Sweat re-equity: Bikini Body founders Kayla Itsines and Tobi Pearce buy back their fitness app

- November 27, 2023 3 MIN READ
Kayla Itsines
Sweat cofounder Kayla Itsines
Global fitness influencer Kayla Itsines, and her business partner Tobi Pearce have re-acquired Sweat, the exercise app and brand they sold in 2021.
The buyback was reportedly for a fraction of the rumoured $190 million paid for it during the height of Covid lockdowns.

In a deal reminiscent of the time Kerry Packer regained control of the Nine Media empire 33 years ago after selling it to Alan Bond for $800 million, the fitness founders said they’d come “full circle” on their decade-old business.

Itsines, who had her second child, Jax, in January this year, with her fiance Jae Woodroffe, said she was “thrilled to be back as an owner of Sweat” .

She has continued to be the public face of Sweat through the last 28 months since US connected fitness software company iFIT owned the business. Her loyal social media following has continued to grow, rising from 13.1 million Instagram fans in July 2021 when the sale was announced, to 16.1 million now. Add 27 million Facebook followers, up from 20m in 2021, and more than 60 million people follow her and the company across their social media channels.

It’s a far cry from when Itsines, 32, launched her high intensity workout program as “Bikini Body Guides” with Pearce, her then life partner, in 2013 and asked “What’s a follower?” as she hit 100 on Instagram. In 2015, they rebranded as Sweat. She’s also increased the focus on pregnancy and postpartum workouts following her own journey into motherhood, with her children featuring prominently in her social media posts.
The business had around 450,000 paid subscribers when the sale went through, generating around $100m in revenue at the time. Recent legal action put the figure at $65 million in revenue now, done from $71m in the 12 months to May 22.
At the time, iFIT was eyeing off a public float that outlined the structure of the Sweat acquisition, which included US$37.5 million in cash; US$40m in Class A common stock and up to US$70m of deferred consideration, including US$30m based on revenues over three years following the acquisition and royalty payments up to US$40m over 5 years. Within 12 months, $81 million in goodwill from the iFIT deal had been written off.
Itsines decided to buy back the farm after iFIT changed strategy back to its original focus of fitness hardware.

“The decision to regain ownership is about ensuring the best future for Sweat,” she said.

“We have always been a platform built for women, by women, providing a secure and encouraging space for them to share their transformation journeys.

“Our commitment to this community remains unwavering.”

Pearce returns as company strategist, having been CEO at the time of the merger. Current CEO Adam Koch will remain in the role.

The subscription-based Sweat app now features more than 13,000 workouts in eight languages, available in 145 countries.

Its success has also spawned rivals, leading to legal action last month in the South Australian District Court between the the Bikini Body Training Co., the company behind Sweat, and a former contractor, Queensland crossfit trainer Cass Olholm.

Itsines and her company were seeking an injunction against Olholm as she planed to launch trainwithcass.com in mid October, having amassed nearly 360,000 Instagram followers.

Sweat’s parent company claimed that Olholm was in breach of a 12-month non-compete clause that would have delayed its launch until February 2024. She worked for Sweat for three years and countered that her contract has a six month non-compete clause.

Judge Jack Costello dismissed the injunction, saying Bikini Body Training Co failed to make out a prima facie case the restraint period of 12 months was reasonable, ordering costs against the applicant.

The Train With Cass app launched on October 12.