An upbeat mum from Co Antrim has had over 30 million hits on YouTube for her inspirational home workout videos.
ersonal trainer Caroline Girvan put a couple of her living room exercise sessions online in April to give her family, friends and clients a boost.
But the mum-of-two’s videos proved such a success that she ended up buying a professional camera and filming almost every day.
The 36-year-old has now been viewed in almost every country in the world and has almost 400,000 subscribers. Her videos get around 300,000 hits every day.
“At one point I was one of the fastest-growing YouTubers in the world,” she says. “It completely took me by surprise but the messages I get from people have kept me going.”
Generous Caroline has kept her content free to view, saying she wants to be accessible to everyone.
“I’m actually quite a private person,” she laughs. “I’m not out for stardom, I just want to help people.”
She takes her responsibilities as a YouTuber very seriously, uploading new workout videos for her 398,000 subscribers five or six days a week.
It means Caroline can spend up to 10 hours a day filming and editing new content, as well as replying to hundreds of messages and emails from all corners of the world.
Incredibly, she has kept her videos free to access, saying she just wants to help people stuck at home due to Covid. And in the same philanthropic spirit she tries to reply to as many emails and messages personally as she can.
“My videos have been viewed in almost every country around the world,” she says. “It’s crazy if you think about it. My biggest following seems to be in the USA, the UK, Germany, India and Canada.
“It’s really important to me to keep the videos free to watch because then they can help people from all different kinds of backgrounds.
“Some people have made their own dumbbells using cement. Others use bottles of Bollinger as weights. I’ve had messages from people recovering from anorexia and people who have been stuck at home due to lockdown, saying I’m the highlight of their day. That’s what keeps me going.”
Caroline started working as a personal trainer six years ago after having her son, who is now seven.
Right away she decided to focus on helping people feel good about themselves rather than the numbers on the scales.
“Once I had children I realised how much misinformation is out there about weight and health,” she says. “I was speaking to other mums who were constantly on a diet and constantly feeling guilty.
“We’ve all been there – beating ourselves up after eating a cupcake.
“I wanted to focus on how my clients were feeling and whether they were having fun. It’s really sad that both men and women are bombarded with images expecting them to look a certain way.
“You look at people on Instagram but they don’t look like that in real life.”
Caroline began training with clients from her home gym, but when the first lockdown hit in March she wasn’t able to work.
In April she uploaded her first video to YouTube to help her family, friends and clients who were all stuck indoors.
“I decided to do a workout and I grabbed my phone and started filming it,” she remembers. “It was just a simple shoulder dumbbell workout.
“I sent it to a few people and then one of my clients suggested putting it on YouTube to make it easier for her to view through her telly.
“I got good feedback so I did another one, and then it just spiralled really fast.
“I had to teach myself how to use YouTube as I went along and my 11-year-old daughter helped me with the filming.
“I started getting messages from people I didn’t know, saying they were doing my workouts and it was really helping them.”
Since then Caroline’s popularity has continued to increase. In a market saturated with content, she thinks it’s her authenticity that makes her so popular.
“These are my real workouts,” she says. “They’re not just for the camera. I have my highs and lows and I share them with my viewers.
“People can see me struggling and pushing myself. I’m always honest about that.”
It’s this authenticity that has led Caroline to the decision to keep her channel free to view – rather than charging her subscribers.
“I make some money from advertising, but that’s it,” she says. “The people who watch my videos are all in different circumstances, from different walks of life.
“All you really need is a mat and a couple of dumbbells, but if that’s not possible you can even improvise with a couple of bottles of water.”
In addition to her global audience, many of Caroline’s original PT clients from Co Antrim have been diligently following her videos online.
One fan is Lorraine Walker, who began working out with Caroline around four years ago, with a goal of running a marathon.
“Five months later she had me doing the North Coast marathon,” laughs 51-year-old Lorraine. “Then I went on to do Barcelona and New York and she did them with me. People warm to Caroline because she’s just a beautiful person – inside and out.”
Caroline hopes to continue growing her following and is planning a second ‘Epic programme’ with daily workouts for people to follow throughout January.
“I’d love to write a book,” she says. “And I just want to carry on helping people.
“Really that’s my biggest goal.”
n You can find Caroline’s workouts on YouTube by searching ‘Caroline Girvan’. She is also on Instagram @CarolineGirvan and has just launched a group page on Facebook called ‘Caroline Girvan Community’