The health and fitness boom over the past few years as a lot to thank Instagram for. The huge fitness community on Instagram is constantly growing, providing you with a pool of potential clients to tap into.

As a result, Instagram has become great platform to drive traffic to your online training plans.

The problem is that it all depends on how many followers you have.

Instagram is a feed which means only the people you follow will come across your posts, unless of course you pay to boost your posts. So the more followers you have, the more potential clients will see your promotions.

The most effective way to get traffic onto your sale page is through a Call to Action (referred to as CTA). CTA’s work best when they are placed in the bio as this is the only clickable link Instagram allows.

So the more people you get in front of your CTA, the more chance you have of making a sale.

cta aflete

In this post I will go through some free and paid ways to grow your Instagram like crazy.

3 Free Instagram Growth Methods

Method #1: Share for Shares

One of the most popular and most effective techniques to grow Instagram accounts in the fitness industry is through ‘share for shares.’

To use this method you need to identify accounts that target the same audience as you. For example if you specialise in weight loss for beginners, you would reach out to someone like @thebodycoach who also targets this niche.

You both upload posts with CTA’s encouraging one another’s followers to follow each other.

To get the best result, reach out to accounts with a similar amount of followers so it is a fair deal for both of you.

If the account you want to exchange shares with has significantly more followers this may become a paid method, which we will talk about later.

Here’s an example of a share for share that @fitnessgirlsmotivation did with @powergirls_fitness.

cta e.g.

When you are starting out, it is likely that you have less than 1,000 followers.

In this situation you can expect to gain 10-20 followers for each share for share you do.

As you grow this number will increase and your followers will scale up in no time.

Be careful not to overdo the share for shares otherwise your followers may find it tedious and unfollow you. Try to keep a ratio of 1 share for share for every 5 posts.

A quick to find similar accounts to exchange shares with is to use the suggested accounts button:

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For some reason Kik is the place to negotiate S4S deals, so you may need to create an account. A lot of Instagrammers who are looking to for S4S have their Kik name in their bio. If not, try sending a direct via Instagram to see if they get back to you.

Method #2: Follow/Unfollow

Not everyone will agree with this growth strategy. If you don’t feel comfortable with it then only try the methods mentioned here.

Many of the huge fitness accounts started out this way and some of them still it today.

The concept is similar to method #1. You need to identify accounts within your niche, for example HIIT, and target them.

The idea is that you follow them and they will follow you back as they have the same interests.

By following the audience you want to reach, you’re making them aware that you exist. You will show up in their notifications and if they are a small account, they will most likely notice and check you out.

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To give you an example, let’s say you’re ideal client is a young male who is interested in bodybuilding.

In this situation, you might identify the popular Instagrammer and Youtuber Steve Cook. The majority of his fans are young males, and he posts a lot of bodybuilding content. You post similar content to him and the chances are his followers would also enjoy your content.

In this situation there is much better chance of Steve Cook’s fans following you back than someone like Beyonce.

We tested this and found that  around 30% of Instagram users in the same niche will follow back, compared to 5% of general Instagram users.

To increase this you can take it a step further and use the ‘Follow, Like Like Like’ method. This is where you follow an account and like 3 of their most recent pictures. It shows that you took the time to check out someone’s profile and you show up in their notifications 3 more times, increasing the likelihood of a follow back.

fitness followers tips

There are plenty of free apps out there that will tell you when someone doesn’t follow you back so you can go and unfollow them.

You may be wondering why you should unfollow someone that you have just followed. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that Instagram has a limit on how many people you can follow on one account. The limit is set at 7500, so you don’t want to waste these follows.

Secondly, if you are following more people than you have followers it gives a bad impression. Think of it as ‘anit-social proof.’ You don’t want this.

One of the free apps that you should sign up to is Crowdfire. The service sorts those who don’t follow you back from those who do, so it’s easy to tell.

To unfollow, click on the ‘Non Followers’ tab and press the red button on each account.

To avoid spamming and annoying Instagrammers, leave a few days before unfollowing someone you have followed. Interact with them by leaving a genuine comment and some likes on their images. This will give them chance to notice you and follow back.

Strategy #3: Use the relevant hashtags

Hashtags are the way that users search for content on Instagram. They are super effective because you know that if someone searches a hashtag, they are interested in that topic.For example someone searching #yogalife on their posts, clearly has an interest in yoga.

You need to show up when your target market is searching through the hashtags.

To do this, brainstorm 20-30 hashtags that are highly specific to your niche. Paste them into a spreadsheet so they are easy to track.

Once you have this list, use them your posts that correspond with the hashtags.

If you are not sure which hashtags to use, search through the similar accounts you identified in methods #1 and #2 and make a note of the hashtags they are using.

fitness followers tips

2 Paid Instagram Growth Methods

Even though free methods can work grow your Instagram account and work great, paid methods can be even more effective.

If you are getting impatient with the rate your followers are growing, or you simply don’t have the time to spend following and liking for hours and hours, you may want to try some of these paid methods.

Method #1: Paid S4S

Remember share for shares from method #1? Paying for S4S’s is a much quicker way to grow your account.

If you have less than 10k followers, it’s unlikely that accounts with 10k plus would consider sharing your posts. However you change this by paying a fee.

The fee depends on how big the account and how well you can negotiate with them.

You could try reaching out to them via direct message, Kik or using a service such as Shout Cart.

When you are paying for a shoutout, it is important make sure the accounts audience is engaged. If you pay a high price to someone with 1 million and they only get 100 likes on each post, you won’t get good value for your money.

Tools: To vet accounts that you are considering working with, one of the best free tools is Ink361. You can use this to find out which account will give you the best ROI. Sign up for a freea count and you can learn valuable information about your account and those who you want to work with.

You can find out when an account’s followers are most active:

instagram growth fitness

You can also find out how engaged their followers are:

instagram fitness growth

And what type of content gets the most engagement:

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These statistics allow you to figure out who you should pay money to and who to avoid.

pro tip

Method #2: Instagress

Instagress is a tool that helps you automate free method #2. It can be configured to interact with accounts using the hashtags that relevant to your niche.

There is nothing inherently wrong with automating likes on posts that are relevant to your niche, but we warn against automating comments.

Constantly commenting the same caption is bound to get flagged as spam at some point. You don’t want to undo all of your hard work for a few extra followers.

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Instagress have a free 3 day trial so you can give it a go with no risk.

It’s best to keep your activity on slow, especially as you start it.

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This method is much more time efficient than manually liking content everyday.

Whether your try using all of the methods mentioned in this post or just a couple, you should be able to start growing your Instagram account immediately.

Let us know what you tools you are using to grow your account and how the methods workout for you. For more tips on how to grow your personal training business, visit the Academy.

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