One of the positive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was the opportunity to focus on passions and hobbies that once were placed on the back burner of our day-to-day life.
This is especially true for Brenda Anton, a senior at Ithaca College and newly popular fitness influencer. Anton started her fitness page (@brendaafit_) in April 2021 with zero followers—now only seven months later, her account has almost 14,000 followers and counting.
Screenshot: @brendaafit_ on Instagram
“I started with zero followers but through posting frequently and consistently, I found that a lot of people were able to engage with my content and at first it wasn’t anything crazy,” said Anton. “But around summertime other people started following me.”
Today, her account grows by hundreds every day, and sometimes thousands every post.
Any social platform comes with a cost, Anton said she deals with the negative sides to having thousands of people watching her live.
“It pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Creating a page and having it so public, I’m a very closed off person, so to be vulnerable in a way and put myself out there knowing that I’ll have negative comments or people that look at me a certain way, I definitely have to shake that off and do what I truly love, and that is to make fitness content, and help other people.”
Anton's local gym in Ithaca, NY
Photo by Lauren White
Helping others—that’s the main motivation behind the entire page, Anton said.
“Throughout posting and seeing my account grow I knew that it was potentially bigger than me. So that has helped me have more confidence in myself. If I want to do something and it makes me happy, then I should be able to do that and not really care what others have to say about me…
At the end of the day everyone will do what they want to do, and for me that’s to help other people with fitness.”
Anton hiking at a local gorge in Ithaca, NY.
Photo by @brendaafit_
A balancing act
Anton plans and posts fitness content for her community of followers, while taking four classes at Ithaca and studying for her personal training certification. It’s a packed schedule, she assures, but a worthwhile one.
On top of four classes, Anton is studying to become personal-trainer certified.
Photo by Lauren White
Anton is very interactive in the fitness community, and when her inspired and motivated followers direct message her personal questions, she always checks them and answers them as frequently as she can.
Anton says she finds that a lot of girls her age find inspiration from her, and that she is extremely grateful for that, and wants to do everything she can to help them further.
“When people reach out to me saying that my page inspires them to move their body, workout, eat healthy, that makes me happy because I’m making some sort of impact on girls my age. I do feel like I have some sense of community.”
The term ‘influencer’ is quickly being coined as a serious occupation in social media, and Anton is considering her options for post-graduation in just a few months.
“I definitely am not completely putting aside a 9 to 5, I just know right now that is my main goal—becoming certified, prioritizing social media content and just interacting with my followers and seeing where that goes.”
Anton says she is taking social media seriously right now, so she has hopes for it to grow, but most importantly wants to use it as a platform to help other girls.
“So while I do complete my certification I’ll be able to create my online business of coaching and training, and helping other girls achieve their goals,” said Anton. “That’s something I truly want to do."