It’s that time of year when the Great British public take their bodies out of hibernation ready for the summer months and many look for ways to get in shape. We have seen an increasing trend towards healthy lifestyle makeovers, with fitness gurus taking up residence in our pockets and communicating with us through our devices. Becoming a health and fitness icon and using this to leverage commercial return is a potentially lucrative business. Two notable pioneers have promoted their own identities as fitness brands and successfully monetised their propositions.

The Body Coach, a.k.a. Joe Wicks, has developed a business around his fitness and nutrition plan, which aims to educate clients to lose weight long term by changing their lifestyles. Claiming to be the UK’s number one online tailored fat loss plan, this costs an upfront £150 and comes with an ‘online hero’ who keeps you motivated via email. He claims to turn over £1m per month and has amassed 1.7 Instagram folllowers.

Kayla Itsines, an Australian based fitness trainer, offers a 12-week Bikini Body Programme for around £45, incorporating meal planning and a workout app, targeted at women looking for measurable results and a high level of fitness. Unlike The Body Coach, the plan is self-administered, but she has a big following, with 6.6m followers on Instagram.

What makes them successful?

Both share key principles. They are easy to follow, based upon simple changes to diet, with high intensity exercise. There is no mystery or magic. If you repeatedly and consistently follow their regimes, it will make a noticeable difference to your body. In our opinion, the individual’s role as figureheads for their programmes is fundamental – they are effectively the brand at the centre of the model – they are motivational and charismatic, regularly praising ‘before and after’ success, proving results and maintaining commitment. This is what drives engagement.

Will their success last?

Both have begun monetising their IP beyond their one-off plans… Joe Wicks has released a set of cookery and fitness books that have sold more copies than any other UK weight-loss title. One consideration here is the potential risk of cannibalising the original paid-for plan, as he proliferates his IP through cheaper, more easily accessible channels. For Kayla, her original eBooks are increasingly being shared between friends, and as a result she has switched to a subscription app (‘Sweat with Kayla’) as her primary channel.  This has brought her IP protection, but at $4.61 AUD per week, the app has been criticised heavily by her followers for being ‘buggy’ and offering nothing new.

The Body Coach and Kayla Itsines have both benefitted from early-mover advantage – they have established a new, disruptive approach for new entrants to follow. The trend for fitness lifestyle makeovers is certainly here to stay, and will keep evolving. The winners will be those who generate results in the simplest and most engaging way. The likes of The Body Coach and Kayla Itsines will need to keep a firm hand on their plans as competition intensifies to ensure that they remain relevant and exciting to their audience.

H Hall