How to Start a Fitness Instagram: Case Study (How we got 10,811 followers in just 13 weeks from scratch - 2019)
As we all know fitness on Instagram is huge!
The social media platform has over 800 million users worldwide, totalling at more than 500 million active accounts according to Omnicore. As such, to succeed in the modern fitness industry, whether you’re starting a fitness Instagram account for fun or as a personal trainer, you need to master the tools of Instagram marketing.
In this step by step guide, we are going to show exactly how to start a fitness Instagram using ourselves as a case study, so you can replicate each aspect, step by step!
Firstly, what did we achieve?
- A fully branded page
- An engaged following of 10,811 followers in just 13 weeks:
And Posts with loads of views, comments and engagement.....
We achieved this despite:
The best part about this, anyone can repeat this process, whether you’re looking at how to start an Instagram account as a personal trainer or just that you want to start a fitness blog on Instagram in your spare time!
We are going to show you exactly not just how to start a fitness Instagram account, but also how to get tons of followers in a very short time period!
So, let’s jump right in!
How to Start a Fitness Instagram: Brainstorming & Ideas
First of all, you need to pick your niche and target market!
Do you want to get more bodybuilding followers, yoga followers or cross fit followers?
Pick your niche and stick to it!.....This will make you an “authority” within that particular area.
When creating a fitness Instagram account, picking one area of focus is far easier to build an audience fast than going for the general approach.
Remember fitness is a wide topic, the people who follow a yoga Instagram blogger are not the same people who follow a bodybuilding account!
Switch or Set-up a business fitness Instagram account
When looking at how to start a fitness Instagram account, you need to start as you mean to go on!
Firstly, setting up your fitness Instagram page your best off with a business account! If you wish to just use your current personal profile skip all the way past how to start a fitness Instagram and go straight into the branding section!
To start a fitness business Instagram account, you MUST have a personal account first and then switch it to a business account.
Don't panic if you already have a personal account that you want to grow or expand, you can easily switch it over without losing your following, just follow the instructions below.
If you're new to Instagram start on point 1.
If you already have a personal account, scroll down to "switching your personal profile to a fitness Instagram business page":
STARTING A FITNESS INSTAGRAM BUSINESS PAGE FROM SCRATCH
1. Download the Instagram app from the app store and click "Install":
2. Once Installed, which takes a few minutes, click "open":
3. You can then either create an account via your Facebook Page or via email. It is highly advisable to select the email option:
4. It will then ask you to put your full name and password (This is not your Username for your business).
5. Follow the rest of the simple instructions specific to you e.g. are you 18 or over until you see the welcome screen:
SWITCHING YOUR PERSONAL PROFILE TO A FITNESS INSTAGRAM BUSINESS PAGE:
Now in order to switch to a Fitness Instagram business account, you MUST have a Facebook business page.
- Go to your Facebook Account
- Click "Create", located next to the home button in the top right-hand corner:
3. Select either a community or public figure or business or brand, whichever best suits your needs and click "get started"
4. Enter your "page name" and "category" that best fits your account:
5. It will then ask for you to add your address and phone number if you select the business or brand option, which you can optionally hide. The community or public figure option will skip that step.
6. Finally It will ask you to upload a logo and cover photo, which you can skip and come back to later if you wish.
Now head back over to Instagram and follow these simple steps:
1. Go into settings (via the cog symbol in the top right-hand corner of the Instagram dashboard)
2. Click "account":
3. The click “switch to business profile":
4. Then choose the Facebook business page that you have created:
Brand Your Fitness Instagram Account To Look The Business!
Making your fitness Instagram account look the business is just as important as your content. People will only follow an account that looks professional and appealing.
As well as the obvious advice, to post aesthetically pleasing content (Instagram, after all, is all about the image), here are some ways to improve the overall appearance of your account:
Get a Great Instagram Handle
But first, you need a great handle!
