Laura Bamber wants to prove that wellness isn’t a one-size-fits-all-concept. So she’s bringing a wellness festival to Manchester.
Having worked in a corporate environment for years Laura, came to realise that the reason people weren’t performing at their best was their overwhelming stress levels.
“Everyone was chasing their tail, myself included,” she says. “Actually, me one of the worst of them all.”
Laura then went on to found the Vibrancy Hub, a wellness consultancy helping businesses thrive, offering one-to-one and group coaching sessions.
“What became very apparent to me was that the wellness industry often made people feel a little bit shit,” she says. “There’s a very traditional and prescriptive way media constructs wellness, and this was just making people feel worse.”
Laura explains that the essence of her coaching is to get to the core of who people are, and understand that everyone is different.
“Naturally what makes one feel really great is very different to the next person and the next one,” she says.
“Daisy [the festival’s co-founder] and I are really passionate about this, and over various glasses of wine, we decided to create Float, a wellness festival.”
Inspired by the “many things” taking place in London, Laura saw no reason why this concept wouldn’t take off in Manchester.
“We’ve both lived away from Manchester and have come back here, and there are so many amazing people in Manchester who are ready to be educated in this,” she says.
“But as opposed to this very typical wellness festival with yoga teachers and talks on nutrition, we really wanted to dig a little bit deeper and redefine what wellness means to people.”
The idea behind Float is to expose people to “loads of different activities” and let them decide themselves what wellness means for them.
“Wellness is always about how you feel, so that could be how you’re working or how different social conversations that are around at the moment make you feel,” she says.
“So we want to get people involved in loads of discussions and then expose them to different ways of feeling well, be that creativity, be that movement, be that having fun, leisure, travel and so on.”
There was a time when Laura struggled with the concept of wellness in her own life.
“When I was working in a corporate environment I was trashing myself at the gym because that’s what I thought I should do, otherwise I’d be fat,” she recalls.
“So I’d go in at like 6 o’clock in the morning, which was the only time I had to exercise, and I bloody hated it. So that was the opposite of wellness because I wasn’t feeling well.”
She then decided to press pause and reconsider everything in her life, until she discovered what truly made her happy.
“The foundation for it was finding a different way of living that feels aligned to my core values,” she reveals. “One of my core values is connection with people, so with everything I do, whether is exercise or eating, I feel the best when I do that in a way that’s connected to other people.
“Eating is another thing that I realised makes me feel the best ever because I love food. But I love healthy, nourishing food. So having dinner parties where everyone brings a gift that that has fresh ingredients, natural produce, is a way of incorporating food and unity with connection.
“Same thing from a movement perspective. Getting outside and connecting to nature is important. I thought, ‘why on earth do I spend so many hours of my life on a treadmill?’”
Fundamentally, Laura wants people to know that if it feels like a commitment or another bullet point on your to-do list, it’s not wellness.
“It’s about finding the things that make you feel alive and connected, and it shouldn’t feel hard,” she says.
And although the festival will only be a one day event, it will be “packed” with activities.
“We’ll have a nourish room, a movement room, a restore room and an inspire room where we’ll have speakers,” says Laura.
“There’s a play room, too, because one of our main ethos is that having fun and playing is really important for your happiness.
“The world is so serious, and yes there are loads of different things that we need to step up and if we want to make a difference we do have to take some things seriously, but also sprinkle in a little bit of fun and play,” says Laura
Float festival will take place on the 22nd on September at Five Fours Studios.