Kayla Itsines, the Australian personal trainer who used social media to become the world’s biggest fitness influencer, with more than 13 million Instagram followers, has sold her Sweat app to US connected fitness software company iFIT for $400 million.
It’s a spectacular exit for Itsines, 30, who, when she first began posting client success pictures in 2013, asked “What’s a follower?” as she hit 100 Instagram followers.
She now has 13.1 million Instagram fans, more than 20 million on Facebook. More than 50 million women follow her and the company across social media channels.
iFIT did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but a sale price of A$400 million has been widely reported.
Itsines co-founded the venture with her then partner, Sweat’s CEO, Tobi Pearce, as “Bikini Body Guides” back in 2013. The formula, a 12-week high intensity workout for a better body, targeting younger women, has remained unchanged over the past eight years.
But Pearce brought tech knowhow to the concept and in 2015, they rebranded “BBG” as Sweat, launching a subscription app called Sweat with Kayla, which now generates around $100 million in revenue annually.
Itsines described it as like “having a personal trainer in your pocket” when Sweat launched, offering fitness tips, and healthy eating and advice.
It became the top trending app on Apple’s (then iTunes) App store the week it launched. She the launched the “Kayla Itsines Bootcamp World Tour” in 2015, developing a cult-like female following. Sweat was the most downloaded fitness app in the world by 2016. The app is now translated into eight languages and available in 155 countries.
The Sweat platform now has more than 5,000 workouts across 26 exercise programs ranging from high-intensity interval training and strength to yoga, barre and Pilates.
Itsines became a global phenomenon and rivers of gold from Sweat made the couple multi-millionaires.
While the sale to iFIT Health & Fitness sets them up for life – the pair had a child, Arna, in April 2019, but split in late 2020 – Itsines and Pearce will remain in their existing roles at the company, which will remain a standalone venture for iFIT, headquartered in Adelaide.
“I will still be your trainer and all of our programs are not changing or going anywhere, Itsines said in an Instagram post announcing the deal.
“I remember running one-on-one sessions in my parents’ backyard and them growing into bigger group sessions in the local park here in Adelaide. Those sessions kept growing and growing and slowly we built up a community,” she wrote
“I want to say thank you to anyone who downloaded my original PDFs, shared a Sweaty selfie with me on Instagram or who came to one of my bootcamps. We have all come a long way together but this is only just the beginning.”
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iFIT, which has an office in Melbourne, said it will strengthen the Sweat member experience, build brand presence in key international markets, and grow and diversify content offerings, including the introduction of cardio-based and equipment workouts in the coming months.
iFIT CEO and founder Scott Watterson said his company plans to support job growth in the Sweat business over the near- and long-term across product, engineering, marketing and content divisions.
“Kayla, Tobi and the team at Sweat have built an incredible brand and community of fitness enthusiasts,” he said.
“Our two founder-led businesses are highly complementary and this acquisition extends our market reach into new geographies, demographics and fitness preferences spanning both home and commercial markets globally. We have a shared vision of helping people around the world achieve their goals for health and well-being.”
Tobi Pearce said they had admired iFIT as a fitness industry leader.
“We look forward to working with Scott and his leadership team to accelerate our global expansion and further enhance the consumer experience for Sweat as part of the iFIT ecosystem,” he said.
“iFIT enables us to create a breadth of engaging new content to fulfill the rapidly growing fitness needs of our members around the world.”