Gym or pub? Yoga class or clubbing? Mojito or maca? Sometimes it’s a tough choice to make, but thanks to the rise of ‘healthonism’ – health + hedonism – you don’t have to be torn much longer. The latest trend for ‘mindful partying’ blends a healthy fitness routine with a healthy social life; think yoga raves with cocktails, Spinning classes with DJs and women who like to party hard and work out even harder. Sound like fun? Then you could be a healthonista.
Exercise merging with excess has been a growing theme over the past few years; Gymbox (gymbox.com) was one of the first to introduce Rave aerobics classes – where you’re more likely to hold glowsticks than dumbbells – while events like Colour Run or Nike’s We Own the Night have helped turn fitness into a fun event you sign up to do with your mates. But in the past 12 months, the idea has shifted up a gear, into a workout combined with a proper after-party.
Kensington gym Equinox (equinox.com) launched its Equinox Night (previously called ‘After dark’) events, with DJs and cocktails after classes, to celebrate the equinoxes, but also to offer gym-goers an alternative night out. ‘The demand came from our members who wanted to find out what happens when the club closes,’ says UK managing director Gentry Long. ‘So we gave them something healthy but also something more sociable.’ And House of Voga (vogalondon.co.uk) – that’s yoga mashed up with Madonna’s famous vogueing dance style – recently co-hosted a pop-up fitness party with Mayfair nightclub Bonbonniere. ‘Alcohol, partying and dance are no longer seen as mutually exclusive to healthy living,’ says Lucie Green, worldwide director of trend monitors JWT Innovation Group who first spotted the healthonism movement. ‘We’re now putting healthy habits alongside fun, in a have-it-all way.’
Today, healthonism events are a regular feature in our fitness calendar. Iris Louwerens, founder of The Wellscene (thewellscene.club), organises boutique fitness and yoga nights across London. She says, ‘When I was in Australia, I noticed health and exercise were much more integrated into people’s social lives than in the UK. I wanted to create something where you didn’t do workout by yourself and then go to the pub with your friends, but could do both.’ Wellscene nights are held in unique and secret locations – adding to the party vibe – and feature a fitness class followed by food and drink. You can even bring your own booze if you fancy a few beers after a boxing session.
DRINK TO YOUR HEALTH
Healthy drinking is a core part of healthonism. Juice brand Imbibery (imbiberylondon.com) unveiled a range of cold-pressed juices that create body-boosting cocktails when mixed with vodka – its Greeñacolada contains spinach and coconut water – while Be At One bars (beatone.co.uk) now have a whole range of ‘virtuous’ cocktails with ingredients you’d normally find in a health food shop; maca powder and rum, anyone? The leisure giant Lululemon (lululemon.co.uk) even launched a limited-edition beer last summer, while the hottest fitness fad in the US is currently yoga classes held inside breweries.
While the usual advice is to avoid alcohol if you’re serious about fitness, there’s some evidence the healthonistas have got it right. A study published in Health Psychology reveals people tend to exercise more on the same days they drink more. Researchers were baffled – you’d think we’re more likely to hit the gym the day after to compensate for a night on the tiles – but it seems we’re inclined to push ourselves much harder during a workout when we can reward ourselves afterwards with a few drinks with our fitness buddies.
One healthonista reveals she learned the hard way how to balance out both sides of the coin. Alison Williamson, 36, a personal trainer from London, says, ‘I once had to dash out of teaching a Body Pump class to be sick after a night out – but I left my mic on… Since then I’ve become a lot more mindful. Now I look after my body and I bounce back from partying much faster than others; I’ll even take my own healthy food to festivals. My friends laugh at me BBQing marinated mackerel for breakfast while they have a bacon butty, but I know I wouldn’t be able to party the way I do and recover so quickly without it.’
THE MIDDLE WAY
So can healthonism really be healthy for us? ‘If you can keep both parts of that lifestyle going, in theory it is balanced,’ says nutrition therapist Ian Marber (ianmarber.com). ‘But how long can you keep it up for? As you get older it takes your body a lot longer to recover, whether that’s from a night out or a workout.’ And there are some concerns we’re using fitness to justify a hedonistic existence. ‘People will find ways of using one to rationalise the other. We want more options to go clubbing and ‘erase our sins’ afterwards,’ says Green says.
But if you can enjoy both, without doing either to excess, that’s the key to a truly healthonistic way of life. ‘It’s not very exciting, but the answer really is moderation in all things,’ says Marber. So sign up for that spinning class with cocktails, just make sure it’s not the only way you exercise this year.
6 signs you’re a healthonista
- Your morning-after routine involves yoga and coconut water rather than coffee and Neurofen
- If it’s not bright enough to be seen at a fitness rave, it doesn’t make it into your workout wardrobe
- You’ve seen a sunrise twice in one week; once getting home and once going running
- The shelves in your kitchen are groaning with coconut oil and almond butter but also artisan vodka and organic wine
- Your ideal holiday is two weeks in Ibiza; a week of partying then a week of detoxing
- Your Instagram feed is a mix of workout snaps, sunsets, and juicy burgers or cake