‘Dedicated to changing the face of fitness. Creating a platform of visibility for black fitness experts & the black community’
EMD UK is proud to be sponsoring NoireFitFest, the UK’s first black fitness event, for the third year running and took the opportunity to chat with Event Director Lorraine Russell to find out more.
Although Lorraine comes from a sporty family and played many sports when she was younger, her own personal wellness journey began when her weight ‘spiralled out of control’ in her teens despite still being very active. Eventually Lorraine decided to set herself some goals – to qualify as a personal trainer and to compete in a body building show. As she shared her journey on social media she had a number of requests from people who wanted to train with her.
Lorraine then realised that there were ‘not many black or brown faces’ in the places she was training, and says that black women tend not to do this for several reasons, including the misconception that training is not something for them.
She was inspired to create a black forum to facilitate a platform for the whole community. The resulting NoireFitFest one-day festival comprises mainly black expert trainers and panellists, featuring a variety of workout sessions from hot Pilates, to Afrobeat sound-tracked HITT and soca aerobics. The This Girl Can Classes, suitable for beginners and those returning to exercise after a break, have proved to be a great way of adding yet more variety to the programme.
In its third year, the challenge for Lorraine is to keep the momentum going. The aim is to expand the instructor offering to inspire more people. For example, Hyperice has come on board as brand partners for 2022. Hyperice specialise in creating products designed to aid relief and repair for both fitness enthusiasts and complete novices. They will be providing a Wellness space for attendees throughout the day, with resident massage expert, Arnie of Touch To Massage, delivering massages using the Hyperice products.
A big question for Lorraine, along with many other fitness instructors, has been whether to continue online classes or return to the traditional face to face classes. For her there is no doubt, as she enjoys the physical interaction and the buzz that comes from reaching that ‘magic moment’ when it all comes together.
While Lorraine wants to see the Noirefitfest platform continue to grow, she has to be aware of which brands would genuinely like an on-going relationship and help to deliver a great message, and which may be just ticking the diversity box.
Due to the day’s programme being over-subscribed, Lorraine would like to set up a series of mini projects and workshop days on individual disciplines, all designed to help break the mould that exercise is not for the black community. Some of the workshops would be aimed at young and upcoming instructors with guidance on how to enter the fitness industry.
Hopes for Industry
From the mid-1990s Lorraine’s mum was a fitness instructor and so she grew up with the idea that fitness was for everybody. She would therefore like to see a more inclusive fitness industry that really represents and encourages the black fitness and wellness pros and their participants.
Noirefitfest takes place on Saturday 17 September at wellness event space, ForaSpace, Old Spitalfields Market, 35-41 Folgate St, London E1 6BX.
You can get a flavour of last year’s fabulous event here – https://youtu.be/vyWRpzQuuks