In this blog series, Nikki takes over to tell us about her experience as a newly qualified physio and to describe the joys, fears and people she meets along the way. She'll also share her tips which might be useful to some of you too!
U nlike any festival I have attended in the past, Be:FIT London is the UK’s only health and fitness festival for women. The festival ran for three days over the last weekend of April (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in Islington Design Centre, an amazing light, open and impressive space.
As I approached I immediately saw the queue snaking around the back of the centre, reflecting how popular this market really is! I admit that I was ready to see an abundance of super glam, lean ‘Instagram girls’ sporting the latest Sweaty Betty Leggings and Lululemon sports bras. However, against my preconceptions and stereotyping, there was a mix of ‘real’ women; young to older, slim to curvier and so far, the event felt welcoming without that ‘exclusive’ vibe.
I was impressed by the line-up with talks by Clean Eating Alice, Lilly Sabri and Madeleine Shaw along with fitness classes from some of London’s boutique gyms; Blok, Equinox, Frame, Gymbox and Ethos. The timetable, which was handed to you on a lanyard (true festival style), was jam packed and a major challenge was to try and attend everything I wanted to!
Unfortunately, I soon aborted any plan to attend the exercise classes as the queues were long and I admit that I would rather be watching Madeleine Shaw’s cooking demonstration than queuing for a fitness class. Plus, the venue didn’t have any shower facilities, and knowing that I would have to sit in my sweaty post-work out gym kit, I was put off exercising.
The talks I attended
Clean Eating Alice
With over 500,000 instagram followers, Alice is a personal trainer, author and a huge fitness and wellbeing influencer.
In her talk, she described how at the beginning of her health and fitness journey, stepping into the weight section was often unthinkable for women. Thinking back to when I first joined my local gym, I found that I could relate to this. Weight training was predominantly sold to men who wanted to bulk up - the weights section was a ‘no-go zone’ to anyone else. Over recent years however, it has been female trainers, such as Alice, who have posted positive images on social media in order to break some of those work-out taboos.
Alice went on to address the fact that, historically, exercise has been sold as a weight loss tool, especially to women. Her fitness movement has promoted exercise as an empowering tool for women, helping to relieve stress and improve body confidence. Through her platform she has educated people about health and fitness in the right way, advising to find an exercise you enjoy and sticking to it. There is no point weight training if you hate it!
A very empowering talk about health and fitness for women from Clean Eating Alice!
Lauren, the founder of Welltodo, an industry platform for the wellness industry, gave an intimate and inspiring talk on building a successful business in the health and wellbeing industry. She described her own journey of quitting her job at one of Australia’s largest manufacturers of aerosol products and moving to the UK, realising that she could build a business out of her passion of wellness.
Lauren came across as someone us ‘normal’ women could relate to, designing her first logo on Microsoft Paint. She promoted that ‘just get on with it’ attitude - don’t wait for the investors to knock on your door.
Referencing Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, written following the success of her novel Eat, Pray, Love, she claimed that “fear is boring”, become curious about your passion and persist with what fires you up or frustrates you. Lauren described mindset as a fundamental element of starting any career, ending with the key take home message of remembering to invest in yourself.
At the end of her talk, Lauren hung around to answer questions from women about starting your own business. Although I had to rush off, she appeared very approachable and keen to invest her time into chatting with the girls she had just inspired.
The talk I had been waiting for all day! A bit of an Instagram idol of mine (I am not ashamed to admit it), Lilly Sabri is a sports physiotherapist and fitness influencer.
With just short of 100,000 followers on Instagram, Lilly flaunts her perfectly sculpted abs and bum which are a result of her hard work and expert knowledge from her physiotherapy background. As she gets asked a lot about how to get the ‘perfect abs’, she dedicated this session to educating us women on core activation.
I admit, I felt a little smug - I am a physiotherapist, of course I know how to activate my core! Lilly started off by describing what the core is and how to engage it - “imagine doing up a pair of tight jeans, drawing your tummy backwards”. Check out her facebook page for her ab workout, she recommends doing for 20 minutes each day.
After Lilly’s ab session, my core was on fire! I may know how to activate my core, but I soon discovered that mine is pretty weak! I managed to have a brief chat with Lilly about her own journey as a physiotherapist. Starting out working in an NHS Trust, Lilly moved to work for various football clubs including Chelsea FC. She advised volunteering on top of your current work if you want to get into sports physio.
What else was at Be:Fit?
There was a multitude of stalls promoting various protein shakes, activewear, juices and health bars, demonstrating again how large the health and fitness industry has become. There were a couple of stalls which caught my attention;
- B Yoga mats, made from innovative rubber providing excellent grip and durability.
- ActiphWater, the first ionised bottled water to be sold in Great Britain, was born after founder and CEO Jamie Douglas-Hamilton set two Guinness World records by rowing 5,000 miles. He discovered that the effects of physical demand such as hallucinations were reduced when they mixed saltwater with freshwater, increasing energy levels and power.
- As a physiotherapist, one stand that caught my attention was Elvie, a kegel exercise device branded as your most personal trainer..! I got chatting to their marketing manager, Anna Butterworth who gave a demonstration (by activating the device with her hand) on how this intriguing piece of technology worked. Endorsed by physiotherapists, obstetricians and personal trainers across the world, Elvie is helping women young and old with their weak pelvic floors! This kegal exercise tracker is used alongside an app which sets personal targets and gives feedback on how well you are performing the exercises.
- If I was going to attend the exercise classes, I definitely would have queued up for some work-out braids by Braid Bar to keep my hair in place! Instead, I got my hands on some ‘no-kinks’ Hey! Holla hair ties my future workouts!
One of Be:Fit London’s objectives is to change the health and fitness’s focus on body image to encourage women to lead a happy and well-rounded lifestyle, and in the centre of all the stalls was the Prosecco bar, keeping the event real! It would have been rude not to sit down and reflect on the day's events over a glass of bubbles!
The day brought together a community of like-minded women, with talks from inspiring and motivating figures. Being able to approach the fitness stars in person and asking them about their journey made it even more empowering. If you are into your health, fitness and well-being, or are simply curious about what small changes you may be able to make to lead a more well-rounded lifestyle, I would 100% recommend Be:Fit London event.
Here's a run down of Nikki's day via our twitter hashtag for the day #QPBFIT.
About the author
Nikki is a newly-qualified physiotherapist with a previous degree in Human Communication Sciences, currently working in a busy university hospital in East London. She was the first ever to sign up to one of our seminars when we started back in 2015; now a year down the line, she's our first ever resident blogger! Expect to see (and read) more of her very soon!