After recently discovering Instagram's new fitness sensation Kayla Itsines, we had so many questions for the 23-year-old personal trainer (who has managed to amass more than 700,000 Instagram followers!) that we had to talk to her. Today, we did just that, catching up with the Australian beauty over Skype. Below, everything you need to know about her 12-week bikini body plan for women, her fitness and eating secrets, and (of course!) how to take such cool photos.
Shape: Were you always active growing up? How did you get into personal training?
Kayla Itsines (KI): I’ve always been active. I am too impatient to not do something with my time. I always wanted to get into the fitness industry. After grade 12, I did my personal training course and basically got straight into it. I started working for a female-only personal training center.
Shape: What makes your 12-week bikini body-training guide different than other plans out there?
KI: Rather than being a weight loss guide, it’s about helping people gain health, happiness, and confidence. It’s not about losing massive amounts of weight in an unhealthy way. It’s more about fat loss and being lean.
Shape: What is your favorite move in the guide?
KI: I love training abs, so I love the abs part. One of my favorite moves is the jackknife, which is weighted. You lay on the ground with a weight in your hands, and you bring the weight to your knees and release your legs and arms at the same time.
Shape: How did you create your clean eating nutrition guide?
KI: The guide is based on wholesome foods. What I promote is not excluding things from your diet. Health can happen without starving or restricting yourself. I’ve also allowed for a cheat meal, like a piece of cake. You can have it within a 45-minute window during the day—it’s not a whole night out of drinking and eating greasy foods. I don’t drink myself.
Shape: What does a typical day of eating/drinking look like for you?
KI: Breakfast I eat toast with poached eggs, avocado, tomato, spinach, and a cup of berry tea; snack is a piece of fruit; lunch is usually a wrap with chicken, homemade Greek garlic sauce, lettuce, and tomoato; anoter snack would be tuna salad and a piece of fruit; and dinner is a Greek soup called Avgolemono, which is chicken stock with rice and lemon.
Shape: How did you amass such a huge social media following?
KI: As a woman, I understand how women feel. I wanted to help steer women away from the feeling of discomfort with their bodies. Women will send me before and after photos, tell me their story, and I will post those photos. There’s a story someone out there can relate to. It’s not about me, it’s about these women.
Shape: Do you have any tips to posting a good post-workout selfie?
KI: You look as good as you feel. I’m confident and I can stand there any day, any time and take a picture.
Shape: Does Victoria's Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel really follow you? Who are your workout idols?
KI: Yes! Candice started following me, which is amazing. I think that she is gorgeous. It was so good to see that a supermodel found my Instagram or program of interest. I think Victoria's Secret model Izabel Goulart is an inspiration. She is so strong. She is awesome—but I try not to idolize other women. I try to use myself for motivation.
Shape: What are some tips for keeping workouts fun during the summer months?
KI: It’s better to change it up—find ways to use a park bench, instead of a box in the gym. In my guide, there are substitutes for everything—like benches for chairs—and most of the program is based on body weight.
Shape: What's one thing you would suggest someone do if they only have 10 or 15 minutes?
KI: I’ve just wrote a post about this on my blog—how to torch 200 calories in 14 minutes. It’s four exercises and you can do them anywhere.