Got to edit profile in the settings option and here you can create your Instagram handle (username):
Try and create a Fitness Instagram handle that follows these rules:
- Is Memorable
- Easy to spell
- Easy to say
- Represents your followers / market
Try and avoid Instagram handles for fitness that have numbers after it or ones with symbols after it e.g. Yogafit3 or Yogafit! These can easily get confused with other accounts and result in other users following the wrong account.
When looking into how to start a fitness Instagram account, branding consistency is key.
Consistent, high quality branding ensures that the followers that you wish to attract know at a glance this is a professional account and might contain good quality content for them to engage with.
Some easy ways of achieving this are making sure your handle includes your name, and some variation of “PT” if you’re a personal trainer or try researching some synonyms around exercise and fitness.
The key is to be sensible and logical with your handle. At the end of the day, your goal is to get new followers to your Instagram fitness account.
.....Don't make your prospective followers guess what your account is all about!
Create a Fitness Instagram with a High-Resolution Logo & Display Image
When creating a fitness Instagram account, it is important that your profile picture / logo is spot on.
If however, you don't have a logo yet or a high resolution image of yourself, you might want to think about getting one professionally made or get a fitness photographer to take a few shots.
Don't worry, you don't have to spend lots of money.
For a basic design, it’s not going to cost you much, and the time saved trying to do it yourself and making your account look the business is more than worth the minimal investment.
Now you have your image, do it justice and make sure that you upload it with the correct dimensions - 180 pixels by 180. This way, your image will maintain its high resolution on both desktop and mobile devices.
If don't know where to resize an image, you can use this free tool.
Create description / Bio to Tell Users What your Fitness Instagram Business / Page is All About
Your bio will be one of the first pieces of information that prospective followers will see when viewing your account. This is when they will decide whether to smash that follow button or just carrying on watching another cat video!
Making a good first impression is therefore paramount!
As well as your overall brand, your bio should match the style and tone of your account. Again, this may sound obvious, but it is absolutely key to attracting new followers.
A good Bio consists of a few factors:
1. Short bullet points
2. Summarise what your account is all about
3. Have links to your other social profiles / websites
4. Have branded hashtags in your Bio
Here is a great example of this in action by Magda Jankowiak. Magda started a fitness Instagram around personal training:
If, for example, you are trying to get bodybuilding followers on Instagram, you need to ensure your profile has relevant bullet points, hashtags and links to do directly with bodybuilding…..Sounds simple enough, right!
Ensure Your Contact Information is Visible if Your Starting a Fitness Instagram Business
Depending on whether you are looking to start a fitness business on Instagram or just because you want to share your passion with more people will depend on whether you want to include contact information at all.
If you’re starting a fitness business on Instagram or you’re a personal trainer trying to get more followers, ensure that your contact details are up to date, primarily your business phone numbers and any email addresses you wish to be contacted via.
Don’t forget to input your location and actionable links through which potential clients or customers can contact you, which is crucial for your setting up a successful fitness business on Instagram.
Among other things, most people use Instagram from a mobile device, meaning they can literally just push a button (or link) if they want to get in direct contact with you.
Make Your Fitness Instagram Page Look Busy
When finding how to start a fitness Instagram, you need to start making your account look really busy before we start trying to build your audience.
Think of this logically, would you follow an account with only 3 photos….of course not!
Place at least 10 relevant images or videos on your account and stick to these sizes whenever you post:
Square Image: 1080px in width by 1080px in height
Vertical Image: 1080px in width by 1350px in height
Horizontal Image: 1080px in width by 566px in height
When creating fitness Stories is the optimal size is: 1080×1920
According to Facebook’s help centre, the ideal aspect ratio for Instagram feed videos are:
With videos, remember to select your thumbnail properly!
When finding how to start a fitness Instagram, many people don't think the thumbnail is that important and skim past it. This is what happens when you don't select your thumbnail and upload the incorrect size, as demonstrated on one of our early video uploads:
Sticking to the correct dimensions using image re-sizer or the equivalent will keep your Instagram posts looking slick and your account professional:
When uploading, remember to include relevant fitness hashtags relevant for that image or video.
