Fitness star Kayla Itsines on the power of social media and becoming a mum

The famous Instagram PT will be training at Dubai Active this weekend

Fitness star Kayla Itsines on the power of social media and becoming a mum

There’s a massive fitness event taking place in Dubai this weekend, and if you’re a fan of workouts you’ll most likely have your newest trainers and gym leggings ready for Dubai Active.

Taking place between Thursday December 5 and Saturday 7 in Dubai World Trade Centre, some 25,000 visitors are expected to head along to the event, which will host more than 200 exhibitors, with tickets starting from Dhs20.

Australian personal trainer and founder of BBG (Bikini Body Guide) Kayla Itsines has some 11.9m followers on Instagram and is famous worldwide for her online fitness training. Itsines is in Dubai to take part in the show, where she’ll be hosting a 28-minute HIIT class and Q&A. We caught up with her ahead of the event.

People always ask me how many times a week I work out
And they freak out when I say three times a week. They always say ‘but what else? Really?’ But that’s it, I just walk. I alternate between my 28-minute BBG routine and walking. I mean walking isn’t just going for a stroll, it’s 30 minutes on a treadmill, but that’s it. I’m also a human being and sometimes I go to the gym and can’t think of what to do, or I’m feeling a bit lazy and need someone to motivate me.

When I started it, personal training was just a job in a gym
I have no story as to why I got into fitness, I can’t pretend there is. I started playing basketball, then I started coaching and moved on to PT. When I told my mum what I wanted to do she was very concerned, she kept saying, ‘but fitness is not a job, are you going to be a pro athlete?’. All my friends wanted to be doctors, but at least I ended up falling into fitness and I love it. But when I started fitness wasn’t cool, there was no Instagram.

On social media, listen to qualified people
It’s been an amazing gift for my business – I wouldn’t be in Dubai today if it wasn’t for Instagram so I’m not going to sit here and say social media is this and that. But it is hard – there are a lot of opinions out there. I found that when I was pregnant too, it’s as if ‘you’re not qualified, but you’re giving me thousands of opinions, remedies and reasons’. It’s the same with fitness – listen to qualified people.

Meeting people is the best part of my job
Every time we ran a boot camp I made sure I stayed to meet everyone, they’d come up and tell me stories, I’m so lucky. It makes you grow up really fast. I get really nervous ahead of doing any speaking – but as soon as the music comes on it comes naturally to train. But standing up and talking, that’s difficult.

My job now is the same as when I started, just on a bigger scale
I’m proud of myself, for staying in my lane. Every time you hear someone’s story it’s the best part, there are so many amazing women I’ve met. Back in the day it was all about weight loss – ‘I want to lose ten kilos fast’, ‘I don’t like this part of my body’. Now it’s ‘I’ve had five kids and I couldn’t even move off the couch, but now I’m able to run around with them all’. It’s incredible story after story, I still train some of the same ladies I did when I first started out.

Dubai is like a different world to me
Dubai is amazing – it’s different from Australia, but it’s incredible, especially coming from Adelaide – it’s so new and shiny. Dubai is so warm and friendly – people make you feel like family. I’ve had some family time [with partner Tobi Pearce and seven-month-old daughter Arna] and I’ve been on a desert safari, too. When I think about Dubai I think amazing food, culture, the heat – but there’s lots of fitness too, indoor workouts, group classes.

I’m seeing more women becoming comfortable with weights
Weight training is definitely growing and people are seeing the benefits. In Australia I’m seeing more women becoming more confident with the weights in the gym and I’ve been told that it's growing in Dubai as well. In Australia about 70 to 80 percent of people in gyms are women, and when new fitness gear comes out in stores women’s wear is first, too.

Mindfulness is growing
HIIT has always been popular – it's a fast work out that gets your heart rate up. But what’s coming up more is mindfulness You might do HIIT but then you take a second to wind down, look at sleep apps, meditation – there's more a focus on that side of it.

Book in your workouts
If you have a doctor’s appointment you’re going to show up. Make an appointment with yourself – and show up. The reason I created BBG is because I wanted women to be able to walk into a gym, to provide them with visual cues so they could do a lat pull down or a leg press. I provide videos on Insta on how to use a cable machine. I’m trying to educate women – to give them the tools they need in gym, as a PT I don’t want people to feel anxious when they walk in.

I just wanted to open up and let women know its okay whatever you choose during pregnancy
Everyone is so different, so it’s not for me to say whether you can be active or not. For me during the first six to eight weeks I couldn’t even roll myself out of bed I was so sick, I was crawling on my hands and knees to the bathroom. Some of my friends were running marathons, and I was like ‘what are you doing?’ and then they got straight back into fitness, but that wasn’t the case for me. It’s different for everyone and that’s ok. I really didn’t enjoy pregnancy but the day I gave birth was the best day of my life.

It’s hard to say ‘you can make time’ to mums, as sometimes you really can’t
For mums the best way is to make sure your child is in some kind of routine, then fit around them, whether it’s when they’re sleeping, at daycare, school or wherever. Or get them involved, it’s a great thing to work out round them, in the comfort of your own home. Be active with your kids and play sport with them, even if it’s just kicking a ball with them, just because you haven’t done the time in a gym doesn’t mean you haven’t done a work out. I’m going to be honest it’s really hard – it’s all about learning and adapting, every day is different. You might have an amazing day and you’re like ‘I’ve got this’, and the next day, not so much. So it’s about how you can do something to contribute to your life to help yourself  – like doing a bunch of emails, cleaning your house, things we do every day while still being active – mainly stop being hard on yourself.

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