No-rent Bootcamp model + strategies to get 20K Instagram followers (Part 1) (Interview with Ali Cavill)

Highlights from the interview

[16:05] – How Ali created her popular Bootcamp using a beautiful but FREE location — the beach!

[21:53] – How she integrates allowing kids to join the camp to position it as a unique solution for parents wanting to spend active time with their children and how she gets around the common issues with having an outdoor Bootcamp

[27:13] – The strategies she follows to get to 20,000 Instagram followers, and a very unique strategy she uses to spread her stories on IG!

[36:21] – How she sets up her bootcamp so it’s still fast moving, and engaging while having different skill set for kids in the class


About our Guest

Exciting Bootcamps with parents and kids, right on the beach!

Ali Cavill

Today we are talking to Ali Cavill, who after leaving a corporate job in human resources, she decided to focus on becoming a successful fitness entrepreneur.

She’s located in Sydney, Australia, and is now the founder of Fit Fantastic.

Through Fit Fantastic, she offers personal training services and boot camps on the beach. What’s really exciting is she has grown her Fit Fantastic Fun Kids Program from 40 to 100 kids in her program. In addition, she does a lot of charity and community work such as going to The Great Wall and helping with the treatment of the community of MS.

She’s also written for magazines such as Elle magazine, Good Health, and Women’s Fitness, and has even done fitness and acting roles on various shows. 

So, I’m super excited to have her.


Edited transcription of Fitness Business Secrets Podcast, Episode 24

Kristy: How are you doing today, Ali? 

Ali: Thanks so much. I’m doing really well. I’m so excited to be speaking on your program today.

Kristy: Thanks for coming on all the way from Australia. I’m just curious. To start off, you’re working in human resources, a corporate job, and you wanted to go into becoming a fitness entrepreneur. What made you think that you wanted to do that? How did you have the courage to kind of take a big change in your lifestyle?

Ali: I’ve always participated heavily in sports. I’ve participated at a national level in figure skating, in netball, and being a coach, an umpire, and a player throughout my childhood.

As an adult, I did the usual process. We went to uni, and then I got a full time job that was in HR. I love that, but there was a certain point along the way that I lost my passion and love for fitness and exercise. 

So, in the end of 2009, I joined a gym and I did one of the classes, which was BODYATTACK aerobics, and I just fell in love immediately. From about the third class, it was my goal to be on stage teaching it. Within a year, I was able to do it. 

Luckily, with my HR work, I set myself up to be able to take a career break. I did that for about six months where I studied and got my qualifications in fitness, and basically, one thing led to another and it was really successful, so I was able to keep going. 

Kristy: Oh, nice. That sounds like a really kind of exciting time. It sounds like you were planning to maybe become a personal trainer and teach group classes. 

How was it when you first got on the scene? We all know as personal trainers in the fitness industry, it can be kind of rough. Where did you end up starting when you got your certifications? 

Ali: I was pretty lucky as well as a hard worker. I was immediately picked up by a company called Chika Health when I finished my qualifications at the Australian Institute of Fitness. Chika Health hired me as an ambassador to promote their products.

I was also picked up by the Australian Institute of Fitness to work with Michelle Bridges and do some TV work. That led to me getting my business name out mainstream, and I was able to use that for a lot of my promotions and connections. I also just started working really hard, so I was covering group fitness classes for free.

I was shadowing personal trainers, and doing body shifts and free shifts at gyms. I started to offer free boot camps for my first few weeks outdoors, which gained a lot of clients and popularity. 


[16:05] Kristy: Oh, nice. I would love to know about your bootcamps on the beach. I think it’s always a great model when you do bootcamps in the park or outside because there’s no rent. You’re the top person that gets paid, so there’s no in between.

How did you grow your clients there? Did you go to people on the beach? Did you just do friends and family? 

Ali: I started out with friends and family, and even social connections on things like Facebook and Instagram, and I had already investigated the model of becoming a franchise within a gym or renting indoor space. 

With paying a mortgage and starting out, I guess it was feasible, but it wasn’t what interested me with being a business-minded entrepreneur. I really wanted to keep a lot of the business with myself.

