The Ultimate Guide To Growing Your Fitness Instagram Account From Scratch [Updated For 2019]

Are you serious about starting a successful fitness Instagram account from scratch this year?

Well, you’re in luck! There’s never been a better time in history to grow a fitness page on the world’s largest mobile social media platform.

In fact, recent statistics from social media marketing agency Simple Strat reveal that your chances of success are pretty high:

  • 55 million people belong to some kind of a health or fitness club
  • Of the 400 million daily active users on Instagram, #fitness has been used over 180 million times on Instagram

Great! Except there’s just one thing standing in your way…

How Do You Stand Out Amongst Thousands of Other Fitness Accounts on Instagram?

Creating a fitness page on Instagram isn’t as simple as making an account, posting whatever content inspires you and hoping your account will magically grow.

To tell you the honest truth, there are hundreds of thousands of other accounts doing the exact same thing you are trying to do.

There are millions of gorgeous half-naked men and women posting pictures of their chiseled bodies to attract as much attention as possible.

Athletes all over the world are sharing viral videos containing ridiculously impossible feats of strength and flexibility.

Fitness professionals reveal some of the greatest motivational quotes and stories that get ordinary people to finally improve their health and start taking on positive habits.

So how are you going to stop your content from getting drowned out?

In other words: If it seems like everything has been done before numerous times, how will your content stand out in a sea of generic, over-saturated competitors?

The trick, according to Copyblogger, is to always ask the right questions.

To paraphrase them, “There are no over-done topics. There are only boring content creators who can’t think of anything unique and original”.

Let’s take a look at someone who manages to break through the mold…

Online fitness coach Susan Niebergall (@susanniebergallfitness) manages to take a typical transformation picture and put a completely unique spin on it.

Pay close attention…the “perfect” photo is the one where she is clearly LESS FIT!

What she’s doing is creating a visual pattern interrupt in your head as you’re scrolling through Instagram…

“Wait, what?! I usually expect the photo on the right to be the perfect one. Why is she saying that the left picture is perfect? I gotta read the caption to find out…”

Unlike the majority of before-and-after pictures on Instagram, she reverses your expectations and causes you to take a second look.

And because she tells an honest story of her fitness journey, she’s engaging and connecting with those who are personally touched by the story.

Susan never markets herself as a perfect person, but rather as a real-life individual who goes through some of the same struggles you do.

She comes off as authentic, trustworthy and somebody worth listening to.

Her single post illustrates a very important sales principle you MUST remember if you are serious about learning how to grow a popular fitness Instagram page…

The products and services are always the same, but the marketing angles are INFINITE.

The trick is to create a unique yet value-added spin on what everyone is talking about. When other people zig, you zag.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the next order of business: How to make an attractive fitness Instagram name.

First Things First: How to Pick a Fitness Username on Instagram

Follow the KYNSS acronym when it comes time to choosing your fitness Instagram name: Keep Your Name Stupid Simple.

This is the #1 mistake that new accounts make. Unlike other mistakes you make, this one is a lot harder to come back from.

If you are brand new, it’s easy to change your username and re-pivot. But if you are a more established account, a name change can completely kill your momentum and throw off the audience you worked so hard to build.

Based on their personal experience, web analytics platform Metricool has compiled some straight-forward do’s and don’ts with creating the right Instagram name.

DO NOT:

  • Use names that are too long – they’ll get cut off by the character display limit on Instagram’s Search feature
  • Add dots and hyphens within your name – if it’s too long and hard to type, fewer people will want to view your page
  • Random “special” characters – same deal, more effort to find you equals less attention and engagement

DO:

  • Keep your name simple – the shorter, the better
  • If possible, tell people DIRECTLY what you do in your name
  • Ensure your name is original – if it sounds too much like other popular accounts, you simply won’t be able to stand out from your larger competitors
  • Use the same name across your other social media accounts

Notice how we’re not trying to use any clever mis-spellings or “inside jokes”.

The name of the Instagram game is attention. You want as many people to find you, and you want to make it as ridiculously easy as possible to get found.

In fact, here’s what will happen if you follow all of the rules above…

You’ll be able to hack Instagram’s search feature!

Let’s say that I want to learn all about dieting and exercising.

So I’ll go into the search bar and type “diet and exercise”.

I’ll see #dietandexercise, which at the time of writing has 72,534 posts.

But here’s what you’ll also see…

Instagram user “Diet and Nutrition” (@diet_and_exercises) is right there in front of your eyes, ready for you to follow (and engage with the posts on that Instagram account).

