Meet the team behind Virgin Sport's first Festival of Fitness

Virgin Sport had a blast at its first-ever Festival of Fitness, Hackney back in April! Experience Manager Liv Lawson and Community Guru Theo Oulton tell us about the high-octane event.


My job as Experience Manager was to bring the customer experience of the festival to life. Virgin Sport is here to shake up the mass-participation industry by bringing together everyone’s fave things and really putting the fun back into sport. As my email signature will tell you, I’m all about the experience, and at VS Hackney it was my job to curate a red-hot day for our fantastic runners, sporters and supporters.

Virgin Sport Hackney Festival of Fitness start line

My role is a far-reaching one – from looking at the brand experience as a bigger picture through to creating event moments for our participants that surprise and delight them. It’s also a really collaborative position – a lot of the wacky ideas I have need the support of the Event Ops team and the Marketing department to come to life!

I love the detail in planning event experiences, and some of my favourite things that we achieved at Virgin Sport Hackney were just that – details that differentiated the event from any other: pacers who were friendly and had running belts full of supplies, including emergency jelly babies; walking route maps designed to help fans cheer their runners, with recommendations for great local cafes on route; free fitness classes on an all-singing, all-dancing main stage, hosted by the hottest trainers; and a jam-packed festival village with free beard trims, floral headdress making, hula-hoop workshops, beer and bubbles from local vendors and even a table-tennis championship hosted by Hackney-based Emily Fruit Crisps.

Being a part of the Virgin Sport Hackney team was awesome. The best comment I overheard on the day was a participant saying that the event really felt like the love child of Virgin Active and V-Fest – result!

Virgin Sport Hackney Festival of Fitness Richard Branson and Mary Wittenberg stretching


Working on the first-ever Virgin Sport Festival of Fitness was simply magic! For me, hands-down the best part of it was seeing Virgin Sport support grass-roots fitness and community groups in East London.

Our philosophy has always been to shine a spotlight on the amazing local groups who inspire communities on a daily basis. It’s together with these guys that we can really make lasting change in people’s lives. One such inspiration, Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew, recapped VS Hackney in words that will last in the memory a long time: “Thank you for delivering on all of your promises and giving the community of East London an event to be really proud of… With London Marathon being so oversubscribed, I really feel that Hackney could soon turn into the London race of choice.”

Richard Branson Virgin Sport Hackney Festival of Fitness glitter cannon

Virgin Sport events can be the calendar highlight for a borough or city; like the Olympics or Notting Hill Carnival, that day when we all unite to celebrate each other and our wonderful city. Seeing (and hearing!) that Dream Team cheer squad at the start line of Hackney, including Mary Wittenberg, Charlie and Richard whooping together, is something I will never, ever forget.

Since the event, we’ve been in Hackney every week, providing our free Virgin Sport 110% Team Tuesdays fitness sessions. And through donations, we’re supporting Getting Hackney Girls Active and Hackney Orienteering, to help give kids the gift of being healthy and outdoors. Bring on Hackney 2018!

Sign up for Virgin Sport events in Oxford, San Francisco and Hackney now on the Virgin Sport website.


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