When I started outdoors, I offered it immediately to adults as well as their children. I’ve always loved coaching and working with children, and getting them active and happy. That was a big winner because I was able to have a lot of moms and dads who had kids and previously couldn’t attend the gym or other boot camps.

I’ve always loved coaching and working with children, and getting them active and happy. That was a big winner because I was able to have a lot of moms and dads who had kids and previously couldn’t attend the gym or other boot camps.

They all came along and suggested it to their friends. I also had a community of school kids, having worked in schools with fitness, and a lot of the teenage children were really interested in getting out and about, and having a social connection whilst working out. So, that really grew it and word of mouth.

Kristy: Nice. I would imagine that with the different ages, it might be tricky. How do you set that up to make sure there aren’t five-year-olds and then 15-year olds in your class? 

Ali: I always make sure I have a lot of equipment and the equipment will be used sort of by the adults, and for the kids, I’ll get doing something else. If we’re doing a circuit, for example, the kids love using the skipping ropes, and the adults might love to use the kettlebells. 

So, I’ll make a real focus on catering to all ages, as well as setting up my boot camps, to be similar to a circuit or a HIIT where we can all do something that tailors to our needs, requirements, and things to keep people focused and motivated. 

Kristy: I like it. So, you use a lot of different equipment to keep the different levels engaged in a circuit style set up. Is that tricky to get all that equipment on the beach, and then take it all back?

Ali: Yeah. Sometimes I do the parks near the beach, and then we love using the beach for the sand dunes, the bear crawls in the sand, and the post-workout swim and things.

What I’ll use down at the beach, I’ll bring, for example, the battle ropes, the resistance bands, and dumbbells. It is really quite easy to clean that sort of equipment and to transport it down there. One of the great things about having a boot camp with lots of people is enlisting a lot of help is to help you get set up. 

Kristy: So, you enlist your students to help you get set up. That’s really smart. How many classes do you usually do a day or in a week? 

Ali: In a week, I do seven group fitness classes. I teach aerobics, strengths, and core classes. Then, I do at least two standard boot camps.

Kristy: Great. For group fitness, is that just at a gym?

Ali: Yeah. That’s in a gym.

Kristy: How many people do you usually have in the boot camps?  

Ali: About 10 to 12 will be the normal number, but I’ve had anything up to 20 to 25, which has been pretty fun. It really gets the adrenaline pumping the more numbers you have.

You do have to be creative and think about catering to that many people. So, for those boot camps, I do a lot more focused on body weight training, equipment free training, and partner work as well really works. Getting them into groups of say, four or five, and they’re all doing the one exercise, and then they move around to the next station or partner work.

For Valentine’s day, I do a big focus on partner exercises and things, so that’s really fun for everybody to get involved. 

Kristy: For the kids, do you ever do partner work with the adults or do they usually just do their own circuit?

Ali: Yeah. I get them involved in partner work. For example, when I do a boxing session or if I just do boxing for a warmup, a boot camp, class, or one-on-one, the kids love to go with their parents to that.

It works out really well because with the parents, I can really coach them on technique. With the kids, they’ve just not really put these gloves on before and they love to do it. I really make sure I focus on working out for the parents and those goals and needs for the adults.

For the kids, it’s fun and active. It’s moving about and just staying healthy. I’m really conscious that I use the appropriate words for coaching the children. 

Kristy: Let’s say you have an average of 10 to 12 people. I’m assuming that’s including the kids. 

Ali: Yes. Correct.

Kristy: Awesome. 


Kids at camp — a unique solution for parents wanting to spend active time with their children and how she gets around the common issues with having an outdoor Bootcamp

[21:53] Kristy: I’m just curious. I love the idea of the parents and kids. I think that could be a really good niche for people. Do you ever have an issue where there’s a kid who’s either causing trouble or not flowing with the group?

Ali: Yes. I have had a lot of parents who will get their kids started because the child isn’t really into teams, so they’re not joining the local netball team. They’re not staying motivated with that. 

When they’re home, they’re sitting on the couch, doing a lot of non-active programs online, and a lot of TV watching and things like that. So, they’re not really self-driven, which is no problem at all. You just have to find what’s appropriate and what will get them excited. 

I have those children coming, and some of them can be a lot more focused on trying to do as little as they can. So, I know I have to pay a lot more attention to coaching them. I’m pretty upbeat and focused on them.

