Kayla Itsines On Her Biggest Post-Baby Achievement & New Workout Program

Photo: Courtesy of Kayla Itsines.
After Kayla Itsines gave birth to her daughter Arna in April, she didn’t work out for about seven weeks. That might sounds pretty standard. But for the Australian trainer, who created the popular Sweat app, which has a community of more than 50 million followers, it was a big deal. “It’s quite a long time when you’ve been an athlete for your entire life,” she laughs.
It wasn't the seven-week break itself that surprised Itsines. After all, she knew she'd have to take time off after having Arna, especially since she ultimately gave birth via cesarean section. But she didn't expect getting back into the swing of her workouts to be as challenging as it ended up being, she says. She had to start over and regain her strength — which ultimately led her to launch her newest fitness app, BBG Beginner
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The whole experience of rebuilding her fitness reminded Itsines how hard "starting" is, whether you're coming back to an old habit or the gym is brand-new to you. So she developed her new program specifically for newbies, crafting a routine that starts with easy-to-learn, not-too-intense movements that slowly build up your strength over time.
We sat down with Itsines on her recent visit to New York to talk about her return to fitness after her C-section, her new program, and her best tips for sticking to your goals.
Tell me more about what inspired you to create the beginner program. 
Returning to fitness after having Arna definitely had its ups and downs. 
After having a cesarean, I found the recovery period to be quite difficult. Seven weeks after I had her, I got clearance to return to “light exercise,” which meant walks, some postural things, and arm moves that mimicked holding my baby. I remember the first time I was able to lift Arna up over my head —  for me, it was the greatest achievement ever, because right after you have a cesarean, you can’t lift anything. 
From these experiences came my post-pregnancy program on Sweat, and then the beginner program that I just released. I wanted women going through something similar to have a place to start from that would give them foundational strength. 
I know you work with beginners all the time. As a trainer, what are some words of wisdom you always pass on?  
I remind them that everyone starts somewhere. It’s also about making sure people have access to the tools that the need to start, without feeling intimidating. The first thing women will say is, "I don’t know what to do," or, "How to use this equipment?"
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It’s about asking these women: "How do you feel when you walk into the gym?" And giving them the tools that they need to walk in with confidence. That’s what I want for women. 
Sometimes I think that feeling healthy is as much about your mindset as it is your physical state. Do you feel the same way? Does something like feeling confident matter when it comes to working out?
Confidence is everything. When I returned to the gym after having Arna, I felt like I lost a lot of confidence, and, physically, I was a lot weaker. But the more I showed up and modified my exercises, the better it was. Some days, I could only work out for two or three minutes. But then, when I got to 14 minutes one day, I was really proud of myself. I felt myself getting better and better and growing. I felt myself getting more confident. 
If you're thinking of starting a beginner's workout program like this, is there a best time to start?
There’s no perfect time to start, other than now. As trainers, we know it’s a huge trend that women get to the end of the year — this time of year — and will fall off from their goals. I’ll wait until after Christmas, and start again next year, they'll think. But the best advice is to just start today. You don’t have to wait for a Monday. 
What if you start and then fall off the wagon soon after? 
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That’s totally normal. If you're gonna fall off the wagon, just always plan to get back on. With Christmas coming up, you may want to take a few weeks of to be with your family and that’s great. But just have a plan: On January 5 — or whenever it is — I’m going to start again.
What tips do you have for people who have a hard time sticking to their goals? 
I would say, book sessions in your calendar like you would work and doctor appointments. Use your family to support you and, if that doesn’t work, use your environment or a song that you love to motivate you. Try the app and this program and know that it’s here to help you build your confidence and make you feel strong. 
If I’m working out in the morning, I lay out all my clothes the night before. My trick is to lay them out in order of what I would put on. I literally stack them up with underwear on top. Then, it’s the bra, leggings, T-shirt, and jacket. 
One of our trainers sleeps in her workout clothes! That’s too uncomfortable for me, but I get it. You’ve gotta help yourself take the first step. It’s the little things that get you there.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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