We caught up with the CEO of Fitssi and member of the Health Bloggers Community, Katie Booth, to find out how she plans to empower women through fitness.
Can you explain the ethos and motivations behind Fitssi?
Fitssi isn’t just another app, training programme, or gym; we are empowering women through a real, tangible community. Forget training alone and uploading a selfie to Instagram, or going to a class and not speaking to anyone – with Fitssi you can share a personal trainer with a squad who’s got your back. You can meet like-minded people and strengthen your body and mind with events and workshops on topics covering everything from nutrition to career to backing up your training. Whether you already love fitness and want to meet your ultimate girl-squad, or you’re looking for a supportive and effective way to start your journey, you’ll be welcomed into the Fitssi community with open arms.
How exactly does the Fitssi app work?
It’s really very simple. Once you’ve logged in, your location is shown on our map. You select the date and time you wish to train, either indoors or outdoors. The sessions scheduled by our fully certified personal trainers will then be shown on the map. You can simply click to find out who the PT is, their credentials and how many slots are left before you book and get sweating, and you can even invite your friends along through social media.
What is the idea behind the concept of ‘social fitness’?
With a girl squad who’s got your back, you can achieve anything. Fitness shouldn’t be the lonely thing you have to go and do while your friends are all out drinking. By connecting people together you make training fun, and if you make it fun, you’ll keep training. If you keep training, you make progress, you achieve the things you thought you couldn’t, and to top it all off you feel part of this incredibly supporting community.
“With a girl squad who’s got your back, you can achieve anything.”
Why do you think this concept is so popular with millennials in London?
The social scene has definitely shifted from bars and clubs to studios and brunch spots. Everyone now wants to be seen in the latest studio wearing their Lulus and Nikes. Millennials also expect flexibility; nobody wants to be tied down to seeing one PT in the same gym every time, as we’re running across the city, living and working and socialising in different areas. We now live in a more social environment than ever before, with people connected 24/7 through their iPhones, sharing Ubers, co-working and even cohabiting. In a world where we now share everything, why shouldn’t we share a personal trainer and save some money while we’re at it?
How do you think gyms and studios are adapting to the change in demand from post-work drinks to post-work workouts?
There’s still a huge opportunity out there to make fitness a truly sociable thing. While you might go to the gym or a class after work instead of the pub, most of us are still doing it alone, with the only social interaction being a quick high-five from your instructor or likes on your post-workout selfie. What we want is to fully integrated fitness into our social lives by physically training together and building a real, tangible community that supports you every step of the way.
What makes Fitssi different from other group exercise classes?
Fitssi isn’t a group class, you get a personal training session that you share with 3-5 great people. From our research we know that a group class is upwards of 8 people, so by limiting it to 3-5, you get the attention and high quality of training you need to make it really effective and efficient.
Why did you choose women as your niche; do you think men wouldn’t benefit as much from the app?
From my experience, I saw a huge gap in the market for a truly effective way to train that really spoke to women. There are so many women out there who would love to get into fitness but just don’t know where to start; they walk into the gym alone and are confronted with unfamiliar equipment and sweaty guys grunting with every bicep curl. Of course there are men who get feel uncomfortable in gym, but Sport England have reported that a massive 75% of women are intimidated by the gym environment. Personally it horrifies me that 75% of women in the world aren’t experiencing the way fitness can strengthen your body and make you feel able to take on the world. Just imagine if 75% of all women could feel more empowered through fitness, the world would be a very different place!
“Sport England have reported that a massive 75% of women are intimidated by the gym environment”
Your aim is to empower women – why is this so important in the fitness world?
So many women don’t train because they feel they need to look a certain way to even walk into a gym. As a result of constant comparison on social media, sadly we think that to be ‘into fitness’ we need to have abs, eat ‘clean’ and train 6 days a week, but that’s just not true. Fitness is open to everyone, and has the power to make you strong and healthy, both mentally and physically. Fitssi wants to change attitudes about fitness away from being a punishment for that slice of pizza, to an empowering, social part of every woman’s life, giving them the confidence to go out and live awesome lives.
“Fitness is open to everyone, and has the power to make you strong and healthy”
You paired up with Lorna Jane for your first fitness event – why did you choose this brand?
Because I love their collection and was hoping they’d give me a discount (only joking…kind of). Honestly, their “move, nourish, believe” mantra is so in line with Fitssi as a brand that we just had to have them involved. They’re a brilliant company doing great things for the women’s fitness industry, as well as making sure we all look and feel fabulous while we get a sweat on!
You had four inspiring ladies speaking at the event. How did you choose them? (Melissa Weldon, founder of Fempower; Leigh Fergus, founder of Be:Fit London; Grace Fit UK; and Lisa Jane, Wildcat Fitness)
It just made sense! I’ve known Melissa Weldon for a while through Fempower, and seeing the amazing work she’s done around bringing women together through fitness has personally been a huge inspiration. I’ve attended Be:Fit London for the last couple of years and again, seeing the the incredible community and business Leigh Fergus has built up is just amazing, as is her attitude and support of women in business. Grace is a complete superstar and fantastic role model for girls and women looking to Instagram and social media for inspiration. Even at such a young age her attitude to fitness and body image is brilliant, always believing that fitness looks different on everyone. LJ has a really inspiring journey into fitness (you can read her full transcript here), is a brilliant PT (I was aching for days after she trained me!) and is even a Lorna Jane ambassador. Altogether, the power and inspiration of these women is just mindblowing!
Finally, what’s the next step for Fitssi?
Fitssi is launching in north London from early November with plans to expand across the city by January. In a few years we aim to have built the world’s largest girl squad and have women sweating together, achieving together and empowering each other across the world, and we hope that you’ll all be a part of it!