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Exercise Previous Classes

Who made my Activewear?

As the fitness and wellness industries continue to expand with more people seeking healthier and more active lifestyles, sales of Activewear are soaring (Business Insider, 2017). Activewear forms part of the fashion industry which is known for devastating environmental impacts and exploitation of workers globally (Fashion Revolution). Whilst there are incredible movements towards a more purposeful fashion industry, there seemed to be little focus on Activewear. I wanted to organise an event that connected consumers with the hands that made their Activewear, highlighted wellness brands who put sustainability at the heart of their business, and supported Fashion Revolution’s efforts to stimulate change for a better fashion industry. This led me to host Who made my Activewear?, a mini sustainability in wellness festival seeking to encourage more mindful consumption in the wellness industry and fundraise for Fashion Revolution.

Who made my Activewear? took place on Saturday 28th April 2018 at Benk + Bo in London, during Fashion Revolution Week. There was a pop-up shop, classes for mind and body, and an ‘Ethics in Activewear’ panel discussion.

As part of the event, six purposeful Activewear brands shared information on their fabrics and the factories they work with to provide greater transparency over their supply chains and connect consumers with the hands behind their Activewear: Adrenna London, Jilla Active, Silou London, Sports Philosophy, Starseeds and VYAYAMA. You can read what these brands had to say at www.whomademyactivewear.com

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Founders or representatives from each brand spoke on the ‘Ethics in Activewear’ panel discussion hosted by Heather Knight from Fashion Revolution. Heather started the panel with her tips for a more sustainable sportswear wardrobe: buy less, make it last, fix it when broken, swap with friends, buy second hand and buy from conscious brands who use recycled, natural or innovative fibres. The brands then discussed how they’re addressing their social and environmental impacts, from using lower impact materials, working closely with their factories to ensure fair and safe conditions and looking to minimise the environmental impacts of packaging and distribution. They also touched on the challenges they face as small brands with little leverage in factories supplying some of the largest Activewear brands globally. It was an insightful hour behind the scenes of purposeful Activewear brands and I was overwhelmed with the incredible turnout that just about managed to fit into the beautiful Benk + Bo ground floor.

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All six brands could be found at the pop-up shop, as well as other incredible wellness, lifestyle and beauty brands including: Rêve En Vert, AmaElla, Optiat, Nitara London, Home of Eco and YogaClicks. It was so wonderful to see people connect with these brands, ask questions and consider the impact of their purchases.

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The classes included the perfect start to the morning with Caleb George‘s Early Risers Yoga and Phoebe Greenacre‘s Rise and Shine Vinyasa Flow to ensure you woke up well. I then taught BarreBodyLondon, Chiara Pellegrino’s butt-burning barre method, for those wanting a Saturday sweat. Our afternoon finished with Corinne Naomi‘s Contemporary Mat Pilates where you certainly felt your core, and Natalia Bojanic‘s beautiful meditation session Gratitude is Gold.

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We also had a Circular Design Station ran by Felicitas Olschewski where you could learn about the principles of circular economy and design your own Activewear outfit with those in mind. Runway rental service Wear The Walk very kindly donated a voucher for the design competition winner, Fiona Cartmel!

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To further fundraise for UK charity Fashion Revolution, we had a raffle with fantastic prizes from conscious wellness brands including Joe’s Tea Co., Yuhme, Freda, Natural Deodorant Co., and Danielle Copperman.

Overall, we raised a total of £125 for Fashion Revolution and gathered more than one hundred people to discuss mindful consumption and discover purposeful wellness brands. I hope this is just the start of championing sustainability in the fitness and wellness industries. I’ve already discovered a number of new Activewear brands striving to build their business addressing key environmental, social and economic impacts. We as consumers have the power to change the industry by asking questions and voting for the world we want with our wallets.

A special thanks to Domenic Pendino for capturing the action, to Eliza, Lily, Rose and Soph for being the best of friends and saving the day to help me out, to Oliver Ferris for being my rock, putting up with all the emails and organisation and project managing the day, and to all of those that came to support the event!

You can find out more about the event at  www.whomademyactivewear.com or on the event’s Instagram page.

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Exercise Previous Classes

Barre + Brownies with Luminary Bakery

 

On Saturday 10th March, we celebrated International Women’s Day with social enterprise Luminary Bakery through a special Barre + Brownies event.

After my mat-based BarreBodyLondon class at the lovely Yogahome studio (big thank you to Yogahome for kindly donating this space for the event!), we walked over to the Luminary Bakery cafe to indulge in delicious brownies. The brownies were HEAVENLY – so rich and gooey, exactly what you want on a Saturday afternoon! Rachael, Luminary’s Business Manager, then told us a little more about what they do and how we can get involved…

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Luminary Bakery is a social enterprise offering opportunities for women who experience social or economic disadvantages to build a future for themselves. They use baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with transferrable skills for the working world. Offering courses and qualifications, work experience and paid employment within the bakery, they empower and build confidence, enabling women to become independent and realise their dreams. They have many wonderful success stories, including a lovely and talented lady who has just set up her own cake business!

You can support this social enterprise in a number of ways, including:

  • Brunching at or buying from the bakery
  • Purchasing a celebration cake for a special occassion
  • Attending one of their bakery workshops
  • Becoming a mentor and providing roughly 1 hour of support a month
  • Donating directly
  • Recommending to a friend

I’d thoroughly recommend the brunch, bread and other baked treats!

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As well as my mat-based barre class and yummy brownies, attendees were also treated to a goody bag with treats and discounts from brands that inspire, empower, or support women. These included:

  • Birdsong – a ‘no sweatshops, no photoshop’ social enterprise offering fashion that’s fairer for women, paying living wage and supporting disadvantaged groups
  • Juta Shoes – a social enterprise employing passionate and skilled local women in London to handcraft espadrilles using reclaimed leather and environmentally-friendly materials ​
  • Freda – organic period care that gives back through partnerships with Bloody Good Period and A Bloody Good Cause in the UK and Kilipads in Tanzania
  • Pai Skincare – certified organic skincare that is effective whilst free from Parabens, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Petrochemicals, Detergents (SLS/SLES) and artificial fragrance
  • Natural Deodorant Co. – natural yet effective deodorant made using familiar and recognisable ingredients in a reusable glass jar
  • People Tree – a pioneer in ethical and sustainable fashion, using Fair Trade and Organic certified materials and pushing for a fairer fashion industry for all
  • AmaElla – an organic lingerie and nightwear brand offering conscious yet elegant underwear you can feel comfortable and confident wearing
  • Iam By Nature – a natural and organic certified skincare brand using very few ingredients all within recyclable packaging
  • Husk & Honey Granola – organic, gluten-free granola made in London, free from refined sugar, dairy and wheat
  • Joe’s Tea Co. – a London Living Wage accredited employer offering organic, whole leaf tea made with quality and ethics in mind

I want to say a huge thank you to the lovely ladies that attended the event – I really enjoyed it and I hope you did too. We managed to raise a wonderful £100 to support Luminary Bakery’s continued work empowering women.

 

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Exercise Previous Classes

Barre + Beauty: DIY deodorant using natural and organic ingredients

This weekend I held my second event of 2018, where my mat-based barre class was followed by a deodorant making workshop with Elsa’s Organics founder Henrietta Lampkin. Using just coconut oil*, shea butter*, cacao butter*, pink Himalayan salt and essential oils*, we heated and mixed to make our own deodorant paste (* = certified organic ingredients). It was great fun getting crafty with a lovely group of ladies for a Saturday of self care!


After learning more about the benefits of organic beauty (read up here) and all of the nasty chemicals often found in conventional products, I’ve been keen to find out exactly what is in my skincare. I’ve also been trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use and opt for reusable containers where possible. I really liked the idea of combining one of the barre classes with a deodorant workshop using reusable glass containers. I was so pleased when Henrietta was keen to collaborate on this event and share her expertise! You can find out more about Henriette and Elsa’s Organics by reading this interview I took with her here.


The event took place at Benk + Bo, a beautiful cafe, co-working and events space tucked just a 5 minute walk from Spitafields Market. The quirky space has a calming feel with plenty of plants and Scandinavian style furniture, perfect for a weekend of wellness. The class took place in the yoga studio, where I was able to set a romantic pink scheme for the lighting with Hue to promote self-love! We then moved down to the lower ground floor for a nourishing PRESS London smoothie and to start the workshop.
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We also had gorgeous goody bag totes from ethically-aware Activewear brand Jilla Active filled with gifts and discounts from some of my favourite conscious brands, including:

 

Thank you so much to the lovely ladies that came to the event – I really enjoyed teaching the class and I hope you enjoying taking part!

You can find out about my next class here.

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Exercise Live

Detoxifying your deodorant with Elsa’s Organics

I recently interviewed Elsa’s Organics founder Henrietta Lampkin to find out a little more about how and why she launched the brand and the benefits of a deodorant made up of natural and organic ingredients. Read what we discussed below…

Hey Henrietta, how are you? How is 2018 treating you and Elsa’s Organics so far?  

I am very well and excited by all of the possibilities this new little brand is bringing me!

Why did you start Elsa’s Organics?   

After searching long and hard for a truly natural deodorant that was effective and long-lasting for myself and my daughters, I was left frustrated. I gave up my search and decided to create my own recipes. As a mum of four girls, I knew this was something I had to do!

Why deodorant?  

I saw a gap in the market as the existing “natural” deodorants weren’t that effective and had questionable ingredients.

What are some of the typical health and environmental issues associated with conventional deodorant?

All conventional antiperspirants and a vast majority of “natural” deodorants contain Aluminium in one form or another. Some contain up to 25% by volume of Aluminium salts! This is a toxin that your body has no use for in any amount. It has also been linked to diseases such as breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, bone disorders and kidney problems, as do Parabens which are also frequently found in conventional deodorants. Studies have shown that Aluminium accumulates in the breast tissue of women, with high incidence in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast, nearest to where antiperspirants are applied (Exley et al., 2007; McGrath, 2003). Parabens are also suspected to be endocrine disruptors (EWG, 2018).

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Photo credit: We Were Raised By Wolves

Why organic ingredients?

The skin around your under arm is sensitive, with some studies finding a 100% absorption rate. It’s therefore critical to use as pure and natural ingredients as possible as what you put on your underarm will be absorbed into your body.

 

“What you put on your underarm will be absorbed into your body”

 

What percentage of your deodorant stick ingredients are certified organic? Do you think you will go for Soil Association certification at any point? 

Of the ingredients in my deodorant sticks, 68% are certified organic. The remainder are clays, ocean minerals and Himalayan salts which can’t be certified as they aren’t agricultural. We’re currently working on getting our products fully organic certified by the Soil Association!

What ingredients do you use in your deodorant sticks and why? What are they good for? 

  • Detoxifies

Himalayan Pink Salt is a gentle detoxifier and deodoriser. It is readily absorbed into the skin and contains 84 minerals and elements that can naturally be found within the human body.

  • Nourishes

Castor Oil is found to have natural healing abilities, moving through the lymphatic channels within the body and breaking up any congestion. It’s been shown to be effective in preventing the growth of numerous species of bacteria and is also high in Vitamin E and beneficial fatty acids Omega 6 and 9!

  • Deodorises

Magnesium is involved in over 300 regularly occurring transactions in the human body, making it the most important nutrient for your body’s performance! It’s best absorbed through the skin and helps to neutralise bad odours! Essential oils are also great at adding a natural fragrance and keep you smelling sweet.

  • Soothes

Coconut Oil has many qualities, including it’s soothing nature. It also has great antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, making it perfect for a deodorant. Arrowroot powder is also thought to have soothing and anti-microbial properties.

  • Softens

Shea butter is rich in essential fatty acids and is praised for softening the skin.

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Photo credit: Love Lula

Where are your products made and by who? 

I formulate all products in my kitchen and they are now made in a small manufacturing plant in Scotland!

What do you have planned for Elsa’s Organics in the future? 

We will be launching a fun pre-teen zero waste creme deodorant and a charcoal-based arm-pit detox kit in May so keep an eye out for those.

What tips do you have for readers for more conscious shopping? 

Here are my top 3 tips:

  1. Read the labels and research any unfamiliar ingredients
  2. Aim for zero-waste where possible
  3. Go organic for skincare and food

 

Thank you Henrietta!

 

 

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Exercise Previous Classes

Barre + Brunch for Mental Health UK at The Hoxton, Shoreditch

This Sunday I hosted my first event of 2018 – a ‘Barre + Brunch’ at The Hoxton, Shoreditch, for charity Mental Health UK. Following three events I ran with Savannah Devillez last year fundraising for this worthy cause, I was so excited to continue our efforts into the new year…

Mental Health UK is a network of four charities across the UK who provide more than 400 services to support those affected by mental health issues. With one in four of us experiencing a mental health problem in any given year, it’s so important that there are networks providing the support needed to help people improve their mental health. Lloyds Bank have partnered with Mental Health UK to develop and launch a service where both mental health support and financial services can be provided together. Those who experience poor mental health often struggle with their finances, and similarly those who struggle with their finances can then experience poor mental health, so this service will provide the help required to manage both aspects. Our fundraising is going towards ensuring this combined service reaches as many people as possible across the UK, and we’re so pleased that at this January event we managed to raise another £100 to help make this happen!

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M Life London eco mats

 

This event was all about feeling good – with an upbeat, energetic barre class followed by a delicious, nutritious brunch.

Barre was held in the uber cool ‘Apartment’ within The Hoxton hotel in Shoreditch; a super stylish space I’d like to inhabit, please! With our M Life London eco mats and resistance bands, we worked through all major muscle groups for a full body burn, before finishing with a relaxing stretch. Following refreshments from PRESS London and Seedlip, we were fired up for a feast. We moved into the conservatory within the Hoxton Grill for a buffet brunch with pancakes and blueberries, hemp seed chia puddings, avocado and roast tomatoes on sourdough, mozzarella and beets spelt salad and platters of fruit. I am getting SO hungry just listing that out!

Ok, so, on to my favourite part of any event – the goody bag! I love a good goody bag and always work hard to make sure I can gift my attendees a great selection of goodies to take home with them. This event was no exception and I was so happy to get support from the following cool and conscious companies:

  • PRESS – cold-pressed juices and healthy snacks for busy Londoners (the pineapple lemonade is delicious!)
  • Seedlip – the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits
  • KINN Living – certified organic skincare and cleaning for you, your family and your home
  • M Life London – non-toxic and sustainability-conscious yoga wear and accessories
  • Iam By Nature – natural and organic beauty with just a few ingredients you can understand
  • Brave – high-protein pea snacks made in the East of England
  • Joe’s Tea Co. – organic whole leaf teas from farmers paid a premium on top of fair trade
  • Lola’s Apothecary – delicate and elegant oils with a wellness purpose
  • Form Nutrition – plant-based protein for mind and body
  • Optiat – natural beauty using waste from the food and beverage industry
  • AmaElla – beautiful and sexy organic cotton lingerie and nightwear

Thank you so much to all of those that attended to plié, pulse and eat pancakes with me – I hope you enjoyed it. I absolutely loved seeing lots of new faces alongside some more familiar ones and hope to see you again soon!

Find out more about my upcoming events here.

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Dress Exercise Live Previous Classes

Winter Wellness Day: Barre, brunch and ethical fashion brands

On Saturday 2nd December I took part in Sports Philosophy‘s Winter Wellness Day fundraising for their charity Freedom For Children Foundation. This was part of a project to fund a school bus in Myanmar, enabling children to get the education they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

Funding a school truck

Freedom for Children Foundation are supporting the myME Project in Myanmar which aims to improve children’s access to education, enabling them to get better jobs and move out of poverty. Currently, over 500,000 students drop out of the formal education in Myanmar each year. Too often parents take their kids out of school to help out on local farms or send them to nearby cities to work. MyME provide practical education and vocational skills to child labourers at their workplace in collaboration with the business owners, often teashops, to improve literacy and develop basic computer skills. Whilst this doesn’t end child labour, it does enable children to get the education they need to find a job with higher pay and fairer and safer working conditions. By helping them to move out of poverty, myME hope that future generations will not be taken out of education to work, reducing child labour.

42 Acres Shoreditch

The event took place at the incredible 42 Acres space in Shoreditch. It is a truly beautiful venue, with gorgeous, large arched windows, natural furnishings and plants aplenty – by far the most aesthetically pleasing place I’ve ever taught at, feeling like a sanctuary for wellness within the city! As well as an events venue, it also acts as a conscious co-working space designed to provide a healthy, happy working environment for individuals and organisations alike. 42 Acres also have a focus on sustainability, procuring products and services that are both environmentally and socially conscious. I am hoping to return in 2018 for more events and would absolutely love to visit their Somerset retreat – thoroughly recommend attending an event or co-working in the Shoreditch location!

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My barre class

As part of the event, I lead a mat-based barre class. I teach Chiara Pellegrino’s BarreBodyLondon method which combines ballet, Pilates, yoga and resistance training movements for a full body workout that you’ll definitely feel the next day! For this class, we used our own body weight and Manuka Life eco bands to sculpt and tone all major muscle groups. It was amazing to have a full class of super strong ladies who brought great energy on this early Saturday morning – perhaps powered by the couple of cheesy Christmas songs I snuck into the playlist!  I loved seeing some of my regulars and close friends as well as lots of new faces – a big thank you to all that joined!

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Ethical brand Q&A

After my class came a Q&A session with companies conscious of their ethics. The speaker line-up included Sports Philosophy founder Stella Heng, AmaElla co-founder Julie Kervadec, Rêve En Vert co-founder Cora Hilts and Araminta Marketing founder Minty Sheridan. Talking ethical fashion, they covered the issues in the industry, how to shop more ethically and how to build your own business.

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Brunch

Then it was on to a mouth-watering brunch spread (I’m drooling just look at the photos!). From granola and smoothies to mini open sandwiches and vegan cakes, it was an absolute feast. Stella and team – you did an excellent job!

Ethical brand pop-up shop

And whilst munching on the delicious, nutritious brunch buffet, we were also able to browse the ethical brand pop-up shop. Stocking Sports Philosophy, Rêve En Vert, AmaElla and Lola’s Apothecary, it made the perfect place to pick up a conscious Christmas gift for a loved one. Or in my case, a gift for myself – I couldn’t help it, the AmaElla lingerie is so beautifully elegant and I’d been considering getting a set for a while.

AmaElla is a small organic cotton lingerie and nightwear brand based in Cambridge, founded by best friends Julie and Lara. Spotting a gap in the market for delicate, sexy and ethically-made underwear, AmaElla was launched. With a focus on fair and safe working conditions throughout the supply chain, they work with two manufacturers – one in the UK and one in Portugal. The UK partner is a non-profit social enterprise training young women, and their Portuguese partner only employs women in the local area to maintain the rich textile heritage of the community. They also care deeply about the health of society and of the environment, so all of their products are made from Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) certified cotton. GOTS cotton is requires significantly less water and is free from harmful chemicals and pesticides unlike regular cotton.

Sports Philosophy is an Activewear brand aiming to end child labour. When founding the company, Stella and partner in business and in life Matthias also set up their charity Freedom for Children Foundation to fight child labour across the world. A percentage of the profits from the Activewear company are donated to the foundation, which works to develop community-led solutions relieving poverty and allowing children to gain an education instead of having to work. The brand also aims to offer high-quality workout wear to last the test of time, with just one collection released each year. As an ambassador for this wonderful brand, I have an exclusive discount code to give you 15% off: ZARA01SP – enjoy!

Rêve En Vert is a platform for sustainable luxury, offering long-lasting fashion you can feel good about. Having struggled to find fashion and lifestyle pieces that combine aesthetics with ethics in their own lives, Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker decided to provide a solution for others experiencing the same problem. They refuse to compromise on style for sustainability, so everything they stock has been carefully curated to meet both their social, environmental and visual standards.

Lola’s Apothecary handcraft delicate, luxury beauty products with natural, botanical ingredients in their farm kitchen in the Devonshire countryside. Focused on high-quality skincare, their essential oil based products are free from artificial preservatives, synthetic fragrances, mineral oils, sulphates, parabens and other undesirable chemicals. Each fragrance has been developed to suit your mood, from calm and clarity to energy and romance. Many of their bottles contain pretty petals or springs for a beautiful, elegant appearance making a gorgeous gift for a loved one.

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Exercise Previous Classes

Barre & Brunch for Mental Health UK

On Sunday 10th December, I returned to the beautiful Method Movement studio for my third and final barre class event fundraising for Mental Health UK in 2017. We took to the mats, equipped with our Manuka Life eco bands (read more about them here), for 45 minutes of pliés and pulses, powered by an epic Christmas playlist!

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I’ve absolutely loved hosting events this year with my friend Savannah Devillez to fundraise for this worthy cause. With one in four people affected by a mental health problem in the UK, more than cancer or heart disease, it is widespread issue that needs addressing. Mental Health UK is a network of four charities across the UK supporting those affected by mental illness. Their 400 services are relied on by more than 90,000 people a year, reducing the impact of mental illness and helping people through crises, to live independently and to realise they aren’t alone. Across the three events we’ve organised this year, we’ve raised a total of £360 for the charity and we’re looking forward to continuing our fundraising next year!

These barre events have also been the perfect opportunity to spread awareness of some inspiring, sustainability-conscious brands. With my passion for more mindful living and consuming, it was important to me that all of the brands supporting our events care for people and planet. For our December event we were incredibly lucky to gain support from some fantastic conscious companies, including:

  • KINN Living body wash – Soil Association certified organic, non-toxic lifestyle products made in the UK
  • Freda period care – organic tampons and sanitary products that give back, helping women worldwide gain access to the period care they need
  • Iam By Nature face mask – 100% natural skin care with few, simple ingredients
  • Optiat coffee scrub – natural skincare made from high-quality coffee waste
  • Elsa’s Organics deodorant – a gentle, nourishing and natural deodorant that is Paraben, Aluminium and alcohol free
  • Deliciously Ella granola bar – vegan-friendly snacking full of natural ingredients and high in fibre
  • Lola’s Apothecary tea – delicate, elegant, and natural beauty and wellness products handmade in England
  • FitKit shower gel – this UK-made body care brand is Peta-approved cruelty free and vegan, and Soil Association approved organic
  • Sundried tote bag – a sustainable sportswear company striving to minimise the carbon footprint of everything they do, using innovative fabrics and reusable packaging
  • Sports Philosophy discount flyer – aiming to be the first truly ethical activewear brand, Sport Philosophy tackle child labour through their charity Freedom For Children Foundation. You too can get 15% off with code ZARA01SP
  • Jilla Active brochure – simple and sophisticated Activewear designed to last through time and trend
  • Free Soul discount flyer – vegan protein powder and fitness supplements designed for real women
  • SourcedBox – these absolutely insane snack boxes are perfect for anyone that likes food (and who doesn’t like food?!), containing a collection of healthy and natural snacks designed to work wonders on your wellbeing! They’re vegan-friendly and are free from any artificial flavourings, preservatives or additives, and refined sugar, helping to fuel you through the working week!

As this event was a ‘barre and brunch’ we also treated our attendees to delicious, nutritious treats from healthy catering service PO-TEN-CY and organic juice kitchen CPress. PO-TEN-CY provided delightful energy balls made of orange, cinnamon, tahini, medjool dates, cashews, vanilla and sesame to help my barre-rinas recover after the workout. Whilst CPress donated refreshing apple and ginger juice bombs and tasty granola bars.


Thank you so much to all of barre beauties that attended the event and helped us to support Mental Health UK – I hope you enjoyed it! A big thank you to all of the wonderful supporting brands helping us piece together the great goody bag. And a special thank you to Ollie for helping out on the day and Domenic Pendino for the photos and your infectious, effervescent energy!

I’m looking forward to hosting more events in 2018 for a range of different causes and hope to see you there.