See, fitness-lovers on Instagram aren’t just searching for generic content. They have goals and needs which are specific to their own lifestyle.

Therefore, they will be looking for all kinds of tips and goals on their journey towards better health and an improved physique.

Why not put yourself in front of that already-created interest and naturally attract more targeted followers towards your page?

That’s exactly what strength coach Ashley Nowe (@getmomstrong) did when she created her Instagram page…

BAM! The first thing you see is a busy mom with 3 active kids who shows you how she manages to stay super-fit despite a hectic schedule and never-ending demands.

No expensive equipment, no complicated routines, and no Michelin-chef recipes.

Just simple stuff that any hard-working mom can do to achieve her best body yet.

Outside of her content, her Instagram name alone sets her apart from other fitness influencers as an authority who can help moms regain their health.

But that’s just a third the battle. Now that people are FINALLY on your page, there’s another important part of your page that needs taking care of…

Your Bio Can Make Or Break A First Impression On Instagram

As we like to say during our team meetings, “The bucks are in the bio”.

When an engaged Instagram user sees your page for the first time, you have exactly 3 seconds to convince them that you are someone worth following, engaging with and buying from.

It is more important to get people to STAY than to merely visit your page.

See, most fitness accounts post some generic slop that lacks any real purpose.

It doesn’t tell people exactly who they are and who they help. It doesn’t tell people what the very next step should be (otherwise known as a “call to action”).

Moreover, you would rather watch paint dry than take the few extra seconds to read their bio:

But the ultimate fitness Instagram bio is not like that.

In fact, every successful fitness page on Instagram has 4 universal elements within their bio:

  • Readability: Use super-short sentences that are easy to read, and clearly spaced apart so that your bio is most optimized for mobile viewing
  • Specificity: Using niche-specific keywords, tell people exactly what you do, your offer, and why they should engage with you (and nobody else)
  • Call To Action (CTA): Tell people exactly what you want to do, in as clear a manner as possible (and if there’s a link, tell them to click on it!)
  • Clickability: You want your link to look as short and legit as possible (i.e. LoseFat.com/7-Day-Diet looks infinitely better than bit.ly/X84g82)

Rather than have people see your page and leave, you attract and keep them to your page like magnets…

…just like personal trainer Kurt Rawlins (@Kurtrawlinsfitness) does on his Instagram page:

Notice how Kurt manages to successfully fulfill all 4 elements in just four short lines, all with visually captivating emojis that serve as bullets to keep things neatly spaced apart.

First, everything looks beautiful and easy to read. No “big words” or anything that makes his message hard to understand.

Second, he is super-specific about who he is serving and how he is serving them.

Third, there is a clear call to action that tells people exactly what they need to do (notice how the emoticon is specifically pointing DOWN towards a link).

Fourth, and lastly, there is a clickable link.

While something like “KurtRawlinsFitness.com/Top10Abs” could possibly improve click-through rates, he does everything else so well that it might not even matter!

Let’s take a look at someone else who manages to lock in a high-converting bio for their fitness Instagram page…

Marci Nevin (@marcinevin) has a bio which immediately tells you whether you should be following her page or not.

Furthermore, she’s also telling you WHY she helps other women prioritize their health.

Instead of focusing on the features of her services, she’s highlighting the benefits that you will directly experience if you start working with her.

She has a straightforward CTA with a hand pointing down towards a clickable link, which takes you straight to a coaching application form that pre-qualifies potential clients.

Sure, the link could be altered for better readability. But given that she does everything else right, the sale is pretty much a done deal by the time users finish reading her bio.

Oh, and before we move on….make sure you have a beautiful, high-quality picture that goes with your fitness Instagram profile.

Email newsletter marketing company Elink shares their best tips for creating a stunning picture that readily attracts viewers towards your page:

  • Fitness brands should have their logo as the profile picture, while fitness personalities should have a professional headshot
  • Make sure the picture is high-definition and not cropped from the edges
  • Any picture you choose should be clearly visible on the mobile platform, whether in the search results or on the page itself

With your profile fully optimized, now it’s time to focus on posting some epic content!

Which Types of Instagram Posts Work Best in the Fitness Niche?

Anybody who’s worth their salt in marketing already knows that health is one of the evergreen, forever-profitable and always-in-demand niches.

Human beings will always have the innate desire to feel great and look even better naked, no matter how well or poorly the economy is doing. Period.

Because when we do that, we have a better chance of attracting the opposite sex, reproducing, and affirming our status in society as worthwhile people.

