For those who make fitness their lives, there’s never been a better or more lucrative time to be alive. Over the past decade, social media has significantly boosted the business of getting in shape. Not only has this innovation aided fitness experts in making a profitable living, but it’s given fitness enthusiasts unprecedented access to workout options, routines and lifestyles in just a few simple taps or swipes.
The all-encompassing explosion of social media has in one way or another affected every area of our lives. But specifically for fitness experts, platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn allow these mavens to create content in a way that increasingly blurs the lines between follower and client. Now they’re able to monetize their personal brands, and so it seems, may not even need to teach in-person classes to sustain a business.
Let’s be honest—many of us are turned away by the idea of following a strict workout regimen that requires more than an hour a day of our time. In our fast-paced society, people are more receptive to brief, concise information that’s broken down in a few easy steps. For some, the thought of implementing a fitness plan into their lives is inconceivable, but the burgeoning relationship between fitness and social media is making it more sustainable than ever.
“I just want people to feel good in their own bodies, to feel strong, and to move better.”
Idalis Velazquez (@ivfitness), 33, who from a young age has been an athlete and fitness enthusiast, launched her fitness business, I.V. Fitness, in 2008. Before this venture, she never considered a career in fitness, which changed when her business exploded.
“Honestly, I never thought I’d be working in this field,” Velazquez said. “It wasn’t something I considered a job. Then, after my second pregnancy, I went through some really serious medical complications and started offering my community free bootcamp classes. I don’t just do these classes for competition or being an athlete; I just like doing it for wellness, to stay active and energized, and to help other moms and women.”
Velazquez specializes in resistance training, strength training, and metabolic workouts. The reason she leans more toward encouraging these workouts is due to their effectiveness in showing quick results. When done correctly, they’re also a safer option for getting in shape, whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or just feel stronger, unlike crash-course workouts or diets, which can be harmful to one’s health.
Most of her in-person training sessions are one-on-one, but now platforms like Instagram have taken her ability to advertise her fitness programs to a whole new level. For her, social media is a huge part of what contributes to her success as a fitness entrepreneur. Instagram is by far her favorite form of social networking because of its accessibility to a very large, diverse audience. Currently, her feed reaches 56.5K followers and is growing every day.
“Instagram kind of opened that door for posting more about fitness, especially they started allowing video clips,” Velazquez said. “It was a great opportunity to reach more people around the world.”
Velazquez says most of her followers and clients are looking for 30 to 40 minute workouts, so she tries to adhere to those requests. She knows how busy and stressed people can be, especially the modern-day woman, which is why her goal is to create simple and effective workouts for them. “I feel like years ago we used to settle for less and now we want it all,” Velazquez said. “You want the career, you want to be a mom—you have all these things.”
Being able to access a fitness workout on a social media network, such as Instagram, has not only made the lifetyle more accessible, but acts as a form of motivation and inspiration for those looking to get toned up. When her clients post their “before” and “after” photos, for example, the results create an incentive for others to try the workout. Velazquez says she hopes to inspire others to live quality lives, which is why she posts about nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in addition to workouts.
“I do love connecting with people, but for some reason it really affects me. It’s one of my biggest stressors. I’m trying to have more control. I have two girls and a family.”
“I hope they get really strong and create a lot of muscle, especially moms after having kids. A lot of people today have become less mobile, like, they’re staying home or a lot of the time they’re seated because of a desk job. We’ve become—I’m not going to say lazy—but we’re always driving or sitting, and I feel like everyone is suffering from back pains. I just want people to feel good in their own bodies, to feel strong, and to move better.”
Velazquez, who is based in the Fort Lauderdale area with her family, realizes how crucial keeping up with social media is for her career in fitness, but also knows when to disconnect to maintain her own sanity, in order to practice what she preaches. About two years ago, when she first started using social media, it consumed too much of her time and she started to feel it negatively impact her life. It’s all about finding the right balance, she says.
