Here’s our interview with The Lean Machine founders – Leon and John.
In October 2011 a former roof tiler (Leon) and a former carpenter (John), turned personal trainers, decided to film a video blog about fitness. They hit the ground running, producing content which was not only informative but funny, fresh and engaging. The Lean Machines, to date, have a following of over 54,500 subscribers and are very close to reaching 2 million views over their two YouTube channels.
Your first vlog in October 2011 had you both presenting to the camera as if you were already well known and famous. Did you approach this knowing that it was going to work ? If so, why?
To be honest we were super nervous and just tried our best. We actually find it hard to watch our previous videos now. (John)
What was the public’s reaction to the vlog?
Overwhelmingly great. We never expected people to take to us so well considering how much choice there is on YouTube as well. (Leon)
Have you ever tried something that hasn’t worked?
In pretty much every video there is something we donʼt like, but that is what keeps you improving your content. One thing we could pin point is over complicating things. Not everyone wants to know the chemical structure of a carrot, they want to know why to eat it & when. (John)
In the first few months what methods did you use to encourage subscribers and views?
We mainly just worked hard on improving our presenting skills and use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with people. (Leon)
Was there a point in time when you thought “we’ve finally made it”?
We just got to a point where it seemed to be getting bigger and when we were featured on the YouTube homepage we realised that we had been reaching more people than we first thought. This encouraged us to progress more with the channel. (Leon)
Do you structure your vlogs?
When we do the challenges, they are structured in terms of the rules, but the reactions are totally natural as we never want to do a practice run. Our everyday vlogs are just off the top of our head. (Leon)
Is there ever a moment when you think “Oh God Iʼve got to face the camera AGAIN”?
I think the camera thinks “Oh God, not these two clowns again” . On a serious note, it can be tough sometimes and if the other canʼt get you gʼd up for it and the video is flat we would refilm it. Itʼs important to constantly put out your best content because that may be the first time people see it and itʼs potentially a subscriber lost or gained. (John)
Why did you decide to create a separate channel for TheLeanMachinesVlogs?
Simply because they are seperate topics. Although we have fun with fitness we donʼt wanʼt to over do it and not be taken seriously. (John)
Do you use YouTube analytics?
Yes, it’s really important to check audience retention, views, subscribers – the lot really. It’s a clear, straight forward way to know if you are improving and growing or going backwards. (Leon)
You often combine your channels with Jimʼs (Jim Chapman), Samʼs (Pixiwoo), Carlyʼs (Carly Rowena) . . . Johnʼs Mumʼs (Modern and Mature) etc etc. How effective have you found it?
Itʼs brilliant and often makes fun content. The best way to progress and reach a wider audience is absolutely to collab. Itʼs something we would love to do more of. However, most of the fitness YouTubers are over seas. (John)
How do you encourage your subscribers to stay loyal to you and share your content?
We donʼt try to encourage anyone, we just hope that they enjoy our content enough to stay with us. Our ‘Machines’ and ‘Machinets’ are amazing to us. We couldn’t wish for better followers. (Leon)
Do you find that with some of your subscribers there’s ‘Team John’ and ‘Team Leon’?
On the vlog channel there tends to be. We started doing a thread called John Vs Leon and although Leon spanked me in almost every event, I probably had the most support. I think they felt sorry for me. (John)
How do you keep it all fresh?
Just keep moving content forward and staying with the times. Within our industry it’s really important to stay up to date as it’s forever evolving. (Leon)
How much of your week is taken up by YouTube?
Every spare moment we get away from our other full time jobs. If not filming, editing or uploading, we are constantly talking to our followers via Twitter and Facebook where we can. (Leon)
You are effectively self created celebrities – what benefits has that brought to you?
A wider audience for our personal training would be the main one. (John)
Visit The Lean Machine’s website ! Subscribe to their YouTube channels TheLeanMachines and TheLeanMachinesVlogs , follow them on Twitter and Facebook . . . Do it all today, it will bring you health and happiness !
We’re always keen on feedback here at Curveball, so if you want to get to know the team writing these blogs better, check out our team video – the 6 hour working day experiment: