Personal trainer, Instagram star and entrepreneur Kayla Itsines turned her talent for helping transform women’s bodies into a fitness empire with her company, Sweat. Its monthly membership fitness app alone brings in millions of dollars and Itsines been called a Top Fitness Influencer by Forbes (with 11 million followers on Instagram alone) and one of Time’s Most Influential People on the Internet.
With that kind of entrepreneurial success, Itsines, 27, has certainly earned the right to buy herself something expensive. But the first time the fitness star splurged, it was for her family.
“The first thing I actually did with any money was pay off my parents’ house,” Itsines tells CNBC Make It. “That was my goal. I used to be a little kid in bed and lie on my pillow — and I know it doesn’t sound like much — but I used to be like ‘if someone gave me $1,000, what would I do?’”
When Itsines was a child she didn’t know that $1,000 wouldn’t be enough to buy a house for her parents, but that’s what she vowed to do, along with fixing her uncle’s shed and buying her dad a car.
Itsines has made a lot more than a grand, and in 2015, she paid off her parents’ mortgage as a Christmas present. She shared the news with her parents by writing it in a Christmas card and recalls it as being the, “best feeling in the world.”
“I asked my parents to read the card out loud and it just said like, ‘well, we paid off your house,’” Itsines says. “And then my mom cried and my dad, who never cries, sort of had a tear. He sort of pretended he had something in his eye and then he’d give us a big hug. And then my sister was crying. It was great, everyone was crying…. My parents are the nicest, most deserving people that have worked so hard.”
Itsines, along with her fiance Tobi Pearce, launched an e-book featuring Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide Program in early 2014. The workout program went on to achieve wild success — its hashtag #BBG has 7.1 million Instagram posts and counting. BBG has since evolved into monthly membership app Sweat, which as of June was on-track to pull in $77 million for 2018, TechCrunch reported.
Itsines, who is from Australia, explains her parents worked hard to give her and her sister a good education; her mother worked in real estate and then in a fish shop, while her dad worked as an English as a second language teacher.
“They just deserve the world,” Itsines says. “They gave us everything that they could — they gave us so much love — and so, you give it back.”