When Bree Filippone first conceptualised a free personal training session where anyone of any age and fitness level could simply turn up to a pre-advertised public space on Sunday mornings and join in with the rest of the crowd, she had no idea how many people would embrace her vision.
The initiative grew out of her experience as a personal trainer where she would often look for communal outdoor spaces to conduct sessions and, in the process, would bump into other trainers or like-minded groups in the same area.
The first edition of what is now called as ‘The Finishr’ drew about 20 people out of bed on a mild morning back in March, 2019.
By the time the concept celebrated its first birthday in March this year, that group had grown to nearly 200 people – a remarkable rate of growth for such an endeavour that has surprised Bree and her partner and co-Founder Gabe McClelland, this month’s Active Geelong EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY HEREOS.
When asked about the secret to the success of The Finishr, Bree (who is also an exercise scientist) said even she struggles to put her finger on it.
“I think it’s just the authenticity of it,” she said, thinking out loud.
“We’ve been able to build a culture where everyone can just come and be themselves, including Gabe and I.
“We’ve been able to build a great energy where it’s just fun, with lots of encouragement and friendly banter.
“And I guess we’ve tried been able to strip away some of the barriers, too, in as much as it’s free and you don’t have to book – so there’s no expectations.”
“You just turn up and get active.”
The weekly Sunday sessions are advertised through the Finishr’s Instagram page and website, and mostly occur in in places like Point Lonsdale, Torquay, Bells Beach or Ocean Grove, taking advantage of the idyllic terrain and views that the Bellarine and Surf Coast provide.
A typical Finishr session involves hill running for about 30 minutes, where participants see how many times they can make it up the carefully selected incline.
“The best thing about doing hill running is that everyone can go at their own pace,” Bree said.
“Because people are going up and down so many times, you can’t tell if you are being lapped or how many laps people have done – so there is no pressure or self-consciousness,” she said.
“It creates this atmosphere where everyone is just in it together, pushing each other along.”
The hill running is then followed by a yoga or meditation session to add an element of mindfulness, something both Bree and Gabe are passionate about.
In that way, The Finishr prides itself on being more than a ‘Run Club’.
The group has morphed into what they consider to be a ‘community-focused run collab’ that includes everyone ‘whether you like to run, walk or shmoon or trot’.
The Finishr website sums if best: “We are a community of people who are all moving for all the right reasons. To be better. We connect. We sweat. We stretch. We breathe. We share. We inspire.”
Another encouraging aspect of this initiative is the increasing number of businesses whose employees are starting to join The Finishr sessions in an effort to stay physically and mentally healthy.
No doubt the popularity of The Finishr is in no small part due to their trendy branding and use of social media.
Their main platform – ‘the_finishr’ Instagram Page – has already ticked up nearly 4,000 followers and their website and logo has a clean, minimalist look that adds to the whole package.
So why the name ‘The Finishr’?
“Good question,” Bree replies when asked by Active Geelong this week.
“It comes from my personal training, I guess,” she said.
“When we map out a PT session, you want the last exercise to be something hard to close it out. And we call that ‘The Finisher’.
“Plus part of the idea was always to do it on Sundays, as something to finish off the week for people, so it worked in with that nicely as well.”
Indeed, the only thing that could stop the enormous momentum The Finishr was generating was (like everything else this year) COVID-19.
But even during the recent periods of lockdown and heavy government restrictions on large gatherings, ‘The Finishr’ still found a way to stay in touch to their growing following, affectionally known as the ‘Vibe Tribe’.
“We had several sessions of live meditation and yoga during that time, and that was great to stay connected and keep the vibe going in our community,” Bree said.
“But we can’t wait to get back.”
And they sure will be back!
As soon the State Government lifts restrictions to allow Bree and Gabe to organise their normal sessions – or something close to it – Bree said The Finishr will be back making the call out to their Vibe Tribe.
If you would like to learn more about The Finishr and find out when their weekly sessions will start up again, you can visit their website here or find them on social media.