From Love Island to Los Angeles
“Vulnerability on social media is so important because, at the end of the day, we’re all people, and no one’s better than anyone else. . .”
If you enjoy watching beautiful 20-somethings fall in love on television, Love Island is the show for you. Beginning in the UK, this dating game scours the country to find perfect matches for its chiseled-abb and sleek-physic contestants, and, only once the men and women have coupled up in their enormous island villa in which they wear bikinis by day and club outfits by night, do they endure a serious of faithfulness tests. Yes, there is a monetary prize at the end in addition to the pleasure of relaxing by the pool all summer long, but people do actually fall in love: there have been weddings and babies as a product of the show. But, in addition to creating couples, the series also releases bundles of sexy singles who are ‘dumped from island’ and dropped onto our Instagram explore pages; holy eye candy! One such person and a new Los Angeles resident is fitness instructor Isaiah Harmison.
Originally from Wisconsin, Isaiah made quite an entrance on Love Island USA’s Season 3, arriving at the Hawaiian villa via helicopter. While his landing certainly drew attention, it was the combination of luscious curly hair, light eyes, and an eight pack that really turned some heads. Though Isaiah didn’t find love in the villa, he remains an Instagram heartthrob. However, Isaiah is much more than his shockingly beautiful exterior; he is a brave, adventure-seeking individual who left his hometown and moved initially to Houston without knowing anyone, and now uses his social media platform to guide and inspire.
A personal trainer and senior instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp, Harmison posts workouts and inspirational quotes, encouraging his followers to change the narrative of their lives. Perhaps most impressive, is Isaiah’s online vulnerability, something we don’t always see from fitness or other influencers who prefer to only put their best angle forward. With wisdom beyond his years, he talks openly about his experience with Cushing’s Disease, his initial hatred for working out, and his thoughts on pleasure vs. pain. He also makes podcast recommendations and gives style advice. But, don’t worry, there are still plenty of pictures of his torso!
In my conversation with Harmison, he spilled the tea on his experience on Love Island, got honest about not being perfect, and named his favorite aspects of LA since his January move. Plus, and you don’t want to miss this . . . he also handed out some dating advice!
What was the highlight of your experience on love island?
The highlight was actually my very first experience, arriving to the show on a helicopter. I’d never been on a helicopter before, so it was a completely out-of-body experience. I think in general, it would have been an out of body experience, but going into a helicopter in Hawaii, flying over the Villa, seeing it in real life (cause I saw it on TV before, I’d watched the first two episodes), and realizing I’m going to be in there and have this excellent experience was very surreal. That’s something I’ll never forget by any means.
What is your biggest lesson learned from your experience on the show?
I think the biggest lesson learned, which I thought I knew before I went in there, would be to be 100% true to myself. I think that going into the show, that’s all I wanted to do. . . be a 100% true to myself. Then, right when I got there (I don’t know if I’m supposed say in this, but I will anyway), they kind of told me to really keep my heart open and make sure that I wasn’t just going in with just one person in mind. They told me to kind of keep people on their toes and whatnot. And you know, doing that wasn’t true to myself. If I were to go into a regular dating situation, one, I’m not the type of person that just attacks the one I want (meaning, I don’t like to steal girls from others, and I don’t like to step on people’s toes; that doesn’t resonate with me), but, two, I do have more focus. There were one or two girls that I was a little bit more interested in than the others, and I wish I just would’ve explored those relationships right away and not really given too much time to the other opportunities, instead, letting the other situations come naturally. I think because I didn’t do that, it left a lot of people viewing me as what isn’t actually true. Not that I was like viewed in a horrible way, but people in the cast were wondering, like, “Oh, what are his motives?” And in real life that wouldn’t have ever been a scenario or response. So I think my lesson is. . . going into every situation and just being confident in who I am and happy with who I am and really sticking to that, rather than anything that strays away from my authentic self.
With the influence you’ve obtained since the show, what is the most important message you want to share with your followers?
