How My Bollywood Body Used Social Media to Build a Fitness Empire

By Ezra Tennen

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The Creators is an editorial series presented by Glory Professional that focuses on the career paths, strategies, and tactical advice of today’s most compelling social media entrepreneurs.


Meet Rizwan “Sunny” Rabbani, the driving force behind My Bollywood Body. As a full-time fitness trainer, content creator, and owner of 13 businesses, Sunny’s journey into social media began in 2015 and has since become a crucial aspect of his thriving career. Through engaging workout videos infused with humor and multiple languages, he captivates viewers worldwide having amassed a following of over five million across all social media platforms.


In our interview, Sunny reveals the key to content creation success, the transformative power of social media for businesses, and the elusive secret to crafting viral content. Despite his remarkable achievements, Sunny’s perspective on influence is more than just follower counts — he is deeply committed to making a positive impact on the lives of his viewers. Through his dedication and authenticity, Sunny’s influence has left a lasting impression on his ever-growing audience.

Photo of Sunny sitting outside in winter. He is smiling, and wearing a grey sweater. There are some trees behind him with snow on them.

What kind of content do you create? Why did you decide to focus on your niche? 

My Bollywood Body: I create fitness content that I try to keep as lighthearted as possible for all viewers. I decided to focus on my niche because when I started content creating, there were only a handful of South Asian content creators, specifically in fitness. Nowadays, everyone is an influencer, but when I started I felt that the South Asian community was lacking representation which is why I chose to specifically focus on them.


What’s your unique perspective on your niche? 

My Bollywood Body: We make our videos and workouts very engaging. I try to incorporate multiple languages like Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and English into my videos while cracking jokes, singing songs and incorporating the Biomechanics of each exercise to keep audiences engaged.


How do you define influence? What does it mean to you? 

My Bollywood Body: Influence, to me, is making a positive impact on my viewers. For me, that comes in the form of helping my viewers achieve the goals they are watching my videos for. Being a South Asian influencer allows me to represent one of the many communities that are underrepresented, particularly in Western media.


What kind of skill set do you think is required to be a successful content creator and influencer? 

My Bollywood Body: You must be good at speaking. When I first started, I was not good at speaking but overtime I developed confidence speaking. This has granted me many opportunities speaking at colleges, universities, and convocations. 


What have you found is the best way to gain and retain a loyal audience? 

My Bollywood Body: Consistency. As long as you are consistent, you can manipulate the algorithm allowing you to constantly get views, likes, shares, etc. The most important way to get a loyal audience is to be actively engaging with your followers i.e. answering their questions and addressing their concerns. So long as you are honest in what you do and do not give out false information, you will become successful.


There is a lot of talk about the algorithm. How do you update yourself on changes in the algorithm? 

My Bollywood Body: There are millions and millions of influencers on social media and the only way to stand out from the rest is to be consistent. If you are consistent and come up with new ideas, ways of editing, and content creating, you will always get picked up by the algorithm.


What are some underrated tools (apps, tech, equipment) that you use to create, plan, distribute, or monitor your content that you swear by? Why?

My Bollywood Body: The first tool is Social Blade which is a database that shows you the analytics and statistics of your channel. It is widely used by many content creators and is a really useful tool. The second tool is iMovie. Everyone, including myself, starts off editing their videos on iMovie and it has all the basics required to create amazing content for free as long as you are an Apple user. 


Do you utilize a content calendar? If so, what is your preferred way of organizing it? 

My Bollywood Body: When we were very active on social media, we did use a content calendar. We would post five videos a week, each with a different theme i.e. men’s, women’s, cardio etc. Having a calendar and schedule is crucial to staying organized and creating a successful channel.

Photo of Sunny from My Bollywood Body. He is in the gym lifting a barbell with very heavy weights.

What is something that most people get wrong when it comes to their social media strategy? 

My Bollywood Body: They are not consistent and patient. Growing a channel takes time and dedication as well as lots of consistency.


Who is an influencer in your direct community that inspires you? 

Sunny: Since I started at a time where there were no South Asian influencers, I had to build up my fan base from scratch and pave the way for this specific niche without having any other creators I could reach out to. My goal was and is to become that role model for others starting out in my niche and helping them overcome the obstacles I had to face alone and avoid the mistakes I made when starting out.


What piece of advice would you give someone who is looking to break into the influencing industry? 

My Bollywood Body: Consistency is key. Be patient with your channel and keep posting. Lots of people give up too easily but you should continue to post consistently and be patient with the results. It took me years to get to where I am, and I couldn’t have done it if I wasn’t consistent.


How do you handle online criticism and unkind comments? 

My Bollywood Body: I do not take anything personally. Instead, I joke around with them and sometimes post them on Instagram or TikTok to let my viewers get a laugh out of them too.


