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.
How to Start a Fitness Instagram [Step by Step Guide]
Starting (and running) a fitness Instagram is no easy task. It involves dedication, being a pro at finding the perfect lighting in any situation and keeping content fresh and relevant (even when you’re not feeling so fresh).
Picture this, you’re feeling pretty hangry, body aching after an intense workout but excited at the prospect of diving into your post-workout meal. Then, you remember you have to Instagram. You frantically try to find the right lighting as you watch your fruit and granola sinking deeper into their bed of natural yogurt.
You try different angles, (tip: there’s no shame in getting up and standing on your chair mid restaurant if it helps you get the perfect shot), you swipe through filter after filter trying to find the one that captures the beauty of every berry and chia seed in your bowl. Finally, you get the perfect shot and can eat your meal with ease as the likes and comments start to roll in.
Sounds easy, right?
Read on for a clear guide on how to set up and run a successful fitness Instagram account.
Is a fitness Instagram for me?
In our digital world, creating a fitness journey Instagram is a great way to not only keep yourself motivated and track your progress but also to interact with other people in the fitness community. It can provide that extra personal push to help you increase strength, lose weight, alter your diet and feel inspired whilst doing so.
Plus, starting a fitness Instagram can be a great way to establish your brand and help your new business start to grow:
If you already run a gym, PT business or are an established instructor, Instagram is a great platform to regularly communicate and engage with potential new and existing clients:
If you sell fitness or health-related products online, Instagram is a wonderful marketing channel to establish new customers and to keep sales of products high.
As with any marketing channel, having a clear objective is super important. Do you want to talk to a certain audience? Do you want to get new gym members or new PT clients? Or do you want to drive people to your website? It’s vital to establish this before you start posting.
Where do I start?
To achieve huge amounts of engagement you should ideally have a dedicated account just for your fitness progress. If you already have Instagram, no worries, you can open a second account and keep the one you already have for your everyday life. If you don’t have Instagram at all, you’ll need to make an account.
A well thought out Instagram profile will help you stay top of search results. It’s often the first thing that people see, so it needs to make a good first impression.
The most important parts of your profile are:
A clear profile picture: To connect with potential followers, make sure your profile picture is relevant and clear. Alternatively, you can use a free website, like Canva to design a logo for yourself:
A bio: This is a description of your account. But there’s limited word count, so make it short but sweet. What journey are you embarking on? What are your goals? Where are you located? Including some personal details will help you to connect with a larger audience:A link: Drive followers either to your web homepage or to a lead capture page that can appear in your post captions. Make your account public: In order to connect to the larger fitness community, you’ll need to make sure your account is public. This means you’ll be found in search results and hashtag groups.
What do I post?
Before you start building your following, it’s good to spend some time adding quality content to your account. Twelve photos or videos will give you four beautiful rows of imagery, so this might be a good place to start. Remember who your audience is and create content that’s going to capture their attention, whilst simultaneously staying true to your brand’s authenticity.
It’s good to dedicate your account to loving fitness, however, you can still add a personal touch to make you stand out from the crowd. Some fitness Instagrammers choose to include posts with their families or even their pets. Some adopt a very consistent and unique posting style. Find something that works for you and weave that into every post that you do.
You’ve got to keep the posts regular: think a post a day (accompanied by Insta Stories). That’s a lot of picture snapping, but it means you’ll stay in people’s feeds so they don’t forget about you. The more you post, the more exposure your account will get. Simple!
Being judged for shameless selfies is a thing of the past. Take lots of them! Ask your gym buddies to take pictures of you, create content for before and after photos, photograph your yummy post workout meals, favorite supplements, inspirational quotes or other fun fitness activities.
Video is also a great option for posts. Film yourself working out, in a class or even use video clips to teach your followers how to do certain a workout routine. You can use time-lapse to speed things up and edit your video before posting to keep it likable.
Always make sure you’re focusing on your safety (it’s not worth compromising for a good piece of content). Use consistent filters and colors in your posts so that your feed has a beautiful theme and looks well planned and thought out. This theme should also link back to your overarching brand look and feel.
Related: Our Favorite Instagram Edit Apps
When it comes to captions, there are two approaches. Some people keep them short and snappy so that people can absorb their key message as they’re scrolling through their feed. Others opt for longer, ‘mini blog posts’ with more detail broken up by emojis. Remember to also end with a clear call to action such as ‘double tap if you agree’ or ‘click our bio link for more info’.
