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FitazFK: It all started with a hashtag

The new insta-business taking the fashion fitness world by storm

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Aaron McAllistar (L) and Georgios Batsinilas.

14 June 2016

When Aaron McAllistar and Georgios Batsinilas, both from Brisbane, co-founded their corporate health company FitazFK, they never saw this success coming.

FitazFK is an online business offering a unique 28-day program providing participants with a straightforward plan for nutrition and fitness, based on clear principles. The program sets out the exercises, nutrition and diet to transform lifestyles in 28 days, for just 28 minutes a day, and is followed by many thousands of people.

Georgios, 27, and Aaron, 34, first met in Brisbane when they played soccer together for Queensland in 2009, but both went on to carve out professional careers after they left the Sunshine State.

Georgios moved to Greece, as he was signed by Athenian soccer club Ionikos, while Aaron pursued Thai boxing, winning a Queensland title.
Returning to Brisbane, both men trained and qualified themselves as personal trainers and started working together.

Personal training was at the time, and still is, a flourishing business; however the landscape of the industry kept changing. Aaron had the business mind and Georgios was passionate and eager to take the business to a new level altogether, so the dynamic duo set to work developing a nutritional and easy 28-day diet and exercise guide. Investing $10,000 of their own money into the start-up, these funds went towards the website development, research and production of the guide. Months later, when they felt they had the program perfect, a pilot was rolled out, with both Aaron and Georgios also taking part themselves.

"Pretty much we run around corporate employees three times a week, working on their fitness, nutrition plans and everything that comes with it," Georgios Batsinilas tells Neos Kosmos.

"A while later we changed into a PT business where we mentored and employed other personal trainers. Then in 2014 we started our Instagram account."

At first, the FitazFK account was not doing great, as it was very information-heavy, describing and breaking down types of workouts. Georgios' passion for the new business and ongoing days of his own training culminated in him starting a FitazFK hashtag (#FitazFK) which before long started trending. FitazFK stands in fact for Functional Kinetics - Georgios admits that he loves it when people assume it is an abbreviation for Fit as Fuck. "To be honest, without that, we wouldn't have done as well. It is functional kinetics that can get you fit as fuck."

Noticing the trend of a single hashtag, the boys started an Instagram account for the business (@fitazfk) and that's where the game-changer began. It wasn't until 2015 that George started a new, alternative Instagram account, which within a few months reached more than 140,000 followers. A simple teaser post led to 12,000 followers registering to find out when the highly-anticipated program would be launched, and it was when registrations got to this level that the boys decided to launch.

"The day FitazFK really started was when Aaron called me as I was going on holiday to tell me we already had 12,000 expressions of interest after revealing a teaser on Instagram that we had a program coming. From this, we decided to release the program and that is when FitazFK was really born. In the first hour we had sold 285 programs, 1,000 in the first five days and within this first six months, sales have now exceeded 7,000," says Georgios.

"I wanted to be a little bit more alternative, aspiration-based and of course informative at the same time, to give people things they would want to see, inspire to be, while keeping within the lines of what is actually right."

Merging the two concepts, the look that sells and the information that brings results, Georgios and Aaron created a funky, yet useful fitness-inspired account. They playfully used the brand name's duality, which turned into an Instagram motto, worldwide. It was in April 2015 they launched a 28-day guide 'and28days', selling 15,000 copies. They also created a modern active-wear line which is now adorning many international fitness and fashion influentials, including celebrities.

"The only drama with the PDF approach that even more people have gotten it from their friends," Georgios adds. "On the other hand, the fact that so many people follow through and see results is a great thing."

The nutrition guide has been written around science, compiled by Greek dietitian Marika Day. Nutritionist Jacqui Toublas, the third and newest member of the team, has created healthy and delicious recipes ideal for weight loss.

"A lot of guides out there are written by personal trainers, but we've combined our experience with scientific knowledge," Georgios emphasises, swearing by his 28days, which he insists is not a quick fix.
"We're not going to deplete you with food and have you doing ridiculously hard exercise."

The team, having seen a lot of people trying quick-fix methods and hurt themselves, decided to create and test a sustainable program, which can be adjusted to everyone's individual needs and eventually turn into a lifestyle. What Aaron and Georgios tried to avoid was either disheartened or worse, injured people.

