YouTube Gold Creator Award recipient Joanna Soh empowers women with her fitness videos, writes Balqis Lim

HER workout videos are simple, easy to follow and take just a few minutes of your time. The activity can also be done in the comfort of your home.

Since she started her YouTube workout channel about six years ago, Joanna Soh has been getting followers daily. Today she has one million subscribers who follow her workout routines every Monday and Thurs-day.

Besides her fat-burning chair workout sessions, she also shares healthy recipes.

Soh recently received the YouTube Gold Creator Award to commemorate the success of her channel in achieving that number. The 28-year-old full-time fitness train-er was presented the award last December at the second annual YouTube Ads Awards gala, which celebrates everything YouTube.


While Soh was studying in the UK, she also worked part-time as a personal trainer. During the final year of a Performance and Media degree, she worked as a TV producer for live talk shows in London.

She was certified as a Personal Trainer under the American Council of Exercise and eventually started a side career in the fitness industry. As she loved both of her jobs, she decided to combine her skills in fitness training and TV production, and create something of her own.

“I really want to help other people to know more about their body, understand their fitness level and health. But then I don’t want to just do it on a one-to-one basis in class, because that’s just one person that I can reach out to,” she says.

“I came across a YouTube article on “I came across a YouTube article on how the online platform is growing, and YouTubers can reach out to the masses. Then I had an idea to start the fitness channel,” she says.

Soh quit her job as a TV producer to start her own YouTube channel (joannasohofficial) in 2013. As the online industry is more established in the UK, she quickly joined the growing trend.

Soh made a promise to herself that she was going to make it work within a year. Her parents were very supportive too although they did not understand what she was venturing into at that time.


In the beginning, Soh only posted workout videos, but she soon realised that fitness is not all about exercising. That was when she created videos — on fitness tips, healthy recipes and anything related to fitness.

Soh did everything on her own, from generating ideas to scripting and recording herself. “Sometimes I write creative blogs,” she says, adding that now she has a team to help produce the videos.

Soh came back to Malaysia three years ago to try her luck here.

“With the Internet, I can work anywhere in the world. I can find more opportunities here because the fitness industry is still growing in the country.”


Starting a YouTube channel and having to do everything on her own was challenging. “You won’t get any views and subscribers initially. Later you may get 10 views, but then slowly your subscribers will increase. The slow process is a challenge at first,” says Soh.

It is also a challenge to continue to upload content every week. “There were times when I failed to upload a video because I was on a holiday or too busy, and my subscribers, who were expecting videos, would query.”

It is this feedback that keeps Soh going to create content consistently because she does not want to let subscribers down.

Being a YouTuber sounds like a cool thing, and many think it’s easy and fun, but video production is very different from, for example, taking pictures.

Soh says many newbies lose interest when they fail to garner audiences.

“For me, it’s really about knowing your values, and not doing something to look cool or popular.

“Know why you want to create videos and what you want to change in people’s lives,” she adds.

Being able to help other people, women especially, with her content, is the most rewarding part of her job. “At the same time, these women are an inspiration and motivation to their family and friends. Knowing that I’m changing their lives although I may never meet them and knowing that their lives are impacting other people make everything worthwhile.”

But one can never run from getting negative comments, says Soh. Looking at it in a positive way, she puts up comments on how to improve herself better on camera, presentation, workouts, etc.

“If I watch my first few videos, I cringe. Those were my initial attempts at producing videos on my own, and I had no idea what I was doing,” says Soh. “But in terms of negative comments, I don’t really invest my time and energy in them.

“Let’s say out of 100 comments, there may be two that are negative. So why invest your time in those negative comments when you know that you can help 98 people,” she adds.

“When you have built a community who really like what you do, they will eventually help you reply to those negative comments.”



Joanna acknowledges the reward as a mark of her success since she began her journey on the world’s most popular video platform.

“I’m humbled and grateful for my followers, they have been supporting me, they are my biggest motivation.”

Besides YouTube, the Google community also plays a part in her journey. As her channel and the community grew, Soh started getting more partner supports, where they teach her to understand analytics, engage with her audience further and understand them better.

Her subscribers are largely based in the US, the UK, India, Malaysia and Singapore — mainly English-speaking countries.

When asked if she prefers teaching live classes or filming workout videos, Soh does not disregard one or the other and says both are equally great. “Teaching live classes has lot of benefits because you get one-to-one interaction with the people that attend the classes,” she says.

“I created workout videos online to bring fitness into the home because I believe fitness and health, looking after yourself, starts from one’s home,” she adds.

For Soh, one doesn’t need fancy equipment or money to go to the gym. It’s about having the knowledge and the discipline to work out in the comfort of home.

“That’s why my workout videos are simple, and have minimal or no equipment at all.”





Sharing the secret to her success, Soh says there is no success without hard work. “It’s really about knowing your value, consistency and discipline. Whatever you want to do, whether it’s creating fitness videos or growing your career, it’s all about these three elements,” she says.

“My advice to newbies: Always engage with your audience because that is one of the key elements that has made my channel popular,” she adds.

She made a promise to herself before she hit 100,000 subscribers that she would reply to every comment, and she did. “That made my subscribers felt cared about, so the interaction is really important in building followers.”

Soh has started an extension to her YouTube channel called Her Network, which brings together strong and passionate women, driven by the same vision of wanting to support other women across the world to be their best self.

Uploaded every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, videos on Her Network range from health and fitness, food, lifestyle, beauty, fashion, travel, life advice to parenting.

“My plan is to collaborate with health and fitness personalities in Malaysia to empower women. By collaborating, we will be able to offer more content and build a strong community where we can continue to help others on a bigger scale.”