Most YouTubers make no money at all from their channels while others are lucky to bring in a few thousand dollars a year. But top fitness influencers, including at least two Canadians, are making millions.
When the pandemic hit, fitness businesses of all kinds flocked to the internet to maintain their relationships with clients. On YouTube, newcomers to the space experienced a steep learning curve. But some of the fitness pros who were already established on the platform saw their subscriber numbers skyrocket.
A recent UK study looked at 2020 fitness influencers on YouTube to see who was watched and subscribed to the most. It crowned German Pamela Reif as the year’s top influencer with American Adriene Mishler (Yoga by Adriene) placing second.
Reif, a glamourous 25-year-old, amassed a staggering 778,749,036 video views in 2020 and is estimated to have earned nearly $20,000 per video. Her secret? It’s not her education or qualifications; she’s a high school graduate with a passion for exercise and a sultry model-like presence and svelt physique. Her subscribers rave about her challenging but simple-to-follow workouts, beautiful set and dance club music. Some critics comment that she offers few exercise options and minimal coaching.
In contrast to Reif, Mishler’s personality is peppy, down to earth and chatty. The 36-year-old qualified yoga teacher and studio owner from Austin, Texas, attracted a whopping 4,320,000 subscribers and is estimated to have earned $2,445,782 from YouTube in 2020. Her teacher training is obvious as she guides her viewers through each posture with clear directions offering options, jokes and positive affirmations along the way.
The World’s Top 10 Favourite Fitness Influencers (Garden of Life)
YouTube Channel Name
Estimate Video Views In 2020
Estimate Subscribers In 2020
Total Estimated Earnings ($)
Average Earnings Per Video ($)
Overall Score /100
Yoga With Adriene
Daniel & Kelli
The Fitness Marshall
The Body Coach TV
Two Canadians also ranked high in the survey: Maddy Lymburner at #4 and Jeff Nippard at #14.
MadFit (Hamilton, Ont.)
- Subscribers 2021: 5.73 million; estimated earnings 2020: $1,305,000; estimated earnings per YouTube video 2020: $3,604
- 2020 YouTube Top Canadian Creator & 2020 Top Canadian YouTuber
In 2015, Maddie Lymburner, a former competitive dancer, began casually vlogging about plant-based nutrition. After a sluggish start, views and subscribers picked up two years later when she added a fitness channel that offered basic but challenging workouts drawn from her dance days. Business ramped up again when she began occasionally offering workouts choreographed to popular pop songs. Her workout to Billy Eilish’s “Bad Guys,” for example, currently has 12 million hits. (The ad revenue in these videos goes to the musical artist, but the exposure helps attract viewers to her other revenue-generating videos.) When the pandemic hit and gyms closed, she hit 4.5 million subscribers. Today, subscriber numbers are at 5.72 million and climbing.
While she has no formal post-secondary education, the 26-year-old reports that she has always been “obsessed with movement, performance and healthy living.” Her mostly no-equipment videos cover the spectrum from HIIT, to strength, yoga, flexibility, ballet, abs and dance cardio. She introduces each video with technique tips and reminders–for example, the myth of spot reducing for a popular core workout–and then presents without dialogue but with impeccable form. Her long lean dancer body, friendly but serious presence, and challenging workouts seem to be Lymburner’s key drawing card. She currently films about three videos a week from her bright apartment with a basic camera, plain background and simple lighting setup.
Jeff Nippard (Kelowna, B.C.)
- YouTube subscribers 2021: 2.41 million; podcast subscribers 2021: 16,300; estimated earnings 2020: $653,000; estimated earnings per YouTube video 2020: $1,523
- Mr. Junior Canada 2012; record holder for bench press in Canada 2014
Jeff Nippard, got an early start on YouTube first posting in 2014. Since then he has posted 425+ educational videos and workouts in 16 categories, including High Frequency Full Body Programs, Women’s Specialization Programs, and Hypertrophy Programs. Other catchy titles include, “The Smartest Way to Get Lean,” “Is RPE Actually Killing Your Gains?” and “How Hard Should You Train to Build Muscle?”
While the 31-year-old has no academic background in exercise science, the natural bodybuilder and powerlifting champ turned YouTube superstar has a BSc in biochemistry and an obvious passion for science. He presents exercise and nutrition videos in an effort to counter misinformation, he says. He also shares insights into his own fitness journey frequently showing his own “before” and “after” photos.
His popular podcast channel regularly welcomes PhDs and other academics to share their input on topics with winning names such as, “The Great Bulking Debate,” “How Hard Should You Train?,” “Advanced Training Techniques” and “Bro Science versus Real Science.”