Zara x

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Exercise Previous Classes

Raising the barre for Mental Health UK at Method Movement

To celebrate World Mental Health Day, I ran my second barre class event fundraising for Mental Health UK. I took two back-to-back BarreBodyLondon classes, the first for full body and the second a booty-focused (or derrière in ballet terms!) class.

BarreBodyLondon is Chiara Pellegrino’s barre concept class, aiming to work all major muscle groups with isometric movements, Pilates and resistance training, before finishing with a relaxing stretch. I’ve been teaching Chiara’s method for almost a year now and I absolutely love it – you’ll work your whole body and definitely feel it the next day!

I have always found exercise classes a great way to relax and relieve stress. It’s an hour where you’re not thinking about anything other than the muscles you’re using, giving your mind a well-needed rest whilst working to improve your physical strength. That’s exactly what I want from my classes – to take my barrerinas’ minds’ off of anything going on in their lives and get them focusing on feeling the burn!

The classes took place in the beautiful Method Movement studio in Earl’s Court. The studio has a light and bright feel – perfect for a Sunday of wellness. If you go there for a class (which I thoroughly recommend), peak your head out to their garden – it’s a gorgeous, covered terrace area with wooden flooring, a white painted brick wall and light heaters to keep you warm in the winter. It absolutely love it and want to come back for one of Co-Founder Natalia Bojanic’s mindfulness classes!

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To make sure my attendees really felt the BarreBodyLondon burn, I used eco resistance bands from Manuka Life to aid with arm and glute sequences. These ‘eco’ bands are latex free and made from non-toxic materials, developed to avoid harm to both the user and the environment, unlike typical PVC bands. They are my favourite workout accessory as they can be used in so many different ways. They’re also the perfect piece of kit to take around town or to pack into your holiday suitcase as they’re super small and light. Get yours here.

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Ok so onto the goody bags – my favourite part of any class event (as they usually contain a delicious chocolate bar!). I was so lucky to get support from some amazing brands that care about the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. As sustainability is my greatest passion, I’m always on the look out for brands with a social or environmental purpose, that care about both style and substance. Here’s a little about the wonderful companies that supported the event:

  • Sports Philosophy tote bags – aiming to be the first truly ethical activewear brand, Sport Philosophy tackle child labour through their charity Freedom For Children Foundation
  • Form Nutrition protein powder – with every order of their smooth and delicious plant-based protein, Form Nutrition provide a meal to the Family Feeding Fund at Bansang Hospital in The Gambia
  • Brave Foods peas – a tasty pack of peas as an all-natural, eco-friendly source of protein, grown in the East of England
  • Ombar chocolate – raw, organic, vegan chocolate that is now a firm favourite in my household!
  • Born Wild Tea tea – high-quality, ethical and flavoursome loose leaf tea blends, born in the heart of the Cotswolds
  • Lola’s Apothecary body oil – delicate, elegant, and natural beauty products, all with a wellness purpose and handmade in England
  • Dash water – lightly sparkling spring water infused with wonky lemons and cucumbers that would otherwise be thrown away
  • Free Soul discount flyer – specialist vegan protein powder and fitness supplements for real women
  • Jilla Active discount & brochure – simple and sophisticated Activewear designed to last through time and trend

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I’m currently working on a plan for class events next year so please let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to do by commenting below!

Zara x

 

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Dress Exercise

Searching for sustainable sportswear: 5 ethical Activewear brands

Sports and sustainability are my two favourite things (after eating chocolate in bed that is!). Since I started teaching barre last year, my requirement for Activewear that isn’t soaked in sweat has increased somewhat. So I’ve been on a quest to find more sustainable sportswear, scouring the net for companies that care about their people, the environment, and the communities in which they operate. Here’s a round up of my five favourite conscious Activewear brand discoveries and how they’re tackling sustainability throughout their supply chain…

 

Sports Philosophy

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Sports Philosophy are committed to fighting child labour across the world. Aiming to be the first truly ethical Activewear brand, they work to understand and eliminate child labour through their own charity the Freedom For Children Foundation.  The Foundation hires impact consultants for research in areas where child labour is rife. This includes connecting with families, local authorities and local businesses all affected by child labour to identify the root cause and help develop community-led solutions.

Launched by Stella and Matthias in the summer of 2015, they align their work to their three key principles: look good, feel good, do good! They wanted to prove that activewear can combine ethics and aesthetics, and that more sustainable options don’t have to compromise on style. Their latest collection features beautiful laser cut sports bras, a little bit of mesh and a lot of magenta. I am particularly fond of the prism leggings and the peek-a-boo vest (which I’ve worn for both a workout and a night out!).

