A quest to defeat boredom turned into a viral series of TikTok videos for Vancouver Island University Electrical student Mike de Vries, who started sharing tips and advice he learned during his extensive world travels on the social media platform in 2020. These tips vary from how to sweat less and get rid of bad breath, to the best time to study and how to stay focused. Since then, his #bodyhacks videos have earned him more than 430,000 follows and almost 16 million likes.
Mike, who is doing his first-year apprenticeship and hopes to earn his red seal within four years, plans to continue the series for as long as he’s still having fun doing it.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Belgium, my mother is from Africa and my father from Europe, which makes me “mixed.” I’ve lived in Africa, Europe and Canada. I speak three languages: French, Dutch and English, of course. I’ve always been very interested in technology and making things. From a very young age I was always making little gadgets with motors and messing with electricity even when I probably really shouldn’t have been. This eventually led to me joining VIU’s Electrical Apprenticeship program.
Why did you choose VIU?
I chose VIU because it’s the only school that accepted me at the time. It is a great school that I was already pretty familiar with because I had already done a semester in the Computer Science program. Before that I had already visited VIU through a trip with my high school (Duncan Christian School).
When and how did you decide you wanted to be an electrician?
I decided I wanted to be electrician after dropping out of computer science. I liked the idea of making something with my hands and I already have a moderately strong background in programming anyways. To expand my scope of knowledge, I decided electrical was a great path.
Can you share some highlights of your VIU experience so far?
A highlight was learning electrical theory with Mr. Miles and Mr. Cloutier. These guys were such rock stars in class, it made learning really fun and exciting. I was never really that into school, but they had a great way of motivating their students and explaining concepts in a way that kept us engaged and wanting more. My favourite subject was electrical theory.
When did you start sharing body hacks on TikTok and where did the idea come from?
I started posting my “body hacks” back in 2020. At the time, it was only a quest to defeat boredom. I have a whole lot of party tricks and hacks that I had accumulated from travelling so much. I thought maybe people would be interested so I started posting these how-to videos. My first viral video was “How to make smoke with only your mouth.” It ended up getting 16 million views. From there I just kept posting more and more on TikTok. I eventually started the #bodyhacks tag and today it has almost a billion views. When another video went viral, it resulted in a news article about me.
What’s the reaction been to your TikToks so far?
It’s very positive usually. People don’t usually know that they can do these things so many are just impressed. My audience is mainly kids and students who are into that. I do get an astronomical amount of hate though, as does every content creator.
What’s the most random reaction you’ve had so far?
If you look through the duets for my videos you can see the reactions from the audience. The funniest ones are when they take a #bodyhack out of context and joke about it, or take things more literally than I meant. Some of them are straight-up hilarious.
What’s your No. 1 tip for someone looking to gain a following as big as yours?
My advice is to find a niche and stay in it. My #bodyhack videos can get millions of views but when I post something else than the audience didn’t follow me for, the post won’t even break 100,000. This goes to show that you’ve gotta give the people what they want – consistently.
What’s next for you, both social media-wise and after VIU?
I’m currently just focusing on getting my red seal so I can create a safety net for my future. I’m working at a wonderful company (Osprey Electric) and absolutely loving it.
As for social media, I think I’ll keep doing this while it’s fun. It’s awesome to have my own little personal brand. I’ve started to post my videos on YouTube so I can start monetizing passively. I’m planning on taking this a step further with longer-format videos so definitely stay tuned!