Why Kayla Itsines refuses to ask her clients what they want to look like.

From super-stylish activewear to #fitspo photos, you’d be forgiven for thinking that being fit is all about how you look these days.

While exercise offers a range of benefits for mental health, physical strength and even confidence, the biggest motivator seems to be the way it can change a person’s weight or body shape.

This probably explains why ‘Get a gym membership’ is such a popular New Year’s Resolution — we aim to see visual results from getting fit. However, fitness superstar Kayla Itsines is adamant that’s not what we need to focus on.

Long before her Bikini Body Guide (BBG) and Sweat With Kayla app gained a global following, the Adelaide personal trainer was urging women to consider what exercise could do for the way they felt about themselves, rather than their appearance.

“Before you run a client through a session you have to talk about what their goals are, what they feel, and where they want to be. Instead of asking them, ‘What do you want to look like?’ I said, ‘What do you want to feel like?'” Itsines tells Jules Sebastian in the latest episode of Tea With Jules.

“They were like, ‘I’m sick of going to the beach and feeling uncomfortable, and I’m sick of my husband making these jokes about me, and I’m sick of my kids saying this, and I just want to feel confident and feel beautiful’ and they would start crying.”

With the client’s emotional needs and goals in mind, Itsines would then tailor an exercise program.

“That’s when my training methods came in. I was like, ‘OK you want to feel good, you want to feel like you’re doing something that’s a little bit tricky and a little bit hard, something that’s really going to push you. Something that is for the person who is time poor’,” the 24-year-old explains.


This is where the 28 minute workouts at the heart of her BBG training guide stemmed from.

Watch: Sam Wood demonstrates a bodyweight circuit you can do at home. (Post continues after video.)

You could argue there is a visual element to Itsines’ training method. On Instagram, she encourages her BBG devotees to document their progress by sharing before-and-after ‘transformation’ photos.

However, Itsines believes this reflects a move towards fitness and eating that’s sustainable and doesn’t provide quick-fix results.

“I’m passionate about… getting rid of all these diets and fads and quick fixes, because I think [women are] getting sick of it. We want something that sustainable, that’s maintainable, that we feel good about,” she tells Sebastian.

“We don’t want to lose X amount of weight and then look back and go, ‘Well, I didn’t really work for that.’ Now women are stronger and more empowered and they want something they can look back and go, ‘Look at my journey, here are my progress photos’. That’s what I’m trying to bring forward and women are loving it.” (Post continues after gallery.)

Although Itsines clearly cares about the women she works with and wants to help them overhaul their lives, there’s one very easy way to get in her bad books. When Sebastian asks about her greatest pet peeve, the trainer’s answer is swift and firm.

“Late clients. I’m like, ‘You only have half an hour’. I’m an on-time person,” she states.

On a parting note, you should also know that Itsines’ favourite word is “burpees”. OK, so that was probably a joke, but she reckons, “once you master it they’re really fun.”

Sorry, Ms Itsines, but what is something we simply can’t agree with you on.

What’s the biggest motivator for you when it comes to exercise?

*Featured image: Screenshot via Tea With Jules (Youtube). Watch the full episode here: