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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 & 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 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

 

 

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Eat Exercise

What I did last week: Sustainable sportswear, organic beauty & a food waste feast

As I’ve had a particularly good week of sustainability and wellbeing events, I thought I’d share a little summary with you. I can’t guarantee this will be the first of a new series of posts as my average weeks aren’t quite so eventful, and quite frankly because I’m not sure anyone wants to know what I’ve done all 52 weeks of the year, but I hope this one will be of interest and may inform you of companies or events you wouldn’t have otherwise have heard of. Here goes…
1. Sweating in Sundried

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So I started Saturday off with a HIIT class taken by well-known fitness and food personality Clean Eating Alice at Third Space London. Here I tested out one of my latest sustainable sportswear discoveries, Sundried. Kitted out in my black and red kit, I was ready to get my sweat on. The class certainly didn’t disappoint – a thorough warm up was followed by sets of four exercises we repeated three times to work the whole body. Alice was great too – bubbly, technical and clear, with a great playlist to help you power through the burn! As for my Sundried attire, I love it! It sucks you in all of the right places helping you feel firm, yet it’s still breathable so you don’t feel suffocated during cardio bursts. I’ll tell you more about the company in my upcoming post on sustainability-conscious activewear brands, but as a short summary – Sundried are focused on providing low carbon sportswear that’s ethically produced in one of their two European factories. If you can’t wait to find out more then visit their website here and use the discount code “ZARA” for 50% any purchases!

2. Soil Association’s Organic Beauty Pop Up

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Last week was Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week, celebrating certified organic companies. As part of the Soil Association‘s Campaign in this area, they held a pop up in Shoreditch with a shop and a number of events. I managed to get myself a ticket for a lesson in essential oils with Neal’s Yard Remedies, so after showering off my sweat from the HIIT session I went straight there. I absolutely love essential oils and the impact they can have on your mental state, so it was great to learn a bit more from the experts and to make my own body oil. They also gave us a sample of their new Frankincense Intense Lift Serum and showed up ways to massage the face to aid relaxation. I’ve tried it since and found it to be the perfect addition to an evening ritual, helping you to de-stress after a long day and get ready for bed.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of certified organic beauty and to read what I found out when digging into what the “organic” label actually meant for the beauty products I own, then please check out my last post here.

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3. TABLE – community dining to combat food waste

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Following my regular Sunday morning barre class, I made my way to Somerset House to meet my friend Eliza for a catch up over a feast of seasonal scraps. For TABLE at the Spring Restaurant, chef Skye Gyngell masterfully put together a sharing menu of delicious dishes with food waste and donations from local farms and restaurants. It was a community dining experience designed to elicit conversation between strangers as well as to contribute to the fight against food waste. Compiling ingredients that would often be overlooked, dishes included Yesterday’s porridge sourdough bread, beetroots with coffee milk labneh and broken rice with nettles and lemon leaves. My personal favourite (as always with such a sweet tooth) has to be desert – Nespole Basbousa and spent coffee grounds. To read more about TABLE click here, and to learn more about issues surrounding food waste and for recipes using up common leftovers visit Eliza’s blog: https://lifebylizasite.wordpress.com

4. Training for TotalBody London x Breast Cancer Now

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As part of the wonderful Chiara Pellegrino‘s (4fitnessake) TotalBody London team I’m lucky enough to attend a number of her fitness events, so this week I’ve been learning her latest choreography for demonstrating at the next event on Saturday morning. For this event she’s raising money for Breast Cancer Now with Callumn Nicholls from Third Space London and Duncan Morris from M&S who are taking on the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro later in the year and aim to raise £20,000 towards vital breast cancer research. The class is a 45 minute workout that hits every muscle in the body. With a great playlist and three cardio routines, you have fun whilst keeping fit and healthy. Chiara is focused on providing a class you’ll enjoy that takes your mind away from the everyday stresses of life whilst transforming your physical form. It’s not too late to get a ticket – buy yours now on Eventbrite by clicking here.

Did you go to any of these events? What did you think? What would you like me to write more about? Let me know by commenting below!

Categories
Eat Live

Finding Fika in Stockholm

Sweden is renowned for fika, so when we ventured to Stockholm Ollie and I were on the look out for the best cafes to grab a great coffee and sweet treat.

In the 2017 World Happiness Report released this week Sweden ranked 9th place, and we think it’s got to have something to do with this delicious tradition. In fact, a number of studies have linked fika breaks to both the high satisfaction and productivity rates in Sweden (BBC, 2016; Virgin, 2017). Alex Pentland, a computer scientist, monitored the impact of scheduling regular all-staff coffee breaks. He found that staff productivity increased by 10-15% and satisfaction by up to 10%. The main reason was the connection the employees built with one another whilst discussing non-work related topics in a flat, non-hierarchical environment (2017).

We certainly enjoyed exploring Stockholm’s best coffee shops, and the caffeine definitely helped to fuel our long days spent exploring the city. So whether you’re looking for a fika break to enhance your productivity at work, or simply a spot to rest and refuel whilst exploring the city, here’s a round up of our favourite places to enjoy a hot drink and a baked good…