Rachel Chatham is one of the co-organisers of Be:Fit, the health and fitness festival that’s coming back to London this May. Along with colleague Chelsea Cox she’s built an organisation to inspire and empower women. We meet Rachel, and find out how they did it.
What is Be:Fit?
Be:FIT is the UK’s original and biggest health and fitness festival for women, providing women with the knowledge and inspiration to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle. The festival is a three-day celebration of total health and wellbeing jam-packed with motivational talks from the UK’s top fitness experts, six studios of unlimited free classes, plus a shopping village filled with the top brands in the health and fitness industry.
How did the idea come about?
The team wanted to change the statistics around women’s health in the UK. Confidence and self esteem were low, women weren’t enjoying working out and taking care of their health because of the stigmas and fear surrounding their training environment. This needed to change, and our aim has always been to create an environment where women feel safe, comfortable and most importantly inspired, to really embrace their own wellness journey.
2018 is the year of the woman, do you have an empowering motto or mantra that you live by?
‘Well behaved women rarely make history.’ It’s taken Chelsea and I a lot of rule breaking in both business and the fitness industry, to get Be:FIT to where we wanted it to be. Don’t be afraid to go for what you believe in and be unapologetic in doing so! Too often as women we find ourselves apologising, or questioning how our actions make us look, but we have nothing to apologise for in fighting for what we believe is right.
How have you seen women’s approach to fitness change over the year?
It is such an exciting time to be so involved in the female fitness industry, and in the movement in female empowerment generally. The biggest and best change is that women are really supporting each other, and this is becoming more and more apparent through various campaigns running on social media currently, including our own ‘Be Your Own’ campaign. Women are boosting each other up on social media instead of tearing each other down, and its bringing a real positivity to the wellness world.
Are there any fitness myths regarding women that we need to forget?
Many! Lifting makes you big. Your weight defines you. Counting calories will make you healthier. No carbs before Marbs!!!! The industry has come a really long way, but it is understandably really hard to remove messaging from our brains that has been hammered into us for pretty much our whole lives. I work in the fitness world, consuming messages around female health every day and I STILL find myself confused with all the conflicting information out there. The best advice I can give is to find a few reliable, credible sources and stick to those for your information. And find what works for you, rather than listening too much to what has worked for others.
Do you find that you face challenges being female entrepreneurs and how do you overcome them?
Absolutely. Chelsea and I have come up against challenges time and time again being young ambitious women in the male dominated world of business. It can really knock your confidence being patronised and told you aren’t good enough. I think for us, we are very lucky that we have each other. We boost each other up and remind each other of how much we have achieved, and why we are doing this. We are also both pretty fiesty and generally not afraid to fight for what we want, we have had to learn to stand up for ourselves against the odds and stay true to our beliefs when it would be easier to back down.
What are the most popular fitness classes at Be:Fit?
This is an impossible question as we work with so many amazing brands, and there’s never an empty class! This year we have classes from UN1T, Core Collective, Another Space, Third Space, Rebound, Digme, F45, Frame, so many amazing studios, plus exclusive workouts with the likes of Alice Liveing, Bradley Simmonds, Lilly Sabri, Carly Rowena and Cat Meffan. These workouts are part of what makes Be:FIT so unique, as you can do as many as you like with no extra charge- an option that many of our attendees take advantage of cramming 5 or 6 into one day!
We’re keen to branch out more, is there a more unusual class that you can recommend?
I would definitely give our Acro Yoga a try for something a bit different. And don’t miss the Be:FIT afterparty with both Glitter Yoga with the fabulous Emily Harding, plus live DJ club-experience workouts with Ministry Does Fitness. This will be a fitness experience like you have never had before.
What was plan B?
Chelsea is already balancing 2 careers, given she is not only Head of Be:FIT Commercial but also a full time Mum! I have trained as a PT on the side, so if I wasn’t on my side of things, I think I would have ended up working at one of the brilliant gyms that we feature at Be:FIT! In terms of the future, we both see our business partnership as long term, and the world is our oyster, but we will definitely continue working together and in this wellness space.
Do you have any advice for women who are looking to get into fitness or starting their own business?
Put yourself out there as much as possible. This industry is so supportive and you never know when an opportunity might pop up, so go to events like Be:FIT, socialise with likeminded women and tell people what you want, and what you can bring to the industry. Your dream job could be right there waiting for you!