AT a quick glance, your Facebook timeline pretty much stays the same, showing the same updates day in, day out – new babies, a dinner someone you barely know made last night, a timehop update of a night out six years ago and the occasional engagement. Which makes it all the more surprising when you start noticing your friends posting transformation pictures with their personal trainer.
One thing that nobody could have overlooked is the advertising by personal trainers around the world offering online training packages – these are everywhere.
Take Kayla Itsines for example, she’s a 24-year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia. She began training in 2008, working in a ‘women’s only’ gym, however she soon realised that her clients had a specific goal in mind – the perfect bikini body. With the workouts she was using, the goals weren’t being met quick enough, so she devised her own programme:
“Before I knew it, I had developed workouts and cardio techniques, mixed with nutritional planning that achieved a certain result: a bikini body confidence.”
Today, Kayla has built up something of a cult following across the social media platforms. A quick search online for the hashtag #bbg (bikini body goals) show hundreds of women who subscribe to Kayla’s training regime posting their before and after pictures. And while there are always body-shamers lurking around every internet corner, she sticks up for her girls and reinforces the idea that a healthy body is a better body, whether or not others think you ‘looked better before’.
“Stop looking at yourself as something that needs to be ‘fixed’, focus on improvements. Focus on health and focus on happiness. Create goals and smash them.”
Perhaps the secret to her success is that she doesn’t pretend to be anything she’s not, as she promotes her app ‘Sweat With Kayla’ for women to use on to the go, she practices what she preaches with uploaded videos on a daily basis showing how to do each workout and photos of the food in her food plan.
The winner of Cosmopolitan’s ‘Fun, Fearless Woman Award’ gives daily insights to her life, whether it’s a photo of her dog, an anecdote from her Greek grandmother or just a story about her boyfriend, Kayla makes herself appear available and accessible – this is definitely something that makes her success so easy to swallow.
Similar to Kayla’s methods, are Emily Skye’s. Also Australian, the former model quit the industry to focus on a healthier life in 2009.
“Since I became healthier and fitter, I almost feel like I've found life again.”
Emily posts daily clips of herself in the gym, training alongside the F.I.T plan she has created. And while Emily has an edge with her model good looks and 3 million more followers on her Facebook page, Kayla is the perfect girl-next-door with her lengthy posts bolstering the self-esteem of women and can still boast of a following exceeding 5.2 million.
One #BBG participant, Presley McGuire can’t vouch for Kayla’s programme enough. The 22-year-old has been following the fitness guide for 30 weeks and has lost a stone, dropping two dress sizes. Presley thinks the guides can help build confidence:
“I think the online guides are better than having someone in front of you in the gym, you can work out whenever you want. I would feel self-conscious in front of someone, but at home I feel relaxed.
Following these guides definitely brings to into a close-knit community where support and encouragement are heavily enforced:
“The other girls posting to the hashtag are very inspirational, every time I feel like giving up I go search the #bbggirls tag on Instagram and the stories and pictures of other woman give me the motivation to carry on.
She believes that Kayla’s guides can only become more popular due to the busy nature of our everyday lives:
“What's good about Kayla’s programme is that you can do it either at home if you have the equipment, or at the gym.”
Perhaps this is another indicator of Kayla’s success, as many of the workouts don’t require any equipment, just your body – therefore helping the dream of the perfect beach body reach everyone, no matter what their circumstances.
However, many people still choose to work out the old fashioned way – with one to one sessions.
Twenty two-year-old Johnny Mulhern was in high school when he decided to pursue a career in personal training.
“I was very into football and athletics and I played well at various sports. It felt like a no brainer for me to do something similar as an occupation as it felt effortless to deliver teaching points to others.
As a keen sportsman from a young age, his interest grew from this participation and Johnny considers his enthusiasm as his biggest asset in keeping him clued up on all forms of fitness and wellbeing, not just his sporting experience.
He believes that the media and an individual’s public image are main players in the uptake of personal training services.
“It’s fashionable to be into your fitness; especially expressing the trend on social media sites. The fitness industry is growing rapidly from the- also growing- public desire to look your best.
“By extension people are buying into personal trainers more to ensure they know the quickest and most effective ways to change their image.”
