Meet the Fitness Instructors Navigating Chinese Social Media

By Ned Kelly, January 7, 2022

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Siri Nordheim arrived in China from Denmark in 2011 and has been teaching dance, fitness and the MYbarre program ever since. She is well known in the fitness community as a partner and the face of Z&B Fitness.

As an instructor and mother of three, she has a personal commitment to being healthy and staying active. Being at the forefront of her business allows her to focus on the details of how to excel in every area of her life.

Ann MacLellan also arrived in China in 2011. Hailing from Scotland, she studied sports management and has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than 20 years as a group exercise instructor, teaching a number of programs including barre, spinning, TRX, bootcamp and HIIT circuit style classes. 

Alongside this, she worked for many years in the sales & marketing and operations side of the industry, opening health clubs and building membership bases.

Siri Nordheim (L) & Ann MacLellan (R)

Together, they recently started MYbarre Fitness, a fitness and instructor training program, and have been learning to promote themselves on Chinese social media platforms. We reached out to them to find out more.

First up, for those who don't know, what is MYbarre?
It is a group exercise class in the studio, a full body workout inspired by ballet and Pilates movements combined with functional fitness training. Students will feel powerful yet elegant in this cardio and sculpting workout that is high in energy and low in impact.

MYbarre will keep the heart rate up from start to finish. In the workout and at the barre you will do a combination of isometric exercises (positions with minimal movement, which allow the body to initiate deep muscle engagement) along with full body dynamic exercises to increase heart rate, all the while strengthening and lengthening the muscles. 

As well as the ballet barre section that focuses on the legs and glutes, workouts also utilize light weights to sculpt the back, arms and shoulders. We also finish with a floor work section to build core strength and the lower back, and define abdominal muscles.

With great music and energetic instructors, MYbarre can be a workout for all fitness levels and body types. This style of training ensures strong healthy joints, improves posture and core muscles leading to a more toned, sculpted and lean body.


How did MYbarre Fitness come about?
We both had been teaching various barre programs in our fitness careers, and we worked together at Z&B Fitness teaching classes. We found the industry was changing fast in China and the students wanted something more.

The trainers who taught barre here also didn’t have access to any continued education to develop their moves or choreography from the basic qualifications.

We met over a coffee one day and spoke about our frustrations, and so we created MYbarre, a fitness program for students, but also an instructor training program in English and Chinese with continued education.


What social media platforms are you on?
We have MYbarre official account on WeChat, where we update all our training info and fitness event news. We also have Xiaohongshu and BiliBili.

How do you tailor content for the different platforms?
Currently we create workouts for BiliBili that are 15-45 minutes long. We make our Xiaohongshu workouts shorter in duration, and often focus on one body part or end result.


How do you go about building a following?
It’s been very organic in growth; we started last August with one basic MYbarre workout on BiliBili to introduce some basic moves, but allow the viewer to feel the benefits of the workout. It has more than 15,000 views to date, and from that we started to upload every Saturday and grow our audience.

We listen to what people want in the comments: the length of workout they want, whether they want to work their booty or improve their posture, etc. And we create the content in response to this.

We often break down each workout into 5-8 minute sections, and we both teach in every workout to keep the energy high… the workouts are pretty tough to film and talk!


That said, our highest viewed video was more than 32,000 on a 35 minute workout. Our 25-35 minute workouts seem to be the most popular, as I think that viewers can easily fit this workout into their day; it’s a fast and efficient way to do their barre session, and, if consistent, really sees great results.

We have uploaded some great general workouts as well as some focused on body parts like booty blaster or abs sculptor.


What tips do you have for someone new to Chinese social media?
Although Siri speaks enough Chinese to be able to upload what we want and create text content around it, we have a social media manager to help us. We would definitely recommend having someone who reads and speaks Chinese fluently to help you kick it off; it’s great to have someone help you get it right.

Also, find something that you are passionate about and want to share with others. New and exciting content is the best. And look at the trends and what people are searching for.


What kind of people and groups do you collaborate with?
We love to collaborate with other brands that have a passion for women’s fitness and promote and create strong-minded real women. For our social media videos right now, we work with MAIA active; we love to work out in their clothes, and they are really evolving with the new fitness market in China with us.

Any exciting plans for the future?
This year we can’t wait to bring more workouts to our social medial platforms, run some in-person fitness events and parties and, of course, build our MYbarre Instructor community; 2022 will be a great year for us and we are excited to plié, pulse and passé our way into this New Year with our existing and new followers.


To follow MYbarre Fitness on WeChat search ‘MYbarre’ or scan the QR:


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