At the end of last month I experienced London’s Be:Fit Festival for the very first time. Maybe it’s because I’m “in the industry” now, but I swear that until this year I hadn’t heard of it. Apparently Be:Fit has gone from strength to strength since the inaugural event in March 2017. (It was held at Olympia and, according to the people I’ve spoken to that were there, it was just a bit sh*t).
This year, all of a sudden, everything in my social media feed was about the lead up to this event. “Europe’s only health and fitness festival dedicated to Women”. April 2017, Be:Fit Festival at Islington’s Business Design Centre was the place to be for any female fitness fanatic.
I was obviously thrilled when I won complimentary tickets to attend the full weekend this year. The chance to check it out for myself without overly worrying about filling a tote bag with enough bitesize freebies to make up the cost of the £25 ticket. Kerching!
I dragged Tom along with me on the Saturday. There were other men there, despite it being a ‘woman’s’ festival, although a couple of people did remark on how brave he was! In retrospect, I do think that around 18,000 girls parading their sports tights, crops and freshly braided hair, high on endorphins…well yes that must be pretty intimidating. I went with friends on the Sunday, Tom having politely declined the invitation…
The Be:Fit Breakdown
Well…the class. I wish I could have spent two days doing back to back classes, but a) I don’t think I could’ve handled it and b) with the way that Be:Fit’s booking system works, it would have been pretty impossible. 50% spaces for the classes are booked in advance (and obviously get taken up within seconds). The remaining 50% are reserved for on the door. Which obviously means you have to plan your day down to the T and get queuing a good hour in advance if there’s a class you’re desperate to go to. Even then, VIP members get priority so there’s no guarantee still that you won’t be turned away.
The team from Rebound UK had the right idea, – running 5 minute ‘drop in’ classes on the mezzanine. Literally a hop-on hop-off exercise class. Their instructors were absolutely full of beans the whole day, even throwing trampoline flash-mobs into the crowd every few hours or so! It fitted perfectly with the festival set up and really gave a great atmosphere to the whole event.
I did manage to do a class with Un1t on Sunday. With bases in London Bridge and Fulham, Un1t specialise in High Intensity, Functional classes – a bit like F45. It was kind of intimidating because there were 5 instructors running around and “motivating”, rather than just one. Their motivational phrases ranged from “Yes, keep going, you’re doing great!” to “Don’t you stop now I need to see you sweating“. I don’t know, maybe they were just going for the “something for everyone” approach. It was less of a community feel than what I experienced going into F45…but I guess that’s hard to achieve in a one off class at a festival. Still, I left the studio with that satisfying exhaustion of a great workout!
I had to work at a similar event once upon a time when I worked at the Royal Academy of Dance. I spent all of three hours (nothing) stood at their stall and it honestly drained me. Which is why I have so much respect for the owners of small business at these sort of events. They spend the whole weekend behind their stands promoting and selling their products. Plus even more time planning, setting up and clearing away. It takes a lot of effort, organisation and energy. You can really tell when the people behind the stand are genuinely passionate as well.
There was a decent range of brands available, some that I’d heard of before and other’s that I hadn’t. I was always going to get my fair share of samples from Pip and Nut and CocoPro – but finding a delicious and genuinely healthy Ice Cream brand (Oppo) was an unexpected surprise!
To be honest, looking back now, it’s all a bit of a blur. I remember being very overwhelmed, particularly on the Saturday when it was busiest. Festivals are strange places – I was reminded a lot of my university fresher’s fair where you go around armed with your email address and a bag full of freebies signing up to things you have no intention of committing to. It’s an interesting experience with a brilliant concept. I’m glad I’ve been once but would I go again? I’m not so sure…
I have not been endorsed by any of the companies featured here – even if I were, all opinions would be a) true and b) my own. Life’s too short to speak other people’s words.