A couple of weekends ago, on 2nd and 3rd of September, I attended Refresh Festival - A health and fitness festival with some fairly big names on the bill. So, I was a little surprised when very few people I had spoken to had heard of it.
Hosted by Dame Kelly Holmes, the event took place over two days; targeted towards adults on the Saturday and families on the Sunday. It took place at Wellington Country Park just outside of Basingstoke and tickets could be brought for either or both of the days.
I arrived at the festival not long after 10am when the gates were due to open. I had been excited about this day for some time. Following some unhappy family news, I had taken a short break from exercise but was looking to this festival as an opportunity of reminding me what it is I loved so much about the industry. There were a lot of big names I was looking forward to seeing do their thing; including Alice Liveing, Bradley Simmonds and Chessie King.
We started the day attending a talk on spinal health. For some this may seem like a rather dry topic but, the demonstrations given were unbelievable. I’ve undergone chiropractic treatment in the past, but had no idea the impact misalignment could have on your performance. This was demonstrated by a participant who had a negligible misalignment of her pelvis. When asked to apply force against the chiropractor, her left arm had very little strength. A small platform was placed below her foot, levelling out her pelvis and the force she was now able to apply had significantly increased. Imagine, this applied to your performance of any kind of sports.
Next we went on to take part on elements yoga. This focused on how our bodies are made up of the five different elements and we drew upon the strength of these elements to perform various stances. I’ve never been into yoga, but there was something incredibly rewarding about centring in on yourself whilst in a field full of people on loud music. Give it a try - I’ll be going back as a result.
Next came on of the big events for me - a HIIT with Alice Liveing! It was fast, it was tough and with the blazing sun shining down on us it was sweaty. But this girl knows what she is doing! Alice was one of the main inspirations which helped me change my life, particularly from a nutritional perspective. It was upon learning how she had changed her own life, that made me realise I could take the same steps have have a positive impact on my own - So to see her in action was pretty epic.
Next came lunch and a talk on body confidence with some of the big industry names including Chessie King. I had lined up a vegan challenge to start on the following Monday as I didn’t want to be limited to vegan only options at the festival, but little did I realise - there was NO LIMIT!! All of the food looked amazing - I was only disappointed I didn’t have room to try it all.
The body confidence talk offered a good insight into what is actually meant as a balanced lifestyle and self love. Chessie King made the comment that we are forever saying ‘I wish I looked like..’ and rarely ‘I wish I was as kind/happy/understanding as..’. This for me was a really interesting concept, as in a world where we are taught to be nice to one another, we rarely use these positive inner qualities as a means of compliment.
Last but not least my day ended with a brutal workout from Bradley Simmonds. Seriously guys, this man is crazy (in a good way). His method is ‘no rest’. Most workouts, especially in the day and age of HIIT, focus on a period of intense work followed by a short amount of rest - but not with Bradley. Instead he combines high intensity exercises broken up by slower paced exercises in which you catch your breath. Ouch! but you can see what this guy gets results.
Getting the motivation for Sunday was HARD! I was tired from the day before, my muscles ached and it was tipping it down. But, as I said, Sunday was a family orientated day and my little girl had been looking forward to it for weeks so I couldn’t let her down. And boy was I glad I didn’t!
The day started of with Mr Bloom. OK - so if you don’t have kids, this next part is probably going to see like a whole load of toddle. Accompanied by his band, Mr Bloom sang a variety of songs both from his CBeebies show and covers of classics with vegetable related changes to the words (my favourite ‘we will rock you’). I was surprised at how such a child-orientated show could also target the adults but it worked - This guy left being my hero! Oh and, not to mention the guys in the band were actually the voices of the vegetables in the program which made for a very rewarding performance of ‘meet the veggies’.
Anyway, enough about Mr Bloom. The next event of the day was the kids sports day hosted by Dame Kelly Holmes. By hosted by, I was expecting this to be something she put her name to and possible gave an opening speech for but oh no. She was involved in every little aspect of it. From leading the warm up, to starting the race, handing out medals and even offering a helping hand to the kids when needed. There was a variety of races split into age categories; egg and spoon, sprints and even a sack race. But the best bit about it - There was absolutely no pressure. This wasn’t some overly organised event, just a grass track and a women who wanted to get the whole family involved in fitness.
Little side confession, before Refresh Festival I didn’t know who Dame Kelly Holmes was, but after this event, my opinions of her are very high!!
By the time the sports day had finished, we were soaked through and starting to get tired, so we started heading for the car. Enter Chico! Thats right, IT’S CHICO TIME! Turns out, X Factor contestant Chico has released a fitness programme called BlockFit. 4 workouts in one (dance, martial arts, HIIT and yoga) all carried out to songs written and sung by himself. I know what you’re probably thinking - eh? Chico! But I’ve gotta tell you, I was pleasantly surprised and for me, this was one of my highlights of the entire festival. Given the fact that it was was raining, the ground was muddy and everyone was in a post lunch slump - This guy manages to lift the mood of the entire festival and successfully carry out the busiest workout of the entire weekend. I completely changed my mind from thinking this guy was a complete joke, to honestly considering to train and become a Blockfit instructor.
So, anyway, as you can probably tell I thought Refresh was awesome. It was a little quieter than I was expecting it to be, but given it was it’s first year, the attendance can only be expected to grow. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed both days for very different reasons, Sunday was by far my favourite for no other reason than it completely exceeding my expectations.
If you do get the opportunity to go next year, I’d definitely recommend it!