Wellfest 2018 – A Creative, Courageous Community

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Nothing but smiles all round!

Disclaimer: I am a Wellfest addict. I know it, they know it, you know it – and I’m darn proud of it. Last year, in a total high of positive vibes after the 2017 weekend, I wrote about my Wellfest experience, simply because it was just so much fun, and I wanted to share that good feeling with you all – and hopefully convince you to come next time! And FYI – I am in no way sponsored to write this, nor do I get free tickets to Wellfest – I am proud and delighted to attend each year as well as call the organisers and many of the speakers and teachers at it friends of mine at this stage.

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My gal pal Niamh & I on Day Two!

So after this year’s festival, which was bigger, crazier, and more utterly inspiring than ever before, I figured I would have to follow up with a post to share my experience. But more than that, I wanted to tell you guys WHY I think Wellfest is the gem that it is in the Irish calendar, and talk about the principles of living of healthy living it encourages in those who attend. I’m going to do that with three main headings – Creativity, Courage and Community.

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Getting to meet & train with Alice Liveing – HIGHLIGHT!

Creativity

If you’ve never been to Wellfest (COME IN 2019), I’ll give you the 411. It’s a two day weekend festival with both days packed full of events within a large outdoor venue (the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin this year) – events which are centred around pillars of health such as exercise, nutrition, and meditation. There are food stalls all over the place, with designated tents or areas for different activities – such as WellYoga, WellFit, a main stage for big workouts or yoga flows, WellMind for meditation and talks, WellFood for cookery demos, WellTalk for Q&As with various speakers, and WellPilates. It’s literally wellness Christmas lads. You spend the day going to whatever you want – a morning yoga flow, a coffee with a friend in the sun, a midday HIIT workout or pilates, lunch from one of the stalls (ranging from vegan to vegetarian to meat-based options), an afternoon cookery demo, a meditation session to finish – the time there is yours to make it. So when I talk about creativity, I mean creativity of the Wellfest gang in terms of the speakers, teachers, and celebrities they book, and YOUR own creativity to try new things and make the experience your own! So many of you messaged me this year beforehand to say you were going to try yoga for the first time there – I can’t tell you how big the smile on my face was reading that!

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Sarah Kiely of Sadie’s Kitchen & I! I’m a super-fan of this girl & this brand!

Courage

That brings me to point number two. Being courageous in trying new things. Being brave enough to say ‘Hey, I want to make some healthy changes to my life.’ Wellfest is a fantastic place to explore that. Everyone is a beginner at something there, and NO ONE cares at all what you look like doing a burpee for the first time, trying the down dog yoga pose, closing your eyes to meditate, or trying a vegan curry or burger! We are all at different stages on our journeys to living healthier lives. I’ve been strength and cardio/HIIT training a long time, but can I do a yoga headstand? Nope! I’ve only been properly practising for five months now! This time last year I would have laughed at myself if I tried to meditate. Now I do ten minutes a day, everyday. My point is – don’t be afraid. At Wellfest, and in general! I saw so many people trying new things – trampoline fitness classes, a smoothie for breakfast, yoga, zumba – and each and every single one of them had a big laughing smile on their faces.

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FAN GIRL ALERT – Meeting Shona Vertue after her booty burning workout!

Community

Possibly one of my favourite words of all to describe what Wellfest is to me. This year, my third festival, was the biggest and best it’s been, no question. The venue size, crowd numbers, activities, talks, demos – numbers skyrocketed compared to last year. I can honestly say with pride that I couldn’t walk from A to B within the festival without recognising a friend, or someone stopping me to chat. Even more inspiring than that was getting recognised by some of YOU lovely people – I had a few friendly faces come up and say hi over the weekend, and tell me how much they love following! So if you’re reading this and you did – THANK YOU! It literally made my Wellfest so so special – and I loved grabbing photos with you guys!

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Grabbing Faisal for a photo after he kicked out butts with his HIIT session!

So here’s my two cents on communities around wellness – they are essential. The wellness community as a large group in Ireland, particularly in Dublin, has grown so much in the past 18 months alone. I’ve seen it and I’m so so happy to be part of it, and part of encouraging it. Within this community, it’s amazing to see the multitude of different little eco-systems – for example, the yoga community, the foodie community, pilates, strength training, F45 – endless! New experiences and new friends at every corner, and the best part is you can dive into however many you want! As I’ve told you guys before, I discovered the yoga community this year through my own beginnings as a yogi, and I cannot tell you how amazing it has been to have felt so welcomed and encouraged by everyone I’ve met. It made my Wellfest all the more special to know so many more faces this year as a result!

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Smoothie Bowl essentials with Kale & Coco

The other cool thing about the Wellfest community is that it connects you as an attendee to your health and wellness idols. I have many people who inspire me on social media – such as Hazel Wallace (a.k.a The Food Medic), Dr. Rupy Aujla (a.k.a. The Doctor’s Kitchen), Shona Vertue, Rhiannon Lambert and Alice Liveing to name but a few! I got to meet them in person, some for the first time like Alice, and some for a quick catch up like Rupy. It is extremely cool to get to meet these people in person, and I love that Wellfest brings names and faces like these guys to Ireland. It expands who you follow on social media, and who the positive influences are for you – plus, anyone I’ve ever gotten to meet has always been so frickin’ LOVELY in person.

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Catching up with the ever lovely Rupy of Doctor’s Kitchen!

You leave Wellfest on a high, but the beauty is that it doesn’t stop when you get home. After each festival, I’ve been filled with new ideas and inspiration – for recipes, blog articles, activities – and most importantly, new friends, as well as a bucket-load of happy memories. I’ve talked to so many people who have kept up the workouts and activities they tried at Wellfest – whether that’s yoga, spinning, pilates or trampolining (!), or simply adding meditation to their day, or trying a smoothie for breakfast the following week, it’s all positive change and influence that adds to a person’s wellness journey.

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What can only be described as a Happy Pear Sandwich…! Such cheeky chaps!

So that is a wrap gang. I really hope, if you went to Wellfest this year, you had as much of a ball as I did. I have already booked my 2019 early bird ticket, and I’m darn proud of it! Share your experience! Leave a comment, or DM me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook – I’m @theirishbalance !

Ciara 🙂 x

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