We will dig a little more into the importance of fitness hashtags and how to use them properly a little later on...…
How to Get Followers to Your Fitness Instagram (The First 100)
Now your account is looking the part, with decent images and videos uploaded, you are ready to start getting fitness followers on Instagram!
Most importantly, you need an audience to share your content, promotions, blog posts, tips and tricks with. Here is how you can get your first 100 fitness followers on Instagram super-fast:
1. Family & Friends
To get off the mark, get all your real friends and family to give you a follow. It may sound obvious, but this is the starting point for all Instagram users.
You can bet that even the biggest of Instagram celebrities counted on their parents, aunties, and uncles amongst their early followers.
If you're mum won't follow you I'm not sure who will!
2. Other Social Platforms
When finding how to start a fitness Instagram account, you can easily mass invite all your other friends from Facebook over with a few clicks of a button!
Follow the instructions below:
Go to your profile by tapping the person icon at the bottom right-hand corner.
Go settings by tapping the gear icon in the upper right corner of your profile.
Under invite, tap Facebook Friends.
- From the list of your Facebook friends, choose who you want to invite and tap Invite.
Announcing that you have started a fitness Instagram page through all other platforms that you are active on, such as LinkedIn and Twitter will drag you some instant followers over!
That should cover you for your first 100 followers or so, depending on how active you are on social media already.
This now makes your account look real and authentic for someone who doesn't know you to drop you a follow.
We will come back to some of the real gems to getting more fitness Instagram followers very shorty........
Fitness Content to post on Instagram to Really Grow Your Account
Now you’ve covered the basics of how to start a fitness Instagram, which should give you a solid foundation to now build your audience onto the next level.
You now need to think about the type of content for fitness Instagram that you are going to promote to get people to follow you.
Here are some ideas of fitness Instagram content that you could produce in order to get more followers on fitness Instagram and really engage your audience:
- Workout videos
- Before and after client images
- Motivational fitness quotes
- Free nutrition plans
- Photos from fitness-focused celebrities
- Throwback posts
- Photos from behind the scenes (whether that be your preparation for fitness classes, food preparation)
- Posts that empower people to exercise
- Posts that promote good fitness causes
- Q&A style posts
- Funny fitness videos
- Promotions, discounts and offers
- News and stories
A good idea when creating fitness content on Instagram is to use a mix of different types of posts on your account. This keeps your posts interesting and engaging.
80/20 Rule - Mixing Content with Promotions
Ever heard of the 80/20 rule?
No problem if not.....When thinking about how to start a fitness Instagram page, content should always be on the fore front of the agenda!
But, let's say you are a personal trainer or fitness blogger, you might want to promote your services or products to your followers.
A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule.....
The 80/20 rule is where, every fifth post (20%) your post can be promotional. The other 4 posts (80%) should revolve around adding value and be content focused!
Remember, we are not here to spam our audience, that is not why they followed you in first instance. If you constantly post promotions, you will soon see your following start to dwindle down.
Other Content Ideas:
Thinking of different ways to post fitness content on Instagram can be a tricky business!
But what most big companies including the likes of Gym Shark, Under Armour and Nike do is re-post other people's fitness Instagram content (asking permission of course) and then tagging the original creator into the post.
In fact, 80% of our posts are re-posts or from our personal training students submitting their images to us to be included down our social media:
This creates great user engagement with our audience, as our audience is largely our own personal training students!
They email by the bucket load to be included on our fitness Instagram posts:
It provides us with a steady flow of different fitness Instagram content:
You can also reach out to other users directly on Instagram by commenting on their post asking if you can re-post their image or video down your feed:
Schedule your Fitness Instagram Content in Advance: Staying Organised & Ahead of the Game!
I personally prefer Buffer, so for this example I will show what Buffer can do to help you create content and save you time.
With Buffer, there is a free option, but even if your finding out how to start a fitness Instagram for the first time, the $15 per month option is the best one to go for as you can post up to 100 posts with this option, when you can only do 8 with the free route.
