Paige Johnston in gymSocial media influencer Paige Johnston is the founder of Push Collective and a brand ambassador for Gymshark, Reign Energy drinks, and Beam supplements.

Alumna building fitness empire one Instagram follower at a time

Paige Johnston learned long ago that perfection is an illusion.

It’s a message the UWindsor alumna shares with her more than 142,000 Instagram followers and with clients from around the world who come to her for online fitness training.

Johnston (BHK 2018, MHK 2020) is the founder of Push Collective, a personal fitness business she runs from her Windsor home. She is also a brand ambassador for Gymshark — the holy grail for influencers in the fitness space — and for Reign Energy drinks and Beam supplements. She creates content for these brands from the gyms where she works out and other locales on both sides of the Detroit River.

“I never thought I’d be doing this,” said Johnston, who completed her Master’s in the Faculty of Human Kinetics’ Sport Management program intent on becoming a teacher. After graduation, she taught in the sports and recreation management program at Lambton College while continuing to post her workouts on social media.

It didn’t take long for the trajectory of her career to take an unexpected and wonderful turn.

Her first Instagram account, @paigejohnston­_fit, garnered 100,000 followers in the first year. The brand deals quickly followed.

Johnston spun her personal training business into a second account, pushcollective. People from around the world started contacting her for one-on-one and group sessions online. Her clientele, mostly women, started buying her services from as far away as Bali and Peru.

“I always wonder, how did you find me?”

The answer: through the power of social media.

Johnston does more than design workouts for her clients. She offers lifestyle advice. She talks about nutrition but frames the discussion in a way that does not categorize foods as “good or bad.”

“It’s about choosing moderation, and long-term results,” she said. “It’s about living a healthy lifestyle. I never say this is the only way to live — to never go out for dinner, to never have dessert, to never travel…. You have to look at everything — mind, body, and soul.”

She says she applies what she learned from her kinesiology professors to her everyday work. And she practises what she preaches.

Back in 2018, she made a conscious effort to start living a healthier lifestyle. She started working out regularly and paying more attention to her nutrition and other daily habits. She lost 50 pounds over the course of a year and felt better.

On her Instagram account, you’ll find photos of her from her pre-workout days juxtaposed with photos of herself now. Hashtags such as #confidence and #sustainableweightloss suggest these are not your usual before-and-after shots.

She features her husband James Caron (BHK 2018, MHK 2020) in many of her posts. He’s a fitness buff, too. She jokes that her dachshund, Puck, is the only couch potato in her household.

When they are not in the gym or being social media darlings, the couple loves to travel.

“I love experiencing new cultures, new energies, and new places,” Johnston said. She was in St. Lucia in December and plans to travel to Africa to do volunteer work later this year.

Push Collective has grown so much, Johnston is looking to hire additional coaches. In the coming year she wants to find coaches who specialize in hormonal health and muscle building.

She thinks back to her initial career plans with astonishment at what she is now.

“I was always searching for that impact piece,” she said. “I guess I’ve found it.”

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