Perhaps try a mix of long-form copy and shorter, sharper captions when you’re starting out. You’ll soon see what type of post people are liking more.
There’s a reason fitness gurus are obsessed with these. They make you more searchable and ensure your posts appear when people go looking for specific pictures.
But where to start? Spend some time exploring popular fitness accounts that you like and make a list of all of the hashtags that these people use. You can start to use these in your posts, when they make sense, along with other relevant fitness, gym or yoga hashtags.
Don’t tag a photo with a hashtag like #healthyrecipe if the post has nothing to do with food. Use your hashtags strategically and don’t forget that 30 is the max you can add (though you can easily get away with fewer).
Hot tip: Put your hashtags in the first comment on your own post, rather than the post itself, so not to clutter up your caption.
Finally, tag relevant brands, people and places in your pictures. When you tag the company associated with the fitness outfit you’re wearing or the food you’re eating, they may well comment on the picture and in some cases offer to send you products to review. That’s right, free stuff!
Where are my fitness Instagram followers?
A safe place to start is to ask family and friends to follow your new account (you know they already love you!). Perhaps they can even offer some constructive feedback. Their support will help you stay on track.
Then it’s time to dive into the big wide world of other fitness accounts. Start to follow other accounts that motivate and inspire you, don’t just follow a bunch of people in the hope of upping your likes.
Connect with people who are on the same journey as you, read people’s bios and stories and follow those whose posts you genuinely want to see in your feed.
Hot tip: You can also follow #hashtags meaning you’ll see relevant and new accounts in your feed all day.
Now let’s dive into some top tips for sourcing new followers and keeping your existing followers happy.
Talk to your followers
When posting, invite people to make suggestions or give you a tip. This encourages other Instagrammers to comment on your posts. ALWAYS reply to them and thank them for giving you advice. Look to spark a conversation.
Equally, if there’s someone whose fitness journey is close to yours, comment on their posts and share your own story or words of encouragement. Be yourself here, be honest, supportive and thoughtful.
Don’t go down the desperate path of following and unfollowing as soon as you get a follow back. This may get your follower count up high but it’s not creating any real relationships; hence won’t lead to strong engagement.
Post at the right time
Put up posts when your engagement is highest. Consider saving a photo for later in the day if you know you’re more likely to get the likes and comments then. Think of when people might be scrolling – on their commute, lunch breaks, or a Sunday night watching Netflix.
If you don’t know how to find your best time to post, check out our guide to Instagram metrics!
Complement your post with Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are becoming a great way to foster extra engagement. They successfully keep you top of mind without spamming your followers’ news feeds. You can post over 5 images or videos to your story each day, and save your best stories in your ‘featured stories’ section of your page. You can even use hashtags, tag people or brands and pop in your location.
Jump on what’s been effective
Identify what’s worked and double down on those efforts. Also, be sure to take note of what’s not worked so well and needs some improvement. What posts were the most popular? Which account’s audience followed you back? Were there any themes or hashtags that worked particularly well? Focusing on these moving forwards will ensure that your account will continue to grow.
Who’s doing Instagram fitness well?
Here are some examples of current Instagram fitness accounts that have found Instagram success.
Follow for: Pure positivity, holistic fitness, and laughs.
She’s a YouTube holistic health princess and has a dedicated squad of 360k following her every move on Instagram. She’s out to inspire with posts showcasing her latest activewear, her range of delicious protein balls and more recently her adorable baby. She keeps a good sense of humor and positive outlook remains relatable and down to earth at all times. Plus, she’s honest having recently documented her struggles with hormonal health issues.
Follow for: Health and fitness tips
Janis is a qualified PT who’s successfully occupying the social media space right now. He is a movement and strength coach operating out of Sydney and never fails to share tricks and advice on exercises and workouts to get you training smarter not harder.
Follow for: Pilates, barre and workout tips
Lottie is a Sydney-based pilates and barre instructor. Her posts are fun and informative and she regularly offers mini workout plans that you can do in the comfort of your own home, or at one of her classes in studios across Sydney. With a Bondi theme sprinkled throughout, she’ll get you dreaming of beach days and perfect abs.
Time for YOU to get started
Most importantly, remember that this fitness journey is about you. Any steps you take toward building a happier, healthier you are good steps. Don’t obsess over getting thousands of fitness followers or likes – this isn’t a reflection of your success or failure.
Enjoy the journey!
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