The way that it works with the other members of the boot camp, sort of not getting discouraged or distracted by these types of exercises because really it’s not just children. Adult exercises mimic those behaviors as well.

I just really make sure I focus on that child. I give them a lot of attention and motivating reasons. I give them rewards or countdowns, or I make sure I focus on, “Just give me a couple more, and then we’re going to move on to something that you’ll really enjoy.”

I focus on those motivators and those sort of rewards. 

Kristy: It does help with the kids. If you could give me an idea of how you would set up the circuit? Do you have pretty much the same people, so you already know what ages and levels there are? Or do you randomly get maybe the six-year old who can’t really do a lot of the exercises, so they need specialty exercise?

Ali: My boot camps and a lot of my training are fairly simple. Because I came into the industry later, I haven’t been studying, eating, and breathing fitness for my whole life, so I really focused on the exercises that I knew and loved. Luckily, they turn out to be quite simple. 

For example, there’s star jumps. I love skipping and going for short sprints, so I’m able to use a lot of those sorts of activities and exercises that almost everyone from a six-year old and up is familiar with.

I love skipping and going for short sprints, so I’m able to use a lot of those sorts of activities and exercises that almost everyone from a six-year old and up is familiar with.

I’ve also done a lot of work in schools, including four and a half years as a PE teacher within primary school. So, I’m aware of the gross motor activities that they’re familiar with, and I just do a higher intensity for the adults. 

The kids might be doing little star jumps, which they all know and they’ve got their own unique style. With the adults, I’ll be getting them to do squat jumps. I’ll be tossing in some tuck jumps and some burpees. 

We just go harder for the adults. For the kids. I just say, “Alright. Star jumps.” For the adults, I’m like, “Come on. Let’s go faster. Let’s go harder.” So, there’s really just using my words, communication, and coaching skills for the different age groups.

Kristy: I love it. It sounds like the format is there’s a certain number of stations, and it’s the same station for everyone, no matter if they’re six or 40, but then the level or the modification will change. 

Ali: Yeah. It’s actually really good because it works for people with injury, for people returning from breaks, or for older people. I sort of look at it as almost everyone is able to exercise. It just depends on what level of intensity and what complexity they can do it at. 

Sometimes I’ll set up everyone doing the same thing for 30 seconds, and then we’ll all go for a run for 30 seconds and come back, or sometimes I’ll set up each corner of a square. For example, each corner is doing a different thing, and then we’ll move it around, so they get that variety. 

Kristy: Do you move spots or do they always know where to find you?

Ali: I’ve got a couple of my favorite locations that I use. There’s one stunning beach just near me, North Curl Curl, that has the most amazing sunrises and the most awesome or awful sand dunes.

I love that it also has a jogging path, a park, and a big patch of grass, so I love using that. Then, I’ve got another set of netball courts that I use that have those great concrete stairs and sleds to use for things like tricep dips and things. 

Basically, for example, when I do a summer boot camp on a Sunday, I’ll keep the same location for the duration of that camp, whether it’s six weeks or three months.

My clients get to have their favorite locations too, so that’s pretty cool. 


The strategies she follows to get to 20,000 Instagram followers, and a very unique strategy she uses to spread her stories on IG!

[27:13] Kristy: That’s cool. How do you usually get new clients for your program, or is it usually the same people?

Ali: No. I do a lot of Instagram and Facebook promotion, so I’m pretty active on Instagram.

I do a lot of stories there. I take photos of my boot camps and personal  training. Then, just with people I speak to with word of mouth. Sometimes I use free advertising sites like Gumtree, just similar to SEEK, but it’s free.

Kristy: Do people message you directly? How many people? I’m always curious because it takes a lot of work for Instagram. It’s nice and let me tell you, it’s not free because it takes your time. 

It’s so amazing. I don’t know how people do it. When I was running my gym, I would post a lot. I felt like we would put a lot, and then we would hear crickets and maybe one response.

Other people have the magic sauce. What do you feel that works and how many people reach out to you on Instagram in a day or week? 

Ali: I think it depends. For me, social media is a bit of a hobby as well. Even if I’m not promoting a boot camp, I’m generally doing something fun on Instagram.