Here are the pricing options: https://buffer.com/pricing
Buffer allows you to:
This allows you to schedule all your Instagram fitness content at the same time, so you don't need to panic that you have not posted this morning before starting work.
You can schedule the posts for the optimal times for when your audience is most likely to be using the platform to maximise reach and engagement levels.
More on those best times shortly in the next chapter.....
Fitness Instagram Posting Frequency: What is the Optimal Amount to Maximise Engagement & Followers?
This is a topic that has coveted much debate in the internet marketing world!
Posting frequency on Instagram requires a little more thought than you might think....
Posting consistency on Instagram is far more important than the number of posts you actually produce.
in order to retain users and get more fitness Instagram followers they want to know upfront how often you will be posting.
Studies have shown that followers react best when they KNOW how many posts to expect from your account, whether that is 1 post a week or 10 posts a day!
The key is to be consistent to what you can realistically maintain when growing your fitness Instagram account!
Here at OriGym, we post 5 times a day, every day, 7 days per week and at the same time each day!
Our audience know exactly when we post and how many times we produce fitness Instagram content!
You might think the more I post, the more fitness Instagram followers I will get? - Incorrect!
Ever unfollowed an account because they post too frequently?
I certainly have!.....But the key thing is coming back to being consistent!
If you intend to post 20 times per day, ensure that you can maintain that number as that is what your audience will expect from you week in week out!
The reality is the more you post from your account, the less engagement each post will get, however your daily engagement might actually increase, just being spread over more posts.
This is because when you increase posting frequency, Instagram's algorithm results in your Fitness Instagram content from earlier that day now being classified as "old" and it stops showing it down user's feeds.
Additionally, new followers only tend to look at your last couple of posts, thus if you start posting 10-20 times a day, they won't see your posts from earlier in the day to engage with.
Posting Times: When is best to Get More Fitness Instagram Followers
Now you have established what Fitness Instagram content you are posting, how often, you now to decide when you are posting!
When thinking how to start a fitness Instagram account, you need to factor in times of the day to post to generate as much attention to your posts as possible!
Yes, there are times in the day better than others!
A study by Expert Voice shows the best times of the week by user engagement:
- Sunday: 5:00 p.m.
- Monday: 7:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.
- Tuesday: 3:00 a.m. & 10:00 p.m.
- Wednesday: 5:00 p.m.
- Thursday: 7:00 a.m. & 11:00 p.m.
- Friday: 1:00 a.m. & 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday: 12:00 a.m. & 2:00 a.m.
The study goes on to show that Mondays are the least productive day and that Wednesdays are the most productive day to post and get more fitness Instagram followers.
You may have noticed that some of the best times to post are 1am, 2am, 3am etc.
This study is based on user engagement, thus if you think about it, the people using Instagram at those times are frequently people more dedicated and more likely to engage with your posts.
Additionally, there are far fewer people posting at those times, thus your Instagram fitness content is far more likely to be seen and therefore engaged with.
Studies have also shown that posting on weekend early afternoons produces the lowest levels on engagement out of anytime in the entire week.
This is why when thinking about how to start a fitness Instagram, day of the week and times play a key role in how many followers and engagement you will get!
Fitness Instagram: Get more Followers Using Hashtags
We touched upon fitness hashtags a little earlier, but their importance within posts cannot be understated.
Fitness Instagram hashtags, gym hashtags and fitness motivation hashtags rank among some of the most popular topics searched on Instagram!
You might hate seeing posts that are littered with hashtags, but you need to make sure you are harnessing their potential. Posts with just one hashtag are 12.6% more likely to generate engagement than a post without any according to Later.com.
Hashtags help both to organise and optimise your fitness Instagram content, enabling potential followers to discover your page or brand easily when scanning Instagram’s community.
Additionally, fitness hashtags work really well as they tell the browser what your account is all about!
NUMBER OF FITNESS HASHTAGS TO USE
When starting a fitness Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, however some marketers say using loads hashtags can look very spammy, so you should use just 5 or 6!
