December 13, 2017
It is bloody cold here in the UK.
In fact, snowing and icy in many parts.
It is now just 2 weeks away from Xmas, so hardly the time to take up exercise you might think.
But it just so happens I have well over 160 women around the UK (and a few further afield) exercising every day as part of my Countdown to Christmas Challenge.
They are having a blast, doing a combination of running, walking, classes and strength exercises….and they are doing this simply because I am telling them to.
Strange that right?
A few weeks ago I was at a bloggers event and I met a running coach from Hertfordshire who was saying how tough it is in the winter months to motivate herself to get out there and lead her sessions, let alone get women to show up…when I told her I do all my coaching from the comfort of my warm comfy flat in East London she almost fainted.
Thats genius, she said
I first started an online challenge “The Fattymustrun Marathon Challenge” back in 2013 when I literally could not get out to run myself due to the small matter of my small screaming child who had just made an appearance into the world. I recruited 16 overweight ladies from Twitter…yes this was before I had even set up a Facebook Page for my business, and I coached them virtually for 8 months (for FREE I might add) to run their first marathon, 8 or them did run full marathons, a handful more ran half marathons, and all of them as far as I know are still enjoying the sport of running.
I realised I was on to something, because as a mum of a small child I simply couldn’t do evenings and weekends like many coaches, and I couldn’t make enough money charging by the hour for coaching because there simply wasn’t enough time in the day.
My first paid coaching programme was called….wait for it…Bish, Bash, Bosh…women paid £10 for 30 days of coaching from me. I got 30 women in the first cohort, 60 in the 2nd and over 100 in the third. I set them simple fitness, self care and mindset tasks each day and all they had to do was complete them and post #BishBashBosh or #BBB at the end of the day to say they had completed them.
The ladies from those challenges formed the pilot of The Clubhouse, my online running club which has had more than 500 members.
I have also run a range of other fitness challenges over the last 3 years, working with close to 10,000 women…all virtually. My For the Love of Running challenge which launched on Valentines Day this year had over 1000 women take part…imagine that? 1000 women looking to you for inspiration, motivation etc.
So whats the secret? How do I do it? How do I get women, many of whom don’t really enjoy exercise, often don’t prioritise their own health, and struggle to find time to do it?
Well aside from my obvious down to earth style and genius ideas, here are my top 5 tips for engaging women in the way I do…and why my programmes work….all using F words…because I love most F words.
Make them Fun
Believe it or not, I don not take myself seriously. I like to have a laugh. I like to be a little silly, a little provocative even. All of my programmes encourage women to have fun and to post about their disasters and the realities of their lives. Remember I work with ordinary every day women, they don’t have home gyms…they normally have to do their stretching between the clothes airer and the dogs basket….and that shit is funny!!! This weeks strength exercise in the xmas challenge is standing press ups, and women are posting with great excitement to tell me,
Just done mine up against the bedroom door
50 on the vicars desk.
Did mine on the washing machine whilst on the spin cycle
Just did it on the bonnet of a police car with 2 members of the local constabulary looking on
Make them Flexible
I never tell women when to run, I just tell them how often they should. The women I work with have challenging lives, many work shifts, some have kids, or other caring responsibilities. I don’t want to add to their stress. I also don’t acre if the sessions are done walking, jogging or running…unless we are focussing on running consistently. Do as much as you can whenever you can is the motto. My programmes are designed so women can take part while on holiday or while visiting friends over xmas…no excuses, there is always a way to join in. Plus if someone has bad knees and can’t do squats, they can do something with their arms instead…there are always scaling options.
Make them Fast
Most of my challenges require a maximum of 3 x 30 minutes per week. Many of them require even less, or can be done alongside other fitness commitments you have like parkrun, or a weekly zumba class. Very few people have time to head of for hours and hours of running…unless you are in my marathon training group…then I am afraid it is hours and hours in many cases. The strength aspects of the xmas challenge literally takes 10 minutes…and women are already noticing a difference…women who on day one of the sitting squat challenge saying,
wow, 40 seconds is a long time…how on earth am I going to do 100 seconds come Sunday?
And of course they do.
