness recruits in #KaylasArmy.
That journey started years ago, when she got a degree in Personal Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness, then went on to train at gyms and with private clients in their homes, before opening her own studio, where she would see 200 clients—all women—every week.
More reading: The 5 best and worst nutrition bars
When she started uploading the progress from her clients to Instagram, however, a larger opportunity revealed itself. “Their results were amazing, and I started getting questions from women all around the world asking how I was training them,” she says. “I started receiving so many emails, I thought, “Maybe I could help people all over the globe.”
So with the help of her partner, Tobias Pearce, who’s also a personal trainer, they spent almost a year creating what’s now one of the most buzzed about training regimens on the internet: Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide—or more commonly known as #bbg all over Instagram.
The method is alarmingly simple (and surprisingly effective—I can personally vouch). The $69.95 PDF contains twelve weeks of workouts, with three days that includes two series of just four exercises that you complete in seven-minute circuits, twice. It totals 28 minutes of “high intensity, plyometric, resistance jump training,” according to Itsines.
And lest you conjure images of your mother’s Billy Blanks at-home workouts, Itsines routines are quick, simple (think walking lunges and jump squats), and hard (one of the most popular BBG tags is a meme that reads: “‘It’s only 28 minutes,’ said no BBG-er ever”). You might not think that a workout you can do while watching Bravo in your living room could make you drip sweat onto your hardwoods, but I’ve been there, and mopped that.
For Itsines, the PDF-based program is just the beginning. This year, she completed her first World Bootcamp Tour, packing thousands of committed BBG-ers into sessions from Australia to New York City, and she also launched nutrition guides.
She’s currently in the process of translating her guides into myriad languages to reach more women globally, and she’s partnered with cool-girl brand Outdoor Voices. Her goal, she says, is simply to empower as many women as possible to “feel confident, fit, and strong.”
In fact, the peppy brunette takes very little credit for generating more buzz for women’s fitness than anyone but Jillian Michaels. “At the end of 12 weeks, you can say that you did this. You got out of bed early or trained after a hard day,” she says. “Because of that, you’ve achieved results.” And that’s no doubt a big reason women are so proud to share their before and after pics all over Instagram. —Brittany Burke
For more information, visit www.kaylaitsines.com
(Top photo: Instagram.com/kayla_itsines; right photo: Max Papendieck for Outdoor Voices)