Categories
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

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!

 

 

Categories
Exercise Previous Classes

My BarreBodyLondon class for Mental Health UK

 

Last weekend saw my first ever event – a barre class to raise money for Mental Health UK. It was a really exciting opportunity to fundraise for a great cause and to test the waters when it comes to fitness event planning.

Did you know that mental illness affects more people each year than cancer or heart disease, with one in four of us experiencing a mental health problem in any given year? Mental Health UK is a network of four charities (Rethink Mental Illness, Support In Mind Scotland, Hafal, and MindWise) who work to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness, supporting more than 60,000 people nationwide. Their early intervention and support can help to reduce the impact of poor mental health, guiding people through crises, to live independently, and to realise they aren’t alone.

Find out more at https://mentalhealth-uk.org/home/

So when Sav Devillez, a crazy friend hiking Snowdon, cycling from the Peak District to Birmingham, and running a half marathon across three consecutive days, asked me to help her organise a fundraising event for Mental Health UK, I was delighted to help out.

We organised a BarreBodyLondon class, which is a ballet-inspired workout designed by Chiara Pellegrino to target every major muscle group in the body. I’ve been teaching barre now for a year, after having taken dance lessons from the age of four until eighteen and then continuing to perform at university, and I absolutely love it. It’s a fun workout with ballet, pilates, yoga and resistence training movements that you’ll definitely feel the next day (no matter how many classes you go to, trust me…)!

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The Detox Kitchen very kindly donated their beautiful studio for the class, and we managed to round up a collection of gorgeous gifts for the goody bags. With my passion for more conscious consumption, I wanted to make sure all of the brands we reached out to had a great social and/or environmental purpose. Here’s a little bit about the wonderful companies we were lucky enough to get support from:

  • Sundried tote bag – this sustainable sportswear company strives to minimise the carbon footprint of everything they do, using innovative fabrics and reusable packaging
  • Nourish cleanser certified organic and vegan skincare made in the UK
  • Lola’s Apothecary body oil – natural beauty products with a wellness purpose handmade in England
  • Dash water – sparkling spring water infused with wonky lemons and cucumbers
  • Ombar chocolate – raw, organic chocolate you’d never know was vegan!
  • Willy Chase’s fitcorn – air-popped corn made at their farm in Herefordshire
  • Happiness Planner 100 day diary – inspirational stationery designed to help you cultivate happiness through positive thinking, mindfulness, and self-development
  • Lumie light for wellness guide – bright light designed for seasonal affective disorder and other conditions
  • Veryan discount card – organic apparel and accessories from Europe made in the UK
  • Sports Philosophy discount flyer – an ethical activewear brand raising money for the charity they established to fight child labour across the world, Freedom for Children Foundation. You too can get 15% off with discount code: ZARA01SP

We also rounded up excellent prizes for the best Instagram event posts, including:

  • Liforme eco yoga mat – read more about eco yoga mats here
  • Lumie BodyClock – read more about the benefits here
  • Veryan organic beauty bag
  • Lola’s Apothecary ‘breath of clarity’ oil
  • Willy Chase’s apple cider vinegar
  • Detox Kitchen wheatgrass and spirulina powders

We managed to raise a total of £165 for Mental Health UK so thank you to all of the amazing attendees and supporting brands for making this happen!

We’re hoping to organise another event in October so let me know if you’re interested by commenting below or follow me on Instagram at @zaralwilliams

 

 

Categories
Dress Exercise

Consciously curating your collection of activewear

When we think about a capsule wardrobe, we wouldn’t usually include our activewear. It makes sense, I mean you wouldn’t pair a neon yellow sports bra with your black tailored work trousers (or maybe you would? I guess it depends on your personal style…). But this means we often neglect to consider the sustainability of our workout wear. The all-encompassing textiles industry is one of the most resource intensive and environmentally polluting industries globally. With the fitness and wellness industries booming, more and more people are investing in activewear (Quartz, 2017; Telegraph, 2016), therefore it’s crucial we all become more conscious about our collection of sportswear.

Well, where to begin? What should you consider? Whether you’re thinking of buying something new or reviewing what you already own, here are some of the key questions to ask yourself…

Does it fit you well?

Usability is essential when assessing any area of your wardrobe, especially when it comes to what you’ll wear for exercise. We workout to both look and feel good. If your exercise clothes don’t work for you, you might feel less confident when stepping into the studio and therefore less likely to give your training session everything you’ve got because you’re pre-occupied with your top hugging your tummy too tightly or your leggings slipping down your behind. WRAP has found 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe hasn’t been worn for a year, often because it doesn’t fit anymore. If you’re not using an item because it doesn’t fit quite right, why let it take up precious space in your home?  Only purchase activewear that makes you feel as a great as you do after an amazing workout.

 

How often will you wear it?

Think about your personal style. We’ve all got caught up in fast fashion trends before, seeing our favourite influencers wearing the same print or cut clothing and wanting to be part of it, then a month or two later wondering why we went for something so wacky. Assess why you want the piece you’re considering purchasing. Is it part of a short-lived trend that you’ll regret buying into in a few months time? Think about the items you own that you do and don’t wear regularly. Which pile will this new piece fit into? Do you have other items that will compliment it? Style is about longevity, so pick pieces you know you’ll wear for years of sweaty, stretchy sessions to come.