“I do love connecting with people, but for some reason it really affects me. It’s one of my biggest stressors. I’m trying to have more control. I have two girls and a family. I remember two years ago I was always on the phone, and I remember my husband saying, ‘Oh my God, you’re consumed with social media.’ Now I just have hours that I set so I can post and check whatever I need to in that time. It works for me.”
Velazquez’s advice for those just starting out in the competitive entrepreneurial fitness world is to stay true to your personal brand and create consistent content for your audience. Clients can tell when a fitness instructor is genuine about the workouts they offer, and when a variety of workouts is posted regularly, this keeps them engaged and keeps them coming back.
Fitness trainer Michael Morelli (@morellifit), who has 1.3 million followers on Instagram, started promoting his fitness brand, MorelliFit, on the platform in 2012. He specializes in TUT (Time Under Tension) methods and carb-cycling. Aside from physical training and nutrition, Morelli also enjoys teaching his clients about awareness and mindset.
“Whether it be a fitness or nutrition program, we teach a lifestyle,” Morelli said. “We don’t have schemes, or gimmicks, we sell real results. I wake up with one intention, and that’s to get as many people as possible to the next level. It doesn’t have to be nutrition or training, it could be any number of things.”
In the beginning, when Morelli started his social media venture, there were times he’d wake up in the middle of the night to post so his followers in other time zones had consistent content to consume. Fortunately, he now has a team that helps him operate his social media accounts so he’s not constantly plugged in. Still, he uses social media for business about four to six hours a day, mostly to interact with his followers.
Morelli says he prefers advertising with social media compared to any other form of promotion because it’s more intimate and his fans can reach him directly, giving him immediate feedback by posting comments. The photos and videos he says receive the most “likes” are generally unique exercises he shares or content containing shocking or controversial captions.
“Be real, transparent, honest, and different,” Morelli said. “Value is a must. Get really clear on your niche/target market and stay in your lane. Too many people want to watch and imitate what others are doing. Stand out, don’t be afraid to be controversial, and stand for something.”
Agyei Foster (@doviesworkout), also known as Dovies, runs his fitness business called Dovies Workout from Accra, the capital of Ghana in West Africa. He initially got the idea to get serious about teaching fitness and sharing it on social media in 2012. While he’s always been passionate about staying fit, he eventually believed enough in himself to pursue it as a career.
A typical workday for the 30-year-old fitness coach consists of training individuals on a one-on-one basis with the occasional couple. After his morning sessions, he goes to the gym for an hour. Once he’s done training, he heads home and posts two to three online fitness videos to social media. The rest of his day is filled with answering messages from his fans online, and giving them helpful tips for their workouts.
“I like teaching people how to get the best body possible,” Foster said. “I do help with weight loss and weight gains as well, and how to keep the right form for a workout. I always hope they get the results they’re looking for and that all my programs work for them the way they imagine.”
Foster’s favorite social media platforms to post content are Instagram and Facebook. Currently, he has over 800K followers on Instagram and is gaining new followers every day. Since most of his fitness clients are online, being able to deliver instant workout programs and advice benefits him in reaching more people from various parts of the world. In total, Foster says he spends an excessive amount of time online between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
“Reaching people can be hard, but you have to know what your followers are interested in, especially when it comes to workout videos,” he said. “I post videos and pictures that people show more interest in, and also post stuff they are not used to like workout videos or posts from my country.”
Foster’s best piece of advice for up-and-coming fitness influencers is to “stay original.” He says if you try to copy other successful fitness hosts on social media, users will see through it and write you off. Instead, he says to be true to yourself and share what you’re most interested in when it comes to fitness and staying healthy.
What these three fitness influencers have in common is their drive and passion for what they do. They don’t let anyone influence them; they influence others with their genuine love for fitness and making the world a healthier and happier place.
This story was originally published in “The Fitness Issue” of Resource Magazine. Visit the Resource Shop to pick up a copy.