So first, let me tell you what Fitbloggin’ is. It’s a conference “for bloggers interested in fitness, wellness, good food and a healthy lifestyle.” (I took that right from their website. Obviously.) I’ve heard the name here and there, but I’ve never been to any kind of conference before – let alone a blogging one. It seemed so far out of my comfort zone, it might as well have been on another continent.
Funnily enough, it kind of was.
A few months back, I decided to get serious about this blog and move forward with it somehow. I’ve felt a little lost and sort of alone because I haven’t actually met anyone in real life who blogs consistently like I try to do. After doing a bit of research, I mentioned to James that I wanted to attend Fitbloggin’ next year. I was going to put it on my vision board in case we moved back to the mainland before the next conference. Getting anywhere from Hawai’i is such an event.
He thought it was silly to delay the trip, and he suggested I just go this year. The conference was being held in Denver, and he reminded me that I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado! Um, no. No! I haven’t flown solo (literally) since before we were married, and it’s not my favorite thing to do even with a group. James is my safe zone – my security blanket. Aside from entering college an eternity ago, it’s been forever since I’ve really branched out on my own to do something like this.
Which meant it was the perfect reason to do it. I’m a big girl, and I need to act like it.
So I booked my flight, purchased my conference ticket, and thankfully found another attendee who offered me space in her hotel room.
On June 24th, I packed my bags and headed to the airport to catch a red-eye back to the mainland. My stomach was full of nerves.
I didn’t sleep much on the six hour flight, but I was so grateful to catch the sunrise out of the plane window as we neared LAX. It was absolutely magnificent.
After a quick layover in California, we headed to Phoenix for another transfer. I ate breakfast, applied my makeup, downed my fourth cup of coffee, and tried to calm my nerves. The coffee didn’t prove useful for the latter.
And before I knew it, we were closing in on Denver. Eek!
I arrived at the airport and met up with another attendee (thanks, Tracy!) so we could catch a ride to the hotel together. I got to have my first Uber experience, and I’m happy to say it went well!
We arrived at the Westin and I checked into my room. I had a few hours to pump myself up along with two of my roommates before the check-in and Expo started.
But apparently that wasn’t enough. I went downstairs, signed in, made my name tag, grabbed my swag bag, and promptly got completely overwhelmed by all of the people. Where was my husband?! I really needed him. And I don’t care how co-dependent that sounds.
Thankfully, this guy grabbed me and introduced himself.
He encouraged me to take my swag bag upstairs so I could enjoy the night without lugging all of my goods around. And that was a great idea, except I took the opportunity to also have a mini panic attack in my hotel room. So. Many. People. One of the important things to note about Fitbloggin’ is that many of the people who attend have been coming for years – some since its inception way back in 2010 by founder Roni Noone. They have become a family, and while it’s beautiful to see, it’s also scary to attempt to fit yourself into the fold. (But they welcome you with open arms, so the fear is pretty unfounded.)
I messaged with my girls back home, and they encouraged me to stand up straight, dry my eyes, and head back downstairs. So I did. I grabbed a glass of wine (and then another), and before the night was over, I was participating in a conga line. So I’m happy to say I mostly got over myself.
After spending hours meeting new friends, I headed back upstairs to hang with my roomies. I got super lucky with them – we all had a great time chatting. That’s Stephanie on the left, Tara in the middle, and then Denise next to me. And I went to sleep feeling proud that I survived the first night. On Friday morning, I woke up stupid early to attend a boot camp session led by trainer and Inspirator Erin Kreitz-Shirey. She’s so nice and cute – and short just like me. But then your opinion starts to change a bit about her after she’s been kicking your behind for an hour. I seriously hurt for four days after this workout. We did get to keep those resistance bands though which was awesome!
See how sweet she looks? Well, looks can be deceiving. 😉
After the boot camp, I enjoyed some coffee and a great buffet breakfast. I ran up to shower, and then it was time to start the small group sessions. There was another workout around that time, but I felt sufficiently exercised so I skipped it.
So for each session time slot, there were multiple offerings, and we just had to choose one to attend. Thankfully, several volunteers took detailed notes and blogged about each of the conflicting sessions so we didn’t have to miss out on the information entirely. (Because this post will be long as is, I won’t touch on the sessions I didn’t attend. But you can find more info about the 2015 schedule on the Fitbloggin’ site.)
I attended a session led by Ty Godwin from SeekingBostonMarathon.com called “How to Build Readership Though Social Media.” It was so eye-opening for me because I realized – for the first time – how important networking is. Other bloggers aren’t magic – they don’t know this stuff naturally. They learn from each other. The problem is, I’ve been hidden away in my house trying to do it all on my own! Of course I’ve had trouble getting anywhere. Not all communication about the internet happens virtually. Duh.
