THE STAGE INTERVIEWS BECKY BARRETT
What was it like for you when the first lockdown happened?
The agency was going really well. I’ve had it for seven years and it was booming. A massive percentage of our clients were working and then the week that the announcement about lockdown was made, it took about two weeks for 90% of our contracts to be cancelled. It was just horrendous. It was heart-wrenching having to make all those calls and support the clients mentally, as well as trying to deal with the contractual side of it and make sure everybody was getting the money they were owed. We had about 30 clients on cruise ships and some of them took about two months to get home.
What inspired you to set up the fitness consultancy?
I’ve always been really interested in fitness. I trained as an instructor about 10 years ago as a side job. With a little bit of downtime, I thought: “How can I help some of my clients and other performers in the industry?” I thought: “Why don’t I try to launch some kind of agency that represents fitness instructors?” BBM Fitness is a consultancy service, so potential clients will call up, I’ll give them a consultation for about 20 minutes and talk through what kind fitness needs they’ve got and what kind of fitness styles they like. Then I’ll go through my list of performers and fitness instructors I represent, see who I think is suitable to teach them, and then I’ll connect them. It’s essentially how the musical theatre agency works, connecting one end to another.
Who do you have on the books?
I’ve signed up a range of instructors. I’ve got personal trainers, yoga instructors, Pilates instructors and trainers specialising in general cardio, strength and conditioning. We’ve also got a ‘train with a friend’ option. I’ve brought a few clients over from my performance agency – I’ve got Lucie Horsfall, who was in the cast of Wicked in the West End when everything closed, and Jamie Corner, who was in the West End production of The Band. I’ve got performer Daisy Winter-Taylor – she’s just booked a job for next year through the acting agency – and Tim Edwards, who was in The Book of Mormon in the West End. I’ve 12 instructors on the books and am headhunting for more.
How does it compare to running a musical theatre agency?
It’s really similar – it’s very people-orientated. I’ve spent 10 years managing people, and I think that works really well for assessing the clients that call up. You get used to how to work with different personalities, you get used to coaching people, and on the instructor side, representing them is like representing performers. You want the best for them and you know how to manage the contracts.
Why does fitness coaching make a good second job for performers?
I think the instructing side is very flexible time-wise. If you get a job and you’re in rehearsals, you can still do some teaching in the evening, and if you have a show in the evening, you can teach during the day. Teaching is a little bit like performing; you’ve got to get in front of people, give it 100% and have a certain energy. Performers have that energy – they’re dedicated and used to working hard, and all of that adds up to make a really good instructor. I think it’s a natural fit.
Interview by Giverny Masso