She is only 25 years old but has twice as many Instagram followers as Gwyneth Paltrow and a global army of devotees of the female fitness programme that has made her and her boyfriend £28 million to date.
Kayla Itsines, a relentlessly upbeat Adelaide-based personal trainer, came in at No 51 on Australia’s BRW Rich List this week — the list’s youngest debutante along with her fiancé, Tobi Pearce, 24, a bodybuilder who is chief executive of their business, the Bikini Body Training Company.
Ms Itsines and Mr Pearce have found swift success with Bikini Body Guide e-books and a circuit-based workout and meal plans app, Sweat with Kayla, which was released late last year. The app has generated more revenue than any other fitness app this year.
Described in a recent Bloomberg profile as “the Taylor Swift of sit-ups” Ms Itsines was 18 and a fitness school graduate when she realised that the custom workouts she created for her clients had the potential to reach a wider audience.
“I started uploading client transformations on Instagram, and then all of a sudden people started asking if I could come and train them from all over the world,” she said. “Obviously I couldn’t get to everyone, so I started developing an exercise plan people would be able to do at home.”
Some have criticised Ms Itsines for using the term bikini body to promote her business.
In the Bloomberg interview she said she now disliked the label because it implies that there was only one type of body that should be in a bikini — most likely hers.
“Do I regret calling my guides Bikini Body? My answer is yes,” Ms Itsines said. “That’s why when I released the app I called it Sweat With Kayla. Sweat is so empowering.”
Tens of thousands of women have formed themselves into a group known as Kayla’s Army, although she avoids mimicking the drill sergeant style of fitness bootcamps.
Messages such as “In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you think you deserve, it’s what you go and get!” are the mainstay of her Instagram page, followed by 5.3 million. She is an enthusiastic user of social media.
Despite her growing fortune, she denied having a financial masterplan at a recent Apple store event in New York to promote her app, according to Bloomberg.
“I don’t think of this as a business,” she said. “I don’t have big plans for this and that.”