Do you think with the growth of your YouTube channel and business you’ll try and add more people in the future?
For sure. Yeah, and that will also help with the quality of the video.
Do you have any YouTube channels you follow or any fellow fitness vloggers you follow?
Yeah, as far as YouTubers that I follow: One day I really want to meet Ryan Higa because I think he’s just really funny, so I’ve been following him and the whole YTF crew for a long time, and as far as fitness vloggers, I am friends in real life with Sarah Dussault from Sarah’s Fab Channel and Rebecca Borucki of BexLife. We’ve actually done collaborations together in real life. The funny thing is they are all on the East Coast but slowly one by one I am getting to meet a lot of these fitness vloggers, and it’s really cool, and I feel like the community is actually smaller than we think it is.
What do you think about YouTube partner culture from doing all these videos and promoting yourself?
I can give you a very interesting perspective on this because I went to London with YouTube for the Olympics. There are about 30 channels, and basically my favorite part out of the whole event and our only goal was to make one video a week; that was our homework for being in London was when everyone would finish off their whole day of filming doing their own thing. There were comedians, beauty gurus and science people and whatever, and at night around 11 p.m. we would all go up to the rooftop and just like put our earbuds in and edit together — separately but together — and it felt like college. So I just feel like everyone really loves what they’re doing, and to me that is the most inspiring thing, to be able to love your work, and I love the whole partner culture, and everyone is really talented in what they do, and obviously it works for them.
How did you end up in London for the Summer Olympics?
One of my friends — well, I’m a YouTube next trainer — he was invited to London and I was called to come along, and that is basically how I ended up there, and they wanted some fitness channels to represent the fitness aspect of the whole London experience.
And now you’re settled back into Los Angeles.
What prompted the move from San Francisco? Was it just a business move?
I’ve always wanted to move back to L.A. I just didn’t do it, so now I’m here and I’ve always wanted to be here, and yeah, it would be better for the business and for collaborations and stuff. I just like the weather down here so much more; I get cold so easily, so moving here will be really, really cool for that.
What were the difficulties filming in an area like San Francisco where there are not a lot of studios or partners?
Honestly I was always just filming in my room anyways, so it didn’t really matter. But hopefully by the time I move to L.A. I am going kick it up a notch, I hope, and film out here by the gorgeous coast and stuff. So I think there are going to be a lot more cooler areas to film, although I did film in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, but sometimes I just pop one up in my room and just film it.
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I saw a video of yours having to do with “Sailor Moon” episodes. How did that come about? That was pretty interesting.
You know, I don’t know what happened, but I am a “Sailor Moon” fan, and it was around Halloween time and I got the cosplay for it. And I was like, “This is a lot of money. I should make a video for it to pay it off,” and so I made a video for it, and that is basically what happened, and I ran around Japantown [laughs]. That’s basically the story.
Speaking of money, some people may argue that it’s hard to make a living from YouTube, yet you told Forbes magazine recently that you make a significant portion of your livelihood through YouTube indirectly and directly. What do you say to those people that say you can’t make money off of YouTube?
I think it’s hard when you don’t dedicate 100 or 110 percent to YouTube or whatever you are doing in life. But when you really find your niche and you find your passion and what you’re good at and what people are willing to watch you for, you can definitely make a living off of YouTube, and if you’re able to find a way to make merchandise or something like that it can also help build your community and something they really want to see and are proud to wear then it’s a lot of hard work, but you can definitely make a good living off of YouTube.
And you’re also branching out of YouTube — I think you announced in one of your videos that you have a DVD coming out and that it’s been two years in the making. Did you ever dream of being one of those fitness people on the DVD shelves?
Well yeah, I dreamed about it, but I didn’t think it would actually happen [laughs]. So yeah, we just realized that this Sunday, and the sales have been great and I’m seeing a lot of great feedback from my fans, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it because I put a lot of hard work into it. The weird thing is it was kind of like a family and community production; one of my fans made the cover, and there is a printable inside that another fan in Poland made, and my parents actually filmed it. It’s been a real production — maybe a lot more work than it should have been, but at the same time it was a priceless experience.
That’s interesting that it was this community production, with your fan-made DVD cover …
And they voted on the cover too. So I made sure that this was for them. Just like my YouTube workouts, everything is for the fans, about the fans, and that’s all I ever really want to do. I just want to make them happy.
About your fans — I’m sure you get a lot and respond to all of the comments, but what has been one of the most inspirational stories that you’ve heard from one of your fans?
There is a lot. I think there has been fans that have lost over 100 pounds just following these meal plans I put up on my blog and doing the workouts everyday, and there’s other people who have been kind of picked up out of the eating disorder hole and just that unhealthy thinking of “I have to be so thin. Food is bad.” And I really think it’s all about a lifestyle change, whether it’s a changing of the mind or the changing of the body, I really think being a part of this growing community of girls who just want to help each other get fit and get healthy together has just been crazy, the friendships that have been made through this, and so I think that has been really inspiring just as a whole.
What is your advice for people who want to start a career on YouTube, especially in the fitness field?
I think first of all,you just got to do it. Whatever it is, just put it up there, don’t worry about it. And then number two, try to figure out what you’re all about and be you to the max. Don’t try to copy anyone, don’t try and be anyone else, because people can see right through that, and that would generally be my advice. I know it’s kind of vague, but if you really just follow your heart and follow your passion, you will land where you’re meant to land. That’s what I truly believe.
Photography by Daniel Nguyen