Personal trainer and fitness blogger Zanna Van Dijk has co-founded an international women’s community fitness community, released a fitness and wellbeing book, was recently appointed as the UK’s first global ambassador for Adidas, and shares her success with her 160,000 followers on Instagram.
So when she labels the latest addition to London’s health and fitness festival calendar “the biggest and best fitness event that the UK has ever seen”, you had best be ready for the Capital’s Lycra-clad army to stampede in that direction.
Zanna is among the list of top health, fitness and foodie experts scheduled to appear at Balance Festival, a three-day showcase of the best in health, fitness, food and travel at Old Truman Brewery from 12 to 14 May.
Founded by London Coffee Festival organisers Jeffrey Young and Ludovic Rossignol-Isanovic, Balance Festival was designed for those that like to have their kale and eat their cake too, or succumb to a couple of drinks on Friday night then sweat it out with a Saturday spin class.
“We identified a gap in the market in the midst of this health and wellbeing boom we’re experiencing – catering for those that do want to be healthier, but are a little unsure of how to go about it – and perhaps even intimidated by what’s out there,” Ludovic says.
“We’re catering for all levels and interests, with the common goal of enjoying a balanced lifestyle.”
Cue a diverse programme of fitness classes, live cooking demonstrations, interactive workshops, guided meditation and inspirational talks from Londoners who’ve made a name for themselves among the food, fitness, wellness and travel communities. It’s a jam-packed line-up, so here is your guide to getting the most out of the weekend:
‘Tri’ something new
The festival kicks off with an Urban Triathlon in Olympic Park on 13 May. Beginning with a HIIT session followed by a seven-kilometre run to The Old Truman Brewery and a yoga class to finish, it’s not one for the faint of heart (or legs), but your entry fee will go towards Project Waterfall, a charity that works to bring clean water to coffee growing communities.
Take a class
Barry’s Bootcamp, Equinox, Boom Cycle, and Xtend Barre are among the Capital’s top fitness factories, and are offering more than 230 workouts and classes designed to give you a taste of what to expect (and how much you’ll sweat). Check out F45’s fast-paced and intense 45-minute HIIT workout that combines cardio, bodyweight exercise and weight training for maximum impact, or take out the week’s frustrations on a punching bag with Another Space’s 30-minute boxing taster.
And for something completely different, the Balance fitness experts have cooked up a series of “collision-style” classes, which pair two instructors from different disciplines to create a workout perfectly choreographed to a live DJ set.
Zanna has teamed up with fellow headliner, personal trainer and yoga teacher Shona Vertue for what she describes as a “killer” workout combining HIIT, glute activation, yoga and resistance training for full body results.
Cook up a storm
Want to know which nut milk works best in your morning latte or learn how to make a packed lunch worthy of your Instagram feed? Balance Festival brings some of the top healthy chefs and foodie experts into one kitchen for a series of live cooking demonstrations, menu tips and tricks, and educational workshops on how to ensure you’re getting the most from your meals.
“We are putting a huge emphasis on food,” Ludovic says.
“We have a whole market selling food of every description, not to mention, menus designed by some of the UK’s best chefs and healthy restaurants.”
Famous foodies Clean Eating Alice, Healthy Chef Steph, and The Food Medic Dr Hazel Wallace will join Zanna for Fitness Feast, a three-course live cooking demonstration with plenty of healthy hacks, while Eat Drink Paleo’s Irena Macri will go through the ins and outs of fermented foods, and how to incorporate them into your diet.
If you’re more the ‘eat out’ type, sample healthy lunches on the go from Stephanie Johnson’s Pollen + Grace or discover the medicinal properties of food through new healthy eatery Sano, with recipes inspired by Dale Pinnock, The Medicinal Chef. And while Amsterdam might have a café entirely dedicated to avocado, Balance has the next best thing in Avo Kitchen, a pop-up eatery dishing up the most pimped out versions of avocado on toast you can imagine.
But it’s not all antioxidants and activated almonds; true to the festival’s promise to create an event for “real people with a quest to enjoy life”, there is also healthy and hearty burgers from the BGR Shop, and bars dedicated to prosecco and oysters, as well as the best in artisan gin.
“We’re excited about this, because our message is – forget the unrealistic extremities – stop pressurising yourself to be ‘perfect’ because it’s not sustainable,” Ludovic says.
“Have a glass of wine and treat yourself to some delicious food, but go for a run or a workout too – it’s all about the balance.”
Mind the matter
The mind is a muscle, so why shouldn’t we train it just like biceps and quads? Learn how to cope with stress, manage your time, and live in the moment with guided practice from the likes of Vedic meditation expert Will Williams and motivational speaker and author Jody Shield.
Global yogi Michael James Wong will also host morning group meditation sessions to help participants find stillness, calm and mindfulness in the city. The session will begin with an introductory talk on mindful meditation followed by a 20-minute guided meditation to wake up well.
Balance Festival is on at Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane E1 6QL, from 12 to 14 May. Tickets are available in a variety of packages via balance-festival.com or on the door. Fitness classes and cooking demonstrations are included in the ticket prices but some require booking so check the website for details.