Sounds shallow, but 100 years of direct-response marketing and sales proves that this basic need will never go away.

“But wait a minute, everybody’s posting the same thing over and over again on Instagram? What content can I possibly create that will help me gain attention and consistently grow my account over time?”

The answer to your question is something we like to call “Hyper-niching”

Look, you will be shocked to discover just how wide and expansive the health niche really is.

And in order to prove it, we’re going to show you two ways in which you can establish yourself as a dominant fitness authority on Instagram…

1) You direct your focus on a specific ASPECT of fitness

Jeff Lenney, regarded by many as one of the most influential affiliate marketers on the Internet, compiled an epic collection of powerful and profitable niches in Internet marketing.

Here’s just a few of the proven health & wellness sub-niches he was able to find:

  • Hair Loss
  • Stress Management
  • Male Enhancement
  • Curing Diabetes
  • Fat Loss for overweight kids
  • Whitening Your Teeth
  • Getting Pregnant

We can even go a few steps further…

You can choose to focus on a specific kind of diet – Paleo, Ketogenic Dieting, Flexible Dieting, and more.

You can direct your attention towards a specific type of training – Running, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Yoga, and so on.

The sky’s the limit…go wild!

2) You direct your focus on a specific type of fitness CONTENT

This is something which very few Instagram pages are starting to capitalize on, so pay close attention!

There are a few select accounts which have grown massive followings just by focusing on posting one specific form of content.

Here’s a few examples that you’ll see in action if you ever spend any time on the fitness side of Instagram…

  • Infographics – those information-dense, yet visually appealing infographics that contain clear headlines and well-spaced out content
  • Instructional Videos – people prefer visual demonstrations of how to do certain exercises and movements they perform in the gym
  • Memes – everybody wants to have a good laugh about the many successes and failures they encounter on their personal fitness journey
  • Before-And-After Transformations – who doesn’t love seeing somebody escape an impossible situation and winning against all odds?!
  • Recipe Videos – there’s a good reason why BuzzFeed posts multiple videos of cooking delicious food (hint hint: ATTENTION)

And that’s just one of many examples. But don’t get too carried away from the main point we’re trying to make:

You focus on posting within a specific SUB-NICHE of health & fitness, or you focus on posting a specific type of fitness CONTENT and become the best in that.

(PS – nobody’s saying that you can’t do both!)

So if you’re ever wondering what to post on your fitness Instagram page, wonder no more!

But if you want to take your posts and turn them into pillars of extraordinary engagement, then you’ll want to take heed of this next piece of advice…

Take Full Advantage Of The Captions In Your Post

Here’s what 99% of fitness Instagram page wanna-be’s will do:

They’ll treat their caption as extra blank space where they can post whatever they want with reckless abandon.

But this, is the EXACT opposite of how successful Instagram pages in the fitness page operate.

The pictures themselves, while gorgeous to look at, do most of the heavy lifting.

The final push towards soaring levels of engagement come from captions that are written as if they were mini blog posts.

It’s definitely true that our attention spans are at an all-time low.

Instagram marketers worldwide are doing everything they can to instantly attract people’s attention within micro-seconds and keep their eyes glued on their content.

But to everyone’s surprise, long-form captions are starting to dominate Instagram.

The social media professionals at SkedSocial have noticed that detailed captions are getting higher rates of engagement, while deepening the connections that content creators have with their audience.

In fact, on top of reminding people to tap into your follower’s core emotions and talking about the bigger picture behind your picture (literally)…

They even provide a 3-step formula for telling a legitimate story:

Start off by announcing news, setting a scene, or posing a question.

Explain the benefit for the consumer of the news you’re sharing, have a climax to the scene you have set, or answer the question that you have posed.

Conclude the post with a call to action. Tell the reader where to get the new product you have just announced, or have a single, easy-to-understand suggestion, such as recommending that they share the news with friends.

So rather than fill your post with 30 different generic hashtags that attract spam followers, use this as an educational opportunity to provide ridiculous value to your reader.

Here’s a great example of this concept in action from Instagram fitness page “Fitness, Motivation & Health” (@apex_pack):

You’ll notice that this visual tutorial of doing face pulls is followed by a descriptive and attractive caption that contains the following elements:

  • Spacing – all of the points are kept to one line only, so that people can read the caption without being intimidated by a long paragraph block of text
  • Sub-headlines – all of the content is further spaced out by headers which clearly tell readers what they are going to be reading next
  • Visual emoticons – in this case, they are effectively used as bullet points that keeps the content neat and organized (note how they use specific emoticons for specific points)
  • Call to action – once again, people are told EXACTLY what to do after they are finished reading the caption

As you can see, the elements here are no different than what you see in a successful blog post that gets shared all over the Internet.

