Sweatlife is back for its second year! Last weekend Lululemon took over the Tobacco Dock in East London to host a day of sweat, fun, food, and more sweat. I couldn’t make it in 2016 but this year I didn’t want to miss it. Everyone’s ticket prices included two sweat sessions, unlimited yoga and learn sessions. Once I bought my ticket I had to make the very hard choice of choosing if I try a new studio or if I go for studios I love and trust. If only all my problems were this fun!
Tobacco Dock in London is a beautiful, massive space and Lululemon had taken over the whole pace. Everywhere I looked there was a sign for a studio or pop up marketplace or a street of food vendors. I felt like Alice and this was my dream come true wonderland.
This post is split into sections describing all of the classes I did. However I want to talk about some of the amazing things that I encountered at Sweatlife which didn’t happen in any of the classes:
- Water was literally on tap and all you had to do was bring a bottle. If I want to succeed at Plastic Free July then buying water in a plastic bottle was out. Also I hate buying water when tap water in this country is free, so thank you Lululemon for not charging us for water!
- The freebies especially in the market place. I had the chance to make (and take home) Pip & Nut energy balls, try Rebel’s delicious vanilla yoghurt, and took a bracelet home with me from heartcore. More on the latter later but I posted the recipe for the energy balls on my Instagram and you can check it out here.
- The energy and sheer lovlieness of the Lululemon team. When I walked into the media syite, when I got lost, when I asked for someone to direct me to a place which I was standing next to (true story) they were friendly and wonderful.
In fact my only criticism was that the Lululemon shop didn’t have any exclusive discounts which I really hoped they would have. Of course this is a minor thing and they certainly didn’t have to do anything like that but I would have bought more if they had!
TRX and Rowing with Heartcore
I have wanted to do Heartcore for such a long time so this was one of the classes I was definitely going to do. My class was the second in the day and when I saw the previous Heartcore survivors exit (the really beautiful) studio my excitement levels increased so much. They looked exhausted and had glitter all over their faces (this is what makes me excited!).
When I walked in I understood the glitter and after about 30 minutes I understood the exhaustion. The glitter was glitter makeup and we all had the choice to get some done before starting the class. Of course I said yes. We were then all given team ‘tattoos’ and I found myself being one of the Tigers and starting on the TRX machines.
TRX machines are all about the suspension training, using your balance to do moves and exercises which would be easier on solid ground. With the added threat of falling I found my muscles working so much harder to do things which they usually take in their stride. Pikes and crunches on TRX machines? My core was screaming at me!
The class was split into four parts and was a mixture of both TRX and rowing. As the Tigers started on TRX machines, we finished on the rowers. However it wasn’t just rowing. It was also a lot of core work using the seat of the rower as the floor. So when I thought rowing would be easier, I was very wrong.
By the time I finished, there was sweat dripping down my face and glitter all over me. thankfully they gave us a wet towel before we left but I am pretty sure I walked into Un1t sparkling.
16 Stations with Un1t
I had 15 minutes to get from Heartcore to Un1t, the second sweat session I had booked. As I was walking down the corridor my body hurt ever so slightly and I wondered if this was a good idea. I had heard amazing things about Un1t and really wanted to try it but I also wanted to take a quick nap and eat some food.
You’ll all be glad to know that I didn’t indulge in those fantasies and instead walked into the studio. There was equipment laid out on the floor and trainers waiting for us when we entered. No glitter being applied to our faces here! Un1t’s Trooper class is their signature class and features 16 different workout stations. In pairs you all make your way through each station – like circuit training – but only get to move to the next station when the pair sprinting finish six sprints. So one some stations you are there longer than others and it depends entirely on the speed at which other people run.
The stations were incredibly diverse from box jumps, to weighted crunches, to deadlifts, to rowing.
So far, so good. All of this I could do.
But that wasn’t it – Un1t’s motto is that ‘we train as one’ so if someone fails we all fail. This means that is someone takes it easy on the station or doesn’t run from one station to the next we all stop and do five burpees.
That’s right, you pay the price for someone else’s laziness.
If there was ever an incentive to work hard that was it – I had no desire to have people know I was the reason they were doing burpees! Sadly a pair of really muscly men didn’t feel the same. They walked very leisurely from one station to the next. Hello burpees. You know when some gym goes can only lift weights and can’t actually move? Yeah, that was them. It was painful to watch and painful to suffer through.
Un1t’s Trooper class only lasted for 30 minutes so it really was on us how much work we did and how many rounds we got though (two and a half in the end). I was shattered by the end of it and by now my body was screaming. The muscles in my legs and arms were shaking slightly and I didn’t love the class as much as I wish I had.
I am used to having the choice of different weights so that I can actually do the weighted exercises. And maybe in their actual studios there is more option and choice but in Sweatlife there wasn’t. I couldn’t do any of the deadlifts (and had to squat) or the weighted crunches (had to do them without). I would have loved to do both of these ‘properly’ but didn’t want to injure myself and knew that’s what would happen if I tried to lift those weights.
I also didn’t like the idea of being ‘punished’ for someone else’s mistake. The idea of training as one is brilliant but I am not one with these people; the only thing I was at one with was my own muscle pain.
A Gong Bath with Leo Cosendai
I actually wasn’t supposed to go to this session. I had scheduled in Vinyasa flow but somehow managed to end up in a Gong Bath. I’m still not sure how that happened but at some point I ended up in the wrong studio of the same name (still have no idea how that happened!) and decided to go with the flow.
I have never been to a gong bath before and had no idea what to expect. After an introduction from Leo we all laid down on our mats as he started playing the harmonium and singing a prayer in Sanskrit. As someone who used to have harmonium lessons and knows that prayer very well, the beginning didn’t particularly calm me down. Instead I was trying to sing along and trying to figure out which notes he was playing!
I was also listening very carefully to his accent and pronunciation of words. The English language doesn’t have as many characters as many Indian languages do and if you grow up as an English speaker it’s very difficult to say some of these characters as an adult. Leo did a brilliant job! There are certain ‘d’ and ‘t’ sounds which just seem impossible for so many people but he nailed them.
Then came the gong bath bit of the gong bath. The gong itself was the largest gong in London and to be fair, I was incredibly sceptical about the whole thing. Was I just going to be lying there like an idiot not getting it? And continuing with the honesty part of it was exactly like that. But not at the beginning. Someone happened in the beginning and I somehow drifted off. For the half an hour this happened I understood why this was called a bath. It felt like the sounds were waves rolling over me.
I absolutely loved it. And I got it. I was able to mediate and let go and focus on not much in particular.
And then something happened – I don’t know what – and that feeling of calm passed. Suddenly I was aware of how cold I was, how hard the floor was, how uncomfortable I was, how much my ankle hurt in this position. Once that happened I couldn’t get back to the lightness of before. I spent the rest of the session feeling like the idiot I thought I would be, not getting it.
When the session finished I felt sore and stiff and my body really hurt. I had lost that sense of calm from earlier and wasn’t really sure how a) to get it back, or b) how I got there in the first place. I felt uncomfortable. But as Leo himself said, that is the point of some experiences and I am so glad I tried this one. It was different, vital, and yes left me uncomfortable.
This is a really long post isn’t it? I promise there won’t be much more!
After the gong bath I decided to call it a day and head home. I was still signed up to one more class but tired and happy and ready to head home.
I loved Lululemon’s Sweatlife 2017 and I really hope there is one in 2018. The venue, classes, sessions, food – all brilliant and all worth the £30 ticket price.