Lita Lewis is a popular fitness trainer who’s built her fame through Instagram, where more than 400,000 people follow her.
She now enjoys a six-figure salary through her sprawling fitness business, but it wasn’t easy to get to where she is now.
She once quit her secure corporate America job after a breakup and had to dip into her savings until her business got into good shape.
Lewis tells Business Insider:
“All of a sudden my secure, well-paying gig not only wasn’t fulfilling, but it was taking away my time and energy that I wanted to be dedicated to what is now my life purpose: to help others develop the best versions of themselves, especially in times of hardships.”
Here’s Lewis’ story and some of her Instagram photos that made her so popular:
Before Lewis started her own business, she was part of corporate America, working at an ad agency in New York City.
But her life took a huge turn when she broke up with the person she was hoping to get married to. Heartbroken and devastated, Lewis found herself at rock bottom. She quit her job and started traveling around the world to free up her mind.
Her quality of life dramatically changed, too, from having a solid income to not having any concrete future plan. She had to dip into her savings to make ends meet for the next 18 months.
That’s when Lewis also started working out more seriously to deal with her frustrations. She pushed herself to train and eat well, and used Instagram as an “open diary” to share her workout experience with others.
Soon, her followers increased every week. She doesn’t recall any specific photo or video that led to a huge spike in followers. Instead, she believes that it’s a result of just being honest with herself.
“At a time when most were sharing what looked to be ‘perfection,’ I grew comfortable in my own vulnerabilities and was devoted to sharing my truths. For example, I am strong but I’m also weak. I look the way I do but I’m more interesting and beautiful from the inside!”
Now Lewis has over 400,000 Instagram followers, and she’s been able to turn her social media fame into a growing fitness business.
It’s been three years since she started her own self-branded fitness-service company. She’s a certified trainer and group fitness instructor, and has an online consulting business. She also spends the summer running her Body Blast Bootcamp across the US, Australia, and the UK. She also sells online training programs and merchandise on her website.
Her work has led to various brand campaigns with companies such as Verizon, Colgate, Chevrolet, and Nike.
She doesn’t think that there was any secret formula to her success. “I’ve learned that in order for me to separate myself from all the other trainers and fitness experts was not by earning the most prestigious certification, but by simply selling myself!” she says.
But Lewis also knows that she had to earn every ounce of success that she’s gained so far. “I understand that my earnings are purely based on how hard and smart I work. Some months I didn’t do what I needed to do to earn as much as I did the month before, so nothing is consistent. Every month is a hustle,” she says.
Lewis doesn’t miss working at a big company at all. She says that her quality of life has gotten so much greater by running her own business. “The quality of my life increased for the better because I have more time to give to myself,” she says.
And although she’s built a successful business, money isn’t a priority, she says. “Ironically I have no interest in being ‘a star’ or making a load of money. I am not motivated by them,” she says.
Instead, it’s the impact she makes on others that really fuels her passion, she says.
“What I find most freeing and victorious is having the courage to leave corporate America to pursue something that fills my heart and purpose. At the end of the day, I get paid to do what I love, but more importantly, help people feel and see how awesome and powerful they really are.
This article originally appeared in Business Insider.