The YouTube sensation and digital influencer discusses the new generation of fitness trackers.
Boasting 1.9 million YouTube subscribers and over 1 million Twitter followers, web sensation Justine Ezariak has been dubbed the “Most Influential Person Online,” and rightfully so. After skyrocketing to Internet fame with the launch of her widely-popular YouTube series, Justine——best known by her Internet screen name, iJustine—is now broadening her exposure as the host of AOL On’s “Hardwired,” a web-exclusive series that navigates the emerging market of wearable technology. Given her love of fitness and technology, Justine makes a natural fit on the show as she travels across America in a quest to find the coolest new fitness gadgets. Along the way, she charms viewers with her down-to-earth personality and contagious energy.
Below, we caught up with the digital influencer and self-proclaimed tech geek to chat about fitness, her ascent to Internet stardom, and why she thinks technology is drastically altering the way we exercise.
Spry Living: Can you tell me a bit about your web series, “Hardwired”? What inspired you to do a show about wearable technology?
Justine: Wearable tech has become more prevalent in the past couple of years; it wasn’t as commonplace before. Prior to getting involved with the show, I had been making YouTube videos and all kinds of content based around pop culture tech. That’s when AOL approached me about doing a show based around wearable tech. In my first initial meeting with AOL, I was wearing a Fuelband and a Jawbone fitness band. They took a look at me and were like, “You’re perfect for this.” From there, once the show started filming, we went and traveled all around the country and found really cool companies who create these different forms of technology. It’s been really fun to be apart of.
SL: As a digital influencer, in what ways do you think wearable technology has revolutionized the fitness landscape?
J: Fitness trackers are helpful for most people because they keep them constantly motivated. They enable you to track basically everything that you’re doing, from steps taken to calories burned to sleep cycles. You can compete against friends and family or simply compete against yourself. But most of all, fitness trackers keep you constantly aware of what you’re doing and help you stick with your goals. Personally, I like using wearable tech because it gives me periodic reminders to keep moving—for example, the Jawbone vibrates every now and then to tell you to get moving. Before that, I wasn’t cognizant of how many steps you should be getting every day. So it definitely keeps you accountable in that sense.
SL: I understand that your mom was a P.E. teacher when you were growing up. Have you always been passionate about fitness?
J: That’s right, and she still is a gym teacher. Growing up, she always kept us very active. I always loved computers and technology. She’d always say something like, “If you want to use the computer, you have to go do something active first.” It was a great incentive to keep me active, because otherwise I would’ve just been parked in front of a computer all day. So I have to thank her for instilling those good habits in me, because I’ve carried that with me for most of my life. Nowadays, there are so many fun ways to use technology and video games as a way to to stay in shape. For example, I just downloaded the Xbox Fitness App and have been using it pretty much everyday. It’s so awesome, because you can play a video game and simultaneously get fit.
SL: Do you use fitness trackers or gadgets in your own workouts? If so, which ones?
J: I’ve sampled just about every fitness tracker on the market, but I’ve pared it down to a few in my own workouts. I tend to use the FitBit a lot— I like that you can sort of clip it to your clothing and hide it. I also like Mystic Shine. It looks more like a piece of jewelry rather than a fitness tracker. So those are my two favorites.
SL: You have built a tremendous brand and fan following on YouTube. How did you get your start doing that?
J: I’ve been doing online videos for awhile now, and consistently doing it has helped me slowly acquire an audience. It’s been fun and challenging, you know, being in the digital space and watching it change and adapting with it. The Internet world is always shifting, so the key is to stay on top of the trends. It’s also been fun getting involved with AOL because it’s allowed me to try something different and tap into a new fan base.
SL: Lastly, we’ve gotta ask—where did you come up with your Internet name, “iJustine”?
J: In 2002, back when social networking first started, I had a bunch of different screen names. Unfortunately, the screen name “Justine” was already taken on most of the sites. At the time, I had just gotten an iPod—the first generation iPod—and I was really excited about it, but was upset that Justine was taken on various websites, so I just channeled Apple and put a lowercase “I” in front of my name. So the name sort of stuck. I’ve always been really inspired by Apple, as a matter of fact—I was doing Steve Jobs book reports back in sixth grade, when nobody had any clue what Apple Computers were. I’ve always been a tech geek, I guess!