The Vitality Show has been an annual event on my calendar for some years now; a decadent day of health and fitness related products, talks, food and fashion, shared with my water polo team mate and fellow vegan Soph. The show is always a great way to indulge our exercise and alternative eating interests, as well as to inspire new healthy habits and to catch up on the latest exercise trends.
This year, our polo team mate and boot camp enthusiast, Helen, also decided to join us, and, very generously, cooked up a delicious supper the evening before, over which we plotted and planned for the day ahead.
For 2014, the Vitality show has been rebranded as Be:Fit London and has moved from its home at Earls Court Exhibition Centre to Old Billingsgate.
Having read a couple of reviews prior to the event I was slightly nervous that it wouldn’t live up to previous years. Stripped back of all of the hair and beauty products and alternative therapy stands and sited at a much smaller venue, other visitors had complained of too little to see in too smaller space surrounded by too many people.
However, when we arrived I was pleasantly surprised. The venue was smaller, but in a way that made it a little more manageable. All of our favourite brands were still out in force, and while it was pleasantly busy, it was by no means too bustling.
We planned to go to a number of talks and classes, but unfortunately, despite our early arrival, they were all already booked up. However, we did manage to see the speakers as planned, including the ever-inspiring and incredibly beautiful Victoria Pendleton (who I admit is my new girl crush and to whom I will be dedicating an entire post!) and Andrew Thomas from Better You, who spoke about magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiency and its impact on athletic performance. I have come away from Andrew’s talk with a lot of reading and some interesting insights, which also warrant a post to themselves.
My new exercise discovery from the show was Aquallure, a new water-based cycling class brought over from France. This impact free, cardio workout promises to burn up to 800kcal per hour. Visiting the show with fellow chlorine addicts we were drawn in immediately and no hard sell was required to get us signed up. As Helen said, a combination of swimming and spinning, what more could you want! The first London-based centre is opening in Pimlico and I will be doing a class and will report back. For more about the company visit their website: www.aquallure.co.uk
As is always the case when I see Women’s Fitness, Nakd, Yogi Tea and Vita Coco in one confined space, I enter into a frenzied desire to see and sample everything all at once. I always find the show is not only a good opportunity to discover new vegan friendly treats and healthy alternatives, but also to try new flavours of products you love.
In the name of ‘research’ for you, dear readers, I chomped through plenty of samples and here is a summary of some of my favourites:
Nakd & Trek bars
The guys on the Nakd stall were as friendly as ever, and treated us to samples of their potential forthcoming flavours – sticky toffee pudding and Bakewell tart, both of which were tasty, but the latter of which was particularly delicious. They have also bought out Nakd bites – bags of sweet-size Nakd bar pieces, great for sharing or snacking when you need a little bit of something but not a whole bar. Nakd crunch bars were also on offer, great if you want an extra protein kick to your snack. New to me, but not to the brand, were the Trek flapjacks. Chunkier and higher in calories (230ish kcal) than Nakd bars, these delicious, vegan friendly, oaty treats contain 9g of protein per bar and a delicious as a post workout boost, I particularly recommend the coconut flavour.
The Chia Co.
The Chia team were giving away the Chia pods en masse, as well as offering samples of all of their flavours. I usually favour the vanilla, but also sampled both the blueberry and banana. I wasn’t totally convinced, but have plenty of free samples waiting for me in the fridge so I might warm to them! They also produce mango, strawberry, coffee, lemon and date and cocoa flavours. These make for a tasty breakfast or afternoon snack and are high in omega 3, fibre and protein.
Koko is a delicious milk alternative made from coconut milk. I find it doesn’t go as well in tea as soya or almond milks, but the strawberry and chocolate flavours are good just on their own and are fortified with vitamin D2, B12 and calcium. At less than 2% fat and 27kcal/100ml they aren’t too bad for you either.
Everything but the Cow
These are a new range of soya and real fruit based, fruity ‘milkshakes’. Flavours include mango & orange, strawberry & raspberry and banana & kiwi. Each carton offers 7g protein at 20% fruit.
Makers of the delicious nut and seed butters, Meridian, have now bought out yummy peanut and almond bars. The peanut bar is totally addictive and is perfect for those who guiltily sneak the odd spoonful of pb from the jar (not that I’d ever do that…). The main downside is how more-ish they are, as there is a limit to how much you can tell yourself it’s ‘good fat’. The almond bars were nice but not as flavourful, but I certainly didn’t say no to a sample or two!
Until now I’ve only looked longingly at these ultimate juices in the fridge in Whole Foods. Made purely from half fruit, half vegetable in a variety of delicious sounding flavours, these drinks carry a heavy price tag. However, I took this opportunity to sample a couple of the flavours – the carrot, peach & cucumber and celery, apple & kale – and can verify that somehow these bizarre combinations work and they are vege-tasty (sorry!). Other flavours include carrot, mango & parsnip, beetroot blueberry & cucumber and cucumber, pineapple and spinach.
Good Hemp Nutrition
Hemp milk is another delicious dairy and soya alternative, and although pricier than some of the other alternatives, I quite like it as an occasional treat. The company has also bought out a series of protein powders, including a refuel shake, gym shake, lean shake, muscle gainer, fit shake and diet shake. These plant based, soya free powders promise to be easy to digest, high in omega 3 6 and 9 and dietary fibre. As a protein shake for breakfast kind of girl, I’ve bought a tub of the pure hemp shake to see how I get on and will let you know.
I have to admit I’ve previously turned my nose up at these carb free, pouches of slim rice/pasta/noodles. However on discovering that they are vegan, gluten and fat free, vegetable based alternatives, but with the same texture and at only 7 kcal/serving I was slightly intrigued. The noodles we tried were tasty but I can’t help thinking it would be healthier to spiralize some veggies yourself than pay out for these pre-packed, pricey portions.
In conclusion Be:Fit London was small but perfectly formed. We visited every stall, tried all the samples and enjoyed the programme of speakers. Ideally there could have been more studio space and more classes, and there were a few big sportswear brands and retailers that I would have liked to have seen, but on the whole, a successful, fun day all and I will be back next year be it Be:Fit or Vitality!