Ladies, if the name Kayla Itsines rings any bells, make sure you keep reading, ‘cos BBG Cape Town is happening. Find out how BBG Cape Town founder Emily started the fast-growing project.
There’s been a lot of chatter about growing female entrepreneurship in South Africa, particularly in current times where women’s empowerment movements are in full force.
Indeed, our ladies are setting up businesses left and right, as well as filling market demands with top quality products and services. We’re also seeing a spectacular influx of international female entrepreneurship stream into South Africa’s communities, empowering and strengthening our network of awesome women.
In 2015, Emily Christopher moved from Seattle to the Mother City. When she first arrived, the 27-year-old hardly knew anyone. As you can imagine, it’s already pretty hardcore leaving home and moving to a new country, but Emily took it up a few (thousand) notches by arriving and simply starting up her own social fitness meet-ups… This way she got to do what she loved while meeting new people and building up a network.
Founding BBG Cape Town
Emily had followed Kayla Itsines’ BBG programme for a long time already, and noticed that there weren’t any BBG meet-up groups in Cape Town (yet). So, like any born-entrepreneur would do, she spotted the gap and filled it.
Check out this interview with Emily, Founder of BBG Cape Town, and get the low-down on what it’s all about and what you can get out of the meet-ups!
What is BBG?
BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide. It is a 12-week fitness program created by Kayla Itsines, designed to help women achieve their ideal body and lifestyle.
Kayla’s workouts can be done at home or the gym with minimal equipment. Each of the workouts are 28 minutes long, so even if you don’t have much time you can still get a workout in!
Check out Kayla’s free BBG nutrition guide to get a better idea of how she presents her ideas and information.
What attracted you to the BBG programme?
When I started BBG I had never belonged to a gym. I preferred to exercise outside or at home, and at the time I was really busy working and studying. I loved the idea that I could follow a guide (having a pre-set schedule really keeps me motivated!) and do the workouts anywhere, any time.
I followed the BBG 1.0 guide with my sister and some of my friends, and it was the perfect way to keep each other motivated. I’ve been hooked ever since!
Why did you start BBG Cape Town?
I didn’t really know anyone when I moved here in 2015. Since fitness is a big part of my life, I thought that setting up a BBG meet-up would be a good way to meet like-minded women who are equally interested in fitness. I was also trying to create something that would provide the same support that my previous BBG group had done in Washington. We got together every morning and worked out. The social aspect was really important to me. So that’s what I wanted to do here with the BBG meet-ups.
Where and what did you study?
I earned my undergraduate and masters degrees in Public Health from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, USA. My focus was in maternal and child health, which is my passion.
Do you have any projects or occupations alongside BBG CT?
Due to difficulties obtaining a visa in South Africa, I currently don’t work. But I have lots of projects to keep me busy! I write for two blogs, one on events in Cape Town and the other on various public health topics. I am learning French and Xhosa, and I’m also an avid baker, runner and reader.
How did the first BBG event turn out?
I mentioned BBG to anyone I saw and put out the message, mainly through social media. I kind of just let people know that I was doing it – I put up an event on Facebook (BBG Cape Town) , and a picture of that on Instagram.
And… I don’t know what happened, but I got over 700 responses!
‘Oh crap… it’s just me! I can’t hold a workout class for 700 women. I don’t have a speaker… I don’t have a space like that!’
I decided to walk it back and announced that I’d have to reduce the number of attendees for this first one to 20 girls. We had the first meet-up in January 2016 in Green Point Park.
After seeing the huge demand, how did you cater for more attendees?
After that first event I recruited some ambassadors. I now have 8 ambassadors who are all amazing women and contribute so much to the group. We’ve had 12 meet-ups by now with anywhere from 15-60 attendees per event.
What type of people attend your events?
Our events are for ladies only. That’s the only requirement! We have fitness fanatics and girls who are brand new to exercise. It’s really important to me that our meet-ups are accessible to anyone who wants to join, regardless of her fitness level.
We have fabulous sponsors who provide all of the amazing treats we are able to offer our attendees. We really appreciate that all of our sponsors give these lovely prizes to us free of charge. We always give away lucky-draw prizes at the end of the meet-up, and often we have smaller door prizes for everyone who attends.
Since we are not-for-profit, I find that it is challenging to grow the meet-ups while maintaining the quality. I’d love to be able to pay for a big venue and a sound system, but that requires more money, which we just don’t have.
BBG Cape Town would not be what we are today without the amazing ladies who volunteer their time as ambassadors. They are integral in building this community, and making the events so much fun.
Our sponsors are also key to the BBG Cape Town meet-up experience. They are so generous in supporting our events. It’s so exciting to see the winners’ faces light up when we do our lucky draw prizes.
Kayla’s team reached out late last year to ask us to be a part of the 12 Week Challenge. This was a movement to re-start the BBG guides in the new year, and each week featured a different BBG meet up group from all over the world. They were so sweet and helpful, and even sent us a bunch of Kayla Itsines prizes to hand out at our event.
We are proud to partner with a NGO called Choose Your Bruise. Their goal is to raise awareness and funds for women and children who have suffered abuse. This is an issue close to our hearts, as BBG Cape Town aims to empower women in all aspects of their lives. A portion of our meet-up entry fee goes to Choose Your Bruise, and we will provide opportunities to donate goods or money at our events.
We have a few other exciting partnerships in the works, so keep an eye out!
I would love for BBG Cape Town to grow to be a huge community of women who come together both in person and through social media to support and empower one another.
One day, hopefully, we will be big enough that Kayla Itsines herself will come to lead one of our meet-ups!
It’s really all about spotting the gaps and filling them. Emily knew nobody when she first moved to Cape Town, but she saw an opportunity to create something big and awesome. If your idea is good, and will have a positive impact on people’s lives, get out there and make it happen!