Q&A: YouTube Fitness Star Sarah Dussault
You already know her as SarahFit, but the woman behind the wildly popular blog has a lot more going on than just a website. She has books, endorsements deals, and creates, edits, and shoots her own videos. Basically, she is a one woman empire that started from scratch teaching people how to live healthy in Boston. But what we love about Sarah Dussault is that she is a real woman. She struggles with the decisions that we all do on a daily basis like what to eat, how to divide our time between work and play, and how much time we can actually spend working out. We caught up with Dussault to ask her about how she manages it all and what is on the horizon.
So how do you make your living? What do you do exactly?
This is the most popular question that I get asked. I make videos for YouTube that focus on healthy living. Anything from exercise videos, recipes, hauls, and “how to” features are the most popular. Those videos have ads on them and I get paid based on how many views they get. Since I started, I’ve built an audience that trusts my opinions. Now, companies reach out to me to promote their products through my blog and YouTube channel. I only choose products that I believe in and think my viewers will like. Those companies will hire me for a campaign that might last for one blog post or a year long contract. Currently I work with Laughing Cow cheese, Udi’s Gluten Free, Oakley, Target, and Tone It Up. I also am writing my first fitness book and starred in a web fitness series with Lionsgate last year. Random opportunities present themselves so it’s hard to anticipate, but I’ve been blessed the past couple years and rather than wonder when the next one will come along, I have to turn them down. I also make money on my blog similar to the YouTube videos.
What is a YouTube star exactly?
A YouTube “star” can be anyone who has a videocamera. I have one of the top female fitness channels. Currently, I have more than 113,000 subscribers and 13.2 million lifetime views on my channel, SarahsFabChannel. To be considered a YouTuber as I like to call myself, you have to upload videos regularly and have an audience that allows you to make it a full time job essentially. To be YouTube star, you can just one viral video. Many YouTubers never will have a viral video but we have built an audience that tunes in every week to see what we’re up to.
How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been making YouTube videos since 2006, which is basically when the site first started. I was hired by Diet.com off Craigslist to start their video department. I was working part time at NESN at the time and basically taught myself how to shoot, edit, and export for web. I left NESN after juggling both jobs for four months. I watched YouTube and learned to monetize videos. I also saw other girls just uploading videos from their bedrooms with million of views. I decided to move to part time with Diet.com in order to pursue my own success almost four years ago.
What made you decide to go on this particular career path?
I wanted to be either an on air reporter or nutritionist in college. After a few science classes, I realized I enjoyed my journalism classes much more. I was hired right out of college as a production assistant for NESN. Making $8 an hour, I applied to a part time job at Diet.com to get on camera experience to build a reel and send to different news stations. I was excited to basically be a health reporter combining my career with my passion. I didn’t plan on making web videos forever.
What are your fitness credentials?
I am a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine for more than three years now. I am also certified to teach TRX and am currently enrolled in the Institute of Integrated Nutrition to become a holistic health coach. I will be graduate this fall. I made the decision to stop training because I travel so frequently. I don’t feel right having clients pay me for sessions and then not be able to schedule session because I’m in Los Angeles shooting a fitness DVD or NYC for meetings all week.
What is your favorite way to exercise? For example, do you have one thing you just love above all, like running or yoga, etc.
I will always be a runner. My grandfather was an olympic track coach and coach at Tufts for many years, it’s in my blood. I ran in high school and still run weekly. I don’t do marathons (yet) but I don’t feel like I need to in order to call myself a runner. I enjoy running but after 75 minutes, that starts to change. Once something loses it’s fun factor, it becomes a chore and I never want running to feel that way.
What advice do you give people to start a fitness routine?
Make it a habit and find something that you love. I am always trying new classes because I enjoy it. When I find one that I love, it just refreshes my entire routine and rejuvenates my motivation. I can’t remember what it was like not to exercise at least 5 times a week. My body craves it now. Exercise 10 days in a row to start this process. You need to take days off but for those first 10 days, your body starts to get addicted almost to working out.
Tell me a little bit about your book (if you are allowed).
My book [being published in December by Page Street Publishing] is something that I would have loved to have when I first started getting into fitness in college. It’s for women and girls that are athletic and have been active their whole lives but never learned how to structure a workout program or have to watch what they eat. I like to think of it being a handy manual for the high school athlete that all of a sudden has no coach telling them what to do. It’s mainly a fitness book but there are also chapters to help with making healthy decisions for meals, out with friends and a little how to about being your own boss like me. Sections are for at the gym and at home making it useful no matter what your preference might be. The recipes are simple and cheap. I want my readers to be able to memorize the ingredient list after making the dish one or two times.
Why Boston? It seems like most fitness stars head out to L.A. or NYC. What do you love about Boston?
Career wise I should move to L.A. No question about it, but I’m determined to make it work here in Boston. I love running along the Charles River, the laid back going out drinking at pubs, the small world connections where it seems like everyone I meet knows one of my good friends, the architecture, the South End, and most of all, the proximity to the ski mountains and going to the Cape and Islands during the summer. The Cape is where I spent my summers growing up and I have a great group of friends down there. Spending my weekends at the beach might be the biggest reason I’m here.