The Rise of the Instagram Fitness Star Workout Plan: Are They Really Worth the Hype?

The past few years have seen an explosion in the number of health and fitness related Instagram stars, who’s toned bodies, flawless meals and sweaty workouts grace our feeds and make us feel inspired/jealous/even worse about ourselves as we skip the gym for the fourth week in a row and binge on chocolate. More and more of these stars, who often have hundreds of thousands of followers and make a career via fitness on Instagram, are introducing workout plans; trying to tempt us out of our hard-earned cash in return for advice, workouts and nutrition tips.

But do they really work? Is having a guide really much better than doing it yourself? And we should really we trust Instagram stars with our fitness goals? As summer is approaching, and the thought of fitting into shorts and bikinis starts to fill our pale, hairy and slightly padded out winter bodies with dread, I’ve put three guides to the test to see if they really are worth the hype.


WHO: Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) – personal trainer for 10 years and the OG Instagram superstar.

FOLLOWERS: 9.2 million

WHAT: BBG – Bikini Body Guide – is possibly the most famous workout programme out there, with millions of women around the world following Kayla’s advice. It’s part of the Sweat app which she produced with her partner Tobi Pearce. There are 3 workouts per weeks, plus cardio, for 12 weeks, and there are several BBG versions. They last 28 minutes each, primarily use just your body weight and are styled much like a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. Prepare to get sweaty. She has also introduced a BBG Stronger for those who want to train BBG style in the gym.

HOW MUCH?: £14.99 a month, or cheaper if you pay yearly.

WHO IS IT GOOD FOR?: Those who can’t make it to the gym, want to work out anywhere, or are lacking in time so need something short that still brings good results (basically us students then?)

DOES IT WORK?: The results speak for themselves – search #bbgcommunity and #bbgprogress on Insta and you’ll find thousands of incredible and often mind-boggling transformation pics, both short term (12 weeks) and over a few years. When combined with a good diet (the app provides a range of meal plans), the results are unbelievable.

PROS: Good variety as the app also includes yoga and another gym-based programme. Time efficient and very effective. Excellent community atmosphere both on Instagram and in the real life with regular BBG meetups across the world. App is super easy to use and extremely clear. Plus, she posts amazing pictures of her adorable doggos on her insta…

CONS: Can get expensive as it requires a monthly subscription rather than a one-off payment. If you hate HIIT, this might not be the one for you.

WHERE CAN I BUY IT?: The Sweat with Kayla app, or online at:


WHO: Carys Gray (@busybee.carys) – fitness, beauty and lifestyle youtuber turned Instagram star, who used to study maths at Exeter before dropping out to pursue her fitness career.

FOLLOWERS: 565,000

WHAT: UFBG (Ultimate Full Body Guide). Created with her trainer, Geoff Wiseman, who is extremely knowledgeable and well-qualified. There are 3 UFBG guides with 84 days of training in each one, plus a four-week home workout. The gym-based guides are suitable for both beginners and advanced gym-goers and focus on weight training. There are four phases of four weeks each, and the days are split into Upper, Lower, Total and cardio, with Posterior Chain (essentially bum) workouts added later.

HOW MUCH?: £75 for the entire set, or cheaper if you only buy certain guides.

WHO IS IT GOOD FOR?: Those who want to gain confidence in the gym, get into weights/lifting, and want a more toned physique. Expect serious booty and leg gains. The HIIT home workout brings in a bit of variety. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating a calorie deficit and combining it with cardio otherwise you will just gain muscle.

DOES IT WORK?: YES. I have just finished UFBG 1 and my glutes and quads have never looked so good. I’ve even got back muscles, which I never thought I could ever possibly develop. If you’re getting the weights right, you’ll feel serious DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and you really see yourself progressing with the weights you can lift. (I went from being able to squat 40kg MAXIMUM to squatting 55kg @ 6 reps).

PROS: Workouts are both explained online and in downloadable PDFs so you can keep it forever. Great support group on Facebook where any queries are answered by Geoff and Carys. Videos accompany all exercises. Focus on tempo and weight really challenges you and gets good results.

CONS: UFBG is coming to an end this year and the creators move onto other projects. You can only buy the guides until the end of April, with support ending by November. However, the workouts can be kept forever, and the Facebook group will continue to be active, just without Geoff and Carys. The app it uses is pretty bad and sometimes there are technical issues with accessing your guides. UFBG1 involves A LOT of moving around the gym and hogging equipment which is annoying when the gym is busy/laid out awkwardly. They do rectify this in UFBG 2 and 3.

WHERE CAN I BUY IT? until the end of April.


WHO: Krissy Cela AKA Cela Simplicity (@krissycela) – personal trainer, law student, Women’s Best and Gymshark ambassador and all-round sweetheart.

FOLLOWERS: 866,000

WHAT: 4 or 8 Week Tone and Sculpt Programme. The gym-based guide combined a combination of weights, HIIT, sculpting and toning workouts. Days are split into circuits, back and abs, quads/calves, hamstrings/glutes, shoulders/arms, and abs.

HOW MUCH?; £35 for the four week programme, £45 for the eight week.

WHO IS IT GOOD FOR?: Those that like a bit of variety in their training, who want to progress in the gym or want to lose weight.

DOES IT WORK?: Yes – see her website or her Instagram for client progress. Krissy definitely knows what she is talking about the results speak for themselves.

PROS: Her Instagram is full of helpful videos and tips on form and technique. Good for beginners and those that are more advanced. All emails are answered personally within 24 hours so support is always on hand. All workouts are explained in depth and the guide gives a great overview into how and why the guide works, as well as good nutrition advice.

CONS: As it’s only 4-8 weeks, this may be a bit short for some people – however it can of course be repeated but this may get repetitive and boring. The meal plans are apparently not that great but that might not be important according to your goals.


To conclude, there are hundreds of guides out there, but these three DO work. They are ‘worth the hype’. The results speak for themselves and the fact that the people who created them can use Instagram to promote them, hence reaching a wider audience and helping more and more people to achieve their goals, can only be a good thing. As always, take care when starting a new programme, don’t push yourself too hard that you injure yourself, and combine exercise with a good (overall – treats are still a priority) diet and a balanced, healthy mindset. With this, anything is possible. Go smash it gal!