Inspiration October 11, 2017
"When I realized I could help change people’s lives, I was hooked."
Emily Hayden is an IFBB Bikini Pro, fitness and lifestyle YouTuber/Instagram influencer with 264K followers, fitness model and NASM certified personal trainer. But she’s so much more than that. (You’d think that would be enough!)
Meeting with the dedicated athlete at our ENTITY Los Angeles headquarters for an interview felt more along the lines of an exclusive, life-coaching one-on-one session — much to Emily’s delight. Because even though fitness is her bread and butter, what she really wants to do is help change people’s lives.
This all started back in 2013, when she created an online women’s fitness camp. “I had groups of eight girls where we would work out, but also talk and connect one-on-one. When I realized I could help change people’s lives, I was hooked,” Emily tells ENTITY.
“I was able to see how something as simple as a few workouts a week could completely change someone’s lifestyle. Fitness can make you look and feel good, but also make you an all-around better individual, which translates to the rest of your life — a better girlfriend, sister, mother, boyfriend, etc.”
And she’s not kidding. One chat with her will have you wanting to reevaluate your whole life. Lucky for you, ENTITY sat down with her to talk about everything from getting over a breakup to tips for staying focused when you just want to give up.
ENTITY: How did you start your IG?
EH: I was that fitness friend, known in my network for sharing ideas. People were engaging, asking for more recipes and workouts. It was very natural, and started picking up. I realized this could be a sustainable business avenue for me when I started doing online training programs.
ENTITY: As we know, it takes a while to build a following, but do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
EH: Have an amazing “why.” In the slow moments, the ups and downs, you need that convicting reason to keep you going. Otherwise you won’t last.
ENTITY: Speaking of, have you ever wanted to quit social media?
EH: Yes, when I hit a certain level. But my following is 95 percent positive and 5 percent hateful. I would sometimes question things, like, “Why put myself under that kind of criticism?”
The moment I meet these amazing people right in front of my face, those moments are so real. It makes what I do so much more than worth it.
ENTITY: Here at ENTITY, we work to empower and lift other women. But have you come across any who tried to keep you down in order for themselves to succeed?
EH: I am an IFBB Pro athlete. Being a competitor, only one girl can get first place. You definitely feel that competition at times. But I believe there is more than enough room for everyone to win.
The more you build each other up, the more everyone wins. What you can offer is completely different than what my strengths are, and vice versa. That’s how we can be a team and be stronger together.
ENTITY: What do you think of the shift of Instagram being polluted with ads, and what that does to influencers and users?
EH: It’s bad when influencers are only posting for brands. You can no longer tell who they are as people. It’s just constant promotion. To combat that, I only align with companies that naturally fit into my lifestyle. A post has to be something I would do regardless of social media, which creates natural posts.
ENTITY: What do you wish people knew about social media influencers?
EH: People think we’re not humans. They would have more compassion if they treated us like someone that they know. We are no different. We are all humans on the same, level playing field. I don’t put anyone on a pedestal.
ENTITY: What are some of the best things about your job?
EH: I get to connect with people all over the world. Spain, Australia, London… impacting these people’s lives — it’s mind-blowing how I can be even the smallest part of that.
ENTITY: To get a little more personal, in your Alphalete video, you talk about having to live in your car for a period. Where did you find the motivation to keep pushing forward versus allowing that to knock you down?
EH: Everyone has their own unique struggles. My hardships helped shape me into who I am today, and have given me perspective on future hardships to know that I can get through anything, and help others to do the same. I knew all along there was something else out there for me — I had a purpose.
ENTITY: How do you keep such a positive mentality if you feel stuck?
EH: Try something new — something you haven’t tried before. Recently, I felt stuck at a plateau even where I am in my career. Know it’s just a phase. Network. Gain different perspectives. Place yourself in a new situation. It could be as simple as trying a new grocery store or a new class.
ENTITY: Do you have tips for staying focused, whether it be in your workout or career?
EH: There are so many times where the last thing I want to do is what I’m supposed to be doing. That is when I say, “Okay, I’m practicing discipline right now.” If I make all the excuses, I go anyway and still do it. I’ve never once regretted it.
Don’t allow yourself to justify not doing it. Act like a robot if you have to. Grab your purse and your keys, and just do it. Turn your brain off and act. You’ll always be glad you did. Even if it doesn’t completely turn your day around. You’ll be proud.
ENTITY: You recently went through a difficult breakup, which you were open about with your fans. How do you know when it’s time to end a relationship?
EH: Every female knows it’s time before you do it. It’s about listening to your intuition. Fight for it if you believe in it, but there comes a point when you need to respect yourself and be in tune with who you are, even if it is hard.
ENTITY: Do you have tips for getting through a breakup?
EH: Be around people who love you. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is talk about it. Be around someone who will give you a random hug and keep walking. There will be really bad days. That’s not your life now.
Allow yourself to have those hard moments. If you need to cry on the kitchen floor, do it. You’re going to have those times, but know that moment won’t last. Move on to the next moment and continue being a boss babe. Make things happen.
It’s hard to believe someone as active and determined as Emily ever really takes a rest. But after a hard day of changing lives, the go-getter says she likes to watch the sunset on the beach in Venice, California, her home.
Emily says it’s her nightly ritual, which she cherishes, because she has worked so hard to get there. “It brings me peace. No matter what happens each day, the sun still sets. Life moves on,” she adds.
And so it does. Emily continues to document her training and life lessons on Instagram and YouTube, watching her brand evolve, as her hashtag and tattoo declare. But she pledges to never lose the authenticity that got her that following in the first place.
“I try harder,” Emily tells ENTITY. “There’s a fine line between relatable and imperfect. You just have to go back to your “why.”
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