A local fitness trainer’s impressive online presence is adding some extra muscle, thanks to YouTube.
Lee Hayward’s videos already have more than 14 million views, and 29,000 follow his Total Fitness Bodybuilding channel on the video-sharing website.
But those numbers are poised to grow as the Conception Bay South man participates in the NextUp program, an initiative YouTube says it created to “supercharge the careers of the world’s next big stars.”
And that’s a power lift the 33-year-old Hayward welcomes.
“Eventually, I would like to be a household name when it comes to muscle building and fitness,” he says.
Hayward, also a provincial bodybuilding champion, has made a living off his Internet fitness training business since 1999.
He offers online coaching and sells bodybuilding e-books through leehayward.com
To promote what he offers, he began posting videos to YouTube about six years ago.
He’s since become one of the site’s biggest partners in the fitness category, and has one of the 100 most-viewed YouTube channels in Canada.
That success led to being selected as one of 16 fitness trainers — and the only Canadian — for the NextUp program.
The initiative started this past fall and is providing Hayward with various tools to increase his YouTube traffic.
Included is $5,000 worth of video gear, instruction on things like video shooting and audience growth, and more than $10,000 worth of promotion.
The participants are even set to receive mentoring from Billy Blanks, who created a fitness empire with Tae Bo Fitness.
“We wanted to make sure we gave them the attention and the facilities they needed,” says Aaron Brindle of Google, the Internet giant that owns YouTube.
There are a few weeks left in the program. Hayward says it has already improved the quality of his videos and given him new tricks for attracting and maintaining viewers.
Brindle, who considers Hayward “a total CanCon fitness star,” says the numbers show participants are using what they’ve learned.
“We’ve seen a lot of success, what we’ve seen is a huge kind of increase,” he says, noting the trainers have collectively done 26 videos and generated nearly one million views.
Hayward began pumping iron at 12 and entered his first bodybuilding competition five years later.
After high school, he attended Keyin Technical College and created a bodybuilding website as a project.
That grew into his current business.
“I kinda went with it from there, and this is all I’ve ever done, basically being an online bodybuilding coach,” he says.
Hayward’s clients come from around the world, with about 10 per cent from Canada.
He couldn’t be happier with the way things are going.
“It’s something that I love to do,” he says. “It’s a passion of mine.”
YouTube also offered a NextUp program for chefs.
Brindle thinks the initiative for trainers and cooks highlights something a lot of people don’t realize.
“You really can make a career on YouTube,” he says.