5 Things I’m Excited For At Balance Festival

So, we’ve reached the one month countdown until Balance Festival. Less than four weeks until London’s biggest celebration of food, fitness and wellness hits the Old Truman Brewery and, as Editor of Balance Festival content, I can say it’s shaping up to be a beauty. First and foremost, because there really is something exciting for everyone. Whether you’re a hardcore fitness lover seeking a challenge, or a first-timer on the gym floor just looking to get a taster of classes. Whether you’re not into exercise at all and would much rather munch your way round samples and snacks, whether you’re seeking answers about nutrition, training, launching a career in wellness or finding self-confidence, and even if you’ve just been dragged along by your girlfriend and you’d much rather be chilling out with a burger, good music and a couple of drinks, trust me, it’s all there!

For the whole team at Balance, we wanted to create something that we would attend ourselves to ensure we’re providing a truly quality weekend. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share the top five things at Balance Festival that I am most looking forward to about the weekend. If you haven’t yet checked out the full line-up and programme, be sure to do so and let me know what you’re excited for too!

1) The LAB talks and workshops

I am all about educating yourself when it comes to your health but I know it can be difficult to uncover who is offering credible advice, who is imparting accurate knowledge and who really has your interests at heart. The Balance Festival LAB involves hand-selected experts in their field to support individuals through all areas of discovering wellbeing.

Ditching the Labels with Maxine Ali & Plant-based Pixie, Saturday 13 May, 17:00.

I’m going to go ahead and start with a shameless plug – I’ll be speaking in the LAB on Saturday May 13th alongside Nutritionist Pixie Turner about labels in health. Many of you know about my background in linguistics and my aim to educate others on health communication so that we can foster positive messages  that aren’t shaming or discriminating. Additionally, being joined by Pixie who is is all too familiar with the potential damage inflicted by labelling your health – our discussion will explore the psychology of labels in health plus share some of our personal experiences to find a lifestyle free from defined categories.

The Mind-Gut Connection with Kimberley Wilson, Saturday 13 May, 14:00.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kimberley and she is one clever lady. A psychologist and also an incredibly talented baker (you may remember her from GBBO), she’ll be discussing the powerful effects of food on the brain and exploring the evidence on whether what we eat can actually impact mood, memory, sleep and wellbeing. There’s certainly a growing interest in food psychology and so I’m looking forward to hearing her analysis on our mentality around food.

Intuitive Eating: How to Ditch the Diet Rules and Stop Feeling Weird Around Food with Dr Laura Thomas, Saturday 13 May, 11:30.

Dr Laura Thomas is definitely one of the industry’s biggest rising stars. She is shaking up the industry and it’s all to her own credit because, with her writing and podcast Don’t Salt My Game, she’s absolutely killing it, helping people heal their relationship with food and providing sound nutritional advice. At Balance, she’ll be discussing intuitive eating – a hot topic in the wellness-sphere but so easily over-simplified. As a Registered Nutritionist who uses the principles of intuitive eating to help her own clients, she has a solid understanding of the literature behind it, how it can help you reconnect with your biology and finally let go of those diet demons.

Redefining Selfish with Michael James Wong, Sunday 14 May, 11:30.

I’m not big on my yoga but I will say that a class with Michael James Wong can be transformative. He knows how to tap into your self-consciousness and allow you to let go of daily stressors so that you can truly thrive in your environment. With an amazing message not so different from my own indulgence philosophy, he is a true breath of fresh air in this hectic and noisy world. Although he will be teaching yoga during the Balance Urban Tri, I’m actually most looking forward to his LAB talk which should offer some great advice for learning how to be a little bit selfish for your wellbeing. Perfect if perhaps, like me, the only yoga pose you can master with ease is Savasana!

2) The Angry Chef (Anthony Warner) in the Live Cooking Theatre

Have you heard of the Angry Chef? He’s been quite a key-player in the clean eating backlash, voicing his frustrations around the pseudoscience and misinformation purported by wellness bloggers. Some enjoy his incessant swearing, his tendency to name and shame but, personally, I most admire his incredible honesty. Honesty is a rare trait to come by these days, with so many people relying on sensationalised ideals for their success and livelihood. But the thing that has made the Angry Chef such a phenomenon is Anthony’s determination to uncover the truth.

As a chef with over 20 years of professional experience, plus a degree in science to support his knowledge, he understands food and, more than that, he celebrates and gives it the appreciation it deserves. He knows what nutrition looks like without the restriction and deprivation diet culture has instilled in us and so a cooking demonstration from him is perhaps exactly the dose of reality this industry needs. Honesty, evidence and really delicious food. (Catch him on Saturday 13 May, 13:20). 

3) The MXLK Bar by Ozone Coffee Roasters

Caffeine addicts beware. With contacts at London Coffee Festival, Balance was bound to have a good espresso bar to fuel the weekend.

Since I’m not a big fan of dairy milk, I’m always looking out for decent non-dairy alternatives and so we’ve teamed up with expert baristas at Ozone Coffee Roasters to diligently taste our way through all differing kinds of milk pairings so that our brews are the best for all tastes. At the Balance Festival MXLK bar, Ozone will have a range of coffees on their menu, including iced lattes with brown rice milk (my personal favourite), and a divine oat milk hot chocolate. If you are into your dairy, however, don’t worry as regular milk is still very much on the line-up too!

4) The Collision-Style Workout

There are a lot of workouts throughout the weekend at Balance Festival but none perhaps as exciting and innovative as the Collision-Style Workouts, a new concept workout exclusive for the event. Taking place on the main-stage with a live DJ set and some awesome instructors leading the sessions including Zanna Van Dijk vs Shona Vertue and Julie Montagu vs Tameka Small, these workouts fuse two unlikely disciplines to create an event-piece that challenges every aspect of physical and mental capability. Expect things like HIIT vs Yoga or Bootcamp vs Barre. It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun!

5) Music Line-up

Well, it’s not a festival without music, right? I’m already picturing it. Sunday evening when the event is about to wrap, a full house with espresso martinis in hand, jamming away to live music playing throughout the venue. It’s the energy and beats that create an incredible atmosphere at festivals and so, whilst music may not be at the heart of the food and fitness scene, the weekend really couldn’t be without it.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Maxine Ali