INSTAGRAM WORKOUTS: How 15 top fitness entrepreneurs are converting thousands of followers into customers on social media
Summary List PlacementGone are the days of packed spin and Zumba classes. If you're not pedaling six-feet-apart from your gym partner, you're probably logging into an online yoga class in your living room. The fitness industry has transformed at warp speed and many gyms, those that are still open, are just catching up. About $10 billion, or one-third of fitness-industry revenue, is expected to shift away from in-person to at-home workouts, the investment bank Harrison Co. found in a survey. Meanwhile, a crop of online fitness stars are leading us into digital transformation through virtual training programs and personalized apps. Some turned their followings as Peleton or SoulCycle instructors into supportive communities. Others used their massive platforms to help people cope with pandemic stress. And others turned their personal brands into workout gear and supplements. Business Insider compiled a list of 15 of the top influencers in the fitness industry who have become entrepreneurs through their unique training programs, health products, and apparel lines. They told us how they built their following on social media to leverage their followers into customers. Some responses have been condensed for clarity. THE FUTURE OF FITNESS: An inside look at the winners and losers as the industry faces upheaval SEE ALSO: The virtual at-home fitness boom is here to stay and will usher in a new era of exercising that will last long after the pandemic subsides, experts say Dee Gautham, founder of The Boss Body Revolution
14.2K followers Instagram: @dee_gautham Company: @thebossbodyrevolution Dee Gautham is a personal trainer, nutritionist, and the founder of The Boss Body Revolution, a digital coaching company. She told Business Insider that she built her following by consitently providing authentic, valuable content and building relationships. "Social media can feel one-sided, so it's really important to me to build real connections with my followers: I do this through DMs, comments, weekly Q&As, and also by sharing my story and journey behind-the-scenes of running my business and coaching clients," she said. Gautham said there aren't many other coaches who understand South Asian food and culture, so she uses her platform to educate and provide helpful content like healthy Indian food swaps and tips for visiting family. "I try and share content that's authentic to me — I share my own story of healing my relationship with food and my body, balancing my Indian culture, and cooking Indian food and flavors." Noah Neiman, cofounder of Rumble Boxing
14.2K followers Instagram: @dee_gautham Company: @thebossbodyrevolution Dee Gautham is a personal trainer, nutritionist, and the founder of The Boss Body Revolution, a digital coaching company. She told Business Insider that she built her following by consitently providing authentic, valuable content and building relationships. "Social media can feel one-sided, so it's really important to me to build real connections with my followers: I do this through DMs, comments, weekly Q&As, and also by sharing my story and journey behind-the-scenes of running my business and coaching clients," she said. Gautham said there aren't many other coaches who understand South Asian food and culture, so she uses her platform to educate and provide helpful content like healthy Indian food swaps and tips for visiting family. "I try and share content that's authentic to me — I share my own story of healing my relationship with food and my body, balancing my Indian culture, and cooking Indian food and flavors." Angela Manuel-Davis, cofounder of Aarmy
105k followers Instagram: @angelamanueldavis Company: @AARMY Angela Manuel-Davis, daughter of former MLB player and manager Jerry Manuel, is a fitness instructor and motivational speaker. Before cofounding the on-demand fitness program Aarmy, she was a Team USA track and field athlete and SoulCycle instructor, beloved by celebs like Oprah and Beyoncé. "I built my following based on the foundation of the community" Manuel-Davis told Business Insider. "I have an understanding and high value placed in the fact that we were all created to be a community, so before and after practice I would create space to connect and recap." Jennifer Jacobs, founder of J Method Fitness
107k followers Instagram: @jmethod Jennifer Jacobs is a personal trainer and former Peloton instructor. She branched off on her own when she founded her program J Method, which is available through the fitness app Ladder. Jacobs said one of the keys to building a following is knowing your audience. "The better you know your audience and their needs, the better you can achieve your goals and theirs," she told Business Insider. Jessica King, founder of MindFull3 Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/CEKxOOB7hr/embed Width: 540px 213K followers Instagram: @jesskingnyc Company: @mindfull3 Jessica King is currently a Peloton instructor , certified life coach, and founder of MindFull3, a wellness program focused on nutritional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Before she joined Peloton, King was a professional dancer and in 2008, made the top 10 on the television series "So You Think You Can Dance." King did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Ally Love, founder of Love Squad Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/BkLr2dJn4/embed Width: 540px 448K followers Instagram: @allymisslove Company: @lovesquad Ally Love started her career as a model and dancer, training at the Alvin-Ailey School while attending Fordham University. Today she's a certified health coach, Peloton instructor, and host for the Brooklyn Nets. She's used her platform as a motivational speaker to create her own community and apparel line, Love Squad, which hosts events and discussions for women. Love did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Jessamyn Stanley, founder of The Underbelly Yoga
