Continuing our Start Your Own series, we interviewed Annabelle, founder of Fit As Fugly to find out what it takes to start your own hot mess, food fest events company. 

Putting the fugly back into fitness

Fit As Fugly is a pop-up fitness and food event company for life-greedy Londoners and our concept is pleasingly simple: HOT MESS, FOOD FESTS.

Fitness is an ugly thing, so at FAF you can sweat, cuss, cry, splutter, whine, laugh, moan and groan as much as you like! We don’t apologise for our sticky, sweaty appearance and seen-better-days gym gear. You are training one bad-ass machine using nothing but hard work and sheer determination and it’s going to get fugly.

We don’t care about your new lycra, insta-gym glow, or booty gains – we care about bringing people together through a love of fitness and food to push past barriers, find our groove, count ourselves back in when things are just too hard, gasp for air, and then do it all over again! !

What inspired you to start Fit As Fugly?

I had won ‘Women’s Health UK Magazine The Body’ competition in 2016 and had decided to leave my career as a primary school teacher to pursue fitness. I felt I had the opportunity to contribute something different and accessible to the fitness industry – to get more people engaging with wellness through the social element of exercise; not social media and competition! I wanted to start a company that hosted events that were completely affordable, inclusive and about a balanced lifestyle, designed for people willing to sweat as much as they eat, interested in meeting new people and sharing a Sunday experience!What skills have helped you grow your events?

My communication skills have allowed me to build connections at every level very quickly – be it customers, new brands or partnership opportunities. I love chatting to everyone that attends my events to see what they enjoyed and how their experience could have been improved. Connecting with people and making them feel considered, special and valued has definitely helped to grow the events.

How have bloggers / online influencers helped you grow your brand?

They have shown me the power of connecting with people through thoughtful, humorous content – encouraging people not to take themselves too seriously and prove that there’s a fitness event for old timers, first timers and sometimers!

Highlights of the job?

Every Sunday when we’ve completed that HOT HIIT workout and people are buzzing in the restaurant with new company – chatting away about what they’ve just achieved as a team!

Lowlights of the job?

Being 150% responsible for driving a company along, completely solo. There are moments when I want a partner, to hand over some tasks or to sit back and enjoy what I have created – but moving and progressing is essential!

How can you market your events effectively?

Through social media platforms, IRL in the areas and venues where potential Fuglies (otherwise known as people wanting to delve into fitness) may spend their time. 

How do you come up with great event ideas that stand out?

Don’t overcomplicate things. Take very simple activities that people already enjoy and marry them together. Also, take the hard work out of it for people so that you’re left with what everyone wants: friends, food, fitness (and freebies)!

What’s the most challenging thing about setting up your own business?

Accepting when the decision you made was wrong, wiping the slate clean (often each day) and going at it from a different angle!

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started?

Finding a network of other small businesses / start-ups is essential to not feeling isolated!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about organising public events?

If 1 new person organically attends your event – take that as a success!


If you’d like to be at the next Fit As Fugly event simply head to their website. 

Social: @fitasfugly