I’ll be writing a profile on the brand and charity soon as I recently met up with co-founder Stella to find out more, so keep an eye out on my page. If you can’t wait to find out more, visit their website and use the following discount code for 15% off: ZARA01SP

https://www.sportsphilosophy.com

 

Sundried

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Sundried offer sustainable activewear trialled and tested by athletes across the world. Their focus lies predominantly on the environment, aiming to reduce their carbon footprint throughout all areas of their business. For example, they only use fabrics from the countries in which their items are produced. They have two factories, one in Italy, the other in Portugal, so only materials from Portugal are used at the Portuguese factory, and materials from Italy in the Italian one. Sundried have also partnered with the Low Carbon Innovation Fund to contribute to a low carbon economy. They conduct a full lifecycle analysis on each piece of clothing, covering design, manufacture, distribution, use, and disposal, to ensure the carbon footprint of each product has been fully assessed.

What about the conditions throughout their supply chain you might be asking?  Sundried carefully select the factories they work with, making regular visits to ensure their standards are being met. Their production manager spends a considerable amount of time in their Portuguese factory and knows all of the workers personally. Sundried have also created the concept of Every Hour On the Hour (EHOH), when employees spend 5 minutes of every hour at work exercising to stay fit, healthy and productive in a world where we are too often glued to our desks.

Sundried also work closely with their charity partner Water for Kids. With every purchase, they provide a unique code enabling customers to see where the donation from their purchase is going, from bricks to build dams, to rainwater harvesting for schools.

To find out more and browse their latest collection visit the website and use this exclusive discount code for 50% off: ZARA

https://www.sundried.com

 

Starseeds

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Photo source: Living lightly in Ireland

Inspired by yoga and wellbeing practices, Starseeds aims to find a balance between style and ethics. Using natural and organic fabrics from across the world, including certified organic cotton from Germany and bamboo yarn from China, they provide Activewear that is good for you and for the environment. Starseeds also use an innovative material from Taiwan that is made of leftover coffee, making waste into something wanted!

Whilst their materials are sourced across the world, they work with five main factories in Portugal and Poland. These factories were carefully selected and are visited regularly to ensure good working conditions are maintained. In addition to the sense they got of each factory during their initial visits, a major factor in the selection process was the turnover of employees. Frequent turnover usually indicates employees aren’t happy and so leave in search for better opportunities. The factories they work with have a number of long-standing employees, including those of retirement age who work to keep busy with reduced and flexible hours.

https://starseeds.eu/

 

VYAYAMA

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Photo Source: Mochni

VYAYAMA, pronounced ‘vai-ah’mah’, design natural Activewear with quality, beauty and joy in mind. Aiming to provide an alternative to the synthetic fabrics often used, they use an innovative TENCEL® fabric crafted in Europe from eucalyptus. Described as smooth, sliming and supportive it is kind to both your skin and the earth, with moisture management qualities helping you to stay cool and comfortable. Taking a year to develop with their fabric team in Portugal, it is Eco-Awarded and Certified Non-Toxic by the European Oeko-tex Standard 100.

VYAYAMA also ensure environmentally-friendly practices throughout the production process, including the use of internal water treatments to prevent dyes from breaching production facility walls. They also knit their custom fabric in the same area as their garment production, reducing transportation and associated emissions.

Find out more by visiting their website and get 30% off with discount code ZaraW30

https://www.vyayama.com

 

Jilla Active

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Photo Source: Pure London

Jilla Active create Activewear with a focus on comfort and quality, aiming to ensure pieces are versatile and timeless to maximise their use. Formed of soft fibres, they make Activewear you want to wear all day every day! They love bamboo as it has a lower environmental footprint than other fabrics, with yields the same volume as cotton from just 10% of the land area. They’re also introducing fully biodegradable garment bags for their latest AW17 collection and are seeking to ensure every element of their packaging can be reused or recycled.

They work with one family run factory in China that meets internationally-recognised standards by WRAP and SEDEX.  Olivia, founder and designer, makes regular visits and works alongside the production team to ensure quality. She’ll be visiting the trade fair in Shanghai in October to search for recycled and organics yarns.

https://www.jillaactive.com

 

What are your favourite sustainability-conscious brands? What are the most important factors to you when shopping for activewear? Let me know by commenting below!

Categories
Exercise Live

A weekend of wellness at Soul Circus

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to this wonderful yoga and wellness festival in the picturesque Cotswolds back in August. Surrounded by views of nature it was like a mini retreat, with tonnes of talks, classes and workshops to try out. For a weekend of ultimate relaxation you could opt for lakeside meditation and go for a massage, or you could go for a weekend of sweating and stimulation, testing your mind and body with experimental classes and fascinating talks.

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My best friend Rose and I went for a mixture, trialling new classes whilst leaving time to catch up and unwind. With work we couldn’t make it until Saturday, which unfortunately meant we missed the sign up for the more novel classes like aerial yoga and reformer pilates, but we still had plenty of sessions to choose from. We started by waking our bodies with an outdoor yoga class. The wind flowing across our skin was invigorating, and you can’t beat the fresh country air – it certainly makes a difference from a stuffy hot yoga studio! We followed with classes by two of my favourite yoga teachers, Kate Lister and Marc Laws. Kate’s class ‘Birdsong’ experimented with using the voice, leaving me with even more of a girl crush on her – she’s beautiful inside and out, an amazing yogi and an excellent singer (as my mum would say, she’s a triple threat)! Marc’s class was great too, I mean who wouldn’t love rolling around the floor to Drake?! His classes always encourage you to play around and see what you can do, which was especially important when my amateur butt was surrounded by some serious yogis!

