Updated: Mar 10
We spoke to the founder of Sweat in the City events, Andrea Wallace, and asked how her events evolved. Let's see what Andrea has to say...
When did you first realise you had a passion for fitness?
From the age of 13 I have always loved the gym lifestyle, the way everyone works hard and gets sweaty then they relax and pamper themselves in the sauna/steam room and emerge with a new lease on life, glowing skin and a phenomenal body. When I was at school I looked forwards to sports day at the end of the school year and was very competitive. I excelled at long distance running and long jump. I would often try and sneak into a gym but back then you weren't allowed in the gyms if you were under 16. So the big day came when I turned 16 and for my birthday my mum signed me up and we started to go to the gym together and I haven't stopped going since.
Did you always lift weights?
I was mainly a cardio girl until I realised cardio wasn't getting me the physique that I wanted, so I mixed it up with weight training and currently lift weights 4 times a week. I've met many people, learnt many variations of exercises, studied anatomy and physiology, became a fitness instructor, personal trainer and have competed in 4 fitness competitions in the UK and USA. To say I am fascinated by the anatomy of the body is an understatement.
So how did 'Sweat in the City' come about?
In 2013 I started teaching fitness classes in gym studios - to garage music. However soca is my first love so I looked online for mixes with soca and garage. It was not until I taught a workout to only soca when I noticed the whole studio was packed! Everyone was hooked on my class every week! A few years later I decided to go it alone and hired a studio to teach my own class on a Saturday morning which I called 'Sweat in the City'. Over time these classes couldn't be sustained but I continued until I thought of an idea to hold a soca fitness workout in Central London straight after work. "Let's call it a party instead of a workout because it will be fun... no let's call it a fete... The Soca Fitness Fete!"
Tell us more about 'The Soca Fitness Fete'?
It is a fitness workout for 2 hours with soca music played by live DJs. The workouts are taught by a few instructors. It all takes place in a club environment at a venue in Central London. I rounded up a team (well, my closest girlfriends) and put the idea to them. They were all on board and have supported me from its inception to date. From the first event in 2017 where we had 50 people to our present event, we have grown to over 200+ people (depending on venue size). We have acquired a total of over 5,000 followers on all our social media accounts with hundreds on our mailing list. I'm just grateful that even 1 person is interested in taking part!
What other ventures do you have up your sleeve?
Well I kicked off The Afrobeats Workout last year which is the same concept as The Soca Fitness Fete but with Afrobeats music instead of soca. I scouted the best African dance fitness instructors and it has slowly grown over the course of the year. I have another idea in mind which I haven't been able to put into place yet with this virus going around but I love to create events that I would personally like to go to but haven't heard of anyone doing them yet.
You seem to be able to motivate everyone with personal training and teaching at these events. What motivates you?
My motivation is watching the faces of everyone work out and especially after they finish. There's nothing better than seeing those endorphins come out to play. It has been hard work but it has been very worth it. I feel satisfied knowing how good people feel within themselves during and after the events. I love that it can contribute to someone's therapy because that is basically what exercise does. I just hope I found a fun way for everyone, of all ages and races, to join in.
Photography - Ramond Lyttle
MUA - Kemi Bello