How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All

August 23, 2016

fitness writer bodybuilding dieting

How good are you at handling your finances? Bear with me. This does have something to do with health and fitness!

I recently had a massive communication breakthrough about bodybuilding. So big, so rewarding, that I whooped when I heard about its success. In fact, I am claiming it as one of my finest moments in linguistic creativity. OK, OK – it was with my Dad. Dad has never really understood the dieting side of bodybuilding (despite seeing me diet through numerous “preps” in years gone by). But apparently, something I said to him recently FINALLY made sense to him.

What did I say? I simply compared dieting for fat loss to budgeting for financial savings.

We were talking about flexible dieting.

“It’s not that a bodybuilder CAN’T eat anything,” I said. “It just that they have a small budget to play with. So imagine that you only had £10 spend that day. You COULD buy some slightly-overpriced thing for £6.99 that you don’t really “need”, but then you wouldn’t have much cash left for the rest of the day. Plus you’d probably get home and think…”oh…is that all I got for my money? It looked better in the shop!” Or you could spend £1, £1, £1, £1 (etc) throughout the day. Then get home and think “wow! I managed to buy tons with my £10!”

Apparently this made sense to Dad.

I explained “going out to eat whilst dieting” like this:

“It’s not that they COULDN’T have the dessert, Dad. But it might make more sense to come out and just eat a main. That way, they still get to socialise, but no harm done to their “budget”. It would be like inviting someone out for a shopping day when they are saving up hard to buy a house. They can still come out! But they might say “I can come, but I really can’t spend more than £5 today because I’m saving up for the house deposit.” It’s not the going out shopping for the day that’s the problem. It’s how much they spend whilst they’re out.”

Losing Weight Or Saving Money: Why You Only Really Have A Few Options (Sorry!)

On a roll, I also used the finance/budget analogy with another member of my family recently. This person is keen to lose a bit of weight, but doesn’t want to do the meal plan/12-week transformation thing. She’s been there and done that, and doesn’t fancy the backlash (I don’t blame her).

This person is very good at managing her finances. Knowing this, I explained that there really are only a few ways to lose a bit of weight. And they are the same as being successful at managing money.

If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. That’s the bottom line. The law of thermodynamics is key. You have to consume less than you expend, or expend more than you consume.

If you want to save money, you have to create a financial excess. You have to spend less than you earn, or earn more than you spend.

Your options are:

1) Track your food/drink as you go along and stop when you’ve reached your spend limit (track your money as you spend it, or track your calories/macros in myfitnesspal or whatever you use)

Pros: this will help you work out where you are “overspending”
Cons: if you want to “save”, you’ll have to stop when you hit your target, which might be partway through the month/day if you are “spending” more than you thought

2) Pre-plan what you’re going to eat/spend and work to it (a financial budget, or a calorie/macro budget). This can be as rigid as a meal plan/precise spending plan, or as flexible as eating to macro targets/spending within various “categories”.

Pros: it will be very precise and you will likely “save” (or “lose” in the case of weight) quickly and accurately
Cons: it might seem boring and restrictive, depending on your mindset and personality

3) Wing it and hope for the best. This only works if you are a person who naturally doesn’t spend much money, or who earns so much you could never get into debt. (The weight loss equivalent is someone who naturally undereats, isn’t interested in food, or is so incredibly active that your calorie burn is through the roof).

Pros: if you’re one of the lucky ones, this will work for you. Until your lifestyle, income, or habits change!
Cons: it doesn’t teach you anything about finance (or nutrition) and you might be left wondering WTF when things eventually change.

Have my amazing analogies (!) helped something “click” in your brain? Funnily enough, the above conversation actually helped ME wrap my head around budgeting! I realised that if I can track my nutrition, I can track my spending. I’ve already made plenty of savings and changed some of my spending behaviour!

Do you reckon your success at nutrition/money could be transferrable skills?

How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Brace Yourself: A Mass Sense Of Entitlement & Elitism Is Coming…

January 3, 2016

Ah, January.

