BodyPower Expo & a very surprising meal in Birmingham!

Last Thursday I caught a train up to Birmingham to visit Europe’s fastest growing fitness exhibition, BodyPower before heading to the airport Wetherspoons for a surprisingly delicious and healthy budget-friendly dinner (it’s changed a lot from the greasy pub food I remember from my childhood!).

Yes, this really is from Wetherspoon's!

Yes, this really is from Wetherspoon’s!

The expo is famous across the fitness and bodybuilding world, with annual exhibitions in the UK and India. This year was the seventh and largest event to date, with hundreds of stalls and many famous bodybuilders across four rooms at the NEC Birmingham. I caught a train to Birmingham International after work on Thursday, checking into the basic but comfortable Ibis Budget hotel next to the airport (a steal at £36 per night for two people).

The expo itself was open to the public from Friday to Sunday, and I opted for a VIP Friday ticket (£27 after discount). Upgrading to VIP status entitled me to a small goodie bag with a few protein samples, but most importantly gave me early access from 9am before the standard ticket holders arrived at 10. After hopping on the shuttle bus from my hotel, I arrived at 9am sharp the hope of avoiding the crowds, expecting a couple of hundred people to be early birds like me. What I wasn’t prepared for was thousands of people (mostly men – the opposite to Be:Fit London!) who all ran straight to the Optimum Nutrition and BodyBuilding.com stands to queue for their free goodiebags.

Mitch whips up some proats & steak - catering for the carb-lovers and Paleo fans alike.

Mitch whips up some proats & steak – catering for the carb-lovers and Paleo fans alike.

Realising I’d missed a trick and not keen to wait an hour for some protein sachet samples when I’ve already found my dream whey protein brand (the 100% natural & unsweetened Organic Protein Company), I headed for the Healthy Kitchen to watch Mitch Lee from Macro Mitch cook up a delicious breakfast with Musclefood. Fortunately Mitch’s cooking lived up to his reputation and half an hour later I felt very happy that I’d opted for protein porridge with cinammon nut butter, scrambled eggs and steak over the long goodie bag queues!

It was lovely to see Lucy Bee and Pip & Nut again - two of my favourite brands!

It was lovely to see Lucy Bee and Pip & Nut again – two of my favourite brands!

Unlike the Be:Fit London expo which I visited a couple of weeks ago, most of the brands at BodyPower were supplement, rather than food or fitness, companies. As my focus is on healthy food and feeling great rather than bodybuilding, I politely declined most of the samples offered (it was very rare for them to contain any unprocessed, simple ingredients!) but was delighted to catch up with the Lucy Bee ladies, try a Musclefood ostrich burger, taste the delicious new Meridian bars and meet Pip & Nut again to stock up on my new favourite food!

Honoured to meet one of my fitness inspirations!

Honoured to meet one of my fitness inspirations!

Whilst BodyPower didn’t offer any fitness classes, it did present several expert speakers. After being inspired watching Commonwealth champion Zoe Smith practice her clean and jerks in the British Weightlifting demonstration area, I headed to the Girl Power stage for her Q&A and of course took the opportunity to get a photo with such an incredible lady!

A lack of (quite vital!) ingredients at the Healthy Kitchen stand meant Lorraine Pascale’s scheduled cooking demonstrations sadly couldn’t work as planned and as a non-competitor I wasn’t too interested in the bikini competition prep talks, so I spent the rest of the day in the “Back to Basics” area. This was a new feature for 2015 and a fantastic idea to balance out the more advanced and bodybuilding-focused workshops. After picking up some deadlifting and pull-up tips I returned to the airport for this amazing dinner before catching a flight to Paris (more on that next time!).

Was the expo worth £27?

If I’m honest, probably not for me – I didn’t buy much so hardly benefited from the show-exclusive discounts on offer around the expo. I also missed out on meeting up with fellow fitness bloggers, who mostly attended at the weekend, but it was definitely a very different day out and any event that leaves me with 3 beautiful jars of Pip & Nut can’t be bad!

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