You may not know her by name but you probably have seen her workout videos pop up on your Instagram feed.
Kayla Itsines is a social media star and trainer who has built a massive empire with millions of followers.
The 25-year-old Australian has become Instagram-famous with her Bikini Body Guides. She also has an app that essentially puts her training in her fans’ pockets.
The star has cultivated an online community that calls itself “Kayla’s Army,” largely by sharing impressive progress photos — or “transformations” — of the women who are committed to her program. It serves as visible inspiration.
These are some of the photos Itsines has shared:
Itsines provides her clients with three days of circuit-training routines that change every week. She encourages women to do sessions of 'LISS' (low-intensity steady-state cardio) and later incorporate 'HIIT' (high-intensity interval training) into their training regimen.
Itsines doesn't appear to encourage restrictive diets -- in fact, she sent a promotional email that discussed 'why diets don't work.'
It's a 12-week program, and many women appear to repeat it. Itsines also offers a '2.0' version for people who finish the first guide and want more of a challenge.
Itsines is such a big hit on Instagram that even Victoria's Secret model Candice Swanepoel follows her.
'It was kind of a fluke,' she told The Cut. 'I needed somewhere to put my photos. I've been a personal trainer since I was 18, 19 years old. I'd go to people's houses and say, 'Oh, look at my client's transformation.' I'd scroll up my phone and then say, 'I can't find it I'll show you later.' My little cousin said, 'Why don't you just download Instagram and just start uploading new stuff on there?' She didn't really explain it properly, so I downloaded it and started documenting transformations. Then I realised that it doesn't work like Facebook. Everyone could see what I was doing.'
'Although it's called Kayla Itsines, it's not me. It's not just my face and my brand. The brand is the transformations of women everywhere,' she told The Cut. 'People are drawn because it's a community and girls from all over the world. They can relate. If you're in this like-minded community, no one is going to say anything but positive stuff to you.'
Some of the hashtags these women use to share their journeys are #BBG, #TheKaylaMovement, and #KaylasArmy. But the community extends beyond the Internet.
Further, it's understandable that some people might consider her claims to be dubious. A Reddit thread asks 'yay or nay?' Many fitness bloggers have reviewed the program as though to test if the BBG magic can work or not.
The price tag seems to remain a caveat for many people.
That said, the focus on obtaining a so-called bikini body could garner criticism -- especially in this age of body positivity.
'It's not about a certain body type,' she said to The Cut. 'The whole point of this program is to get rid of the 'skinny is better' thought process and focus on happiness and confidence. The plan gets harder and harder to push you mentally to do something that you haven't done before. It's not to make you smaller or to work your body harder. You can go at whatever pace you want to go. You finish the workout and you say, 'I did that.' It's fantastic for people who don't want to spend hours and hours in the gym. No one can go to the gym for two hours.'
In fact, she's shared photos of women who have recovered from eating disorders by using her program.
'I don't feel like it's a business,' Itsines said to StyleCaster. 'It's all happened so quickly and it still to me feels like a community. I'm not at the top, everyone's not looking up to me -- we're growing together, like a family.'
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