Bella Kinesis, a sportswear start-up and social enterprise, run a free monthly women’s only running club in central London, led by Carly of Project HB. As a novice runner, self-confessed lycra addict and a big fan of Carly’s and her blog, ‘Run Like a Girl’ and I were meant to be.
If you’ve read my Tried & Tested review of RUN DEM CREW x GYMBOX, you’ll know that I’m a newbie runner, having only recently completed a ‘Couch-to-5K’ programme. Now that I can just about run continuously for half an hour, I’ve got more confidence in running with a group. RUN DEM CREW was a bit like a baptism of fire and I totally loved it, but as I’m not training for a race nor do I have any running goals right now, I don’t fancy that kind of intensity every week! Enter ‘Run Like a Girl’.
This running club is organised by Bella Kinesis, a social enterprise start-up founded by two inspirational ladies, Roshni and Shaleena. Bella Kinesis make technical fitness wear for women, but they are so much more than a sportswear brand. The Bella Kinesis message is one of empowerment. In their words, “exercise not only makes women physically stronger, but also leaves them feeling more confident and empowered.” Each Bella Kinesis purchase pays this strength forward, as a portion of the proceeds is donated to a charitable foundation in India that provides rural women with an education in business, aiming to help them stand on their own two feet.
With the same ‘strength for strength’ attitude, Bella Kinesis bring their message to the women of London through an inclusive running club. Even the name ‘Run Like a Girl’ resonates confidence and empowerment, in the vein of that genius gender-stereotype-smashing ad campaign. The monthly event is hosted by one of the most genuine, relatable and funny fitness bloggers around: Carly of Project HB! OK, I may have given myself away as a fan-girl there. But seriously, it’s impossible not to warm to Carly as soon as you meet her. Her big friendly smiles were especially welcome when faced with a wet and cold run in the dark.
The meet-up location for our run was Rabot 1745, a restaurant and bar in Borough Market, specialising in ‘cocoa cuisine’. The thought of a gourmet hot chocolate at the finish line was another helpful incentive to step out into the rain! Shaleena of Bella Kinesis was there to meet us and stayed at the venue on bag-drop duty while we were out on our run. About ten brave souls turned up, despite the weather, and when we were all assembled, Carly took us through a brief but effective warm-up stretch. Just before we set off, Carly described the route we would be following, to make sure that if the group split up at any point, we all knew where to go.
And what a route it was! From Borough Market, we went past the Golden Hinde and through Clink Street on to Bankside. Running past Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern, and the Southbank Centre, then across the river on to Embankment and back over Westminster Bridge, right under the London Eye, and then retracing our steps back to Rabot 1745. A route like that makes me realise what a spectacular city London is and how lucky I am to live here! Gorgeous views of the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Southbank itself. Just, wow!
It was a good thing actually that we revised the route at the beginning, because the group split naturally into two-three groups with different pace. Carly started off leading, but then doubled back to join the group where she was needed most. As she says on her blog: “We STICK TOGETHER (no one is left dying at the back- that’s not how we roll), we chat, we laugh, but we also challenge each other and keep each other going.”
I started off towards the back and slowly made my way up to somewhere in the middle, chatting with my fellow runners all the way. It was a delight! We forgot about the rain pretty quickly and even stepping accidentally into giant freezing puddles didn’t faze us. I think this is the power of running together. If it was just me, I think pretty quickly I would’ve come home with my tail between my legs, whimpering about having cold toes and wet hair. But with a bunch of Hot Bellas around me, I could just laugh it off and focus on that hot chocolate at the finish line!
When we returned to Borough Market, Carly once again took us through a warm-down stretch, before ushering us into Rabot 1745, where Shaleena was waiting for with smiles and goodie bags. If you’re curious, goodies were provided by Urban Fruit, Vita Coco, MOMA, Sibberi Tree Water and Healthbox Kitchen. Not only that, but Bella Kinesis had sorted out a nice little discount for us at the bar, which was another bonus. Finally, it was time for that post-run treat!
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Run Like a Girl’. The running club is very well organised, with a bag-drop for convenience, a spectacular route and post-run treats to look forward to. The company is just lovely, with Shaleena’s and Carly’s great energy setting the mood, and a group of happy chatty ladies to run with. If you’re looking for a relaxed run with like-minded people, then ‘Run Like a Girl’ should be high up on your list of running clubs to join! The only thing I would’ve done differently would’ve been to order my hot chocolate laced with rum.
Who’s it for: Ladies of all running abilities who are looking for a relaxed group run in central London.
How much: Free.
Where is it: The meet-up location is announced in advance of each monthly event. The upcoming 5 April 2016 session will start at Rabot 1745 in Borough Market.
More information: Bella Kinesis website and Project HB’s website