And because this page takes the time to write out beautiful captions for their already amazing content, they take the fitness Instagram game to the next level.

They come off as natural, authentic people. Their audience derives real value from their content that they are starving for and larger Instagram accounts which don’t quite meet their needs.

As a result, they have experienced real and accelerated growth that leaves their peers in the dust (and soon they will start catching up to the big names – just watch)!

But hold on to your hats! Before you start posting, here’s something else you should know:

Even with an epic caption, there’s still one stupid – yet very easy – way to ruin all of your hard work…

Make Fitness Hashtags Work FOR You, Not Against You

Everyone and their mother loves slapping on a couple of seemingly relevant hashtags at the end of their caption.

Fitness hashtags on Instagram are overwhelmingly abundant, and they attract attention from millions of users across the platform.

So it makes perfect sense why up and coming fitness accounts use them so much.

But let’s take a step back and be brutally honest: Overloading your captions with tons of hashtags is not only ineffective, but it also makes you look like a spambot.

That’s from the marketing geniuses over at HubSpot, who point out that searchable hashtags are most effective when used sparingly (and sometimes not at all).

You may attract a few extra followers, but you’ll be projecting a bad image to other users who could have potentially become your biggest fans.

They also recommend that you limit your hashtags to a total of four per post, which is around what we recommend to people who use IGPlan.

With that said, there is one thing we disagree with the good folks at HubSpot on…

Instead of posting your hashtags at the end of your post, we highly recommend you put them as a comment on your published post.

First, it allows non-followers to better see your content when they search for your particular hashtag.

But more importantly, it frees up more space in the caption to write a few more words and turn a post from amazing to STUNNING!

So now you know how to strategically use hashtags for maximum engagement.

Yet there’s one crucial detail we left out…

“What are the BEST Instagram hashtags for fitness?”

GREAT question – there are two steps to go about finding the best hashtags for your particular brand of fitness:

1) Use Hashtagify to select the highest-performing hashtags in your niche

Hashtagify is an amazing piece of online software that allows you to see which hashtags are the most effective with respect to a search query in real-time.

To better demonstrate how you would go about using Hashtagify in the fitness space, social media coordinator Andy Shaw of Sunrider International has created a free and easy-to-follow tutorial for your convenience:

 

And if you are ever experiencing writer’s block from coming up with relevant fitness Instagram hashtags, we’ve got you covered.

The developers at Trainiac have compiled a ridiculously amazing list of hashtags across multiple categories of health and fitness that you can test out for yourself.

2) Use IGplan to automatically interact with your desired audience based on these hashtags

We have compiled a brief tutorial that shows how you can take all of your hashtag research and get the greatest marketing ROI out of them.

Alternatively, you’ll also learn how you can directly use IGplan to research hashtags and see the amount of activity they are getting.

Just don’t forget to focus on hashtags which are doing well NOW, and not back in 2018.

The Numbers Game: How To Get More Fitness Followers On Instagram

Here’s a dirty little secret that will help you skyrocket how fast you get fitness Instagram followers coming to your page:

Hack and model the most successful Instagram pages that are already trying to do what you want to do.

Now, you may already know this in your head, but it’s important that you model yourself after the RIGHT Instagram pages.

Sure, you can look at all of the elements we’ve talked about so far in this article.

Time-tested fundamentals that have allowed numerous fitness pages on Instagram to start from absolute zero and scale themselves to high 5-figure and even multi-6-figure followings in record time.

You can hack their pages, dissect how they do all of these things…AND STILL FAIL!

How?

By forgetting to check whether the page is experiencing high rates of engagement and positive organic growth over a long period of time.

That’s right – by modeling yourself after accounts who are paying for followers and giving off a false appearance of success, you will end up shooting yourself in the foot before you even begin.

So here are a couple of key points you should watch out for before you decide to model your marketing approach after a particular influencer in your niche:

  • Engagement Rates: Accounts with less than 1,000,000 followers should have engagement rates of 4% to 10%, while those with followings larger than 1,000,000 should have engagement rates of 1.5% to 3%
  • Legitimate Organic Growth: Input a page’s Instagram name into GetIGData.com and see how many followers an account has gained over the last 30 days.

If your desired page is doing everything correctly, you should see green numbers increasing consistently over time.