I participated in the discussion frequently and took copious amounts of notes. I was determined to get the most out of my time there! Immediately after the discussion ended, I headed to an hour-long Zumba Dance Fest which was already in full swing. It was fantastic and led by a handful of instructors who did a great job of changing up the moves, difficulty and pace. That was immensely helpful to those of us who aren’t so coordinated. In the photo below, you can see Nellie (aka Brooklyn Active Mama) leading the bunch. I also love Miss Dacia‘s face. She was clearly having a blast. I want to take a minute to give a huge shout out to Carrie from Carrie D Photography. I brought my phone, my good compact camera, and my DSLR so I could make sure I took a ton of photos. But what I couldn’t get was photos of myself having these experiences. I am immensely grateful for all of the memories she captured for all of us who attended Fitbloggin’. And the fact that I get to use them in this recap? You know how happy that makes me. So thank you, Carrie!
After the Zumba Fest, we had a small break. I had previously joined a team for the first Fitbloggin’ Scavenger Hunt, and we took the opportunity to knock off some items from our list. I will spare you the majority of the photos we took, but there were a few super fun ones. (Spoiler alert…we didn’t win, but we had fun!) This one is my favorite, because…obviously. From right to left, my team members were Susan, Danielle, Jodi, and Margo. They were a blast to work with. We had to get a picture with an Ignite speaker (more on that below), and we chose David Garcia from Keep It Up, David! I had the good fortune of chatting with him later in the day about his journey, and his timeline is very similar to mine. He’s been maintaining a 160-lb weight loss for years now. Pretty incredible. We also had to get a shot with Roni’s mom, Gerri! After the break, we broke up into our second sessions for the day. The one I attended was called “Personal Branding Workshop: Learning to Craft Your Brand Beyond Your Blog”, and it was led by Emily Ho from AuthenticallyEmmie.com & AuthenticallySocial.com. I really enjoyed this session because she provided a detailed worksheet for us to fill out. I like worksheets. She has built such an amazing brand around herself, and I have a lot I can learn. I actually need to pull out that worksheet and revisit some of the questions. Putting that on my to-do list riiiiiight now. Up next, we had a fabulous lunch and we were treated to a fashion show sponsored by Soybu. These ladies rocked those outfits.
After the lunch, I headed outside with a few of my teammates to check out Denver and knock some things off of our Scavenger Hunt list. I was mostly the photographer while my teammates did the dirty work, but I did get to pose in front of a pot dispensary! So that was awesome. One exciting moment was when Susan had to propose to a stranger on the street. It seemed fitting that she’d ask a woman because this was the day of the historical SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling. (Yay equality!) We were busy having so much fun that I missed the next presentation altogether. Oops. But I did make it back in time to join Kelly Olexa as she told us all about FitFluential. This woman is a powerhouse, and I felt personally inspired by the discussion. (That sounds so trite, but I mean it genuinely.)
After another break, it was time for the Ignite Fitness keynote event! It was emcee’d by Kia Ruiz. There was food… There was a flash mob/montage dance…
There were many five minute presentations given from members of the Fitbloggin’ family and many profound stories told. (Too many to try to pick one to show.) Everyone took a minute to celebrate the conference’s tireless leader, Roni.
But one of my favorite moments in the evening came from Dubyawife (aka Christine). I don’t have the full video, but here is a small clip that in no way does the piece of slam poetry justice. Please visit her own Fitbloggin’ recap to read the full poem.
And that’s how you end @fitbloggin Ignite! @dubyawife #fitbloggin A video posted by FitBloggin (@fitbloggin) on
When the event ended, I wandered out into the lobby and found a group of people deep in discussion. I gathered up every single bit of courage I had and headed over in their direction. And man, I’m so glad I did. Kelly from No Thanks to Cake (pictured far left) was leading a little informal group chat, and I needed in on the love.
The group grew, so we moved to another room that provided a bit more seating. We spent hours talking about our stories, our fears, our struggles, and yes, our triumphs. It felt so nice to be around people who really get me and my journey. No judgments and no holding back; just a few hours filled with compassion and support. It was pretty kick-ass.