Specifically, January in the gym. Or, out on the roads (if you’re a runner), in the pool during lane-swimming sessions, or in your favourite exercise class/bootcamp session.

Social media this week is full of whinges, whines, and passive-aggressive memes about “newbie” exercisers. The problem? Apparently they are all about to arise from their sofas (where they’ve been lazing for the past 20 years whilst us fit-folk have been #beastmode 24/7). And they’re about to have the audacity to venture into our gyms.

That’s not all! They’re going to mess things up for us for a few weeks in January (you know, using the equipment and possibly not knowing how to load a bar properly) and then they are going to GIVE UP AND GO AWAY AGAIN! (Why could that be… ?)

These gym-newbies are thus a dual source of sustenance for the gym community’s elitist comments and holier-than-thou attitude. Firstly, they turn up at the gym never having been before (remind you of anyone… like… you? And me? And indeed everybody?) Then they fail to stick it out (because, of course, they haven’t got the commitment and willpower you have. It could also be that they were put off by that sense they had of not being quite welcome. Or perhaps, just maybe, it’s because the gym isn’t for them after all).

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Well, I hate this time of year. Not because of the gym newbies. Because of the attitude of gym “oldies” who posts memes like this one, and write stuff on Facebook, and then crow with I-told-you-so glee when the newbie isn’t there any more in February.

I get it, I do. It’s annoying when you turn up to squat, and all the squat racks are taken. It’s frustrating when the weights are all out and strewn around the floor. It can be irritating when you really want to use a certain pair of dumbbells and they’re being used by someone who doesn’t look like they know what they’re doing.

But I really think we need to get over ourselves.

Worst case scenario: you are doing your final workout before a competition. Or you’re someone who makes money from your sport/physique, and you can’t do the exact workout you wanted to do.

I can’t imagine there is ever a situation where there’s literally not one thing you can do in the entire gym that day. If there is, I guess you need to talk to management and tell them they’ve been ambitious with their new sales targets, or need to re-invest in kit.

Here’s what I hope I’ll be doing if any new folk decide to join my gym in January.

  1. Say hello and/or wave (depending on the Headphone scenario)
  2. Introduce myself
  3. Ask if they’re new (because I’m terrible at remembering people I’ve actually already met)
  4. Ask if they’ve come from another gym or if this is their first go in a gym environment
  5. Tell them amusing stories about the gym dog
  6. Tell them to let me know if they need a hand with anything
  7. Say goodbye and hopefully see you again soon

It’s really not difficult. I was new to the gym, once, too. I still feel unsure and a bit intimidated and nervous if I go to do a brand-new sport or type of training. And I just think it’s nice to be nice.

After all, what’s the alternative? Whingeing about how people are lazy and can’t be bothered to do anything about changing their weight, health and fitness… ? Oh wait… our industry tends to do that, too. 😉

What are your thoughts on the January gym-influx scenario? To what extent is your training affected? Have you posted that ^^^ meme and do you plan to unfriend me on FB now? 😉 (bye)

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Brace Yourself… is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both?

January 5, 2015

The internetwebs – particularly social media – has flattened the landscape somewhat. It’s democratised things. Instagrammers with a good set of abs and a frisky amount of followers brand themselves “fitness models”. Clients no longer necessarily need to see their PT. And prefacing your online biography with the word “[aspiring]…” seems enough to do away with the need for a portfolio, qualifications, or real-life experience. In any sphere.

I feel I may have got off on the wrong foot with this one. So, before you all think I’ve got an axe to grind (I haven’t – if I had, I wouldn’t waste time grinding it, I use it to tackle my garden), I’ll explain the context for today’s post.

My client-now-friend Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting recently posed a question to his Facebook followers: “do you need to actually train people to coach online and write about fitness?”

The video post prompted responses from trainers, coaches, PTs and PT clients. And from me. I responded as a copywriter. More than that, as a copywriter who specialises in writing about, and for, fitness businesses.

