The year 2020 has changed all the summertime rules for workplaces, vacations and fitness. As people take their exercise outside into public parks and beaches, sweating in style is becoming the hottest and coolest fashion trend. Lockdown nudged us onto social media searching for ways to move our bodies in quarantine. It also pushed sportswear sales up 36% compared to spring data from the previous year. What used to be considered “workout gear” now is an increasingly common part of most wardrobes. Athleisure sector is thriving on the ingenuity of extremely comfortable, tech-friendly, and very stylish clothes. Brands are noting the appeal of this fusion between fashion and function and are adding celebrity power to the mix. Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s home routines for CR7 and tennis GOAT Serena Williams’s collection are boosting the already booming wellness apparel market.
“Fitness influencers are no longer just maintaining their healthy lifestyle to inspire their followers. They are leading the new fashion trends in the fitness industry,” notices marketing strategist and SMM expert Katerina Leroy.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic quarantine measures, Instagram and YouTube were filling in for personal gym trainers these past few months; digital fitness influencers experienced an influx of followers and subscribers.
I reached out to Hanna Milfey, Ukrainian wellness and style personality. A nominee for the World Influencers and Bloggers Awards in the category Best Fitness Influencer, she is a recognizable presence in this growing social media niche and a fun expert to weigh in on the do’s, don’ts and what-ifs of the new normal game.
What is the motivating factor to explore fitness online?
Sport, femininity, business, all together. It builds you up. During lockdown, more than at any other time, it helped people to keep body and thoughts under control, to move energy forward in the right direction. Taking my fitness practice online has taught me to move towards a goal in a focused but relaxed way. Do what you must and come what way. Commitment to practice teaches you to find motivation out of nowhere when you think you’re running out of steam.
We can relate to feeling exhausted. Do you find people are more open to new things?
Yes. More people ask themselves important questions. Why does my body behave like this? What can I do to keep it from hurting? How can I better protect myself? We learn how organs and muscles work. We learn how to make nutritionally balanced meals. My body reciprocates, my world reciprocates. Before I take any wellness regimen on faith, I need to understand it. Don’t be afraid to study and ask why, over and over again.
How do you see the relationship between fashion and fitness?
Body aesthetics have always been appreciated. Women and men want to look good and feel powerful, and fitness gives us that. The difference now is that the time when you worked out in some old T-shirts is over. We choose beautiful tracksuits and try to look your best even during the most difficult exercises. It builds will power and confidence.
Both social media and active lifestyle can be time consuming. How do you manage it?
One thing I advise everyone and remember to follow myself: action produces action! I am used to blogging and sharing my activities. I have no problem always staying in touch with my followers. I try to answer all messages personally. I want to leave people with joyous emotions when they engage with my account. It takes time, but it is worth it.
How competitive is the fitness influencer market?
I think about this community as colleagues or teammates. That is another lesson from the love we have for the Sport. We always share our experiences and try to support each other. We become what we want to be through sport. With mutual respect, everyone intuitively does what makes them better!
Here is a half-dozen amazing fitness influencers that inspire Hanna and countless others:
Taylor Chamberlain Dilk – @taychayy
The lack of clothing options encouraging fitness for all shapes and sizes drove Taylor Tilk, a Denver-based entrepreneur, to create Balance Athletica. Believing that what we wear affects how we work, she’s determined to promote functionality and fashion beyond the gym. “When someone feels confident, cute, and powerful in their workout clothing, they are more inclined to get active and productive,” Dilk says. Who doesn’t love comfy-cute outfits to rock everywhere?!
Melissa Wood – @melissawoodhealth
Coming from a performing arts scene in New York, Wood highlights the importance of living your best life without worrying about “ideal” numbers on the scale. Her healthy food recipes leave folks drooling and The MWH Method workouts help people build stronger relationship with themselves. “I love that workout clothes can be such individual statements on their own these days and really reflect your vibe or the vibe you are hoping to achieve,” Wood said. “If it makes you feel good, I’m here for it.” So are half a million followers and counting!
Valeriu Gutu – @valeriu_gutu
Gutu launched his VGFIT fitness app as the World Champion of Extreme Sports Challenge and a Men’s Health cover model. Since the beginning his focus was on being uplifting within the fitness culture. He’s committed to sharing his personal journey in an unfiltered way highlighting how the struggle is part of reaching your goals. Even or especially if your goal is getting out of the quarantine fatigue! “We are just getting into post-pandemic life and making everything around us work and move the best we can, which is the most important thing,” said Gutu.
Jessica King – @jesskingnyc
One could say excitement is her middle name. “Peloton is my stage and my wardrobe is my costume!” King says. “It’s important for the overall experience and aesthetic of my workouts that everything assists in the story I am telling.” The goal is to feel like you’ve attended a great Broadway show: inspired, empowered, mentally and physically stimulated. The occasional appearance of sequined basketball shorts is the kind of unapologetic breath of fresh air that’s desperately needed in our uncertain times.
Janice Liou – @janiceliou
Let’s not forget Yoga! This practice allows you to stretch your body, mind and spirit. Four years ago Janice Liou quit her job in medical sciences to focus on yoga as a personal and business practice. She also believes that the key to feeling your best is in putting the effort to look your best. “Wearing a cute outfit adds that extra pep in my step and adds a boost of confidence to power me through to my fullest potential,” Liou says. To counterbalance the constrains of lockdowns, Liou developed content focused on tips to translate the joy we find in going out, right in our homes.
Makayla Anisa – @makaylaanisa
This Canadian influencer’s videos make you sweat just watching them! As someone who had struggled with depression and anxiety, Anisa will help you prioritize the importance of self-love until you feel like a Strong Boss Babe. She runs a hashtag #dailygymfits for fresh outfit ideas. “You can definitely be stylish and trendy with workout fashion and still be able to get a good sweaty gym sesh in!” Anisa says. “For example, styling with accessories such as minimal jewelry, trendy shoes, hair accessories can still be functional enough to workout in!” Notes taken!
Additional contribution by Camila Encomendero