Sweating It Out: How Kayla Itsines and Tobi Pearce Became Australia’s Wealthiest Self-Made Couple under 30
Thanks to their love of exercise, healthy living, and each other, two young Australians have managed to take the fitness world by storm. Now, as a result of some sound business decisions, they run a global women’s fitness empire.
Anyone who’s interested in fitness and social media will likely have heard of Kayla Itsines. This Adelaide native’s meteoric rise has seen her become a leading figure among fitness influencers. In fact, Forbes put her at the very top of one such list in 2017. And with more than 10 million followers on Instagram, the title is certainly in the right hands.
But, there is so much more here than just being famous on social media. Thanks to the combined efforts of Itsines and her fiancé, Tobi Pearce, this popularity became a massive business success. It started with the well-received “Bikini Body Guides” (BBG) and culminated with the release of the Sweat app.
Now, the pair have a combined wealth of almost $500 million. This has allowed them to claim the number five spot on AFR’s Young Rich List for 2018. But, both Itsines and Pearce have had to overcome certain challenges to get here. This is what makes their story a worthwhile read for any entrepreneur, aspiring or otherwise.
The Beginnings of Kayla Itsines
If you look at social media stars, you will see a lot of showbiz celebrities, professional athletes, and people who inherited their money. Itsines had none of that. Instead, she was a girl who liked sports and well-being. In particular, basketball was her favorite. She played it regularly during her school days and even coached it. She also had an interest in beauty therapy and considered pursuing it as a career.
But, she also discovered an unparalleled love of personal training during her teens. The joy she felt after helping someone reach their fitness goals was enough to convince her to go to the Australian Institute of Fitness. She recalls telling her parents she’d go back to university, but it was not to be.
Instead, she found a job in a gym in Adelaide. As she was training her clients, she noticed a problem. Simply put, the women in the gym weren’t getting what they wanted from the available training programs. They wanted a regimen that would focus on the problem areas such as the abs, arms, and thighs. They also needed something that would produce quicker results. So, Itsines decided to accommodate them.
The gym she worked at had an absent manager, which allowed her to come up with and use her own training program. As her clients started to achieve success, Itsines made another decision which would turn out to be life-changing. She took before and after photos of the women she trained and posted them on Instagram. This would turn out to be a catalyst for her future success.
By 2012, the word had spread. So, Itsines decided it was time to leave the gym and strike out on her own. This was also when she met Tobi Pearce. Together, they would go on a personal and business journey that would take them to heights neither of them could have foreseen.
The Beginnings of Tobi Pearce
There is no doubt that Kayla Itsines is the star of this enterprise. And her journey from obscurity to stardom is nothing short of amazing. But, Tobi Pearce is the other essential part of this equation. Due to his business acumen, the Itsines brand has grown to global proportions.
What is more, the struggles he’s had to endure make his story even more inspirational. In fact, this is a textbook rags-to-riches tale. This is because he was actually homeless for a period of time before making it big.
His hardships stem from his family. Pearce revealed that his sister was bipolar. And from an early age, that made his life very difficult – that is an unfortunate side effect of this terrible condition. So, when he became a teenager, he decided to run away from home in search of something better. And when he was 16, he did.
As Pearce put it, he simply didn’t go back home one day. He still went to school but was on his own after that. If he could, he would sleep over at a friend’s. If he couldn’t, he’d sleep in his car, out on the streets, or in public toilets. When he was 19, he lived in a shed.
But throughout all that, Pearce maintained his passion for personal training. Just like Itsines, he enjoyed making others feel healthy and happy about their body. This is precisely how the two met – in the gym. United by their shared passion, the pair began a romantic and business relationship.
Itsines and Pearce Join Forces
Following their fateful meeting, the pair decided to capitalize on Itsines’ growing popularity. Specifically, women from all over Australia wanted to be a part of the program after seeing the results and the stories of satisfied clients. So, Pearce suggested they create e-books and sell them to anyone interested.
These became the Bikini Body Guides, which turned out to be massive successes. In no small part, this was because each workout only took 28 minutes. This made it very appealing to busy women. Spurred on by their ever-growing social media following, the pair started to think big.
