You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Aussie workout queen, Kayla Itsines. When the name Kayla Itsines was mentioned a few years ago, the first things that would come to mind were fitness fanatic & Bikini Body Guides.
Through years of personal training, educating women and absolutely grinding her way through the health & fitness realms, Kayla is now recognised as one of the most influential trainers in the world. Itsines’ online presence, in particular her Instagram page, really took off once people from all over the world wanted to know how they could train like her and get the same results.
Appearing at this years Advertising Week APAC, Itsines’ humbly admitted that it was in fact her little cousin that introduced her to Instagram. She said she used to always show off her fitness photos on her phone to family and friends, until one day it was put to her to start sharing them on Instagram. Much to the delight of the audience, she responded “What is Instagram?”.
Now with over 9.5 million engaged followers, Itsines’ is the embodiment of an Instagram queen. She proudly admitted to running her own social media pages with the goal of always staying true to herself and remaining authentic.
In 2017 Kayla Itsines, was named FORBES’ top fitness influencer and was announced among the top 5 women on the 2017 Financial Review Young Rich List, climbing 11 spots from the previous year.
In 2016, Tobi Pearce, Kayla’s fiancé and business partner, conceived SWEAT, an app (which will pull in $77 million USD this year) featuring three personal trainers, each with a different expertise. Building on an established female community and the SWEAT brand, the app is a new training platform for Itsines alongside personal trainer Kelsey Wells and yoga teacher Sjana (Elise) Earp.
Today, the Sweat app is a one-stop shop for fitness programs for women, featuring not only Kayla’s own content, but the other trainers’ programs as well, across areas like yoga, pregnancy and gym workouts. The SWEAT App costs just $19.99 per month, which is cheaper than the gym, or $119 each year for fitness and meal plans, shopping lists and other advice.
SWEAT has a huge presence around the world, combining fitness, a maintainable weight loss plan and a huge social media presence– they’ve stumbled across a business goldmine.
Pearce also joined Itsines’ on stage at AdWeek, offering insights on the success of SWEAT. Pearce admitted that the key to their success was staying true to themselves and listening to their users. Touching on the importance of having a great idea, he said that if you listen probably to your audience, you’ll have all the guidance you ever need to make the best decisions in your business.
Netflix, Apple Music, Spotify or whatever, you don’t want to use them unless they have the content what you want. There’s no point on having a bunch of content if people don’t want it. So we are very focused on understanding our consumers and learning what type of training do they want to do and what impacts their lives positively the most. – The Financial Review
These days “well over a million” people use the app on a monthly basis, out of 30 million total app downloads, Tobi told TechCrunch. Although the company’s now 70-person team is largely based in Australia, the U.S. is Sweat’s largest market.
Pearce teased the audience with the next developments of the app, hinting towards new trainers and programs to launch in 2018.
“Since re-launching [the SWEAT app], we had a really big growth year — we grew about 86 percent last year, which is pretty huge for us. And this year, we’re on track to hit about $100 million in revenue this year — that’s AUD,” Tobi explained.
When we first started doing the e-books, I had a few bootcamp franchises of my own, and Kayla had a small studio that she ran…I put up most of my own money, initially,” Tobi explains. “It was sort of big turning point in both of our careers because we could — you know: the Australian dream, buy your own home — or we could invest a hundred thousand dollars and hope something comes out of it.
Pearce says he has been approached by private equity to buy a stake in Sweat, but says he and Itsines want to keep the business self-funded and in their hands for at least the forseeable future to build their own long-term sustainable company.
“Start-ups these days will make a little bit of money and then take on a huge investment just to push their business along. But fundamentally if the business isn’t set up to withstand that velocity then ultimately it isn’t going to last.”