So, of course, my reply to the writing portion of the question was a resounding “no”. Although I do have extensive experience of training, being coached, and even competing in various sports, I don’t think this is a deal-breaker. After all, I also write for a funeral car company, and I’ve never designed a car, driven a hearse, or arranged a funeral. My fitness clients include businesses whose niche is running (I haven’t run properly for years) and post-partum yoga (I don’t have children, and corpse pose is my favourite because it involves lying down and having a nice sleep).

Now, granted, the context of Mike’s question was a PT who had approached him, asking about moving into exclusively online coaching and writing about fitness, rather than face-to-face PTing.

But it got me thinking.

In this online age, where boundaries get blurry and self-styled job roles merge, what do clients actually prefer?

A copywriter who can write about fitness?

Or a fitpro who can write?

Does it no longer matter? What’s more important: official training and experience in writing, or hands-on experience of the topic being written about?

Can a writer understand enough about a topic to be able to write about it with authority? And can a topic-expert know enough about how to get inside a reader’s head to write content which persuades and engages?

I don’t know. But I’d love to know your thoughts, particularly if you have ever commissioned anyone to write content for your business (or publication).

*No axes were ground during the composition of this blog post*

Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


thefitwriter blog in 2014 (and looking ahead to 2015)

January 2, 2015

Hello! I was taking a look at my wordpress stats this morning and got to wondering: what do you lot want to see more of (and less of) on the blog over the coming year?

Product reviews always seem to be popular, but I’ll only do them if you really find them useful (and I do turn down more than I accept – one day I’ll have to tell you about the sort of products I turn down. You’ll LOL and possible ROFL, promise).

Competition reports go down well, too, but I am still undecided about my plans for 2015. I might compete in bodybuilding, or I may take a year out from competing (and dieting!) in order to give my body a chance to grow and develop before I next venture into a deficit. If I do take a year out, I will possibly do some other kind of comp (powerlifting?) – would you want to hear about those, too?

Do my training sessions interest you? Would you want to hear more about the ins and outs of off-season?

And what about my actual job – copywriting. Do blog posts about the business of writing, about writing for the fitness industry and about freelancing interest you? Or would you like my occasional advice for business owners who write their own content?

Do let me know! 🙂

Here’s a round up of how the blog did in 2014 (its fourth year… it’s positively elderly in blogging circles!)

Mentions!
It topped the list of top sport and fitness PR company Promote’s list of favourite fitness blogs.

Guest posts and interviews

– I was on the Katie Bulmer-Cooke podcast (yes, Katie who was in this year’s The Apprentice!) talking about copywriting for fitness businesses, PTs and fitpros, how to create content, what’s trending in marketing, why writing is so important for your business… and a bit of banter with Katie. You can listen to it here. I’m so pleased to have done this; being on a podcast was one of my goals for the year. Thank you for the opportunity, Katie (and thank you to those of you who have messaged me to say that you found my advice useful).

– I blogged twice for Karen Nadkarni-Ruffle at FitProClientRecipes (FPCR): this blog post gives fitpros and fitness businesses 10 easy-peasy ways to generate topics for their own blogs, and this blog post gives my advice about how to write press releases which get opened, read… and published!

– What else… I was featured on the blog of fellow Fitness Writers’ Association member “Fitcetera” (aka Georgina Spenceley) when she did a series called “Yeah, She Lifts”. Here’s my Yeah She Lifts interview (thanks, G!).

– And I was interviewed by Introvertology about my work as a freelancer and training and competing as a bodybuilder and former endurance athlete (thankfully, they let me send my replies in by email… haha 😉 ). You can read that interview here.

I set up thefitwriter’s own Facebook page in 2014 and I’d be delighted to see you there – come on over and like the page.

