With the holiday season rapidly approaching, it’s about that time of year when people begin to eat a bit more than usual, gaining some weight along the way, until eventually they make a New Year’s resolution to finally get fit, once and for all. Thanks to YouTube, such resolutions have become much easier to maintain.
More and more people are discovering the incredible resource that YouTube provides when it comes to hacking their health. Anyone looking for tips on what to eat, how to properly lift weights, or how to pull off that challenging yoga pose are no longer confined to the world of DVDs and TV specials. Their living room is their gym, and YouTube is their personal trainer.
To shed a light on this shift and see what is driving fitness culture on YouTube, we dug into some classic aerobic trends from the past, some of the top influencers/trainers of today, along with some insights into how fans engage and push each other to reach their fitness goals.
When we talk about culture on YouTube, it’s important to remember the archival nature of fan behavior. For fitness, YouTube serves to remind us of all the hot trends that swept the nation at various times. Remember those Tae Bo VHS tapes with Billy Blanks? If not, here is what you would have seen back in the ’90s when you fired up your VCR:
That’s almost an hour’s worth of the classic, sweaty, total body fitness system, and there’s plenty more where that came from. And, although the video content might be decades old, when you look at the comments under these videos, you see fans continuing to discuss the routines and offer each other advice:
Whether it’s Richard Simmons encouraging people to “Party Off the Pounds,” or Jazzercise imploring folks to “Move your boogie body,” the culture of the past is ready and waiting to influence people today.
While some of these videos may leave you wondering, “What in the world were they thinking?”, they show that the world of social video on YouTube is never dull. It’s a rich experience that transcends time and brings together ideas in ways unlike anywhere else.
The Rise of the Social Media Fitness Personality
If you haven’t yet heard of any of the fitness personalities below, pay attention to the viewcounts and subscriber numbers next to their names, and then ask yourself why you keep ignoring YouTube.
First, there is Cassie Ho, whose channel Blogilates has nearly 150 million views and close to 2 million subscribers. This year, she launched her first fitness DVD for Target, has been written up in The Wall Street Journal and Seventeen, and even started a new clothing line. By comparing Cassie’s oldest videos from 2009 to her most recent videos, it’s fascinating to see how five years of dedicated video making has grown into a loyal audience of millions.
As you’ll see from her earliest video below, YouTube isn’t always about creating highly produced, expensive content. Oftentimes, the simple act of turning on a camera in your living room is what connects with people in an authentic way:
Then, there is the FitnessBlender channel, with a whopping 180 million views and 1.6 million subscribers. Here is what it says on their “about” page:
“Everything you see on this YouTube Channel is created by two people, a husband and wife team; Daniel & Kelli. Thank you for watching!”
This married duo has mastered a style that seems to fit perfectly for the YouTube audience working out at home. Their clean, simple approach to fitness is yet another example of why more people are turning to YouTube when they want to learn something valuable for their lives. Here is a video for a routine that requires zero equipment:
Next, for anyone that needs to take a rest and laugh at their fellow gym rats, the comedy channel BroScienceLife is for you. Again, YouTube is a rich environment with videos of every shape, size, and color, including parodies galore. The man behind BroScienceLife targets the “bros” that tend to take weight lifting a little too seriously, and the result is a hilarious window into fitness culture on YouTube.
Did you know there are actually way more bicep machines in the gym than advertised?:
Zumba + Music + Fans = Domination
Of course, music on YouTube is massive. As Rolling Stone reported, “A recent Nielsen survey found 64 percent of teen listeners discovered music via YouTube.” So, what happens when you add a fitness dance craze to that equation? You end up with Zumba.
Zumba was started in Colombia during the ’90s, and has since swept the globe. How do we know? Just try searching “Zumba” plus any hit single from the past decade, in practically any language, and you are bound to uncover videos of fans dancing out their favorite Zumba routines. We ran some numbers on the Zumba fan videos, and this is what we found:
Though Zumba’s official channel is nothing to scoff at, with its 78 million viewcount, the fans once again reveal just how powerful they can be. As with any cultural trend, the fans run with it, and the result is billions of earned views for Zumba.
How-to videos represent some of the best examples of why YouTube is so valuable, and fitness culture is no exception. When someone decides to share their knowledge on the platform, YouTube audiences respond to the authenticity and come back demanding more. Moreover, YouTube is where culture is born, and in some cases it’s also where culture is reborn and given new life, all thanks to the fans. Where TV fitness stars simply shouted out instructions, the fans on YouTube get to talk back.
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