While he looks at his training in a sporting mentality, he can understand why so many women are being influenced by celebrities such as Millie Mackintosh who actively promotes the idea of being ‘strong not skinny’:
“This sort on mentality is exactly what women need. The majority of eating disorder cases, such as anorexia and bulimia are from the female gender. These are also influenced from the growing fixation of body image, but more celebrities are becoming good fitness role models by promoting a much healthier means of looking fit. Naturally the celebrities doing so, very often use PT services so that further encourages masses to do the same. The more celebrities doing this the merrier!”
Another trainer relatively new to the game is Alex Dillon. At 22-years-old, he has secured his own gym premises for personal training purposes, and isn’t looking back.
After spending time at college doing sports coaching with children, he realised it wasn’t his dream and so switched direction and began on a PT course:
“At that time I wasn't actually interested in the gym so I started going with my brother-in-law and within 2 weeks, had caught the bug. I could see the difference in my body shape changing and felt great.
“After this, I knew I wanted to help others feel the same way I did - satisfied, with a sense of pride, and more confident. From here I then spoke to the college and began getting fitness qualifications under my belt to give me experience.”
Now Alex is qualified in metafit, advanced boxing, kettlebells, exercise to music and is a qualified Level 2 gym instructor.
“As soon as I had my Level 2, I went for the Level 3 PT. I had started taking my friends to the gym to train and they were feeling fantastic. It was then that I realised I wanted to build my future and my business helping other people get fitter, improve their lifestyle, and live a longer life”
Unlike Johnny, Alex hasn’t always been so dedicated to his fitness, with his weight fluctuating greatly throughout his teenage years:
“It wasn't until I was about 14 that I started taking fitness seriously, mainly because I was getting more heavily involved in football teams. I was quite overweight as a young teenager but didn't think anything of it. Once I got into football, the weight started dropping off me.
“Over a few years, this was all I was doing for training. I started losing too much weight so I knew I had to put a bit of weight on - by doing weight and strength training. This is when I hit the gym and seen differences very quickly. It was only then I started taking it really seriously – so when I was around 17 or 18 years old.”
He definitely thinks that celebrity culture has an effect on the amount of people taking up personal training and knows that there are varied reasons for this. Sometimes it’s to help following a health scare, and sometimes it’s a desire to ‘keep up with the joneses’ and better your friends:
“I think there's been an increase recently because of all the celebrities having a specific body shape. For females, particularly younger females, they see people like Charlotte Crosby who is on a reality TV show - losing all this weight and toning up with a PT - that they feel they need to 'fit in with society' and do the same thing.
“For guys, I personally think there are two reasons. Overweight or middle aged guys want to tone up, sometimes due to a health scare once they reach a certain age, but often they just want to improve themselves a bit to take specific strains off the body.
“As well as this, young male adults - usually between the ages of around 18-26, see it as a way to become an 'Alpha Male' and be the leader of their friends. They want to have bigger muscles than each other, and want to look like the male celebrities who train to look a certain way for camera purposes.
“For middle aged female between 30-55/60, I believe they just want to get fitter, to exercise more to keep the body going, and generally consider it a hobby and something to relieve stress of work or kids.
As a PT, Alex is glad of the current trend for trainers and celebrities who can promote a healthy way of life:
“I think the fact celebrities all have these PTs nowadays, people, particularly younger women see it as a trend. And for me, it's a great trend they’re setting. With so many ridiculous crash diets out there at the moment - which do nothing but harm the body - it is encouraging to see these people learn the correct way to get their ideal body shape.
"I myself try and promote a lot of weight and strength training, as well as high intensity training for fat loss, so to see so many people finally listening to what I believe is the most effective and healthiest way to do it, is fantastic! I believe that people such as Millie Mackintosh are excellent role models. They encourage people to train properly and eat correctly/healthily, instead of doing ridiculous training which does nothing for you, putting stuff in your body which isn't natural and nobody knows exactly what is in it.
A common name cropping up between Johnny and Alex is Millie Mackintosh, she’s been widely hailed across the internet for turning herself from a reality TV star who was ‘skinnyfat’, due to having a body fat percentage higher than desired, into a super healthy role model. Millie who released her lifestyle book ‘Made’ in 2015, aimed to show women that it’s not the most difficult thing in the world to turn your life around and improve yourself, but also to prove that women don’t need to fear the gym weights.
So while the option to train at home with an online trainer may be a new and appealing one, the demand for personal trainers isn’t one likely to go away any time soon.