So I'm just back from the Fitbloggin' conference, a large annual gathering of fitness and weight-loss bloggers which was held in Savannah Georgia this year.
So, what did I learn? What was awesome? What was really surprising? And, this being Cranky Fitness, what kinda sucked?
And yep, as usual I couldn't seem to blog, post to facebook, or tweet more than a quick thank you or two while the event was happening... so the whole live-blogging thing didn't happen. But welcome to the Official Cranky Fitness Deadblog of Fitbloggin' 14!
Here are A Few Things I Discovered:
1. Roni Noone (and her Mom and her whole crew) Are Awesome
So OK, you guys already knew from my annoying Roni Noone interview that I'm a big fan, but I can't really say enough about this amazing woman. Putting together something like this, with all the planning and thought and logistics and unpredictable variables, yet being all warm and accessible and inspiring and helpful the entire time... plus all the other stuff she somehow does besides this conference... all I can say is: Holy Crap. And all the folks working with her also were nothing but helpful and pleasant.
There were TONS of great seminars and activities and opportunities and events and it all seemed to go flawlessly.
2. It's Worth "Stretching" A Bit for the Right Event
As I mentioned before, I'm getting over a longstanding flying phobia, and am a pretty introverted weirdo. So getting on a tiny plane to get outta Provincetown, and going to a conference and having to walk up to people I don't know and introduce myself, over and over again, well, it seemed a bit daunting.
But... so glad I did!
And yeah, there were times I retreated to my room for some alone time when I could have been doing something more social. But overall, I tried to get out there, introduce myself, ask questions, foist my business card on people, and all that networky stuff one does. It was such a friendly comfortable crowd it was easier than I thought, and I did a lot more schmoozing in a few days than I'd normally do in probably a year.
I ain't gonna sugar-coat it: it was really f--cking hot and humid.
I don't know how people live here and ever go outside. I coped by going for 6 a.m. walks (or on one day, bootcamp) and hiding out in air conditioning most of the rest of the time.
Also, for additional exercise, I took advantage of this lovely hotel feature:
Here was the shocking thing though: I did my weird-ass aqua aerobics (and some conventional laps) 4 different times. And for 3 of the 4 swims I had the pool entirely to myself. During summer in a hot humid city in a hotel filled with families with kids and Fitbloggers!
And for the one time pictured above where others were present? I discovered that you can plow right past kids frolicking and they don't really give a crap who the crazy lady swimming, running, jumping, and being an all-around ass is.
4. Well, OK, Savannah is a Beautiful Freakin' City Even when it Hurts to Be Outside.
And I'm not talking about the physical kinda crappy from doing boot camp with younger fitter folks in the heat, that was actually kind fun, especially once it was over and I was face-down in a plate of bacon and eggs and blueberries.
No, I'm talking about the constant reminder of how much more there is to blogging than blogging itself, and how necessary all that shit is if you want people to find you and read you (let alone throw any $$ your way).
Media kits, instagram, pinterest, videos, twitter, facebook, legalities, networking with other bloggers and media folks, web redesign (I am still on Blogspot, if you can imagine), newsletters, local and national press outreach, radio, workshops, ebooks, etc, etc.
Plus, just watching people snap photos and take videos and tweet and post things constantly the entire time and to feel so hesitant and conflicted and paralyzed myself... it was a bit overwhelming at times.
Where am I going to find time for that? How much money is going to be involved in redesigning and better equipping myself? How am I going to become more the sort of spontaneous person who can share shit more easily and frequently without totally over-thinking everything?
It makes me feel nostalgic for a time when blogging was mainly about, well, writing blog posts. How freakin' quaint.
6. Fitbloggers: They're Not Who I Thought!
First off, I met some really lovely wonderful bloggers! But if I start listing and linking to some, then there will be that awkward cutoff point or else the post would go on forever and I'd still miss some and feel terrible, so... screw it. You will be directed to their awesome blogs later, bit by bit, with a little more context when you might actually want to go visit.
But more generally: I was kind of surprised by the crowd.
I knew there would be some weight loss bloggers just beginning their journeys and plenty of folks who don't buy into the myth that you have to be a chiseled hardbody to be fit, but it was really interesting to see how much the Fitbloggin' crowd looks pretty much like a cross-section of people everywhere. Yay!
It is a very comfortable place to be no matter what your size, age, fitness level, physical disabilities etc.
There was also a reasonable amount of racial diversity, probably not to ideal levels, but it seemed like a pretty inclusive vibe. But you'd probably have to ask a person of color if it felt comfortable.
A couple of things kinda bugged me about the demographics though:
Why are there so few gay and lesbian fitbloggers? I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I didn't happen to run into anyone else--which seemed weird at a conference that big. Obviously it's not the organizers fault; my impression is that there are very few of us.
And it wasn't like anyone had a problem with it, no one batted an eye when I mentioned my wife (which still, btw, feels weird but I'll get over it.)
But it's kinda weird, isn't it? In the old days, it used to be that even straightest of straight gals got labelled a "dyke" if they were the least bit active, because the sporty lesbian thing was such a stereotype. And now it almost feels like we lesbians don't exist at all in the fitness world. What's that about, anyone have any guesses?
Few Men, But Bigger Presence: It was an overwhelmingly female gathering, but the guys who were there seemed about twenty times more likely than the average woman who was there to be speaking or presenting or leading something. More on this later; I'm reading a book about gender differences in self-confidence and perceived authority; it's definitely worth a whole post or two on. But I found that kind of depressing.
7. Free Things are Wonderful and Horrible
Sponsors provided swag and edible treats; Yay! And yet Not Yay! Trail mix in particular is my achilles heel, and the cruel almond people kept us so well supplied that I must have eaten 17,000 calories worth. And sadly, I don't think that' s much of an exaggeration.
But a total conference highlight for me?
Look what I won, just by being old enough to recognize songs by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond and blurt their names out relatively quickly!
It's a fancy-pants Terry Butterfly Tigel bike saddle (and some cute Terry socks) via Brooklyn Fit Chick! (Who also gave an inspiring and kick-ass presentation and has a great blog/vlog. And yeah, I'm breaking my rule about not linking to anyone in this post because, duh, I'm not such an idiot that I wouldn't thank someone for such a fantastic prize).
I can't wait to give this a shot as my current bike seat is not nearly as amazingly ass-friendly as this one looks to be.
I really enjoyed the over-40 blogger session. It was a great bonding and networking opportunity with some fantastic women. But it was interesting and infuriating to discover that in the sponsorship world, being over 40 makes you about as enticing to sponsors as dog crap stuck to the bottom of their brand new Air Jordans.
Hmm, active athletic adventurous middle-aged bloggers and their followers constitute one of the largest, most loyal, most likely to have purchasing power demographics you could imagine... but you wouldn't want to pitch them anything but denture creams and incontinence products?
9. Fitbloggin' 2015 in Denver: Damn it, I Just May Have to Go.
I didn't realize how sinisterly addictive the experience would be. I thought I could go once, check it out, and then maybe go again someday when it happened to be in a city I live near or have family/friends in.
Is it hard to justify paying travel and lodging and meal and conference expenses to nurture a blog that is more of a time-suck expense rather than a powerhouse revenue-generating enterprise?
But you may just see me there anyway.
photo swiped from Fitbloggin.com
Have you guys gone to any conferences you really enjoyed? Any you have your eyes on?