(NOTE: Sudden increases and decreases in follower count indicate that someone is paying for followers, a practice which can lead to instant termination of your account)

Take a look at the growth stats of Anytime Fitness (@anytimefitness), a leading gym brand that shares some of the amazing things happening across their various locations:

That’s exactly what you want to look for when you vet pages for organic growth: Green, green, and more green.

The extra few seconds you take to do this, using the free tools readily available online will pay off massively when you see how much momentum works towards your advantage as you get bigger.

Furthermore…when other people decide to vet your account, they’re going to see that you are a real person who has worked hard to developed an iron-tight community of like-minded people who want to achieve the highest levels of health. 

How to Get Your Fitness Instagram Page Sponsored

Here comes the money-making part you may have been waiting for:

Now that you know exactly how to grow your fitness Instagram account to attract new followers everyday, how do you get sponsored on Instagram by fitness brands?

As we have recommended in the past, you shouldn’t be thinking about monetizing your profile until you have at least 10,000 followers.

It’s a good amount to hit as a means of establishing credibility, while ensuring that you will be driving targeted traffic towards a sponsor’s page.

Contrary to what you may have heard or seen on Instagram, you don’t need an insanely high following to get noticed by companies and close deals with them.

In fact, there are 3 simple steps you can follow to ensure that you get on the good side of brands who will pay you handsomely to feature their products and services:

1) Optimize your profile to make it as brand-friendly as possible

Once again, HubSpot comes to the rescue with some useful tips for preparing yourself before you even reach out to prospective companies:

  • Whenever you post a product/service you genuinely enjoy using, tag the featured brands in your post. Don’t be afraid to go after big companies but don’t ignore the smaller startups either
  • Include your contact information in your bio to make it easy for brands to reach out to you. Add a contact email and your website (which ideally shows your portfolio and/or your experience as an influencer)

2) Know where to find (and pitch) brands who are open to doing sponsorship deals with you

Believe it or not, there are “influencer marketplaces” where you can literally connect with other brands who are looking to work with influencers of all sizes.

Some of these marketplaces may or may not contain the fitness niche you are operating in, so feel free to shop around.

Additionally, some of them may restrict access on the basis of how many followers you have (another good reason to grow as fast as possible).

Plus, you’ll have to be cognizant of how much you are charging when it comes time to make a deal.

There are no established industry standards for pricing, but here are a few general guidelines to follow:

  • Digiday: $1,000 per post for someone with 100,000 followers
  • Independent UK: $75 per post for someone with less than 10,000 followers
  • MarketWatch (for dog accounts): $200 per post for an account with 20,000 followers, $3,000 per post for an account with up to 250,000 followers
  • Business Insider: $500 to $1500 per post for someone with 175,000 followers

Other factors such as your average engagement rate, reputation based on past campaigns, and extra services (putting a link to their website in your bio for 24 hours, package deals for several posts) will influence your ability to negotiate with brands.

Just make sure to remember what your worth is, and don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way of charging more!

3) Play by Instagram’s rules

It goes without saying that you should be 100% transparent with your audience when you are doing a sponsored post.

Usually, it’s enough to use the hashtags #ad, #advertisement, #sponsorship, or anything that clearly indicates you are doing a paid promotion of some sort.

Additionally, you should also pay close attention to the “paid partnership” feature that labels your ad as a paid promotion. All you have to do is tag the brand you’re working with in your post, and they will confirm that they are sponsoring your post.

It’s worth noting that doing so will give the brand direct access to important data regarding the campaign.

They will be able to monitor your post’s activity in real-time and see how successful it was with respect to clicks, traffic and other important marketing metrics.

And don’t fret over what your audience thinks – so long as you are honest, they won’t think any less of you for promoting products that can improve their health (and their lives).

Which leads into our final reminder: Make sure you actually test and vet these products – along with the company itself – before you promote them to your audience!

Now It’s Time To Grow Your Fitness Instagram Page

Congratulations – you are now equipped with valuable fitness Instagram tips that many influencers and brands on Instagram have taken YEARS to discover.

You have everything you could possibly need to become a highly effective Instagram influencer within the fitness space from scratch.

People are always going to be seeking guidance and wisdom on Instagram from those who are able to practice what they preach and teach when it comes to living out a healthy lifestyle.

They will always want to connect with somebody who is a genuine, real, live human being that shares true value.

You are no longer just an ordinary fitness page on Instagram. You are a leader, mentor and role model who can show people the way towards their absolute best self.

You have the blueprint, you have the tools and you have the mindset. Now it’s up to you to make it happen.