Two of Australia’s superstar fitness influencers are locked in a legal battle and millions of dollars could hang on the outcome.
The Bikini Body Training Company, launched by South Australian megastar Kayla Itsines, has launched legal action against rising Queensland crossfit trainer Cass Olholm to block her from launching her new fitness business, Train With Cass, which is set to be released on the Apple App store on October 12.
Ms Itsines, represented at South Australian Supreme Court by Nicholas Swan on Tuesday, claims Ms Olholm, who worked as a contractor for Ms Itsines before leaving in February this year, has breached restraint of trade by preparing her new business.
Mr Swan, appearing before Judge Dart, said Ms Olholm’s plans to launch the rival brand breached a 12-month restraint agreement between the two influencers, who were close collaborators in the fitness space.
“Clearly, there is on both sides really, an association between the personality and the product,” he said.
“Taking all that into account, they came to an agreement whereby, we say, 12 months was an appropriate restraint provision.”
Mr Swan is pushing for a court injunction to block the launch of Train With Cass until March 1, 2024, marking 12 months from her departure from Ms Itsines’ orbit.
Ms Olholm, represented by Thomas McFarlane, argues the restraint period expired after six months.
“This restraint is little more than a restraint on mere competition, there’s no allegation of misuse of or even access to confidential information, client lists or data,” he said.
Bikini Body Training Company developed the massively popular Sweat fitness program, which has been downloaded more than 5 million times on Google Play.
Ms Itsines sold Sweat to US company IFit in 2021 for a reported $400m.
Ms Olholm joined Sweat in 2020 and has appeared regularly in Ms Itsines’ Facebook videos.
The Train With Cass program, if it goes ahead next week, will be billed at $21.99 a month or $139.99 a year.
The court heard Ms Olholm had spent some $580,000 preparing the new business.
Judge Dart suggested both parties pursue mediation to avoid spending “very large sums of money” on lawyers.
“If this app was launching in about 22 weeks’ time, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
“If this was March 1, there would be no one here seeking an injunction.
“I’m just trying to stop the parties spending a lot of money when, from March next year, Ms Olholm can do this anyway.”
He also raised the possibility of a compromise nine-month restraint agreement between the two parties.
Judge Dart adjourned the case to October 10 for both parties to argue their cases in full.