NoireFitFest is the UK’s first (and only) Black wellness and fitness festival. The festival, now in its second year, was created by Lorraine Russell to provide a platform for Black fitness professionals and an inclusive experience for the Black people.
Lorraine tells us she was concerned about the levels of physical activity in the Black community. ‘Just 56% of Black people are hitting the recommended amount of weekly fitness, compared to 62% of the general population. Black and Asian women are the least likely to be physically active (53% and 49% respectively). These stats are alarming at best and need to be addressed or tackled in a way that is engaging and relatable to the Black community. This is one of the many things NoireFitFest tries to tackle’.
Changing the fitness industry
‘My experience of other festivals was that I didn’t see too many Black or Brown faces on the lineup for their events. I haven’t seen to date any of these fitness festivals actively promote their events as being inclusive or accessible to the Black community’. This was an opinion shared by many of the Black fitness professionals that took part in NoireFitFest last year. Instructors who had been invited to take part in fitness events had confided in Lorraine that ‘they always tend to feel like they’re the only Black fit pro representing the Black community, which at times can feel like they have been invited to attend these events for performative reasons.’
Lorraine wants to see more brands that employ Black athletes to promote their products allocate a portion of their profits to help the black community stay active and lead a healthier lifestyle. ‘I think if brands are happy to use Black sports pros to profit, they should pay it forward to the communities where the vast majority of these Black sportsmen and women come from.’
‘Stick with YOUR plan until you reach YOUR goals’
Increasing the visibility of Black professionals in the fitness industry may help to engage more of the community to take up physical activity. Lorraine, a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist, was first introduced to the industry by her mother who is a fitness instructor. She initially started to concentrate on her fitness to manage her weight. ‘I was overweight as a teen, and I stayed that way into my mid-twenties. I embarked on a fitness journey to help shift the weight, so that I could be healthier. I share my personal journey with my clients so that they understand that I know the journey that they’re about to embark on, regarding their own personal struggle with losing weight’.
Lorraine also has some great advice for anyone that is just starting out with their own fitness journey. ‘I think people underestimate their ability. They tend to mentally talk themselves out of doing more than the bare minimum of any type of physical activity. For example, a lot of women still think that weight training is for men only. Or men think that aerobic classes are for women only. Both statements aren’t true at all. Start slow and build up. Try not to get bogged down with comparing yourself to someone else’s journey. Everybody progresses at their own pace. Find your pace and progress by challenging yourself during your workouts. Stick with YOUR plan until you reach YOUR goals.’
Feeling inspired? NoireFitFest takes place on Saturday, September 18th. You can attend the festival in person at Foraspace in Spitalfields, London or join online via Zoom. You will have access to 14 instructor-led fitness classes including Soca Aerobics, HIIT, Combat HIIT, House Beat, Yoga plus and many more. There will also be two wellness talks and the sounds of resident DJ to keep you entertained.
If you are new to fitness or returning after a break, don’t worry, NoireFitFest has a class for you. The fabulous Faye Edwards and Lisa Brockwell will be leading a This Girl Can Classes masterclass which is suitable for beginner’s and will help give you the confidence to try new moves and understand different fitness classes. So even if you go the wrong way, you’ll still be heading in the right direction. Come do your worst!