Balance Festival - The Highlights!
Wellness. It's such a huge trend right now, particularly in London, where it seems people just can't enough of everything health and fitness related. So, despite BeFit London having only been a few weeks ago (you can check out my review here), us Londoners were clearly ready for the next one. Introduce - Balance Festival!
Held at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, Balance is a 3 day festival which launched for the first time ever this year as the "UK's largest celebration of the thriving fitness scene and wellness movement". For those of you who followed my Instagram stories from the event, you'll know they certainly achieved that!
With over 150 food, fitness and wellness brands, more than 200 workouts, in addition to 50+ live cooking demons and wellness talks, there was certainly a LOT to choose from! Given it would take me forever to discuss all my highlights from the two days I visited, here's a run down of my best bits from each of their 4 key concepts - fashion, food, mind and fitness....
"The rise of fitness fashion means that, these days, it’s not only totally acceptable to rock up anywhere clad in lycra and gym-tees, it’s encouraged. And, thanks to a plethora of brands stocking our fashion cupboard in Balance Festival’s Athleisure Village, you’ll be kitted out with all the hottest looks for both inside and out of the gym"
Excuse me, what was that? An Athleisure Village did you say? Yes, an Athleisure VILLAGE! And one that ENCOURAGES leggings worn outside of the gym? It's like my dream place! Showcasing some of my favourite niche brands including Born Nouli (their leggings are incredible, like a second skin), Gibson Girl (I love their matching combos), Bella Kinesis (a sports brand with a conscious - amazingly for each item of sportswear they sell, they fund one month's business education for a woman in rural India - I know the two girls who developed the company and they're genuinely so lovely!), combined with the more well known Australian label Lorna Jane, alongside my TOP go-to multi-brand activewear store Active In Style, this was one hell of a challenge/heaven (depending on what way you look at it!) for an activewear addict like me!
"The Market should be your first port of call for all the latest innovations and trends across food, fitness and wellness. Housing all the best brands the industry has to offer, here you’ll get your fill of delights to load up your kitchen cupboards with"
Pip and Nut. Need I say anymore? Pip and Nut, there on hand, with a stall, handing out coconut nut butter with banana on toast. That's one way to make your audience happy!
But, just incase that wasn't quite enough, the 'Market' was full of different health and wellness brands all offering samples to nibble of their latest releases. From MissFits Nutrition (my favourite for protein shakes), to Pana Raw Chocolate (the BEST chocolate ever, despite being free from dairy and refined sugar it has the creamiest texture and richest flavour) and Two Chicks Egg White (I bought three bottles, literally love these guys), alongside hundreds of others including Deliciously Ella, Rebel Kitchen, Pollen Grace and Elspeth's Kitchen, we were certainly kept busy nibbling away. When it came to post workout, another favourite protein company of mine, Neat Nutrition, were on hand to give some MUCH needed protein recovery (more on the workouts in a minute!)
Not only was there an array of stalls to shop and sample, but further round in the venue was the 'Balanced Kitchen' ; a street-food like market serving up healthy dishes from a selection of eateries entering London's fitness scene. With stalls including vegetarian 'Vurger Co', healthy indian 'Spicebox', and D/F Mexico Tacos, the highlight here had to be Sano To Go . Inspired by recipes from 'The Medicinal Chef' Dale Pinnock, this healthy eatery has their first restaurant opening in central London this summer.... if the menu at Balance Festival is anything to go by, this place is gonna be a hit!
"The Balance Festival LAB brings education, inspiration and insight from leading experts and influencers in the health, food and fitness industry. Learn how to find your balance with the help of these innovative talks and workshops"
OK, I'm going to be honest here, I probably didn't make as much of the LAB as I should have. There was talk by Barry's Bootcamp UK founders, Sandy and Anya, as to how they brought the revolutionary concept to the UK which I would have loved to attend, in addition to Pip and Nut founder Pip Murray on how she built her brand, however both these were part of the Friday daytime talks that unfortunately I couldn't make it. Book! I did, however, manage to grab a seat in the Wellness Entrepreneurs Talk, where Zanna Van Dijk interviewed the amazing Caroline Lucey (founder of Active In Style) about the process she went through to start up her own career. Seriously inspiring.... and I do wonder if it hadn't of been for Caroline starting up her business, would leggings to brunch be acceptable now?!