How do you broker deals with brands? With other creators? What is the biggest difference between them? 

My Bollywood Body: I have a rate sheet that I give to anyone looking to collaborate. Some people will say you’re too expensive while others will pay without hesitation. It is a matter of knowing what you and your content is worth. It’s definitely a hit or miss, you might get 10 offers but only two are willing to pay the price. You just have to know how much your time is worth.

Photo of Sunny from My Bollywood Body helping a client during her workout.

What is the best and worst partnership you’ve experienced?

My Bollywood Body: The best partnership is one that I am still with and it is The Hut Group, specifically the company Myprotein. I am their global ambassador and they pay me a monthly retainer along with commission on the sales I make for them. The worst is a company with which there was a written agreement that if I produced 100 videos, I would be compensated. However, after producing and sending the videos, I received no compensation even though they used my videos on their service. I tried to pursue it legally but it would have been too long and not worth the time.


What is the key to work/life balance as a content creator? 

My Bollywood Body: Honestly speaking, I do not have a work/life balance. Building a brand from scratch requires you to be selfish as that is the only way to be successful. I still spend 90% of my time working, whether at the gym or at home, and whatever time is left gets distributed between my friends and family.


What is a lesson that brands and businesses can learn from influencers? 

My Bollywood Body: I create content based on what viewers want through assessing direct feedback (comments, dms, etc.) whereas brands and businesses create based on what they think people want based on research. If my content is not up to my standard I tweak it based on consumer criticism whereas brands push the same content/product regardless of the criticism it is met with.


Why should influencers be a part of every CMO’s marketing strategy? 

My Bollywood Body: It is the cheapest way to promote a product. We also have an out of home marketing company called iCandy Marketing & Consulting and have noticed that companies are dumping money into social media instead of in person marketing. Hiring the right influencers to promote your content/product can cost you pennies compared to dollars by big marketing firms and blow your content/product up more.


Biggest brand deals or partnerships? 

My Bollywood Body: I have done paid collaborations with over 50 brands but the biggest is Myprotein, with whom I am still signed. Another big partnership is with Peel Financial who pay me a monthly retainer and a commission on sales.


Biggest professional milestones? 

My Bollywood Body: From the success of social media, I was able to open up a 24/7 exclusive access facility in the heart of Brampton. Now, after being in the business for five years, we are looking to expand and become Canada’s biggest fitness facility still located in Brampton. All the credit goes to our success on social media.

Photo of Sunny in the gym doing a bicep curl with a very heavy dumbbell.

In addition to being a content creator, you also have a business as a personal trainer, and of building gyms. How do you balance all these endeavors and manage your time appropriately? 

My Bollywood Body: All of my 13 businesses are interconnected and the one thing they all have in common is that they are all operated out of my gym in Brampton. If someone comes to train with us, they will likely buy our supplements. If they own a business, they will hire us as a marketing consultant. If they have a big office, warehouse, or home, they might hire us to build them a gym. They all connect with one another and the gym allows for those connections to be made.


As a business owner what is the key to building up a personal brand? 

My Bollywood Body: Building a personal brand is very important. Currently we are looking into franchising and sometime in 2024, we will be open to public franchising. We have seen a lot of interest in others buying out our gym or a franchise and the reason behind this is the name. My name is something that I have built up through tools like social media and it has opened many opportunities for me. Having a personal brand is crucial to the growth of your business, and that comes from knowing what your name and time are worth. As I mentioned earlier, selfishness in business is the only way you can grow.


How important is your culture and heritage in building your business and audience? 

My Bollywood Body: It is very important because in South Asian culture there is a great emphasis on health and sports. The men and women want to look a certain way and we had to target that on our channel. It made it easier since our channel is fitness related, and easier for me because I was able to turn my passion into a career without feeling like I’m working.


What is the key to creating viral moments on social media? 

My Bollywood Body: The word viral, to me, means something I can gain not only fame from, but profit from as well. We have produced many viral videos, the first of which reached one million views in two days. You need to adopt this mindset and find creative and attention-grabbing ways to produce content. When Kevin Hart was in Toronto a few years ago, we put up a billboard to get his attention and reached out to him on social media. Within a few weeks, it blew up and My Bollywood Body was trending all over social media, every radio station, and magazine. That is when I realized what viral means. It means waking up to 100s of emails and interviews lined up from Breakfast Television, CTV News, BBC, etc. Based on the success of that billboard, we also started a marketing company, adding to the growing list of businesses operating under the umbrella company of My Bollywood Body.

Photo of Sunny from My Bollywood Body with Kevin Hart. They are smiling
Photo of a billboard with a picture of Kevin heart on it. It says "Yo Kevin, I heard you're in Toronto. I'm a big fan. Can I take a selfie?"