448K followers Instagram: @mynameisjessamyn Company: @theunderbellyyoga Within a form of fitness that has traditionally left many body types out, Jessamyn Stanley is a champion of inclusivity. The yoga teacher, author, and advocate writes transparent captions about body positivity, confidence, and intimacy. Subscriptions to her classes are available through her online platform, The Underbelly Yoga, starting at $9.99 per month. Stanley declined to comment upon Business Insider's request. Jeanette Jenkins, founder of The Hollywood Trainer Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/B9-GCyPnvTv/embed Width: 540px 814K followers Instagram: @msjeanettejenkins Company: @hollywoodtrainerclub Jeanette Jenkins has been a celebrity personal trainer for more than 28 years, so it's fitting she named her business, The Hollywood Trainer. Her clients have included Pink, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, and multiple professional and olympic athletes. Years ago, you would find her workouts on DVDs, but today she keeps her community updated with workouts on Instagram and a full online training program. Jenkins did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Lita Lewis, founder of Thick Athletics Apparel Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/CGqecTyBaJc/embed Width: 540px 531K followers Instagram: @followthelita Company: @thickathleticsapparel Lita Lewis is a personal trainer, health coach, and motivational speaker who quit her corporate job to start her own business, using Instagram as an "open diary" to share her workout experience. She has a training app through Playbook platform, hosts a fitness show, and is the owner of the clothing brand Thick Athletics Apparel, which she started to encourage women to be confident in their curves. Lewis did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Adriene Mishler, founder of Find What Feels Good Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/BIHF6JlNx/embed Width: 540px 993K followers Instagram: @adrienelouise Company: @fwfglife Adriene Mishler had a strong following well before the pandemic hit, but "Yoga with Adrienne" became the go-to fitness YouTube channel during quarantine. Writer Sandra Tsing Loh said the instructor was the only thing getting her through tough times. Most of Mishler's videos are free, but she offers a subscription through her Find What Feels Good community, which gives members access to a full library of yoga classes starting at $9.99 per month. Mishler did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Cassey Ho, CEO and founder of PopFlex Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/B8eMyvbAoxG/embed Width: 540px 1.9M followers Instagram: @blogilates Company: @popflexactive Cassey Ho is a pilates instructor and the CEO and founder of PlopFlex activewear brand. She started her YouTube fitness channel in 2009, developing her branded Pop Pilates program which now holds daily virtual classes and trains other instructors. Ho did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Massy Arias, founder and CEO of Tru Supplements Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/CFr9zKXjzXC/embed Width: 540px 2.7M followers Instagram: @massy.arias Company: @trusupplements Massy Arias is a health coach and the CEO of vegan supplement company Tru Supplements. She offers several digital training programs and fitness memberships, such as a 30-day workout and nutrition plan for $50. In a 2016 interview with MSNBC, Arias said she turned to fitness to deal with depression, but being famous was never her goal. "I'm not trying to get a following," she told the network. "I'm just doing something that I love, something that I'm very passionate about." Arias did not return Business Insider's request for comment. Simeon Panda, founder of JustLift
7M followers Instagram: @simeonpanda Company: @justliftofficial Simeon Panda is a fitness trainer and the founder of Just Lift activewear brand. After about 10 years of training, he created a website and blog to share his passion and knowledge of weightlifting, using Instagram and Twitter to promote his posts. "My posts from the very beginning have had the same purpose: to educate, motivate, or both, and I have been fortunate that people have always responded well to my posts," he told Business Insider. "They tag and share with their friends, repost my content, and to this day I have experienced exponential organic growth across the social media platforms I frequently use." Kayla Itsines, cofounder of SWEAT
12.6M followers Instagram: @kayla_itsines Company: @SWEAT Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer, author, creator of the Bikini Body Guide workout programs, and a cofounder of fitness app SWEAT. In 2017, Forbes named her the world's top fitness influencer. Itsines designs her workouts to require no or minimal equipment, so they're simple for her followers to do at home. She told Business Insider that social media has been pivotal in SWEAT's success and allows her to connect with a global community. "Through social media, I am able to have a two-way conversation with women in many different countries, and gain insight into what women are thinking, how women are feeling and what they need from their health and fitness," she said. "Listening to the community allows me to create relevant content on social media that women want to see and use, and ensures my social media feed reflects the community it is serving." Read more: The world's top fitness influencer says success isn't about money — it's about the freedom to make your own decisions » Jen Selter, founder and CEO of BlendJet
12.6M followers Instagram: @jenselter Company: @blendjet Jen Selter is considered an OG of IG fitness. She had 2.6 million followers before Peloton made celebrities out of instructors, posting photos of her daily squat workouts and booty-popping poses, which turned her name into a verb and viral hashtag known as #seltering — her take on "planking." Today, she's the founder and CEO of BlendJet, a portable blender company. "Growing up, fitness was always a huge part of my lifestyle," Selter told Business Insider. "I'm a strong believer in pursuing things you love, so for me, this career came unintentionally." Her original goal was to bring women together and motivate them to challenge themselves with fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle choices. "When I first started on social media nine years ago, it was a lot harder to find a fitness community and motivation," she said. "Being one of the first fitness influencers, I created my own unique path and always kept true to myself." She attributes her success to sharing authentic parts of her life and slowly building a space where other women felt empowered to do the same.
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