I attended my first FitBloggin what feels like yesterday, but was back in September 2012. I roomed with my friend Alicia and two new friends Carly and Laura. I also traveled partially with my friend Lyn. If you really want details of last year check out the following posts:
- The pre-game show: I discuss everything I’m looking forward to based on the published schedule
- FitBloggin 2012 in Pictures: Highlights of my trip
- FitBloggin 2012 the actual recap
- A recap of my tour with McCormick (Off site trip and sponsor)
Instead of giving you another play-by-play, I thought instead I would share a few pieces of advice:
Tip #1 Don’t expect people to know you. Now I’m not saying your blog friend won’t be excited to see you IRL, but I know when I went last year I spent the whole weekend waiting to hear “OMG YOU’RE ROJ I LOVE YOU” and I NEVER did. Everyone I knew either didn’t know me (hey there’s A LOT of us to know!) or if they knew me, it was because we interacted regularly. I never had a “fan girl” moment. And to be honest, waiting for that moment put a damper on my weekend. If I had gone into it with the intention to make friends, instead of gaining more “press” (and I hate to admit at times I did think like that) then it would have been a better experience. Some conferences are about making business connections, working with brands or partnering with “big name” bloggers, FitBloggin is different, FitBloggin is about building our community and bonding with each other. I think that’s why so many people love it.
Tip #2 Pack food. I’m not saying there won’t be food and I’m not even using this as my moment to preach about caring for your own food concerns. I list it solely because you may find yourself in a situation where food isn’t as readily available as you originally hoped. Layovers at airports become too short, lines for cabs become too long. Lectures may run over or move rooms. Food courts close down early. Packing food might even be as simple as snagging food from the hallways to carry with you! Last year I snacked on hard boiled eggs from Eggland’s Best, bars from SoyJoy and cheese from Laughing Cow.
Tip #3 What to wear. I am the last person to pretend I am fashinable in any sense of the word, but I did pick up on a few trends. Clearly workout clothes were the most popular choice. Lots of leggings with “cute” tops. Cute may be funny saying, cute may be a sassy cut or cute may be bold colors. A lot of people attend the morning workouts then head to the sessions from there, bringing with them a jacket or long sleeve shirt if they get cold. Afternoon sometimes brought out more people in jeans or more traditional casual pants. This may be people who opted to shower or just change at lunch. Presenters almost all wore a nice dress or slacks with a blazer. When people decided to go out on the town I saw a lot of summery dresses and skirts with dressy sandals or jeans with dressy blouses. Personally I opted for jeans and a tee most of the time. At the Unilever reception most people put on nicer dresses with heels or the equivalent for men. I’d say what you’d see at a summer evening wedding.
Tip #4 Don’t stick with the same crowd. I say this two-fold. From someone who stuck with mostly the same people I left feeling like maybe I didn’t get the most from my experience, maybe I should have asked more people what their story was and how life was going? From someone who looked at groups who began to seem “cliquish” the longer a group consists of the same 4-6 people the longer is seems like maybe they don’t want to be infiltrated by outside forces.
Tip #5 Take Pictures and take notes. Take pictures of the hotel, the lectures, the food, and when you’re walking around outside. Looking back on last year’s trip I regret not having more pictures of my surroundings. Notes are also helpful, because SO MUCH is going on, it’s crazy to think you will remember every store, every person, every historical fact. I know I would rather have a reference sheet then spend says hoping a word will pop into my head waking me up from sleep.
Tip #6 Physical activity is only a part of it . Yes, there is a ton of stuff to do. I’m already floored by all I will be doing this year. I’m trying out a new type of exercise, JumpSport is back with their trampolines, Zumba will be there (and I’m getting special new pants) and lots of other things from Reebok! In 2012, I couldn’t do the exercise classes due to a serious injury. I felt like a freak show and I sulked. If I had realized there isn’t any shame in injury/recovery there are a ton of people I would have connected with more, like the amazing Robby. I think there’s actually a few small group discussions on this topic! So if you’re worried about not being “fit” enough or “bloggin” enough to attend, there is nothing to fear! Even the last day 5K had a TON of walkers. I feel like I managed to get every penny’s worth of my time last year, even without being able to run or do any impact sports. Talking to others there was actually part of the reason I pitched my topic of emphasizing emotional & mental health more in the fitness world.
Tip #7 SWAG is swell, but don’t get a big head. SWAG (Stuff We All Get) did you know that’s what it meant? Well, it’s awesome. I know one of the things that blew me away at this conference last year was all the free “stuff”. It is not a joke when people say pack an extra suitcase. Seriously, do it. I took home a duffle stuffed full of free stuff and still have freebies tucked into my carry-on and checked baggage! That being said, the companies giving things out have the intention of spreading the word about their business, be respectful. I often struggle with this myself. Example: If you don’t like tank tops (I don’t) no need to go on and on about how much you hate it (I have before), don’t wear it or use it for a giveaway or simply give it to a friend. Hey I saw people swapping stuff all over the place for other things. That “lousy” tank top might get you a new pair of sunglasses if you play your cards right. Let’s be honest though, would you rather trade with the person who is smiling and enjoying the conference or the person who won’t shut-up about how “unfair” things are at times?
Thanks for checking out my tips! 17 more days to go and I can’t wait! What would your tips be for newbies or returning people? What questions do you have? Check back later this week when I do a “Pre-game” for 2013.