Meet Zanna Van Dijk: a 23 year old health, fitness and lifestyle blogger, and one of the judges for the Health Blog Awards.

Zanna is one of the co-founders of the #girlgains movement and works as a personal trainer and a fitness model. Oh, and she is a full-time nut butter addict! Having worked with brands around all the world like Nike, Nutribullet and Adidas, she loves sharing her insight on everything from health and fitness to lifestyle and travel.

Becoming a Personal Trainer

I had always considered personal training but never thought I would have the chance to become one. I had just spent thousands upon thousands of pounds on becoming a speech therapist so I knew I couldn’t splurge on another course straight away. However, to be 100% honest, I was offered a complimentary PT course to document across social media. I jumped at the chance and never looked back. I started working immediately after I finished the course and I loved it. I’m a real people person, so spending all day chatting to people and making a positive impact on their lives is my idea of heaven! In order to keep on top of everything, I schedule schedule schedule. On Saturday or Sunday I plan my workouts for the following week, book in classes or just note down the time and location of my training. I also try and do mostly morning workouts, as by the evening I can be overloaded with work and find myself cancelling a training session to finish emails or blog posts.

My Fitness Philosophy

My philosophy towards exercising is “enjoyment leads to sustainability”. People compare themselves to others and think that because they’re running or doing cross-fit or boxing, they have to as well. You don’t! Do what YOU enjoy or you’ll never stick with it. I personally love weight lifting so have no problem doing that. I however despise running so I won’t make myself do it! I’ll find another way to sweat.

Network, Network, Network

When I first started on social media, I had private accounts and didn’t really interact with anyone. I made my fitness social media for me, to keep myself motivated, rather than for anyone else. Then as I started following more accounts I became open to the idea of interacting and engaging more with the fitness community. I made my accounts public and started chatting more in my captions. I didn’t show my face for a long time, but after a while I opened up and shared elements of my life which I found went down really well. By sharing more about  yourself, within limits, it allows people to relate to you even more. I have also tried to maintain a good level of interaction as I noticed that opportunities arise and my community has grown by responding to questions.

In all honesty, social media has played a big part in getting me where I am today: my whole career is pretty much based off social media, which is extraordinary, exciting and scary all at the same time. Social media has allowed me to become a personal trainer, to build a client base quickly, to connect with brands, to travel the world and so much more. I am eternally grateful for social media and how it has positively affected my life.

zanna2Becoming a Youtube Warrior

I have been watching fitness youtube videos for 7 and a half years. Yep, that long. I had always wanted to start but never had the confidence or a reason to do so. When my fitness channels grew on other social media platforms I saw a chance to finally make a YouTube page and share videos. Once I made my first video I never looked back, I loved it. Coming up with original and engaging content is important for any fitness Youtuber, but in all honesty, when it comes to creating content I just go with the flow. I make content that I would want to watch; content that I am interested in. Then I hope others are interested in it too! I do of course listen to requests and questions and try to make content people like, but I always put my own twist on it. I think it’s  important to respond to your subscribers’ questions,  and my subscribers usually ask questions about diet and training. Often they ask what my diet is like; do I eat carbs, how often do I train, do I do cardio, what should people eat post workout, etc. so I often tailor my videos to respond to this. I also get asked what my job is a lot! I think because my life is so varied people get confused by how I make a living!

Youtube is a great way to collaborate with fellow bloggers, and the best thing about collaborating is that you get to make lots of friends! I love meeting other people with the same interests. Most people don’t understand the world of blogging and vlogging so by collaborating with others you can connect and share your experiences. I always find myself learning a lot from others while I’m at it too!

Breaking into the Fitness Industry

The best advice I could give someone trying to break into the fitness blogging industry through creating Youtube videos is to be yourself. Don’t try and copy others or put on a front, it will be hard to keep it up. Make content that you’re passionate about and would want to watch – your excitement will be infectious. Get a good quality camera and try to use natural lighting when you can. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and banter. Be consistent and upload on a regular basis. Be interactive and talk to other youtubers.

Finally, I have so much planned this year and I am so excited for the future. I sadly can’t say what my biggest most exciting project is yet but keep your eyes peeled for an announcement! However I can say that my activewear collection is being released soon, and I have a whole host of huge events lined up, another couple of products of my own and some exciting shoots and collaborations. 2016 is going to be a busy but exciting year!