Laura Fullerton is a foodie, fitness lover and the founder of Fitty LDN – a monthly subscription box for active men and women. We caught up with Laura to find out about the inspiration behind Fitty LDN, and her 2017 predictions for the fitness world.
Can you tell us a bit about your own personal journey to fitness?
I’ve always been active and used to compete in horse riding, but I was never into the gym. Then around four years ago it changed – I went to the gym with some of my guy friends and fell in love with weightlifting. Today I still do a split routine in the gym, and I also go to classes at the boutique studios around town with friends to change it up (and because I really hate cardio, it’s a great way to inflict it on myself!). My focus is on strength and flexibility – I want to be able to do strict muscle-ups and get into gymnastics. I think there’s something really cool about seeing your body get stronger and adapt.
Naturally, fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition, and I LOVE nutrition – the impact different foods have on our bodies is fascinating. When I go into WholeFoods and health stores, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. That excitement and passion is the driving force behind Fitty.
What is the idea behind Fitty London?
It all started one day when I was trying to put together a fitness-food-style hamper for a friend, but it didn’t exist. So I thought “why don’t I create it?”. So I developed the idea and it morphed into a subscription box business model, and that’s how Fitty was born. Someone said it’s the GlossyBox or BirchBox of the fitness world, which I guess it is.
Essentially, it’s an exciting way to discover new fitness foods and workout products, and have them delivered to your door. Our boxes change monthly, and you can either subscribe, or buy the current month’s box as a one-off (but once they’re gone, they’re gone!). Then in addition to our usual boxes, we’ve also created The 26.2 Box, which is specifically for runners and endurance athletes – we worked with SportsAid on it and donate £2 for every box sold to the charity.
What are the benefits of getting a monthly fitness box subscription instead of trying new products separately?
There are three main benefits. Firstly, it’s value. Each box is worth a lot more than our customers pay (we all know how expensive healthy foods can be!). Secondly, it’s the ease. There are so many amazing brands who only retail online (and postage and packaging suddenly racks up the cost), plus it takes a lot of time to shop around and discover new products. Fitty brings it all together, right to your doorstep or desk. Which brings us onto the third point… the excitement of getting a surprise through the post every month (something that isn’t a bill!). You might discover that you absolutely love turmeric powder and it really makes a difference to how you feel, and you wouldn’t have tried it otherwise. Plus, treating ourselves is so important, and everything in a Fitty box is good for you. It’s a win-win.
What kind of workout products can people find in your fitness boxes?
We’ve had a variety of products, from high quality skipping ropes used by Crossfit athletes, to resistance bands, GymBoss interval timers and more. It’s not just workout products either – we have all kinds of lifestyle products. Last month we had the most amazing sweat towels in a variety of prints from a very cool brand called Areté, and we’ve also had Deep Heat roll-on, Epsom bath salts and things like that. Nutritious foods are the main focus in each box though, and we always make sure there’s a good mix of products from the big brands you see in the health food shop and amazing small startups too.
Who is the Fitty London consumer? What are their likes and dislikes?
First up, they’re awesome! Our customers are a good split of males and females, and although there’s a heavy focus in London, we’ve got a spread of Fitties throughout the UK, with particular hotspots in Manchester, Wales and Devon.
They appreciate the importance of nutrition and staying fit, and are keen to discover new products, brands, while staying ahead of the trends. They love the variety of products out there, but it can be daunting or time-consuming knowing where to start. They’re busy balancing work and life, as well as squeezing in workouts and staying healthy… never mind shopping around online and in-store. That’s why Fitty is great – it does the hard work and helps you to stay motivated and on track, try new things and learn about them, without putting in effort and time.
It’s a really supportive and empowering community of people. Some just want to eat a little healthier and love getting a box of inspiration delivered once a month, and others are counting their macros and competing. Fitty’s perfect for everyone, no matter what their goals are!
How do you find and select the products in your boxes?
I spend a LOT of time researching – online, in-store, chatting to nutritionists, athletes and all kinds of people. I’d say it’s about 50% me approaching companies, and 50% being contacted by them about featuring in our boxes. I’m a massive foodie, so one of my favourite jobs at Fitty is product testing! Usually around 3-5 people try each product and as long as the general consensus is that it’s delicious, then it’s in. We have a golden rule that if a product feels like it’s something you’d get free at a fitness event, we won’t include it. We’ve got a premium angle, and would rather include full sized products so customers can properly experience the product and see whether they love it.
How do you cater to different dietary requirements with the snacks in your boxes? (eg. vegan, gluten-intolerant, paleo)
At the moment we have one core box a month. The products inside are often vegan, paleo etc, but we don’t offer whole boxes catering to different diets or goals – yet. As a very small and very young startup, it’s really important to keep things simple and absolutely nail what we do before expanding our offering. Watch this space!
What are your favourite pre and post workout snacks?
If I’m doing a light session, I’ll have a coffee and some energy balls, or Pip & Nut almond butter smothered on a banana. But if I’m doing a big session, I’ll make sure I have a good meal about an hour before with carbs and protein for fuel (usually sweet potato, chicken and half an avocado). Then I always have a protein shake with BCAAs straight after I workout – I use chocolate vegan protein with almond milk (or water if I’m not that well prepared!) and it’s delicious – the best reward after a good sweat session!
How do your personal food and fitness choices impact on what you include in the boxes?
I try to not let them impact what goes inside the boxes (otherwise everything would be coconut flavoured!). I use friends, customers, bloggers (and anyone who’ll chat!) as sounding boards to test ideas, see what people love, dislike, and things they’d like to see more of. As I mentioned earlier, I make sure at least three people try each product before it goes in, which also ensures it’s not a biased selection. A good example of this is that, personally, I hate reishi mushrooms, but they’re incredibly nutritious and loaded with health benefits, and so we’ll be featuring a concentrated extract powder soon.
What do you predict will be the next biggest trend in the food and fitness scene?
Coming into winter, we’re going to see a lot of ‘super teas’, which are essentially teas with added vitamins and health benefits. A simple but very neat idea. And as well as new innovations, I think we’ll see a lot of development in products like nut milks as they become more mainstream. Not only will they be offered in more coffee shops, but I think we’ll see new brands popping up making small batches with innovative flavours from different nuts, like macadamia, pistachio, cashew etc. Because we as customers are becoming savvier and questioning what’s inside products, we’re creating the demand for better, healthier products that come from sustainable sources, which is awesome.
I think fitness and wellness festivals will become very popular in 2017, with the likes of Lululemon and Sweaty Betty putting on their first this year to test the water. Likewise, I have a sneaky feeling that bootcamps and wellness retreats abroad will continue to rise and become the norm – rather than going to Ibiza for a four-day blowout, people will go to the quieter side of Ibiza for a four-day reset.