Views and visitors
It had 83,000 views in 2014, from 55,000 visitors, and now has 253 WordPress followers (hello, and thank you! 😀 )

The list of countries those visitors come from is fascinating. Here’s the top of the list….
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…and here’s the bottom. Hollaaaaaah to the chap or chick in Honduras who had reason to read my ramblings once this year!
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My most popular posts

– An old review post of ON whey
– An old review post of the protein powder Tesco launched in Jan 2012 (this post’s enduring popularity continues to amaze me!)
– My review of the Phil Learney Fat Loss & Performance Seminar I went to in 2013
– An old review of Monkey Nutrition whey isolate
– A review post of Bare Naked Noodles (this pings to the top every time they’re in the press or whenever Ross’s Dragons’ Den episode is shown)
– My blog post about my pal Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution book
– Show report of this year’s UKDFBA Open (the only post from 2014 which is in the 2014 top 10… I guess this shows my writing’s staying power and my blog’s SEO strength!)

Big thanks to all of you who read, share, like and comment on my posts. A happy, healthy and successful 2015 to you all 🙂

thefitwriter blog in 2014 (and looking ahead to 2015) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Latest favourite training, nutrition, health podcasts

October 26, 2014

It’s been a while since I listed the podcasts I am currently enjoying. I listen to tons (as well as audiobooks) because I walk so much (dog owner living in a beautiful part of the country!)

This will be the third of these types of blog posts I’ve written; my previous podcast recommendations are here:
favourites from last year
more from 2013
and podcast recommendations from 2011 (many of which are no more)

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The Ben Pakulski Podcast
For those who don’t know who he is, Ben Pakulski is an IFBB Pro bodybuilder (he was in Generation Iron). I came across his podcast when Mark Coles of M10 (whose social media content I absolutely love) was a guest. I listened to that podcast episode, applied some of the ideas to my next leg session, had DOMS for about a week, and was hooked. Ben and co-host John Meadows interview athletes, coaches and experts in bodybuilding, strength and muscle hypertrophy about practical applications and ideas in various areas.
Ben Pakulski podcast on itunes

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Elite Muscle Radio
Phil Graham is another guy whose social media content I really enjoy, and now I can listen to his podcast too. The Elite Muscle Radio podcast explores nutrition and training in pretty high-end detail but does so in a way that won’t leave you feeling lost (or bored). I was once stuck in traffic on the M25 and listened to almost 80 minutes all about dietary fats and insulin sensitivity for sports performance and body recomp. I’m not a prep coach nor do I have a scientific mind but those 80 minutes were fascinating and I was grateful for the traffic jam. All of the episodes are similarly interesting. I truly feel like I’m “getting my learn on” when I listen.
Elite Muscle Radio on itunes

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Physique Science Radio
I’m sure you’ve heard of Layne Norton. Well, here’s his podcast. He co-hosts with Sohee Lee, a smart woman who has just released a reverse-dieting book. Layne and Sohee are known for their work on flexible dieting, reverse dieting and health-based contest prep and off-season nutrition. Expect lots of evidence-based nutrition and training advice.
Physique Science Radio on itunes

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Real Nutrition Radio
I really like this nutrition podcast, hosted by Clinical Sports Nutritionist, Martin MacDonald and his co-host, Mike Sweeney. Between the two of them, they are able to discuss and dissect nutrition topics from two angles, bringing loads of experience not just from academic study but “from the trenches” of actually treating people. It’s not all fat loss and contest prep, either, which I really like. They set out to dispel myths and misconceptions and bring real talk about nutrition for health, sports performance, muscle gain and body composition.
Real Nutrition Radio on itunes

Do you have any podcast recommendations for me?

Latest favourite training, nutrition, health podcasts is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Easy ways to generate content for your business blog

July 24, 2014

Do you struggle to find things to blog about? If you’re a sole trader, owner/manager, or the person responsible for marketing, chances are you have a business blog (if you don’t… start one!)

One of the biggest grumbles I hear from people with work-related blogs is “I don’t know what to blog about!”

