I first discovered the Women’s League of Health & Beauty in the 1970’s. I was in my 20’s looking to keep fit and stay slim and was recommended a local class by my friend’s Auntie. To say I was hooked from the beginning is an understatement and when I think why, it was 3 things:
1. An amazing teacher (Chris O’Rourke)
2. Movement and dance combination to great music
3. Progression of movements into a routine
I had never been to a dance or ballet class when I was younger so to be able to ‘perform’ a routine was a great sense of achievement for me. The excitement of doing this at the Royal Albert Hall took it to a whole new level.
I stayed an avid member for 5 years but then I went off travelling, moved to London with my job and for the next 25 years I kept fit at the gym and running but never found anything I loved as much as the Women’s League. Nor did I think of looking for a London class, oh the days before the World Wide Web!
Fast forward to 2006/7 and the modern technology of the internet and Google, sitting at my desk one day, I searched for Women’s League of Health and Beauty and indeed there was a very basic webpage informing me of its name change – The Fitness League, with a contact email – Lucy Martin.
I contacted Lucy to enquire about classes and possibly training as a teacher and within a day or two I was off for a taster day and enrolled on a training course with Pat Holden, another inspirational teacher, before I could even think about it.
I currently relief teach, with a view to starting my own classes in the near future. Since becoming a teacher and attending teacher training and meetings, I became curious as to what drew other members and teachers to the League in the first place and what kept them coming back year after year, sometimes for 50 years or more. Here are some of my findings from 20 current members/teachers:
1. 95% were introduced by their Mum, Auntie or a close friend – so word of mouth was the overwhelming introduction to FL
2. The combination of movement to music was the main attraction, and what kept people coming back for more, as it offers an holistic approach through stretching, strengthening and toning to achieve optimum fitness.
3. The desire to pass on the benefits, often led members into teaching, as they too wished to spread the word.
4. The friendships (some span 50 years or more) and social aspect of being part of a class or team.
What can we draw from this or learn as we take Fitness League further into the 21st Century? For sure, the more we talk about it and spread the word the more we will increase brand awareness. Are we telling anyone who will listen, the amazing benefits of FL or do we talk about it in hushed tones when friends ask us what ‘kind’ of fitness it is that we do? The one with the black pants and white shirts is how I often end up explaining it.
Let’s not make the Fitness League our best kept secret but let’s shout about it in the modern world. Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Bloggers, Vloggers, Youtube etc – are the new Mum’s, Aunties and best friends of the modern world. This is how the Millennials live their lives, through images and posts on their Twitterfeed. How often do you see something on the web that drives you to buy it, try it or not, as the case may be. We all hear about things going viral, let’s take the League viral!
It’s where we find our news and where we create our views. Whenever you post something on the Web use a hashtag, this is what makes something a trending topic #FitnessLeague #Thisgirlcan #BagotStack #Movementislife. Get your children and grandchildren to post on their Social Media pages about their amazing Mum or Grandma or let’s create a Fitness League day where we all twitter and FB, maybe on the birthday of Mary (Mollie) Bagot Stack #BagotStack
From one Fitness League fan to another – let’s safeguard it for our children and our children’s children….why wouldn’t we? It is the most amazing form of all round exercise you can do and it is what keeps our members fit and active well into their 90’s!
I wish to thank all of the teachers and members who sent me their reasons for joining and what keeps them coming back. I was inspired so let’s continue to inspire our members and the members of the future, let the Bagot Stack method live on.
NB. PLEASE NOTE THAT SINCE WRITING THIS ARTICLE THE NAME HAS NOW CHANGED TO – FLexercise.
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