OK, so the REAL reason why I didn't quite make it to all the cooking demos/wellness talks I had intended - I was FARRRRRRR too busy taking part in all the fitness classes on offer! Across the two days I was there, I managed to squeeze in 8 classes....here's to lowdown on what I got up to!
The LA original indoor bootcamp, known to burn over 1,000 calories in an hours class, Barry's is by far one of my favourite studios in London, therefore was first on my list to visit when we arrived on the Friday evening. Blasting us with sprints and hills on the treads for 15 minutes, before a full body weights session on the floor for the remainder 15 minutes, the class at Balance was half the length of the usual Barry's concept.... leaving us desperate for more. Which is why I went back first thing when I arrived on Sunday. As you do, of course!
Combining elements of dance, ballet and pilates, X-tend Barre is all about creating long, lean and strong bodies. First attending their class over two years ago when they were based at DanceWorks (review here), the lovely owner Catie Miller has since taken the London fitness scene by storm with her brand new studio in Marylebone. It was lovely to catch up with her once again as she took us through a muscle burning, heart raising, strength, cardio and flexibility workout.
Just as Leila and I were leaving X-tend, thinking that was us done for the evening, out pop the Un1t trainers and somehow manage to persuade us that joining in another 40 minute workout is a GREAT way to end the Friday evening! OK, so we all know I take little persuasion to cram in another session, so before we knew it we were box jumping, rowing, squatting, burpee-ing and planking into the Friday night - sorry Leila! Genuinely though, this class was definitely within my top three of the weekend (alongside F45 and Afterburner below) - the instructors in this place just have SO much energy, you always come out on a high.
Working your body from head to toe, what I love about Boom Cycle is that, rather than just focusing on cardio and legs, it has you chest pressing, shoulder pressing, bicep curling and tricep extending all to the beat of music... whilst still cycling of course. With the dimmed lights, loud music and flashing UV's, it's more of a party like atmosphere than an actual workout, and the studio they created at Balance Festival, despite being a pop up, was pretty insane!
If you remember my previous post on F45 (here), it will probably come as no surprise to you I was super excited to go back! With the lovely owners Michael and Amy having now recruited a full squad of F45 trainers, they put us through our paces in a 45 minute Athletica circuit. Battle ropes, medicine ball burpees, box jumps and russian twists (to name but a few!), it was no surprise it left my friend Steph and I the sweatiest we had been yet! Just as well they gave us some F45 caps at the end to shield those pink faces!
Another Space Boxing HIIT
But it wasn't long before it was caps off, gloves on, as we made our way into the Another Space Boxing Chamber for a hardcore HIIT session with lead trainer Mila. As a regular at their Covent Garden studio, I had an idea of what to expect... but that didn't make it any easier! With three rounds on the punch bags combined with three rounds of HIIT on the floor, the series of exerices were focused firstly on speed, then power, finishing with 'explosive', combining the two for a high intensity, calorie burning power round. Smashed it!
Third Space Afterburner
Last, but by no means least, it was onto the our final class of the day - Afterburner, held by Third Space Fitness Manager Luke Baden and Marylebone PT Seb James. Again, another class I'm more than familiar with, Afterburner, which works on the EPOC effect (find out what the hell this is on my previous review here here), the 45 minutes of high intensity rig circuit training, using TRX, Plyo Boxes, Kettlebells and Battle Ropes, was the perfect way to end what had been a crazy, but amazing, final day at Balance. And Steph - sorry, you're right, I totally lied when I said this would be a nice chilled finisher!
All in all I had an AMAZING time at Balance Festival and, despite being exhausted at the end of it, I was genuinely so sad it was all over!
Whilst I'm super excited for its return next year - in the meantime, I'm looking forward to the next fitness festival on the agenda - SWEATLIFE IS BACK! Who's coming?! If last years event is anything to go by (check it out here), you're NOT gonna want to miss this one!