The truth is, the more hashtags you can use the better it is for getting followers to your fitness Instagram.
Studies show that engagement can increase by over 440% from using 11+ fitness hashtags to using none at all.
Louise Myer's of Visual Social Media analyses this study to show the impact of thr number of fitness hashtags to use:
- 0 Hashtags – 18% interaction per 1k followers
- 1 Hashtag – 29% interaction per 1k followers
- 2 Hashtags – 41% interaction per 1k followers
- 3 Hashtags – 39% interaction per 1k followers
- 4 Hashtags – 31% interaction per 1k followers
- 5 Hashtags – 43% interaction per 1k followers
- 6 Hashtags – 33% interaction per 1k followers
- 7 Hashtags – 30% interaction per 1k followers
- 8 Hashtags – 39.5% interaction per 1k followers
- 9 Hashtags – 49.5% interaction per 1k followers
- 10 Hashtags – 22% interaction per 1k followers
- 11 Hashtags – 79.5% interaction per 1k followers
This shows that using 11+ fitness hashtags will increase your user engagement and help you get more followers to your fitness Instagram page.
But What Hashtags to Use to Get More Fitness Instagram Followers?
Firstly, you need a mixture of very popular fitness hashtags, more long tailed ones and local ones if it applies to you.
Here is an example of all three fitness hashtags in action:
1. #Bodybuilding - Popular hashtag
2. #KettlebellTraining - More long tail, specific hashtag
3. #FitnessLondon - Location specific
Utilising popular fitness hashtags will get you some great initial engagement, with normally some instant likes, comments and follows.
Normally this is very short lived as although thousands of people search for the fitness hashtag "#Bodybuilding", your post will very quick drop down the hashtag positioning and generate very little engagement.
Long tail fitness hashtags such as "#KettlebellTraining" is searched for by far fewer people, but it will stay at the top of the search rankings for longer and attracts more people based on the specific nature of the hashtag. For example, Instagram users whom love Kettlebells searching for that hashtag are far more likely to drop you a like, comment or follow your fitness Instagram via these more specific fitness hashtags as they can see your passion is similar to their own.
The same applies to location too....
When thinking how to start a fitness Instagram, you also want to include a location hashtag in per post as this will help you get users whom are in the same location to you or locations that you have visited. As human beings we identify with people far easier from people in the same location as we are, thus getting your more followers to your fitness Instagram from users near you.
How to get more Followers to Fitness Instagram on Automation to go from 100 followers to 10,000
Now that your account has some soft traction, it’s time to really get more followers on your fitness Instagram by the thousands!
The only way this can really be done is through using automation software....
This part is going to require some investment. However, given the number of followers your Fitness Instagram could attract, it is certainly worth it!
A recommended Instagram tool, used by start-ups and large organisations alike, is Combin. As such, it is the tool we will use to for the next part of this how-to article to gain more followers to your fitness Instagram:
Combin is an automation tool which will safely:
- Follow Users
- Unfollow Users
- Like photos
- Comment on photos
- Schedule Tasks
- Blacklist unwanted users
- Analyse your Accounts growth & engagement
Why do you need automation for your Account?
Before showing you how to set-up Combin, you need to understand why you MUST have it for how to start a fitness Instagram properly to maximise your following.
By setting up your account to follow other users within your fitness niche is like tapping them on the shoulder to say, "I'm here" and a certain percentage of them will follow you back to see what you are all about.
Yes, you could do this without automation, but do you really have the time to sit there every day and press that follow button?
Additionally, Combin will follow people with a set time lapse around Instagram’s safe user settings to ensure your account does not get locked or banned.
You can see from the screenshot below from our last 5 followers on Instagram has come from following the other user first:
Why do people follow you back then?
People follow back for two reasons, generally speaking of course!
- You have an interesting account with interests similar to their own
- Reciprocal - People like to reciprocate, so if you follow them, they follow back to return the favour
Combin will run 24 hours a day following and then unfollowing people who do not follow you back, once you have given them a few days to press that follow back button of course.