 

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Photo source: Cassey Ho

 

How long will it last?

What material is it made from? Does it feel durable? Breathable? Supportive? Are there already bobbles before it’s been bought? Does the stitching look strong enough? There’s nothing worse than diving deep into a squat and hearing your leggings rip, revealing all! Assess the quality of the item, choosing quality over quantity every time.

 

Does the brand ethos align with your values?

Dig a little deeper into the company that made your clothes. What can you find out about their sustainability strategy? Are they socially or environmentally conscious? See if their values align with your own. If it’s the way in which workers are treated that you care about the most, then find out what the company does to ensure fair and safe labour conditions throughout their supply chain. Our perhaps you’re passionate about waste, do they use any recycled fibres in their product? If you can’t find out what you want to know on their website, email or call their head office to find out more. Even if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, that call or email might trigger internal discussions that get you the answer you want in the future. You are what you wear, only buy into brands that share your beliefs.  

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Photo source: Blair McKarnin

 

Do you need it?

So it fits you well, it matches your personal style, the quality seems high and you love the company’s ethos, but you already have 3 pairs of leggings with a similar print and mesh bottom. Now it’s time to be strict on yourself – how many pairs of leggings do you really need? Say you exercise on average 4 times, and you get really sweaty 2 of those 4 times. Perhaps you need 2 pairs of leggings for the week. Then possibly a spare pair or two in case you can’t wash and dry them in time, or they get an unfixable tear. That’s 4 pairs of leggings you’ll need at the very most. We’re all guilty of owning more than we need. In the UK, a study by Oxfam and M&S (2016) found adults wear just 44% of clothing they own regularly. That’s a waste of resources, money, time and space! Reducing the number of items you have and working towards a more minimalist wardrobe is great for both space saving and avoiding morning outfit stress!

 

Keep an eye out for my next blog post on my sustainable sportswear discoveries coming soon!

Categories
Exercise Live

Get fit for free with Sweaty Betty

Photo source: Rosh etc
When thinking about sustainable brands, Sweaty Betty may not immediately spring to mind, but they are really great when it comes to social sustainability. They provide quick, easy and free access to top trainers and class instructors through their collection of online fitness videos and in-store classes. And, this January they’ve created a 31-day fitness programme for anyone to download for free, just click here.

Categories
Live

Top tips for more sustainable shopping practices

1. Less is always more

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Photo source: Round Two

We all have far too much stuff.

UCLA have named contemporary society the most materially rich society in global history (BBC). Even in the smallest house they studied (980 sq ft), they found 2,260 items in just the 2 bedrooms and living room – and this doesn’t include anything found in cupboards or drawers! They also found that 3 out of every 4 families no longer have space for a car in their garage because it’s filled with all of their stuff! James Wallman cleverly coined our obsession with material goods “Stuffocation”, and we truly are stuffed.

We’re especially bad when it comes to clothing. The average British woman buys 59 items of clothing a year and has double the amount she had in 1980. This is a waste of our money, our resources and our time.

A study by M&S found we only wear 44% of the items sitting in our wardrobe regularly (Oxfam). 3.6 million clothes are left unworn in Britain alone, an average of 57 items per person with 16 only ever being worn once and 11 still with tags. They also found 1 in 20 has 50 items with the tags still firmly attached – think what you could buy with 50 items worth!

And all this wardrobe cramming is also causing us unnecessary stress in the morning. Women spend on average 17 minutes a day choosing their outfit – that’s 4 whole days a year! And this morning madness sees 1 in 10 of us arriving late for work because we were struggling with what to wear that morning!

So when you’re out shopping, really take the time to think about whether you need that item. Do you already have one similar? How much use will you really get out of it? This leads me on to my next tip…

Categories
Dress Live

Fashion Revolution Week: What is it and what’s on in London?

 

On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This building collapsed despite many workers point out cracks in walls to their managers weeks before. Fashion Revolution was born to raise awareness of disasters like Rana Plaza and to catalyze action to transform the fashion industry into a more ethical, fair and sustainable one. They believe that fashion can be made in a safe, clean and beautiful way, where creativity, quality, environment and people are valued equally.

On 18-24 April, Fashion Revolution Week will bring people from all over the world together to use the power of fashion to change the story for the people who make the world’s clothes and accessories.

Categories
Eat

Wahaca has become the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified a CarbonNeutral Company

In 2016, through the use of renewable energy for restaurants and head office, and carbon credits for the remaining emissions including business travel, Wahaca has become the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified as having a net zero carbon footprint in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

Categories
Uncategorized

Kellogg’s: Empowering Women for a Climate-Smart Future

International Women’s Day (IWD) is held annually on March 8, and around the world it is a cause for celebration for women’s social, economic and political achievements. In some countries (including China, Russia, and Vietnam) it’s a national holiday! This year, Kellogg Company and TechnoServe announced the the expansion of a training program to enhance the skills of smallholder farmers, particularly women, in climate-smart agriculture.

Categories
Dress Live

Gather&See Pop Up Shop, Peckham

Gather&See have just opened a Pop Up at Bias Boutique in Peckham. It will run for 1 month from 19th January until 21st February. The store will showcase a selection of sustainable and ethical products edited especially for the London store. Brands will include Osei Duro, Seek Collective, Blake LDN, Danielle Foster and A Peace Treaty.