- Pam Stefanowicz and Matt Janusz run one of the top YouTube channels in Poland, Fit Lovers, with over 1.7 million subscribers.
- It’s hard to become a YouTube influencer in Poland, where the market is much smaller and brands invest less cash.
- The Fit Lovers brand is expanding into a new fitness and nutrition app set to launch later this year despite the pandemic.
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With over 1.7 million subscribers, Pam Stefanowicz and Matt Janusz, ages 28 and 27 respectively, run one of the top YouTube channels in Poland, Fit Lovers. They also have more than a million followers on Instagram, where they showcase their hyper-fit bodies and glamorous athleisure wear.
Their fitness and healthy living channel features everything from training videos to skits and music videos. The majority of their content is in Polish, but they sometimes produce videos in English (like this recent vlog), especially when they’re in Los Angeles, a city the couple visits as often as possible to enjoy its sunny weather and laid-back vibe (they’d love to move there eventually, they shared with Business Insider).
Janusz comes from an acrobatic background and Stefanowicz was a dancer. They ran a personal-training studio for a few years in Gdynia, but after Janusz broke his leg and they had some issues with the lease on the space, they decided to move to Warsaw in 2014 and try their hand at YouTube. Because they’re natural entertainers, the medium turned out to be a great fit.
Making fitness fun
To differentiate themselves from the sometimes-staid world of personal training, where trainers tend to take themselves very seriously, they decided to add humor to their videos in the form of jokes, skits, and silly sound effects and facial expressions. They set out not just to show people helpful fitness routines, but to truly entertain viewers.
“We wanted to inspire people to be active and show that it’s fun, without using all the clickbait,” Janusz said.
Two years ago, the couple made an appearance on the reality show Ameryka Express, which is the Polish version of Peking Express, where couples must overcome challenges as they race toward a series of destinations in different countries. They came in second in the competition and gained about 200,000 new followers from the exposure.
They’re currently on the Polish show Dance, Dance, Dance (though it’s been suspended temporarily because of coronavirus). They’re so well known now, they shared, that they can’t leave their house without photographers following and people asking for selfies.
Monetizing the brand through partnerships and merchandise
Even with the TV show popularity, making a living from YouTube in Poland is challenging. American YouTubers can make millions of dollars from views because advertisers invest heavily in YouTube — which then pays content creators through Google AdSense. In Poland, it’s exponentially more difficult to make money from YouTube this way.
First of all, the market in Poland — a country of 38 million — is smaller. And secondly, fewer brands invest in advertising on Polish YouTube. Janusz shared their analytics data with Business Insider, and revealed that their CPM, or amount a YouTuber is paid per 1,000 views, is three times less in Poland than in the US.
That doesn’t mean building their channel hasn’t been worth it.
“YouTube is still a channel of communication with our audience, but not a place that we make significant income from. It was always dedicated for passion first,” Janusz explained.
In fact, only about 10% of their annual revenue comes from YouTube. Fifty percent of their income is derived from partnerships with brands — often that means producing original content, such as this video about Poland vs. the US, sponsored by Plus network, or this music video “look book” sponsored by Avon. (Other brand sponsors include LG, MasterCard, LOT Polish Airlines, and Pandora Jewelry.) The other 40% of Fit Lovers’ revenue comes from sales of Fit Lovers merchandise.
“We started the merch just for followers, but have developed it into something bigger,” Stefanowicz said. (Their designer El Warioto glasses are their bestselling item and retail for 199,00 PLN, or about $51.)
Expanding into new territory and launching a fitness and diet app
The Fit Lovers brand is expanding their omni-channel strategy with the development of a new fitness and nutrition app set to launch later this year despite the pandemic. They’ve poured five years of research into creating the app, the name of which Stefanowicz said loosely translates into “Diet Without Stress.”
A large Polish company (which Fit Lovers did not want to identify) approached the pair about creating the app. “They had all the resources we needed to develop the app,” Janusz said.
They expect big things from the new product, and their enthusiasm comes with good reason. As Poland has transitioned over the last three decades from a communist country to one with a robust economy, people’s dietary habits have shifted. A study in Public Health Nutrition noted that between 2000 and 2017, Polish people’s consumption of meats, fats, and highly processed food has increased by about 12%, whereas their consumption of fruits and vegetables has decreased by nearly 17%.
Following the pattern of the United States, obesity — particularly childhood obesity — is on the rise in Europe. A Polish epidemiological study from 2016 found that compared to other European countries, Poland has as many or more children who are overweight or obese. The World Health Organization also found in 2013 that almost a third of Polish people over the age of 15 weren’t active enough.
There is widespread interest in Poland in reversing those numbers. In fact, according to a 2019 Chef’s Pencil report, which collected data from Google Trends, Poland ranks number one in the world for diet searches on Google.
The couple shared that while there are several apps appealing to the masses who want to be healthier and make better nutrition choices, they did a careful competitive analysis of what’s out there.
“While other apps have achieved success, we still see a niche that could be filled. Our app is way more complex than the ones already existing on the market, and it’s based on newer technology,” Janusz said.
The Fit Lovers app will offer nutrition plans, but will have thousands of options and ways to customize — not just with the food you make at home, but the food you eat on the go. Their investor partner has a team of nutritionists and researchers that has helped pull together all of the data.
“So if you go to a restaurant and you want pizza, the app will calculate everything for you,” Stefanowicz said. The app also comes with images, videos, and access to a 24-hour nutritionist online. “It’s been a huge project for the past several years,” she added.
Though the future is uncertain in many ways, the Fit Lovers are counting on the fact that people will continue to care about diet and fitness, and perhaps being quarantined inside their homes will make them care even more.
A Polish couple went from running a personal training studio to becoming fitness influencers with over 1.7 million YouTube subscribers — and they're set to launch an app this year. Here's how they did it.