I’ve read several articles recently about how my millennial generation is totally boring compared to Generation X before us – we workout instead of raving, drink smoothies instead of taking drugs and are more interested in trying to claw our way onto the property ladder than checking out the latest indie band down our local pub.
One thing that’s bound to make the 40-something Glasto-goers roll their eyes even more is the growing popularity of ‘fitness festivals’ – massive get-togethers of like-minded workout nerds, meeting up to try classes, hear fitness ‘influencers’ talking about how they became influential and spend money on the various health foods waggled their way by exhibitors (or, if you’re me, just try lots of samples).
It’s quite weird when you think about it – where once upon a time, exercise was something to be endured and generally got out of the way, these days we’re celebrating it with three-day long extravaganzas. Obviously, I’m the perfect target market for this kind of thing, which is why I found myself at Be:Fit London, billed as the UK’s only health and fitness festival for women.
Be:Fit ran for three days in the Business Design Centre in Islington, and comprised of a huge array of classes (Another Space HIIT, Gymbox Yoga, Barrys Bootcamp and so on) as well as a central floor space full of health brands showing off their wares. There was also a couple of stages where the likes of Carly Rowena, Joe Wicks and Lilly Sabri chatted to eager crowds.
As I was waiting for my friend outside the festival on Saturday, I could tell there was a definite type of person attracted to Be:Fit – I’ve never seen so many twenty-something women in Sweaty Betty leggings assembled before!! However, I was pleased to learn that not everyone there was a fitness blogger – the lady I chatted to while queueing for a yoga class was a teacher whose husband was looking after the kids for the weekend so she could enjoy some “me time” at the festival.
That brings me on to the queues – possibly the main drawback of Be:Fit. Basically, a certain number of spaces in the class can be booked beforehand, and then anyone with a VIP ticket gets automatic access. That leaves anyone with a standard ticket who hasn’t been able to book ahead queuing for half an hour or more to get into a class, and even then, you’re not actually guaranteed access.
To be honest, I can see that this is a situation that’s hard to avoid with an event like this – there are, after all, only a limited amount of places per class. However, if Be:Fit is repeated next year, I would definitely flag to anyone thinking of attending that you can’t automatically expect to get into lots of classes if you buy a standard ticket.
Luckily, my friend and I managed to get into two classes (helped by our press wristbands) and they were both absolutely brilliant.
The first was a core activating workout with Sam Eastwood. I hadn’t heard of celebrity trainer Sam before, but I have to say she is probably the funniest fitness instructor I have ever come across – and that definitely makes a difference when you’re on your millionth repetition of a side squat and your legs have turned to jelly.
Among other things, Sam told us how to pull in our pelvic floors (“Imagine you’re really trying not to wee or fart”) and how to get a really good bum workout during squats (“I’ve just put an egg up your bottom – now crack it!”).
Having been thoroughly toned and formed a long and loving connection with my pelvic floor, we then headed into the Reebok Fitness Studio for BLOK Party, a dance cardio workout. All I can say about this is OHMYGOD it was so good. As the instructors told us at the beginning “This is mainly about having fun, and the fitness comes second” and they were so right. Basically we all danced like Nicki Minaj at her very filthiest for 45 minutes and it was brilliant (my mate enthusiastically complimenting my twerking skills was one of the highlights of my life).
After our classes, we had a wander around the various stalls in the main arena, which offered everything from healthy breakfast bars to healing teas to fitness wear. Personally, my entire home and kitchen are at peak storage capacity, so I didn’t buy any more stuff, but I definitely enjoyed a few tasters (yes, I am every exhibitor’s worst nightmare, sorry).
Had we stayed longer, I would’ve made an effort to go to one of the talks or workshops on offer (there was everything from ‘Building a business in fitness’ to ‘How to have a healthy relationship with exercise’). However, I left feeling satisfied with my visit, which may have been much less cool than a Gen X-style rave up, but definitely left me on an endorphin high!