I recently caught up with co-owner and marketing mastermind behind Boston co-retail space For Now, Kaity Cimo. She runs the space with friend and business partner Katharine ReQua. They opened a year ago and have played home to over 80 brands in that time.
The 15 Top Fitness Influencers (+ How They Self-Promote)
Influencer marketing is big business.
With 17% of companies allocating marketing budget towards influencer marketing, there’s never been a better time to up your game and make the jump from Instagram user to fitness influencer.
However, as more and more brands compete for eyes on Instagram, the competition among influencers is increasing as well.
Related: How to Start a Fitness Instagram
With this in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of the top fitness influencers on Instagram and explore how they make money, the sort of content they post, and share some key learnings that are essential to growing your account.
Let’s break out the sweatbands and take a look!
1. Michelle Lewin (13.4M Followers)
Michelle Lewin is the most popular fitness influencer with over 13 million followers!
She has multiple income streams that she promotes on Instagram, including a range of supplements, workout equipment, and fitness apps.
Staying true to yourself is a fantastic way of building trust with your followers and her down-to-Earth approach shines through in her content and she even posts in her native language.
The main way Michelle promotes her products is by showing them off. Her workout clothing line, for example, is often prominent in her photos.
Perhaps most importantly, she doesn’t bombard her followers with sales pitches and links. She instead lets her products speak for themselves and provides a link in her bio if people are interested in purchasing.
Key Lesson: Be yourself!
2. Jen Selter (12.8M Followers)
Coming in at a close second is Jen Selter, with just under 13 million followers.
While Jen’s photos and videos are predominantly based on fitness, her captions often touch on mental health issues such as self-esteem and body image. This adds an extra element to Jen’s content and presents a more holistic approach to health.
In terms of products, Jen has her own protein bars and is a trainer on the Fitplan app.
In her bio, Jen funnels people to her Youtube channel, where she posts fitness workouts and tips. This helps her to cross-pollinate her other social media channels for greater reach.
Key Lesson: Funnel followers to other platforms!
3. Kayla Itsines (11.5M Followers)
Kayla Itsines has over 10 million followers, making her the third and final fitness influencer to reach that milestone.
Kayla started out as a personal trainer before founding Bikini Body Guides, a membership program that helps over 30 million women get into shape. She’s also authored a book with the same name.
Kayla posts a wide range of content to her Instagram, including workouts, meals, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Where Kayla sets herself apart, however, is how she shares before and after photos of women on her Bikini Body Guides program.
Sharing her followers’ photos helps establish a community and empowers her fans. It brings her closer to her audience and makes her more trustworthy and likeable as a result. It also shows that her program achieves remarkable results which is a far more effective marketing tactic that simply stating it.
Key Lesson: Involve your followers!
4. Simeon Panda (5.2M Followers)
The first male fitness influencer on our list is the incredibly-named Simeon Panda with over 5 million followers.
Like many of the top fitness influencers, Simeon has a couple of clothing lines that he promotes through Instagram and also offers online training plans.
The majority of his Instagram content links out to his Youtube videos and consists of photos and videos of his workouts with the occasional meal thrown in.
It’s clear that Simeon uses Instagram as a first-touch for his followers with the goal of driving them to you more in-depth content on Youtube.
Key Lesson: Use Instagram to hook, and then send them to Youtube!
5. Lauren Kagan (3.9M Followers)
Lauren Kagan has nearly 4 million followers which definitely puts her in the fitness influencer category, but she is also a qualified nurse and uses her unique skill set to her advantage.
Like many influencers, she promotes workout and nutrition plans in her Instagram bio but also spends a lot of time focusing on dietary advice (and leveraging her nursing background).
By showing off her expertise, Lauren positions herself as someone that’s not only knowledgeable but also trustworthy.
Key Lesson: Use your expertise and promote your qualifications!
6. Massy Arias (2.6M Followers)
Massy Arias is an up-and-coming fitness influencer with over 2.5 million followers.
Particularly impressive is the short amount of time in which Massy has accumulated these followers and she does a great job of promoting both supplements and clothing to them.
While most of her content consists of workout advice, she also shares adorable photos of her daughter. This makes her more human and personable, forging a stronger connection to her followers.
This connection is further improved with Massy’s sister account where she shares progress photos from people on her fitness programs.
Key Lesson: Be more human!
7. Emily Skye (2.6M Followers)
Also coming in at around 2.5 Million followers is Emily Skye.
Emily offers training and diet plans through her own app, and is a global brand ambassador for Reebok!
Much like Massy, the bulk of her content focuses on workouts and diets, but she doesn’t hesitate to include personal photos of her young daughter which helps to establish a closer relationship with her followers.
Emily has an incredibly loyal following in women looking to stay fit throughout their pregnancy and much of her content seems to focus on reinforcing that loyalty instead of gaining more followers.
Key Lesson: Find your niche and double-down on it!
8. Joe Wicks (2.6M Followers)
Coming in at 2.6 Million followers, Joe Wicks is the second man on our Instagram fitness influencers list.