I might be in my kitchen cooking up something, so I’ll decide to film that recipe or something. For me, it’s enjoyable as well, which I guess if it’s just a hundred percent work for you, similar to advertising, then that’s when it can be really hard. 

I’ve done a lot of learning to discover tips and tricks to use for that, but I’ve also built up quite a good online community, which means I don’t have to do too much. If I tag them in a story, they will share that story for me.

I’ve done a lot of learning to discover tips and tricks to use for that, but I’ve also built up quite a good online community, which means I don’t have to do too much. If I tag them in a story, they will share that story for me.

I’ll do things like a poll, “Who’s in for Sunday bootcamp?” All they’ve got to do is tick yes or no on that, rather than saying, “Message me if you’re keen.”

I do a lot of the tips and tricks that you can use and the shortcuts to reach more people. 

Kristy: Are there any good tips that worked for you?

Ali: I think being part of community groups on Facebook. There’s a lot of community groups in your area. On the northern beaches of Sydney, we’ve got a lot of them. They’re set up for different suburb areas, different council areas, community areas, as well as based on interests.

It’s being part of them and being active in them well before you’re going to promote things. One of the good things about my social style is that I connect with people well before I ever need or want anything from them. I’m supporting them in their business. I’ve already shared their stories.

For example, when I do one of my stories, if ever I want someone else to take notice of it, I’ve already done something for them, which I guess makes it a little bit easier for them to get on board with helping you out. 

Kristy: That makes sense. It sounds like you’re just a giving, personable person. So, it kinda just comes naturally to you. 

Ali: Yes. I think that’s why being on stage attracted me. I love talking, coaching people, and sharing my  information, wisdom, and tips.  

Kristy: That’s so cool. This boot camp sounds really beautiful. Just even imagining right now. So, you’re teaching people, and you have people working on word of mouth. 

How many leads per week from her 20,000 Instagram followers, pricing and coupons

Kristy: By the way, about how many people contact you on Instagram every week that are maybe interested in your services?

Ali: I’ve got about 20,000 followers on my Instagram, and a lot of them will be active in maybe liking my posts and things, but obviously, the demographics are around the world.

My bootcamps are local to my area. I find probably I will get maybe up to 50 inquiries a week from that, which is why it’s so important as well to be on other forms of media. 

On Facebook, when you’re out and about or maybe at your other jobs and things, talking and trying to get connections. When I’m at my boot camps, I’m always suggesting people, “Bring your friends and family along.”

I might have promotions throughout the year to encourage people to bring someone else along or to refer a friend or family member. I do really cheap prices for kids to bring them along, which gets sort of more people.  

Kristy: You say you get 15 or 50 people every week interested in your boot camp? 

Ali: It’s about 50 people inquiring. The number that translates to people coming along. It’s a lot smaller just purely because of the location. People are sort of always interested in it, especially when I put up the sunrise photos on my Instagram at the actual boot camp. 

But, I do get a lot of other inquiries, so even if they don’t translate into somebody coming along and paying for my sunrise boot camps, they might translate into coming to one of my gym classes or doing one-on-one PT. 

Often, I’ll get people and they are not living in my immediate location, but they’re happy to travel on a weekend or an evening to do a one-on-one session, or I might go to them. Just those connections.

You never know when you might end up chatting to somebody about something different, even if they contacted you for a different reason to begin with. So, in my opinion, it’s really important to foster all connections. 

You never know when you might end up chatting to somebody about something different, even if they contacted you for a different reason to begin with. So, in my opinion, it’s really important to foster all connections. 

Kristy: 20,000 followers sounds amazing. It sounds like you’re getting a lot of connections from that, so I love it. 

For your boot camp, how do you price it for the adults and for the kids? 

Ali: For boot camp for adults, I price it at $20, and for children it’s $10. The amount for the children came into what parents are going to spend just to bring the child along and is it small enough, I guess, that they won’t think, “Oh no. Actually I’m not just going to leave the child at home.”

$10 is that price because it’s also going to be enough for me as a business and to sort of value my worth as a trainer for the adults. As a group, the amount I did is based on a few things. 

Based on the market out there and about the average price, it’s also about a third of what I charged for a one-on-one, so it’s doable for a lot of people who can’t afford the one-on-ones.