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After grabbing a bite to eat, we made our way to the Pyscle tent for 45 minutes of sweaty spinning. Chloe the instructor was bursting with energy which along with her upbeat playlist kept us motivated throughout. Despite being absolutely knackered afterwards, it was up there with my all-time favourite spin classes.

We then slowly moved our shaking legs to the Pilates tent for a more gentle workout and well-needed stretch, before grabbing dinner at the solar kitchen. There were lots of mouth-watering food options throughout the day, from raw rainbow salads to cauliflower pies and chickpea curries. Portion sizes were generous, helping you to power through the classes. My favourite had to be the sweet potato pie, homely and delicious.

We finished our Saturday with a session on ‘The Science of Mindfulness’ which discussed the link between stress and serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Meditation and mindfulness were proposed as preventative practices as they’re thought to help reduce stress levels. Whilst research demonstrating a link between mindfulness and reduced risk of such diseases is currently limited, there is a growing movement of people who praise these practices for enhancing their quality of life. So taking time for yourself, helping you mind and body relax and unwind by practising something like mindfulness, may have a significant impact on both your mental and physical health, whether you see the results of that now or in the future. Similarly, socialising was deemed key for cognitive longevity – a perfect reason for more get togethers, bottomless brunch anyone?

We were then ready to make our way back to our hotel for a well-needed shower and a good nights sleep. Yes, it was a festival. And yes, we could have camped liked most people. But (conveniently) neither of us own a tent, and we both value a nice, warm shower, a comfortable bed and a breakfast buffet… I mean, it was supposed to be a weekend of wellness right?!


Sunday began and after we filled up on breakfast we made our way back to the festival site for our first class of the day; yoga with Lister & Laws – that’s right, my two favourite yogis together! We were partnered up with strangers for lots of interactive movements, seeing how far we could stretch and how steadily we could balance together. The class finished with a wonderfully relaxing Shavasana, listening to live percussion and enjoying an essential oil shoulder rub. Who doesn’t love a little shoulder massage at the end of a great yoga class? A little pampering! Though they do always leave me wanting more, ending up browsing on Treatwell for the latest full body massage deals (ok, I’m really wanting a massage now…)!

We then moved on to a yoga anatomy class by Emily Young, where we explored basic anatomy of the back and shoulders. By guiding us through a series of classic yoga movements, Emily demonstrated how the structure of the body is different for each individual. Our physical limits determined by the positioning of our bones, meaning we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, especially the crazy bendy yogis we see on Instagram!

Finally, we finished the day with lunch and a browse around the mini market stalls before heading back to London. This is where we discovered Nibs etc., a brand by Chloe Stewart who transforms leftover pulp from juices and smoothies into delicious granola. I knew I had to take a bag home for Ollie who loves deems himself a food waste warrior and I’m glad it did – he absolutely loved it. He’s even banned me from having any and rationed his own portions to make it last longer! Find out more about Nibs etc. here.

We also had a tea tasting with Born Wild Tea where we got to try all of their unique loose leaf creations. I thought I was more of a coffee kind of girl but I absolutely loved some of their blends – my favourite has to be the raspberry lemonade which was delicious cold! Though they also had a delightful coffee-inspired blend, vanilla mocha, which I’m currently ordering online… By keeping the leaves, they’re able to maintain more of the flavour and antioxidants – so not only do they taste great, but they’re good for you too! Plus they source their ingredients through the Ethical Tea Partnership, ensuring farmers use the most sustainable practices available to them.


So whilst you may not get the tropical weather of somewhere like Bali, you do get a wonderful weekend of wellness without pricey flights and with minimal travel emissions – perfect for those striving to be more sustainability-conscious and those on a budget!
The Soul Circus team are also very passionate about sustainability, with their sustainability manifesto the first thing you read in their programme. Aiming to ensure their actions are in balance with the environment, they’ve established a 3-year plan for ensuring a positive impact on the communities in which they operate, striving to achieve the following:

  • Waste – to be zero waste to landfill by 2018, to redistribute all leftover edible food to local charities, and to use composting toilets
  • Energy – to reduce energy consumption by 20% per guest by 2018 and to use only 100% renewable sources by 2020
  • Supply chain – to source all food locally, within 60 miles of their site
  • Education – to inspire guests to live more consciously with a variety workshops, talks and challenges
  • Charity – to support local causes

Overall, it was a really lovely weekend full of fun, fitness and food that I’d definitely recommend – I’m hoping I can make it again next year!

Find out more and buy your 2018 tickets at https://www.soulcircus.yoga

 

Did you go to Soul Circus this year? Or any other wellness festivals or retreats? Let me know what you thought by commenting!