In the last few weeks I’m certain any regular gym-goer has noticed an influx of new members. Many of whom are eager to begin their New Years’ resolution of carving out their physiques to find their promised ‘new you’ lurking within this January.
A brand capitalising on this seasonal rush – complete with a glossy, high-end print, digital and out-of-home advertising campaign, Commit to Something, shot on location in Los Angeles by fashion photographer Steven Klein with styling by Mel Ottenberg and featuring models Alan Jouban, Dudley O’Shaughnessy, Erik Sage, Lydia Hearst, Mark Maceachen, Ryan Tift and Silvester Ruck – are Equinox. The American import, whose sole UK gym is located in the historic Derry and Toms building on Kensington High Street, state that “Equinox is about commitment, we are obsessed with it, and we challenge our members to know who they are and what they want,” and this message is conveyed through their newly-released aspirational promotional materials.
Equinox offers their members access to individual training and various classes, such as Boxing Boot Camp and Tabata, in venues associated with energy, luxury and an impeccable attention to detail. Which is ideal if you want to train in an indoor group environment, by yourself or with one or two friends in an exceptionally well-designed, modern facility.
° ° °
However, this isn’t the only environment in which to enhance your fitness – particularly for those individuals who prefer to train outdoors, by themselves, or in an outdoor group environment with a specific goal in mind. For instance, traveling to somewhere with sunshine later this year, participating in a sporting competition or meeting new people while they exercise. I recently received a newsletter from Tom Cullen, editor and founder of I Choose Birmingham, which briefly discussed his attempts at improving his fitness and options available to achieve this goal within the Midlands. This piqued my interest and I subsequently began researching alternative methods of improving my own health and well-being, too – some of which are discussed below.
British Military Fitness
British Military Fitness (BMF) was founded on the principles of training learned in the armed forces. The idea is to get people of all fitness abilities outdoors training in parks, with motivation provided by military trained instructors. However, those behind BMF recognise that their classes are only effective and fun if an individual is exercising at the right ability level for them. Consequently, they decided to divide all class participants into three main ability groups: blue for beginners, red for intermediates, and green for advanced participants. This ensures that each participant is guaranteed an effective workout with people with a similar level of fitness. For further information about BMF and class locations, visit here.
Many of us will be familiar with Quidditch through Harry Potter, the series by author JK Rowling. However, it’s not required that you enjoy the books or films to participate in the sport, even if Rowling did publish a guidebook to Quidditch several years ago. Quidditch UK write that the sport “is a trailblazer in the sporting world for inclusivity, played and followed by some of the most open-minded individuals in the world. It is both fun and highly competitive, a great hobby, keeps you fit and also makes you a part of a great community.” For further information, click here.
UK Ultimate, the National Governing Body for the sport of ultimate in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, write that “Ultimate is a fast-moving team sport enjoyed by millions of players the world over. Although frequently compared to sports like soccer or American Football, Ultimate has some unique features that set it apart. There are no referees. And it’s played with a flying disc. To compete at the highest level, Ultimate players require speed, agility and endurance. Yet beginners find the game easy to learn and fun to play.” And they invite you to “Grab a disc, get out there, and discover why many think this is the ultimate team sport.” For further information, click here.
I wrote previously about the resurgence of interest in the works of author Eve Babitz, with the publication of Eve’s Hollywood in October 2015 by the NYRB. Although, until recently, the only way to obtain a copy of its successor, 1977’s Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A., was with a French translation, published by Gallmeister in 2014 or to have a spare few hundred pounds in your back pocket for a used original copy.
However, on August 30th 2016, the NYRB will be issuing a new print run of Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A., a fictionalised account of Babitz’s life in Los Angeles, California, in which she writes, “Perhaps if the details are all put together, a certain pulse and sense of place will emerge, and the integrity of empty space with occasional figures in the landscape can be understood at leisure and in full, no matter how fast the company.”
Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A. can be pre-ordered here.
Those of you who follow my Twitter will know I am a fan of street art. In fact, one of my first experiences of the persuasiveness of the medium, was happening across a several foot high mural of Japanese recording artist Namie Amuro to promote the release of her 2012 album Uncontrolled in Tokyo. Someone who is known as one of the founding fathers of this particular artistic discipline is London-based artist and author, Remi Rough.
Rough finished 2015 with a solo exhibition, Home, his first in London, since 2011 at Scream London. The exhibition featured his now trademark abstract graffiti, which focuses on the interplay of colour and shape, appearing on a multitude of hand-made paper and wood canvasses, and explored the relationship of balance, tension and colour with geometric theory. My favourite piece from the exhibition is Cinqo, shown below, courtesy of Rough’s Instagram.
This piece, for me, is a visual representation of Rough’s earlier work. The shapes and colours utilised symbolising the trains which became his canvas as they traversed the city, potentially positively surprising those who saw the artworks and subsequently causing them to reconsider their perception of street artists.
To arrive at this stage in his career, where his work is as at home in a gallery as an outdoor venue, Rough has adapted his technique, taking inspiration from artists, such as, Kazimir Malevich whilst collaborating with other artists as a member of the collective Agents of Change. Rough’s work as a member of the collective, saw the exteriors of several venues across the UK transformed. For example, an abandoned village in Scotland became an extensive outdoor gallery, known as The Ghost Village Project, while the exterior of the Megaro Hotel in central London displayed to guests and passersby an intricate, colourful mural five storeys tall.
Mare writes that Rough “continues to challenge the boundaries of contemporary painting as he traverses between the collected history of art and todays urban lexicon. Thematically he continues to explore associations between Suprematism concepts, Abstract Expressionism and Graffiti art, which in practice and theory they become ever present. This amalgamation yields a new type of modernist painting, one that reflects his passion for the aforementioned but also his desire re-imagine it all for today’s world.”
“The most urgent question for a writer may seem to be, ‘What experiences do I have as my material, what experiences do I feel able to narrate?’ But that’s not right. The more pressing question is, ‘What is the word, what is the rhythm of the sentence, what tone best suits the things I know?'”
I came across The Groundnut, a supper club in South East London serving sub-Saharan cuisine, through the November issue of Wallpaper* magazine and the short feature caught my attention so much that I wanted to find out more.
From November through December 2015, founders Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown, are hosting dinners Wednesday to Saturday, weekly at St. John’s Hall, where they began their venture in 2012, initially cooking for friends and family.
What is unique about the Groundnut is the warm atmosphere surrounding the events, which can be attributed to the founders’ enthusiasm for their business, and their dishes, many of which are family recipes, being served around long, communal tables which encourage conversation among diners. In an interview with the Guardian, Timothy says, “The ceremony of eating is very important in African food. So, we wanted everyone eating at a long table, at the same time, sharing the same food.”
Guests are invited to arrive at 7:30PM, and upon arrival will receive a complimentary cocktail in addition to plantain crisps prior to the set menu which is unveiled on the night. However, to ensure every diner enjoys their experience, it is recommended that if you have specific dietary requirements you inform the café prior to attending, as they will do their best to accommodate you.
For those wanting to attempt their own endeavours with this style of cuisine, The Groundnut Cookbook was published by Penguin this summer, becoming an Amazon bestseller upon its publication.
The Groundnut is located at St John’s Hall, 9 Fair Street, London, SE1 2XA. Tickets for the 2015 season can be purchased online at the Groundnut website.
“We were like, “Why don’t we do a kind of lifestyle brand with the music and the clothing and that’s where we started. That was a bit more than ten years ago…”