On Saturday morning, I totally skipped the workouts and gave myself some time to sleep in. The time change was not doing great things for my sleeping schedule, and I decided that being well-rested for the educational part of the conference was more important than getting my sweat on. (Excuses, excuses…)
After breakfast (and lots of coffee), I joined in on the small group discussion called “Sponsorship Savvy: How to Obtain Sponsored Campaigns and Ambassadorships.” It was led by GiGi Dubois (from Gigi Eats Celebrities) and Schnelle Acevedo (again, from Brooklyn Active Mama). Oh MAN, I learned a ton! Mostly, I learned that bloggers who are making real money are busting their behinds. I also learned that honest and integrity are truly valued when it comes to product reviews and campaigns, and that was really fantastic to hear. They also gave us super detailed printouts to keep, and I’m a huge sucker for those.
Next up was another workout that I skipped so I could run upstairs and shower. Sorry, no pictures of that.
I came back down for what turned out to be a super impactful session called “Pro Blogger Mastermind: What Comes Next? What do we do now to expand our blogging universe?” It was led by Dan R. Morris and Rachel Marie Martin from Blogging Concentrated. I keep asking myself, “Where do I go from here?!” and this session was incredibly helpful at least in terms of providing some ideas and giving me some avenues to pursue.
After the morning session, quite a few attendees left to go to the off-site lunch sponsored by the California Avocado Commission. I didn’t sign up before the spots were filled, but by all accounts, it was a pretty delectable experience. Because we both missed out, one of my roommates and I headed out to find some delicious Denver cuisine. We succeeded and scored some yummy bison burgers at Ted’s Montana Grill.
It was also at this time that the conference’s sponsors were available for one-on-one meetings with attendees. I missed out on that as well, but honestly, I felt like my plate was full enough with the rest of the activities. Maybe next year I’ll be ready for that.
When we came back, it was nearly time for the next session. This one was called “Attract More Readers, Make More Money and Get More Done…All While You’re Sleeping. How to Automate Your Biggest Blogging Tasks WITHOUT Becoming a Robot” and it was presented by Katy Widrick. I LOVED this session. I learned about a ton of blogging tools that I haven’t been using, and I got actual feedback about how others are implementing them into their daily tasks.
And then it was onto the last session timeslot for the conference. I was so sad! But I was excited that I got to wrap up the educational portion of Fitbloggin’ with my Scavenger Hunt team leader, Susan Ito. Her session was called “Writing Lab: Revision Circuit Training”. We had different stations in which specific parts of the editing process were addressed (titles, endings, word clutter, etc). And between each station, we moved around the room to clear our heads. It was pretty interesting, and it was particularly helpful because I really should edit more of what I publish. (For the record, I’ll start doing that after this post.)
And then it was onto the evening’s reception which was hosted by JumpSport. We learned about the company and its intentional impact on both adult and child fitness. And we heard from each of the panel members as we enjoyed our delicious dinner.
And then it got a little crazy – in the best way.
First there was a lip syncing competition. There were quite a few entrants, but my favorite performance happened to be the one that won. (I may be slightly biased because two of the performers were my roommates.)
And then the head of the room became a dance floor, and we all let loose. I had SUCH a good time. I jumped in there and allowed myself to look and act like a total fool. It was beautiful. I think I even learned how to twerk. I’m still not sure. What I do know is that I was dancing a lot better in my head than what the videos depict. And no, I’m not sharing those. You’ll have to find them yourselves. (But please don’t.)
And what the hell is this face I’m making? It was so bad I had to share it. And the fabulous woman next to me? That’s Liz.
When I wasn’t dancing, I was rounding up new friends to make sure I had selfies with them. I still missed some, but I tried! Seen below (going left to right in each row) are Danielle, Libby, Nellie, Ty, Alan, Susan, Roni, Monica, Christine, Tara, Brooke, Dre, Emily, Diana, and Kris.
I’m so thankful for the time I spent chatting with each of the friends I made, and I’m excited to watch their journeys progress in the coming years. I love that our own paths have been very unique. And while we’re able to really connect and bond over the similarities, we can simultaneously appreciate the differences. It’s a cool feeling. One that I won’t ever forget, that’s for sure.
After the energy died down a bit, everyone scattered, and I invited myself to go play Cards Against Humanity with a small crowd. It was a fun time, and it was a nice way to wind down from the packed few days. I went to bed with a smile on my face for sure.
The next morning I woke up, packed my bags, and headed down for breakfast. I spent time chatting with Dre (seen above on the bottom left), and I enjoyed the last bits of bacon on my plate.
I rode the shuttle back to the airport, and the straight-through flight home was totally (and thankfully) uneventful. I was greeted by my family, and then I’m pretty sure I passed out by 7pm.
I had a really good time at the conference. A huge thanks to everyone there who made it such a worthwhile experience.
I’m glad I have a husband who is not only supportive, but a little bit pushy. And I’m grateful for the growth I’ve made in recent years – I never would have considered making this trip even five years ago. Three cheers for progress!