Make them Friendly
My programmes encourage women to be active in the group, they introduce themselves they post picture updates and videos of them doing their exercises. They share tips and give away kit they no longer need, and often they meet up in real life too, meeting up at parkrun or arranging a separate training run. We don’t just talk about fitness either? Women post about shitty things which happen at work, and their idiot partners, or annoying work colleagues…sometimes we need a safe space to offload and seek advice. this year I took 20 women from The Clubhouse to EuroDisney to take part in their weekend of races…these women only knew each other online and lived at opposite sides of the country…we had a blast. In fact we have had clubhouse members meet up with members in different countries while on holiday or travelling with work. Exercise bonds women together.
Make them aFfordable (OK so not quite an F word)
Women are often put off my pricy gym memberships or expensive 121 coaching. My programme tend to be around the £25 mark…enough to keep your foot in the game, but not so much that you are going to have to cut back on jaffa cakes and lottery tickets for a month. What I have also found is when I have done FREE challenges women have dropped off much quicker and in higher numbers, so I no longer do any FREE challenges. When women say they can’t afford my programmes, or that running should be FREE, I usually find this is because women don’t feel comfortable or used to spending money on themselves…or have too many experiences in the past on wasting money on things they don’t follow through on.
So….you might be thinking this all sounds great, where do I sign up? And what programmes do you have coming up? Well there are a few as January and February really are my busiest months as women make resolutions about fitness, and making more time for themselves. So here are my top 5 ways for working with me in 2018
5 weeks to 5K
This is my popular beginners programme as featured on ITV’s This Morning. 6 weeks of coaching culminating in a virtual (but real for you) 5K. With a closed Facebook group, a focus on mindset, accountability and technique, this programme gives you all the support you could ever need and all for £25…sign up by Friday and get £5 off Sign up Here
Spring Half Marathon Training
A 4-5 month depending on when you join programme to get you prepared to run a confident half marathon. With coaching and training plan support from me, and the support of a cohort of women training alongside you, you will love the accountability of taking part. Plus if you live close enough to London you get a FREE place in our annual TFTR training day in Hyde Park and all for £40 or £35 if you sign up before Friday Sign Up Here
Join The Clubhouse
This is where all the cool kids hang out…and I really mean that. Our online running club is a wonderful community of women of all shapes and sizes of all abilities and from all over the world. It is a magical place which I am very proud of. You get access to the Too Fat to Run academy which has hundreds of session plans, training guides and other lessons, plus a library of interviews with guest experts on every topic you could think of. It is also the place where we organise meet ups, races, and overseas trips. We currently have two options £79 for the year which is the cheapest way to take part, or £11.99 for the month. In January the yearly option is not going to be available so now is a great time to join. Sign Up Here
I often joke about my business model, saying that its just a matter of sending emails and making videos telling women what to do, but I understand the motivation of the women I work with and I really care about seeing them progress. This work is so rewarding and I love that I am taking on the big gyms and the diet industry that happily take women’s hard earned cash this time of year not caring in the slightest if they succeed or not.
Because my groups are closed you guys rarely get to see the magic that goes on, whenever I ask my women to feedback I get such lovely testimonials
We are having a ball with the Christmas Countdown, the support, camaraderie, giggles, advice and purely knowing you are not out there on your own is priceless! There is only one you, and you are worth it!
Do it do it, do it!!!!! I’m loving every day and the other ladies are so supportive!! ?
This is my first TFTR challenge and I’m loving it ❤️it’s so positive and supportive. Truly an amazing group of women from all over the world ? with a shared love of running (well after the running has been done ✅ not always while we are doing it as it hurts ? right!!). Just bloody brilliant and makes me smile everyday when I see all the strength challenge updates. No matter if you are starting C25K or marathon training this is a fabulous support tool. Sign up!!! What are you waiting for??? ??
So come on ladies, bite the bullet and get yourself in one of my groups…you’ll love it too….oh and then you can start using the hashtag my women just love using which is
In January I will be revealing some more details about an exciting new life coaching programme I am running which gives women an opportunity to work with me in a more in depth way on their health, wealth and happiness goals for 2018. We have just finished the pilot phase and the women achieved some amazing things as part of the group. If you would like to receive some more information about this in the days after xmas, please sign up here.