Here is how to set-up your account:
Step 1 - Got to Combin and select the right pricing plan for you. If you have just one Instagram account, then the $12 per option is probably best for you.
Step 2 - You will then be asked to link your account. Put in your Instagram user name and click "allow permission".
Step 3 - You will then be presented with a dashboard, when you log in like below:
Step 4 - Targeting - Using the search option down the left-hand side, you can then find either copy and paste a username handle of another account in to which you want to start following their followers or in or search for users based on hashtags.
Here for example I am going to search for users who have posted in the last 24 hours with the fitness hashtag "#gym", based anywhere in the world and to find 1000 users whom have done this:
When you click "find", it will start collating 1000 user accounts that have included the fitness hashtag "#gym" into a nice list for you as seen below:
You can either one by one click all the accounts you wish to follow or just smash the little man icon with a "+" sign next to it in the top left-hand corner and Combin will start following all the accounts in the list one by one against Instagram's follow limits.
If you then click on tasks you can see what tasks are running and when they are likely to be completed by:
Spend a few minutes each day to tell Combin whom to follow, posts to like and whom to unfollow.
Remember, you will only get more followers to your Fitness Instagram account if you are following people with the same interests. Target accounts and hashtags that are within your niche for best results. You should expect to see 15% average of people to follow you back through this method and if managed correctly with Combin continuously following and unfollowing, an extra 50-100 new followers a day!
Cross promote your Instagram account
This is where many people go wrong!
They rely upon Instagram alone to get followers to their fitness Instagram page.
Most of the most popular Instagram accounts actually get a chunk of their new followers by promoting their accounts through other platforms.
When thinking about starting a fitness Instagram account, you should also consider the other avenues that might help you get more followers.
Here are some areas you can promote your account to get more followers:
- Email Footers
- Blog Posts
- Your Website
- Article Submissions – (especially guest posting on fitness blogs)
- Fitness Forums
- Private Fitness Network Groups
- Facebook and LinkedIn groups
- Fitness YouTube Videos (Comments)
- Letters and offline communications
- All online profiles
By including your link in as many places as possible you are maximising the number of clicks and views on your profile, thus helping you get more followers to your Fitness Instagram page:
Take Part in Popular Fitness Topics on Instagram
When starting a fitness Instagram, a good idea is to get involved with topics that are trending right now!
Either posting about topics that are trending right now or commenting on big accounts like Gym Shark or Nike whom have millions of followers, gets your account in front of thousands instantly, especially when you are one of the first to comment.
You can do this by turning going to the account you wish to get notified by and click the three dots next to the follow button:
Then click "turn on post notifications".
When you get notified about a post, nip straight over and make an engaging comment. Don't just put things like "great post", you need to really contribute to the post with useful or interactive advice! This will help draw users over to get more fitness Instagram followers to your account!
Don't Underestimate the Importance of Comments
When thinking about how to start a fitness Instagram account, you probably want to create an account which people love and really engage with.
Comments are the best indicators of engagement, but they also have some other benefits!
Let's think about this for a moment! Someone has stopped what they were doing to drop a response on your content, that shows Instagram that this content is engaging and in fact so much so that comments are the biggest indicator to Instagram of good quality content.
Comments not just creates user engagement but will also result in your content getting shown more by Instagram's algorithm. Getting hundreds of likes or views on a post is great, but comments are the real game changers.
It is your obligation to respond to comments......Every single one of them!
Replying to comments will help gain you trust with those who have taken the initiative out of their day to interact with you and will help you get more followers to your fitness Instagram by the algorithm showing your post to more people.
I know some people who know the value in comments that much, they will even reply to the "haters" as opposed to just removing them.
There you have it, the full guide to how to start a fitness Instagram account and generating a large following. Consistency is always the key with all social media channels, thus schedule time in each day at a suitable interval to where you can spend just 20 minutes or so managing your account, scheduling posts, creating new automation and engaging with your audience!