KATIE BULMER-COOKE: Look south for capital ideas

Sunderland's Frost Village
Sunderland's Frost Village
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I really love this time of year, now that we are into December and the festive spirit is in the air (and the advent calendars are open).

It’s also awards season for many industries, including the world of health and fitness and Wednesday saw the city of Reading play host to the UK Active awards.

These awards honour those truly making a difference to the sector in terms of educating and training those who work in health and fitness and those who are instrumental in improving physical activity levels in the UK (a tough job).

It was a brilliant night topped of with Future Fit Training, a training provider I’ve done a lot of work with this year, winning National Training Provider of the Year.

I would honestly never get bored of seeing hard working people win things even if I attended an awards evening every night for a month. I love seeing people do well and Future Fit truly deserved to pick up their award.

On my way home from Reading I travelled through central London (on the tube which I hate more than words can ever describe), and looking around at all the shops, eateries and business adverts I couldn’t help but be inspired.

There are some really cool things going on in London. From pop up shops to healthy eating cafes and mobile massage therapists who visit you at work!

I think we can learn a lot from things that are happening in the big smoke.

I think pop up shops are such a great concept (so much so that I gave it a go) and there is a big future for boutique gyms and the health food market.

Pop up shops in particular really give small businesses a chance to test the water in big retail markets and it gives local people the chance to try something new, and on both counts the rules can be broken.

From the business side you don’t have to have a traditional model, you don’t have to have a single purpose shop, your fixtures don’t have to be fixed, they can be movable to accommodate events and new ideas and you don’t have to look a certain way...it’s ok the break the mould a little.

On the flip side customers need to be willing to try something new, be open minded and support those trying to do something different. It’s a winning combination.

It would be great to see some of the cool trends from down south making their way up north. So if you’re looking for a new business idea, why not take some inspiration from ‘that London’ and be the first to bring new trends and ideas to our city.

And speaking of cool trends and new things to try, it’s great to see the Frost Village back in the city centre.

This was a huge hit last year and gets everyone in the Christmas spirit, so make sure you pay it a visit this year!

Let the Christmas count down begin!