As things took off, they founded a company to direct their efforts. They have since released numerous e-books, and they’ve also expanded to fitness equipment and accessories. Itsines also goes on tours where she meets women who are a part of the community. In 2016, she published a book about her program that went on to be a best-seller. She followed it up with another book in 2017.
The Sweat App
In addition to all their other efforts, another crucial factor in this couple’s success was the release of the Sweat app. By using it, subscribers gain access to a variety of fitness programs. These range from yoga to post-pregnancy routines and high-intensity workouts. Itsines hosts some of them, but there are other trainers as well.
From the business aspect, Pearce compared it to Netflix. Only instead of series and movies, Sweat gives its users fitness programs. This new venture was a huge step for the pair, and it was a bold decision to bring in other trainers. But, it has more than paid off.
As a matter of fact, Sweat is the reason the two ranked so high on AFR’s 2018 list. Specifically, the app’s outstanding success on the global market since 2017 has helped their fortune grow by over $400 million in the span of one year.
Their Three Bits of Business Advice
No matter how you look at it, Itsines and Pearce have succeeded. From running a genuine fitness empire to having millions of dedicated fans, the pair’s accomplishments are beyond dispute. Still, the essence of their work is in helping other people achieve their goals. For that reason, Pearce was happy to share some of the secrets behind their success.
Regardless of the line of work you’re in, the following tips are something any entrepreneur can benefit from.
Tip 1: Passion
According to Pearce, anyone looking to start a business should begin by finding something they’re passionate about. He believes that people often complicate these matters too much when they’re better off keeping it simple. Just find something you like doing and take it from there.
For them, this was their love of fitness and helping others. But, this advice is sound in any other area of business. The harsh truth is that being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. There are many situations and challenges in your way which will test your resolve. In times like these, it is imperative to find the perseverance to push on. But if your business is something you’re genuinely passionate about, this becomes much easier.
This can be your entire business or a certain aspect of it. Either way, finding that passion is crucial for success.
Tip 2: Professional and Personal Development
Secondly, Pearce believes entrepreneurs need to continue developing regardless of their success. This holds true even if it leads to the occasional mistake. According to him, financial errors come with the territory and aren’t always a bad thing. They are learning experiences, and what matters is to keep looking ahead.
This drive for development is obvious with Itsines and Pearce. First, they moved on from the gym where everything started. Then they expanded to e-books, followed by the app. After that came the tours, the books, and the global presence.
This goes even deeper. For instance, Itsines initially developed the BBG and the BBG Stronger. These are two variants of the program, the former is for home while the latter’s for the gym. At the moment, the Sweat app is offering BBG Stronger 4.0. This means they’ve already improved the original concept three times.
No matter their field, business owners need to maintain this desire for improvement. Your competition won’t rest, meaning you shouldn’t either. Itsines and Pearce used this to conquer the world of fitness, but the concept is truly universal.
Tip 3: Centre on the Client
Finally, Pearce echoes the age-old principle that the client needs to be the focus of any business decision. With them, this is how it all started. Itsines’ initial idea came about because her old gym wasn’t truly meeting the needs of their clients.
This is also how their business grew. With their programs, the community always played a large role. Sweat allows women to track their progress and share it with others. This is how they get inspired and inspire others in turn. Itsines and Pearce simply recognized what their clients wanted and gave it to them. Their massive success is proof that this simple concept works.
In reality, it’s the customers who will make or break any business venture. Entrepreneurs know this, yet it can often slip their minds. And when businesses focus too much on themselves, they may lose track of what their clients actually want and need.
Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to gauge the pulse of your audience. For example, social media is excellent in this regard. If your business is hitting the right notes, your social media engagement will show it. Otherwise, it’s time to make changes.
The colossal achievements of Itsines and Pearce show how crucial passion can be in an entrepreneur’s career. But, one must also never forget the sound business decisions they’ve made along the way. From identifying what the market was lacking to expanding in the right way, their story is a blueprint for success.
In the end, the winning formula is a mix of business acumen and passion. If you have that, things tend to fall into place. However, getting this isn’t always easy, and this is where CUB can help.
At CUB, our ambition is to unite those who are changing the world through their businesses. We support these people by building a private community of Australia’s next titans of industry. And we bring these titans together to accelerate the achievement of each other’s ambitions.
If you wish to be considered for membership, please feel free to request a club introduction on our membership page: www.cub.club/membership.