Yes, you do. And I’m going to tell you how to uncover it.

professional blog content writer

I’ll aim this at fitpros and brands/businesses within the fitness and wellness worlds, cos that’s who I work with. But, really, this advice could apply to anyone in any sector. I’ve actually written something similar – based on a presentation I delivered to a local business networking group (none of whom were fitpros) – you might like to read my advice for small businesses – why write in your authentic voice

Here’s a professional copywriter’s advice on how to generate blog content every single day (your only problem after reading this will be finding the time to blog it all. Hint: get in touch with me 😉 )

What are your clients talking about?
– you see your clients regularly, and you have a good relationship with them. You’re not just a fitpro to them, you’re a sounding board, a therapist, a friend. They tell you what they’re worried about, what they’re excited about, what confuses and intrigues them about health and fitness. They are your eyes and ears – listen to them and they’ll tell you what your next potential client is almost certainly thinking about.

What do your clients ask you?
– what do your clients actually ask you? What exact questions do they come to you for, looking for an expert answer? In their eyes, you’re the expert, and that’s how your blog is going to position you, too. Take those questions, and blog with an answer to them. Chances are, someone is actually Googling that question. SEO, my friend, SEO…

What’s hot in your industry right now?
– You know what’s creating waves in your industry. Regardless of how seriously you take the latest discussion/argument, or how long you think the next fad is going to stick around, these things are on your prospects’ radar, too. So blog about it. Your opinion, your advice, your experiences.

Use the news
– Had a news story broken which affects or feeds off the fitness industry somehow? The news is a great resource for your own blog posts. There’s something in the news every day which somehow refers back to health, fitness, weight loss, wellness. Use news, stats, research. Local news (great if you’re trying to dominate your local area) and national news. Link back to the story for better SEO.

Memes and infographics

– Content is about more than just words. It’s becoming increasingly more visual. Consider making memes and infographics to illustrate your blog posts and to give you another angle on creating compelling content which your followers are likely to share and engage with.

Numbered lists and top 10s
– Stuck for a blog post? Here’s an easy way to break your writer’s block: choose a topic, and do a “top ten reasons why….” or “ten easy ways to…” type post. Easy to write, easy to read, great to share.

Create a theme
– Use regular themes within your blog: perhaps a mindset/motivation post on a Monday, a workout type post on a Wednesday, a healthy recipe on a Friday. Not only will this make blogging easier for you, but your readers will come to expect the content and will look forward to their favourite posts from your blog.

And here are some practical tips (because it’s all very well having all those fabulous ideas, but you’re busy and likely to forget them)

carry a notepad and pen with you at all times. Or have a note-taking function on your phone/tablet. If a brilliant idea for blog content strikes whilst you’re rushing between clients, setting up your circuit class stations, or making a coffee… make sure you can make a note of it

Just do it. Don’t procrastinate. The nice thing about blogging is that you can do it quickly and get it out there. And it’s a medium that lends itself well to being time-sensitive and reaction. So… just get on with it

Reuse and recycle your content. Once you’ve written your blog post, use that bad boy! Push it out via your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and any other social media (personal and business). Put it in an email and send it to your list (with links to your website of course). Use the first paragraph in your digital customer newsletter with a juicy enticement to click through. Add it as a Facebook note. Consider using it as part of that ebook you’ve been meaning to write for a year. You get the idea

– have an editorial schedule. Treat writing, and blogging, as part of your business strategy (because it is)

– set aside regular time for blogging, just as you schedule in time for other business matters

– and… outsource! If you can’t do it yourself, or don’t want to, contact me. Writing content (including blog content) for people just like you is exactly what I do as a job. You have no idea how many of the fitness industry blog posts out there were written by me!

Easy ways to generate content for your business blog is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness Writers at FitPro Live 2014

July 20, 2014

fitness writer fitpro liveThanks to membership organisation The Fitness Writers’ Association (please note the impeccable use of apostrophe!), I got a VIP pass to FitPro Live, and popped along on Friday.