It’s less than some of the big gyms as well. If I only get a small number one week or one session, it’s enough for me to run a session. 

Kristy: That’s important. I know that feeling. Oh, this is funny. I had a tennis school in the city, and I had to pay for rent. When I first started my tennis school, only one person showed up for the class, and I think the rent was $30 in the class. 

Then, she had a coupon. I think she saw it on my face, so she was like “That’s okay. You don’t need to take the coupon,” and she just paid me. 

Ali: It’s got to be enough to place value on yourself as a worker, as a professional, and as a coach to pay those bills.

It’s got to be enough to place value on yourself as a worker, as a professional, and as a coach to pay those bills.

Kristy: It wasn’t funny at that moment. 

That sounds like a really good business. For your boot camp, it’s a great set up in a great environment. Are you looking to expand that or is there a reason you just want to keep it to two? Do you put them both on one day or do you put one on Saturday and Sunday?

Ali: Yeah. I did them in the mornings on the weekend. Because my kids boot camps are so popular and financially viable over the school holidays, I put a lot of effort and time into growing that. For instance, I’m hoping to hire staff, and then be able to run additional camps each day. At the moment, I run two camps a day because it’s just me.

That’s what I can fit in, but it’s growing so exponentially and I’ve increased my programs. I do an army boot camp, a summer boot camp, a yoga and a kids’ yoga, and a kids’ boxing. It’s becoming so popular that I’ve got the potential to grow and to have maybe four camps a day if I have an extra staff member. 


How she sets up her bootcamp so it’s still fast moving, and engaging while having different skill set for kids in the class

[36:21] Kristy: I love it. Thanks for bringing that, because I really would like to know more about your camps. This is amazing. It sounds so interesting, and I love the word ‘grow.’

I want to know. How did you even get started? I know you have a PE background, but it started with finding your customers and kids for your camp. When did it start? How did it grow?

Ali: I was actually working in an office doing HR for a company that runs vacation care centers, and after and before school care centers. I was doing their HR, the recruitment, the payroll, and everything for the people that worked at those centers. 

During the holidays and the afternoons, I’d go down there to do different things with the staff because I was in fitness. One of the holidays, they asked if I could go down and maybe do a little activity with the children. 

I absolutely loved it. For me, it was easier than I thought it was going to be. The kids really responded well and they asked me back a second time. From then on, I thought, “Wow. I can make a business out of this.”

I sort of looked at what was happening out there, where the niche was, what my skills were, and also financially, what I could afford. I don’t have a truck to transport around a big inflatable castle or something like that. 

So, I had to look at what I had available to me and what I was prepared to commit to do this and to see if it actually worked.

Kristy: So, what did you decide to do? It sounds like the camps you were doing were more like activities and inflatable castles. What spawned ideas for you? 

Ali: Well, I decided what I was really good at and what I loved was what I loved as a child. I loved the sports days at school and the picnics where they had the tug of war, the sack races, the big parachute, and all of that. So, I thought, “I’m going to do that.”

So, I purchased a big parachute, a tug of war, and some skipping ropes. I did realize running races and the activities. They absolutely loved them. I started with feedback forms, so that the centers could say what the kids love the most.

I started with feedback forms, so that the centers could say what the kids love the most. It did end up being the things that I loved the most as a kid, which was the big parachute and the tug of war.

It did end up being the things that I loved the most as a kid, which was the big parachute and the tug of war. That was my first two or three years. I just did the sports boot camp and it was great, but I then had, for example, in the middle of summer on a really hot day, it’s not as feasible to run that even though you think that would be ideal in the hot of day.

You’ve got to think about the kids’ welfare, so I decided to add in some water. I started off with summer boot camps. With the relays, instead of running with a baton, they run with sponges. They dunk it in  the bucket, and then run back. They get quite wet and have a lot of fun. So, that was how I progressed to another one.

Then, I did a kids yoga teaching course as well as my boxing qualifications, and I’ve just added those on. For my last holidays, they were the most popular camps.

Stay tuned for the Part 2 of this interview with Ali!

Ali Cavill

Facebook: Fit Fantastic
Instagram: alifitfantastic
Twitter: @FitFantastic1

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