Based on my own life experiences, I think a thing I want to portray to people is that no one’s life is perfect. A lot of people think that the perfect lives they see on Instagram are perfect, or they have this FOMO and feel like they’re just not adequate enough to compare to the person next door or compare to the person on social media and whatnot. And the biggest thing I want to convey to myself, is that I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this moment in my life. And others could and should do the same. I think that people need to take a deep breath, take some more time to themselves, be more kind to themselves, and really just look at themselves like, “Hey, I’m actually an awesome person for [whatever reasons brought you to where you are today].” And to really sink into that feeling and then realize “I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I’m just going to continue to do the best that I can to move forward.” And that’s all that matters. And that translates into both the physical and mental side of things. I think that we just have a really bad mental health crisis right now, and that is because of these comparisons of life or joy. People are comparing themselves more than ever. So with my personal training clients or online clients, I try to have them focus on small improvements rather than looking so much at a huge picture, and I remind them that, even as we’re working on things for tomorrow, they’re right where they’re supposed to be today. We can do something, together, that makes them feel great and push themselves forward, but at the same time, we share gratitude for what we have right now. And I think that mindset leads to a better life.
You’re very open with your followers about what’s going on with you, whether that’s talking about your thoughts on pleasure versus pain with the gym and how you used to hate it in high school or talking about Cushing’s Disease. Why do you think that vulnerability is so important in an influencer position?
Vulnerability on social media is so important because, at the end of the day, we’re all people, and no one’s better than anyone else. I think that we live in a world of hierarchy, in the sense that it is so easy to look up to influencers or athletes or other leaders because of social media. I think that it’s healthy to look up to people and see what they’re accomplishing because you can become motivated or just aspire to do something more. But at the same time, people have to realize that we all deal with the same things and have doubts: depression, anxiety, and such. Sure, it’s to different extents, but everyone deals with it. And so I think it’s important for me to be able to resonate with people. I want my followers to realize that I’m not perfect and that they don’t have to be either.
How does working at Barry’s bring personal fulfillment?
I could arguably say that Barry’s is the best thing that’s happened to me in the last three years. My circumstances completed a 180 when Barry’s came into my life. I moved to Houston by myself, and I had nothing, knew no one, had no money. I just did it. And then Barry’s found me and completely changed that. The culture of Barry’s is really what makes it special: the clients that I’ve been able to meet, the experiences I’ve had with the clients, and the staff; it has been such a blessing to me. And I’ve experienced so much and had so many happy moments with them, it’s invaluable. I can’t even explain it to a certain extent. I love the job itself, I love instructing. I get to yell at people. I really care; I’m that type of person, so I get to motivate people and make sure that they’re getting better. I’m also kind of a DJ in there, too. I get to play the music that I love and it’s like bump, bump music. I’m literally getting paid to just have fun. And it’s such a blessing to be able to do what I love and get paid for it and be part of such a great community. So when it comes to Barry’s, I don’t have enough good words for them.
And what about your other training work? How has that impacted your life?
Personal training is a completely different dynamic than a group setting. I get to be one on one with someone. I like connecting with people, I like talking with them, and I like getting to know them as a person and also catering to them as an individual. It allows me to be a little more creative and a little bit more personalized, which I also love. Personal training is where I started when it came to fitness work.
I do a lot of in-person and I really try and translate my business to online. So I’m taking on a lot of a one-on-one, personalized online clientele. It’s not really a large encompassing pool of people that go into an app, as you’ll see from other fitness influencers. We’re working together on workouts and nutrition, and they have their weekly coaching calls with me so that they have that accountability, and I’m making sure they get results. That’s my biggest focus right now, really having that connection with them. Down the road, I might create something that allows for a little more seamlessness for a multitude of people – like an online app. So stay tuned!
How has moving to LA you know, changed your life?
What I’m really enjoying right now is tapping into the outdoors that LA has to offer. I’m going hiking, I’m going biking. I’m going running, I’ve experienced the beaches and just the weather in general. I’m trying to be outside as much as possible. That’s something I didn’t have.
What is your favorite LA restaurant?
What is your favorite place to go out in LA for nightlife?
Favorite place to shop?
Century City Mall or the Santa Monica Promenade
Last question . . . Since you were on Love Island, we have to ask: any tips for dating in LA?
Going into a date, remember that you have the option to evaluate if the other person is right for you rather than just worrying if that person is going to like you.