During the course of my blogging I get to meet some really great people. One such lady was the wonderful Zanna Van Dijk, personal trainer, Instgram star and fitness inspiration to many. I have often mused about the link between entrepreneurs and athletes and there are fascinating studies providing insights about the similar characteristics needed for success in both fields. Zanna is also a business woman in her own right, successfully turning her passion for fitness into her business and I am keen to learn more.
Zanna and I at a recent vlogging event
It’s great to be able to interview you Zanna, to start please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I am 23, live and work in SW London and have my finger in many pies. I am a fitness, lifestyle and travel blogger, personal trainer and fitness model. I am a speaker, event host and the co-founder of the #girlgains movement. I am also a little bit of a social media addict and enjoy sharing content across various platforms from youtube video-blogs to instagram posts. I love the multi-faceted nature of my job!
Turning your passion into your business is the dream for so many, how did you achieve this?
I get asked this a lot and I actually find it hard to answer as my journey to where I am now was not a typical path. I actually studied speech therapy at university, but alongside my degree I started my fitness related social media accounts. These were simply there to share my passion and find other people with the same interests. Before I knew it, I had unintentionally gathered a fairly significant following and started to collaborate with brands and get new opportunities – all alongside studying. When I finished university I got a first class degree and everyone expected me to become a speech therapist. I went against expectations. At this point I had around 30,000 people following me and the chances I was getting were more and more exciting. I decided to give the fitness industry a go. I made my website and rebranded myself. I got offered a free personal training course in London and moved down on a whim. I intended to be here 6 weeks… here I am 8 months later. It was a struggle at first to make ends meet but now I have learnt how to monetise my social media and am finally grasping what it takes to succeed as a blogger. You have to have an element of entrepreneurship as you need to pull together a series of incomes and find new ways to expand and develop your brand. Its risky, exciting and rewarding. I love it.
I follow you on Snapchat so I get to see snippets of your day, but for those who do not, can you give us an insight into a typical day?
A typical day does not exist! No two days are ever the same. Some days I will be working from home in my PJs, others I will be all over London in meetings with brands, sometimes I will spend an afternoon shooting and often I am awake super early to take early morning PT clients. If you want to see a day in my life then add me on snapchat where I show little snippets: zanzapan
You are doing amazingly well on the social media side. One of the things I love about your page in the odd refreshingly honest post that documents your tricks and what real life looks like the other side of a lenses, that’s refreshing. Do you feel a responsibility, particularly those followers younger than you?
Well firstly, thank you. I am glad you appreciate those posts! I definitely do feel responsibility to my followers. I am very aware that many of them are younger than me and often say that they look up to me (and not just because I am tall!). I try to make sure that I show my imperfections, the lows as well as the highs. No one is polished all the time and eats salad 24/7. We all have down days and it unrealistic and unattainable to only show the good bits. People often compare themselves to those they follow on social media, so it is our responsibility as influencers to make sure they are comparing themselves to real, honest and open human beings.
The online world you occupy can unfortunately be notorious for negativity and trolls, have you ever experienced this? If so, do you have any tips for dealing with it for any readers who might experience the same?
I have to say, I am very lucky and have received very little negativity online; which is a miracle as the internet seems to be full of trolling. If I do ever receive a negative comment, I am confident enough in myself to just let it roll off my back. I just delete the comment and move on. There is no point dwelling on the opinions of people who don’t know you.
As you know from our previous exchanges, I love fitness but recently have struggled to strike the work life balance, do you have any fitness tips for busy people or entrepreneurs?
I think everyone has their moments where the work life balance falls to pieces, and that is ok. Sometimes business has to come first. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I don’t train for days because I am too busy. However, here are a couple of strategies which you can put into place to help fit fitness into a busy schedule. The first is to plan it into your diary for the week ahead, writing it in like an appointment that you can’t miss, so you organise your other work around it. The second is to be efficient with your workouts, you don’t need to be in the gym for over an hour. Most of my workouts are between 35-45 minutes long. I just use techniques like supersets (doing exercises back to back) or HIIT (high intensity interval training) to cut down on time. If all else fails, do 8 minutes of tabata training. It is hard to make an excuse to avoid an 8 minute workout!
It is great to see you doing so well but what is next for you?
Thank you! Lots of exciting things are in the pipeline. I have my clothing collection coming out in a couple of months, a few press trips before the end of the year and some exciting magazine articles being published. In terms of the long term, I hope to continue to grow my own brand as well as #girlgains and eventually have world domination…. it’s ok to be ambitious right?!
It is more than OK to be ambitious Zanna! Thank you for the interview. I hoped everyone enjoyed the read and picked up a few tips too!
Social media: @zannavandijk on Facebook, instagram twitter and Facebook, @zanzapan on snapchat, www.zannavandijk.co.uk