Social media feeds are overrun with didactic accounts belonging to influencers who apparently dedicate every aspect of their life to fitness and health.
Amid a growing obsession with wellness and clean eating, trainers are now using platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to launch their own fitness empires. But with so much competition in such a saturated market, actually commanding attention from a sizeable audience is no mean feat.
Emily Skye is one of a handful of people to make a huge impression on social media, amassing over eight million followers on Facebook. As a fitness model and personal trainer, Skye has developed a personal brand based on self-improvement, the power of aspiration and transforming pessimism into optimism. Her Facebook account goes into great detail about her personal metamorphosis from what she calls the “skinny, insecure depressed girl” to the “fit, happy and confident” woman through her holistic approach to fitness, a change her followers hope to emulate.
Over 200,000 subscribers pay $49.95 and upwards for her F.I.T programmes.
Who is she?
Skye, 31, is from Glenning Valley on the New South Wales Central Coast, Australia. She began modelling at the age of 15 and launched her fitness career after making it to the final five of Oxygen magazine’s modelling competition in 2010.
Skye says she struggled with depression for much of her teenage years after her parents split. Unlike other trainers such as Kayla Itsine who focus their appeal on the 'before and after' photos of those following their programmes, she uses personal accounts of how she ultimately found happiness through health and fitness to motivate others.
Overcoming depression to become body positive
Skye blogs about maintaining a positive attitude, leaning on her own experiences of depression to advise others on how to become more confident.
"I can tell you, it's horrible being stuck in that dark hole of negativity," she writes. "I have been in this place many times before […]. The difference with me now is I know how to stop myself, I know how to pull myself back out of that hole... because I definitely don't want to be there again. When you learn to become a more positive person then you attract more positivity in and it snowballs to a happier life from there."
Meet the stars of Instagram
Meet the stars of Instagram
1/10 Charlie Barker
Barker’s following is greater than the combined circulations of Hello! and OK! magazines
2/10 Charlie Barker
Barker says: ‘I wanted to get a tattoo on the palm of my hand and because it was painful I was like, 'what do I believe in enough to get tattooed on my hand for the rest of my life?', and I was like – Hello Kitty’
3/10 Charlie Barker
With a photographic glimpse – or at least suggestion – of a life of colour and attitude, Barker has earned the sort of fame that only exists on Instagram
4/10 Brian Whittaker
Sixteen-year-old Whittaker has a quarter of a million followers
5/10 Brian Whittaker
Whittaker’s style and physique make him popular, but conversations with girls typically end when they ask his age
6/10 Brian Whittaker
An image of Whittaker's dog on Instagram. Whittaker says he has made new friends in real life, and thousands more on Instagram, many of whom he messages
7/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Twenty-year-old Knight-Butler has 15,000 followers
8/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Knight-Butler calls her account a channel, and fills it with fashion and lifestyle shots
9/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Knight-Butler says: ‘There are followers who like my photos without fail, and they're mostly younger girls who want to know about my life.’
10/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Knight-Butler had eating problems when she was 15 and 16. A need to be best at everything bled into social media and she later had to decide if Instagram was part of the problem or solution
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She also discusses her own battles with self-belief and self-worth to explain how her fitness career has improved both.
“All through my childhood up until my mid-20s I have been insecure with who I was. I had no self-belief and was depressed. I started modelling [because] it was something that I enjoyed but I just never thought I was good enough for any jobs. I wouldn't put myself forward for jobs and if I did I didn't expect to get them. If I was lucky enough to get a job I'd make excuses as to why they picked me. I could never just be happy that I got it and believe that I deserved it. I was a pessimist, always negative and always putting myself down.
"My active lifestyle is not only about my body and being fit, it's just as much about my mind. I feel set free from the person I was previously. I was no longer preventing myself from living the best life possible.
"I feel like a completely different person now! I am healthy, strong mentally and physically, I'm confident, I have self-belief, I'm truly happy and I love myself for who I am."
Where have I seen her before?
Skye has 8.3 million Facebook followers, 1.3 million Instagram followers and 43,000 YouTube subscribers. She has also appeared on the covers of Muscle and Fitness, Oxygen, Women's Health and Fitness and Shape Magazine.