Here’s a quick round up of what I did, saw, heard and took away with me:

I spent most of the day in the educational talks rather than at the expo. Room 8 turned out to be where it was at for all things marketing, digital and content. My kinda place to be!

I listened to sales specialist Lesley Aitken talk about how digital is rapidly changing the customer journey (particularly in the fitness industry). Fascinating stuff. Clients, are you aware of just how much research your potential customers are able to do about your business, brand and products… before they even visit your website, shop or facility? What’s out there online about you? And how do you control and optimise it? Lesley told us about “ZMOT”, which pretty much defines how the customer decision-making and buying process has changed due to digital/online. She talked about the ongoing importance of big data but, more than that, what to do with it. Don’t let it languish (80% is never used, apparently). Segment, drill down, utilise “pen portraits”… and then make sure your message (content!) is specific, relevant and targeted. The right message, at the right place, at the right time.

Here are my take away points from Lesley’s talk:
– pitch to the customer journey (understand what that really is, not what you think/hope/assume it is)
– collect data… but use it!
– the future of sales, marketing and comms is going to be much more integrated (hooray)
– plan for conversion and retention (this includes your content strategy)
– social is huge, and it’s not going away. Social marketing, advertising and selling… don’t get left behind (because your future customers are already ahead of you)
– become a publisher of content in some way and on some level
– get your content out there, position yourself as an expert, build trust, engage people and then nurture them. Yes – all through content (but I would say that 😉 )

Next up was Jon Lipsey of Jon Lipsey Media and the man behind the new (and fantastic) Iron Life Mag (have you got your free download yet?) He spoke about how fitpros can use Twitter more strategically to get more customers. It was really interesting for me to sit in on this and hear the barriers and challenges PTs, coaches, facilities managers etc face (or think they face) to using social media. Most were things I hear from my clients on the regular: not enough time, not sure how to structure a message, not sure how to achieve the desired tone of voice, how to put together a strategy rather than just being on social media for the sake of it.

Jon gave some real gems of research into Twitter use, and left the fitpros with some useful questions to ask themselves:

– how active are your targets on social media?
– how much time/money per week are you willing to spend on social media content creation, upload, management?
– what is your strategy?
– how will you track and measure success?
– why would someone follow you and engage with you?
– and why would they want to stay connected?
– why would they engage with you, and not your competition?
– what do you offer (what’s unique)?
– why would someone want to share your content?
– what message do you want followers to take away?

I really liked his advice on putting together an authentic Tweet which does the job: ask a question (be specific), push people’s buttons, be subtle and genuine, and always reply!

I then sat in on a talk about the future of exercise and nutrition by Dr John Berardi of Precision Nutrition. It was a real pleasure to hear John talk “in real life”, he doesn’t come over the UK often so there was no way I was missing this! I was a total cliche at this point… yes, I sat listening to Dr Berardi of Precision Nutrition whilst I ate turkey and green beans out of a plastic tub 😉 There was a great deal to take away from his talk and it was fascinating for me to listen to a leading name in the industry talk about future trends, challenges and opportunities.

I think the bit which resonated with me most was John’s prediction that the fitness industry will shift more and more towards a holistic consultative role, helping people with stress management, sleep and all the lifestyle and behavioural barriers they present. It’s going to be about change management before exercise and nutrition plans.

I then…er…did a Metcon class! Yes, me! It was fun actually, I’d forgotten how much I like classes 😀 I don’t do them at all any more but I was really into classes at one time. The presenter reminded me of one of my friends (who also presents fitness classes), the music was bangin’, I worked up a right old sweat, and I jumped in the air! As in, with both feet off the ground at the same time! :-O I KNOW RITE!

This was, by the way, on the hottest day of the year. I then got stuck in horrendous traffic driving home (from London, at rush hour on a Friday… no sh*t). But never fear, because I had left my coolbox in my car, so I popped my (still frozen) icepacks on my legs and drove home like this.

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Did you go to FitPro Live? What were your highlights and take-homes?

Fitness Writers at FitPro Live 2014 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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