Joe rose to prominence with the release of his “Lean In 15” cookbooks, and these are his primary source of income. He also offers a 90-day training plan through his app, and partners with companies like Gousto and MyProtein.
Joe’s content is a mixture of tasty-looking meals, workouts, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of his daily life. He also offers up a lot of free recipes.
By focusing on providing as much value as he can to his followers, Joe has established himself as an expert in his field, receiving press attention from the likes of Grazia and Cosmo.
Key Lesson: Don’t forget to diversity – traditional products like books are still great money makers!
9. Rachel Brathen (2.1M Followers)
With just over 2 Million followers, Rachel Brathen is one of the leading yoga fitness influencers on Instagram.
One thing we love about Rachel is that she makes it clear that she isn’t all about fitness and is a mom as well. Her content reflects this, with as many posts exploring motherhood as they do fitness.
When she isn’t doing yoga every damn day, Rachel keeps herself busy writing books, including her recent memoir. Her other sources of income include yoga training and retreats.
Key Lesson: It doesn’t have to be all about fitness!
10. Alexia Clark (1.8M Followers)
With slightly less than 2 Million followers, Alexia Clark is still worth keeping an eye on.
Alexia left a lucrative marketing job to pursue her fitness passions, and now makes a living through personal training.
Her content focuses on workouts, sharing tips and tricks, and she niches down with a particular focus on home workouts.
In focusing on home workouts, Alexia tackles a common pain point head on: The lack of access to a gym and workout equipment.
By providing a solution to this pain point, Alexia can help lots of people and grow her influence as a result.
Key Lesson: Focus on your followers’ pain points!
11. Alexa Jean Hunt (1.7M Followers)
Alexa Jean Hunt comes in at eleventh in our list of the top fitness influencers with over 1.5 Million followers.
Alexa’s main product offering is her “Bodē By Lex” app, which offers diet and training plans and is her primary bio promotion.
Her content has recently started to include photos of her family, including her new baby. She’s also shared photos of her pregnancy and encouraged her followers to tag along on her journey.
Her account is incredible fun and she does a great job of balancing family and fitness while including the people that are most important to her.
Key Lesson: Why so serious?
12. Rich Froning (1.3M Followers)
With just under 1.5 Million followers, Crossfit legend Rich Froning has fast established himself as a top fitness Instagram account to follow.
In addition to partnerships with the Reebok and Advocate, Rich makes a living through the variety of training plans and merchandise he offers through his website.
As a 4-time Crossfit champion (aka the fittest man on earth), it should come as no surprise that most of Rich’s posts are about workouts with a heavy emphasis on strength. There are also plenty of pics of his family and followers can easily jump over to one of his business’s accounts to see how his Crossfit team is training.
We’d be willing to be that majority of Rich’s followers are fans of Crossfit and he does a great job of posting content that speaks directly to them with images of pure physicality, competitions, and training sessions.
Key Lesson: Don’t be afraid to show off!
13. Lauren Fisher (1M Followers)
Lauren Fisher is another Crossfitter and is the final woman on our list of top fitness influencers, having recently reached the 1 Million milestone!
Lauren founded and promotes her own brand, Grown Strong, which empowers women to get fit with a focus on strength training.
Her content is never boring and seems to revolve around travel and the immense number of sports she plays. While this might seem like the opposite of niche, it clearly does a good job engaging and inspiring her followers.
Key Lesson: Mix it up a bit!
14. Sam Asghari (1M Followers)
The final fitness influencer on our list to reach 1 Million followers is Sam Asghari.
Sam’s content is very inspirational: while his fitness and workout videos make up some of the content, a lot of it focuses more on lifestyle and maintaining a life worth living.
Interestingly, Sam doesn’t bombard his followers with pitches for his products. In fact, the only product he sells is his clothing line, and he only promotes it through a link in his bio.
This minimal approach makes Sam more authentic and helps improve his relationship with his followers.
Key Lesson: Don’t overdo the selling!
15. Shaun T (909k Followers)
With just under 1 Million followers, Shaun T rounds up our list of fitness influencers.
Shaun refers to himself as a “Fitness Motivator” and this is clearly evident in his Instagram content. The majority of posts contain inspirational quotes and phrases and he also uses humor and memes to engage his audience.
He makes most of his money through his online and in-person training programs, but he also has a book, a podcast, and a clothing line.
Key Lesson: Make your content personal to you!
Where to start
While each of these fitness influencers has their own unique selling point, there are definitely some key tips you can take away and apply to your own account or brand.
One overarching lesson is to aim for multiple income streams that you can promote to your followers. While we don’t suggest trying to set up an app, clothing line, and supplement deal at on time, nobody on this list was relying on a sole source of income.
In addition, when it comes to promotion, authenticity will get your further than hard sales – being yourself and letting people into your life, even for a little, will go a long way towards forming a bond with your followers.
We hope you’ve found this list useful, and we wish you the best of luck on your fitness journey!
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