"Injuries can take a lot of strain on their day-to-day life and work, as rehabilitation takes a while. Moreover, if you don't need to lose weight your body is going to utilise fat as a fuel.

The 28days program in fact goes through three phases. The first one is a cleanse phase, during which people lose between three to four kilos, mainly liquids.

This makes them look lean and feel lighter, which translates into motivation. During the next phase, following the dietitian's advice, begins a journey through the foods that need to be cut out from one's diet. The third phase is the one where people maintain the result and try to lose half a kilo a week for the duration of the program, in order to be able to keep this lifestyle long-term.

"Our program runs off fat. Not so much weight in general, but fat and body fluids. The body fluids gone in the first phase are responsible for all your excess bloating and then you burn fat throughout the rest of the program," says Georgios. "We don't try to lose muscle definition and deplete you with your strength down; through our program, you probably put on a little bit of muscle but at the same time lose that fat through the accountability program where you constantly have to complete the next round of repetitions, and that keeps you in your fat burning zone.
"You don't necessarily lose body weight, just fat and maybe you won't even see a change on the scale. If somebody's fairly lean and doesn't want to lose weight I'd say they'd most likely put on weight. If someone has more body fat they'll probably see a decrease in weight."

The true benefit, however, Georgios highlights, is not in the weight loss, let alone the looks. He prompts us to forget the weight loss, and focus more on achieving small goals such as how many jumps we can do in a minute, or how many flights of stairs we can climb, even if we feel tired and unmotivated at times. Exercise isn't just about the body – our brain health is a major factor, too. The more we exercise, the more we start noticing better mental clarity, memory and all-around alertness.

"Don't throw in the towel. Remember that achieving new fitness goals each day keeps you going," he enthuses.

"You'll know your sweat-sesh is working for you when you remember the name of that random guy on the third level of your building.
"It's all in the little things."

The healthier we become, the more stamina we have to go just that little bit further and faster each and every day, to smile one more time. There's a lot more to fitness than just the numbers on the scale; it's called – health. Sure, we all want a rock hard bod, but it's things like improved stamina and increased energy levels that are way more important to one's overall wellbeing.

The FitazFK team

AARON MCALLISTAR,
CO-FOUNDER

Aaron is co-owner of FitazFK. With more than 12 years' experience in running a successful personal training and corporate health business, he is a big advocate of the mantra 'practice what you preach' (and has the body to prove it!).

Regarded as a leader within the health industry, Aaron was honoured with the task of co-authoring Switched on Health Professionals Vol. 1 and extensively helped other instructors in shaping their own personal training empires.

Aaron has worked as a professional footballer as well as having competed professionally at a national boxing level.

These business and athlete experiences have shaped the way Aaron trains and maintains his fitness levels, and he strives to pass this knowledge and passion on to others through the Fitaz 28 Day Guide. Aaron lives in Camp Hill.

GEORGIOS BATSINILAS,
CO-FOUNDER

Georgio Batsinilas is a co-owner of FitazFK and, from a young age, has been involved in the fitness industry as both an athlete and trainer.
Having completed his personal training qualification in 2005, Georgios has continued to develop his knowledge and skills within the fitness industry through educational and practical experiences, which has led to him becoming one of Brisbane's most sought-after trainers.

As a successful track athlete and footballer, Georgios represented Queensland on a national stage before playing football in Greece.

Through his various training experiences as a professional athlete, Georgios understands what is required to achieve your fitness goals: motivation, planning and commitment. Georgios lives in Mt Gravatt.

JACQUI TOUMBAS, NUTRITIONIST
Jacqui Toumbas, otherwise known as 'Miss Bliss', is a passionate nutritionist with flair in the kitchen and an interest in food-based optimisation. Jacqui is an Australian nutritionist with a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Nutrition.

With more than four years' experience in health education via her blog, Get Fit Chicks, she knows the fundamentals of clean eating and how to effectively achieve these goals in the kitchen. Jacqui believes that a healthy eating plan, regular exercise and a happy mind will not only nourish the body, but the mind and soul as well.

To stay up to date and motivated, people can follow the business on Instagram @fitazfk or head to www.fitazfk.com

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