Kayla Itsines is arguably one of the largest fitness influencers in the world, with a whopping 11.9 million Instagram followers and an at-home workout brand worth estimated millions – all at just 28 years of age.
Her guides focus on simple high-intensity moves anyone can do at home. There are separate food and fitness programs, plus an incredibly active online community BBG, for Bikini Body Guides.
Now Itsines will be bringing her powerful online presence to the UAE for the Dubai Active Show. It’s not her first trip – she first visited Dubai back in 2017 and “absolutely loved everything about it, the people, the food, and the landscape.” She wants everyone to get involved on this visit.
Itsines will be hosting a BBG-style workout at the Dubai Active Show so expect a lot of jumping, core, and bodyweight exercises. She’ll also host a meet-and-greet and a live on-stage Q&A.
And on this visit, Itsines is coming with the experience of new motherhood. Here’s what she’s learned since her last visit.
Childbirth changes fitness
“After having Arna, it was a big realization for me how much strength I lost through my pregnancy and post-birth recovery,” says Itsines. She went from being able to do super intense workouts to struggling with something as simple as a treadmill walk.
“I definitely had days when I found it a lot harder than others to stay motivated, but I just took things slowly, listened to my body, and gradually regained my strength and confidence in the gym. I really do have such a deep appreciation for the female body and how mine supported me through pregnancy, post-birth recovery and now.”
Balance your social media
Itsines should know – she has 11.9 million followers on Instagram alone. And she acknowledges it can be difficult to navigate the health and fitness space because of all the info available. This has only increased with the rise of social media, making it especially hard for teens to know what to listen to.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to follow accounts that share content that inspires you,” she says.
It works both ways, she adds, so be careful what you are posting.
“One of my school teachers told me when you’re on social media, act like your grandma is watching over your shoulder. That has always stuck with me.”
Stage fright is real
“When I first became a personal trainer, I never imagined the scale of training that I do today,” says Itsines. No matter how many times she gets on stage, she still feels nerves.
“I feel a huge sense of responsibility to my community and I think the nerves come from pressure on myself.”
Growth is the goal
Itsines has already proven herself to be a business mogul, but she has no intention of standing still and getting complacent. Now she’s considering adding more functionality to her app based on member feedback. As for other business plans, Itsines answers simply: “Continuing to grow is a big focus.”
That doesn’t mean she hasn’t made mistakes along the way. The biggest one, says Itsines, is not enjoying even the little wins.
“When we first started we were moving so fast and trying to do so many things at once, and because we were so busy, we never stopped to celebrate,” she says. Now even small advancements are acknowledged.
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist and globally recognized influencer and leader in the body acceptance movement.