So This is Christmas. Fit School’s 2018 Review.

Fit School 2018 review Epping Essex Pilates Fitness Running

As the year comes to an end, we like to reflect on our highlights, what we’ve learned and how we, as a business have changed.

December for us is a time for winding down on classes, since like you, we’re pretty busy just hanging onto the diary with its Christmas plays, carol services and family visits. But it also gives us space to plan for the year ahead (and more).

In 2018 we welcomed lots of new faces to Fit School and inevitably said goodbye to a few who have either moved on, gone back to work, or who’s priorities have changed. We do always say that if you get the love with us and then move on – having found what works for you – that’s great! Our passion is for long-term, life style change, not a short term fad. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still miss you.

Fit School is growing, we now have 37 members compared to 23 in January.

There have been 21 brand new Fit School babies born this year.

Each week (during term time) we have, on average, 100 attendances to our 11, weekly classes.

We’ve hosted two Fit School Hubs, our online training groups, since October.

Big FIT Day Out

Sadly this year we haven’t been able to host as many live workshops and events as in previous years but our first BIG Day out last January was a hit. Thanks to Michelle, Natalie, Chris and Sarah for helping us out and for all our participants and guests who attended. We enjoyed being able to offer a range of sessions in one afternoon and especially welcoming more men into the fold (a trend which has continued throughout the year). Chris’ Wing Chun session was fun – and enabled us to all learn some new skills. Finishing off the afternoon with a cheesy, aerobics mash up and team teach is something we want to do more of.

Next year’s Big FIT Day out is scheduled for January 19th at Epping Primary School.


One of the reasons we weren’t able to host our usual number of live events was Karen’s involvement with Active Essex. This year’s major challenge for team Fit School was Karen’s consulting work, stepping up from teaching and working within Epping Forest to take on all of Essex with an activity challenge.

If you’re late to the party and don’t know the story – following Karen’s application and interview to become a Trustee for Active Essex, Karen was offered a consulting role to lead the activity campaign 30:30 Essex. The concept, which Karen was already implementing through Fit School was to encourage all of Essex to do 30 minutes of heart raising activity for the 30 days of June (or any month with a 30)! After lots of meetings (this is Essex County Council hosted and part lottery funded), project proposals and stretched comfort zones, Karen took on leadership of the campaign back in January. It went live in June 2018 and reached over 1000 Essex residents and over 30 Essex schools.

The big success for us was seeing the results in schools. Children in particular latched on to the message of the campaign which was that 30 minutes of activity every day isn’t just for fast runners or those who are good at sport. It is for everyone. It could be walking the dog, teaching your headteacher to floss or dancing but it’s about moving. And the campaign was inclusive, reaching the 20% or more who will never attend gyms as well as non-able bodied participants.

Whilst we’re aware that we were very stretched as a team during summer of this year, we know you were all behind us. And we were touched by your loyalty. Coming to teach classes during that time when we were seriously stretched was like coming into a warm, comfort zone.

We’re waiting on confirmation of #3030Essex 2019. It’s happening – in theory – with much discussion over limiting Karen as a resource, ensuring there are more resources available and reaching more people.

Part of the campaign meant we called on you to help us with our ‘summer’ photo shoot, in February! Oh how we still laugh at how cold we all were and that the next day the UK was blanketed in snow. Thank you team and thank you also to baby R, the two dogs, ‘older’ people and ethnically diverse individuals for helping us to ensure our campaign imagery was as representative of all of Essex as was possible given the limits of Epping demographics. And thanks to the Fit School community for being such a diverse community and embracing ‘difference’ as wonderful.

Community and Charity Events

But 2018 wasn’t just about #3030Essex. We managed to squeeze in some other community events. In July we helped to warm up Race for Life Epping (at North Weald), as well as having lots of Fit School members taking part, in spite of it being on the same night as ‘that’ World Cup game. Karen also warmed up Race for Life Lea Valley in October on the same day as taking part in a YogaLeggs photoshoot and joining Chris for the #thisgirlcanessex festival at Zinc Arts, Ongar.

Man Vs. Lakes

Then of course there was Chris’ Man Vs. Lakes event back in July. Where he took on the Lake District’s ups, downs, wets, colds and of course, traversing the infamous quick sands of Morecambe Bay.

In June, Karen was invited once again to open up the Active Essex, Summer Sports Games over at Basildon Sporting Village. This took place just a few weeks after interviewing and training with double Olympic gold medal gymnast, Max Whitlock at the same venue.

Pilates Workshop

In October we were back to what we love doing best, with a live workshop in Ongar. It was our Pilates Extra workshop where we used homemade equipment to create a resistance based workout to go with some advanced Pilates moves.

Women in Fitness Summit

Also in October, Karen was invited to speak at the Women in Fitness summit. It was a brilliant and inspiring event, aimed at encouraging women in the fitness industry to step up and nurturing newcomers into the fold. 

Breast Cancer Now Walk

And who could forget our fantastic Breast Cancer Now walk through Epping on October 19th? It was a sea of pinkness and solidarity. Grea to team up with the Forest Gate Inn too. We raised £370 in one morning from a little idea.

Our Team

Throughout the year we’ve had the fantastic support of Michelle, who helps manage all our class bookings, enquiries and registers. Sarah, who teaches our post natal fitness and the lovely ladies of Move and Tone, our body conditioning classes for over 50s. Matt, on our website and most recently Claire, who has been helping Karen with planning and managing Fit School. Thank you to all our fabulous team.

Looking ahead to 2019 we have a little list of classes we want to add to our schedule. We’re spreading our wings and reaching out to expand our team – more daytime, conditioning classes are a top priority. We’re also cracking on with the Hub. We’ve got a little band of Fit Schoolers who want to do personal training at least once a month and another group who are taking great strides with Chris’ fitness programmes. We’re planning more live events including a retreat in October, for which Karen is going to team up with the lovely Mary, a Pilates instructor and friend based in Enfield.

We couldn’t do any of this without our lovely Fit Schoolers and all of you who spread the word and the love. 

We are looking forward to taking some time off this Christmas and coming back in January refreshed.

May we take this opportunity (cheesy much?) to wish you all a very happy Christmas and new year that is filled with peace and cherished memories.

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