Iris is the founder of The Wellscene: a series of pop-up fitness events and classes. She is on a mission to inspire, enliven and re-energise busy Londoners through fun and exciting fitness events.
The Wellscene is the first and original company to organise fitness and yoga pop-up experiences at unique and unusual locations across London. They team up with the best trainers and teachers from around London to build a whole experience around their classes and give health conscious and wellness-loving Londoners an experience worth remembering.
The initial inspiration for The Wellscene (formerly Secret Urban Escape) came about when I was on holiday in Australia back in 2012. I was really inspired by the lifestyle people have over there. They seemed to do many more active and healthy things together with friends and I loved the idea of that. Back then, most of the socialising in London was centered around drinking and I got a bit bored of that.
I thought to myself ‘wouldn’t it be great to do more active and healthy things with my friends back in London’, but didn’t do anything about it as I had just started a new corporate job. Fast forward to 2014, when I had left the corporate world as it made me miserable, I was still uninspired by the socialising scene in London, so started organising fitness and yoga pop-ups that make living a healthy and active lifestyle more fun and sociable.
In the beginning
Our very first event, Pilates in the Park, took place in June 2014. It was a one hour dynamic pilates class in a secret little hideaway in Hyde Park, accompanied by soft live guitar music and followed by a healthy picnic style brunch — courtesy of The Detox Kitchen. We were so lucky as it was a gloriously sunny day! When we first launched the pop-up events, we started by spreading the word amongst our friends and many of them came, which was amazing. We also used Instagram and Facebook, but didn’t have many followers back then so I’m not sure how many found out about us through those channels.
We host two events per month, typically on a Friday evening. One of them will be fitness-based (e.g. boxing, HIIT, bootcamp, running) and one will be yoga or pilates-based. Most of them take place at unique and unusual locations throughout London that we keep secret until a few days before the event. After class, we serve a healthy and wholesome meal. Sometimes we add a theme to the evening, like ‘glow in the dark’, or have live music after class.
We like to host our pop up events in a range of places that aren’t usually associated with fitness as there are so many amazing places in London that you’d never ordinarily know of! I’ve always liked the idea of taking people there. What’s more important though, is that all of our events are more than just a fitness or yoga class. They are whole experiences, and taking people to an unusual or unique location gives the events a wow-factor and really adds something special to the experience.
The rise in popularity of pop-up fitness events and classes
I think people are expecting more from their fitness classes these days — they want to have fun and be entertained. You can see that in the rise of the boutique fitness studios as well as pop-up fitness events and classes: they offer more than just a workout, it’s the whole setting and experience that makes them so popular.
What makes The Wellscene unique is that we team up with London’s best fitness trainers and yoga teachers to offer you a variety of events, from pilates to boxing and yoga to HIIT. On top of that, you never 100% know what to expect from one of our events. Whether it’s the type of location or a surprise chair massage station, we always throw in something different.
Starting your own pop-up fitness company
It takes time to build something sustainable! It really is a case of taking small steps, day after day after day. It really bothers me when I read stories that glorify an overnight success as I believe they give a wrong impression of what it really takes to build a successful and — most importantly — sustainable business. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create something from nothing and sometimes years of work before it becomes a true success (whatever that may mean to you).
My advice for anyone trying to break into the fitness industry is to set a vision for what you’d like to achieve in 5 – 10 years and then start taking small steps every day (or maybe almost every day, we all need days off!) to get you closer to that vision. Hold on to that vision, yet remain open to opportunities that come up along your path, and just keep on going. You’re in it for the long haul, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a bad day or are not seeing results immediately.