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The Wonderush Spotlight: Gabriela Szulman

Gabriela Szulman teaches brilliant decoupage workshops. We know they’re brilliant because the reviews for her sessions on Wonderush are overwhelmingly positive, and our members are a discerning bunch. So, given the fact that she’s so popular, we decided it was high time to catch up with Gabriela to find out more about her:

How did you get into decoupage?

My work is all about the reassembling and layering of images through a combination of media including collage, but I got into decoupage in a big way a couple of years ago when one of my sisters showed me how to upcycle an old pair of boots with just paper and glue. Soon I was hooked and started decoupaging trays, picture frames, chairs and even old suitcases which I use for display at craft fairs and other selling events. I recently finished decoupaging a wall with an old French dictionary, my biggest project so far.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I know what works and feel it’s important that people get the basics of decoupage right, so quite directive, at least initially. At the same time, I’m passionate about bringing out creativity in everyone that comes to one of my workshops which means I also encourage experimentation and play once participants get to grips with the technique.

Why would you recommend your activity?

Decoupage is a very affordable and easy way to upcycle and personalise anything from a pair of shoes to a wall: anybody can do this at home with just paper, brushes and glue. No special set-up or tools are required, which gives it a great advantage over other crafts: the two main things you need in order to succeed at decoupage are time and patience. There is a meditative quality to this kind of work, and the end result is often very satisfying.

Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?

Aged 11, I was almost expelled from primary school for writing an essay criticising the teachers. Not many people know that…

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not at work?

I’m a film addict so I go to the cinema as often as I can – a couple of times a week and even a couple of times a day during the London Film Festival.

What’s your favourite part of London? Any places you’d recommend there?

I love South London where I have lived for a long time. Brixi, Circus, and Diverse are fabulous independent shops in Brixton. My favourite local food haunts include The Camberwell Arms, Shrub & Shutter and Peckham Bazaar, and I can’t resist bread from The Hill Bakery.

If you could try any experience in the world, what would it be, and why?

I’d love to visit Nek Chand’s Chandigarh Rock Garden in Northern India: Chand was a road inspector with no formal education who spent two decades creating a sculpture garden in secret, using rubble collected from the city’s building sites. A real pioneer who saw art and beauty where others saw junk, something which is very current now but not in in the 1950s when he started his amazing project!

We can’t wait to get down to another on of Gabriela’s sessions. Tickets can be found here. We’ll see you there!

Break Your Routine, Lifestyle, Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Try Something New

The Wonderush Spotlight: Speed Dater

Dating in London is tough. Luckily, there are companies like Speed Dater events to help us all to navigate the choppy waters of the dating scene. After all, who wants to spend their evenings looking at a screen when you could be sitting in front of some real people and actually getting to know someone? Since we’re always looking for new ways to get social we thought we’d find out more from Dani, the Speed Dater Date Whisperer:

Speed Dater sounds like a great company. How did you get into what you do?

More than a decade ago (gosh I’m old!), I helped out a big Valentines singles party in London. I fell in love with the concept immediately and found the dating industry fascinating. I had only recently moved to London and knew no one, so being surrounded by hundreds of new people chatting/flirting was very appealing! Soon after, I joined the SpeedDater head office and have now personally introduced more than 42,000 singles at a variety of events – from wine tasting to vegan speed dating. Every event is different and I am never bored!

How would you describe and recommend your activity?

Speed dating is a fun and fast way to meet new people. You meet around 15 people in a series of 4 minute dates and the following day you can see who you match with. Nothing beats face to face chemistry – if you have ‘swipe fatigue’ and just want to meet real people, you should most definitely give it a go!

If you were on a speed date, what interesting anecdote would you tell about yourself?

I would talk about my travels tales – I am forever in a state of either ‘just back from a holiday’ or ‘about to go on one’. Dating someone who also shares the desire to travel and experience new cultures is a deal breaker for me, so I’d make sure I weave some travel chat into each 4 min speed date.

Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?

I am the only Australian in the world who isn’t interested in watching sport, playing sport or talking about sport.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not at work?

Dining out / bikram yoga. One cancels out the other! I have a very long list of restaurants to try that I probably couldn’t get through even if I dined out for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. I’m giving it a good try though.

What’s your favourite part of London to go on a date? Any places you’d recommend there?

I am a big fan of first dates which are cheap and quick (1 hour maximum). I often met my dates in Soho as it’s a central meeting point and has loads of options for drinks/coffee. A personal favourite of mine is to stop in at the Hanover Square Dirty Martini for a happy hour mango and chilli martini.

If you could try any experience in the world, what would it be, and why?

I’m really keen to do the Inca Trail.. or snowboard in Japan. Both are right up there on my bucket list.

If a Speed Dater event is right up your street you can find the next one here – we hope to see you soon!

Break Your Routine, Fitness, Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Try Something New

Wonderush Spotlight: London Dance Company

The London Dance Company are awesome. Instead of the same old workouts they offer super-fun activities in a range of unexpected settings. Barre at the Bar, anyone? We really like people who shake things up and try new things, so we couldn’t wait to catch up with Aaron, who created the London Dance Company, and find out more:

How did you get into what you do?

Believe it or not, I used to hate dance! My dream was to be in musical theatre, and it was when chasing this dream that everyone told me that as a boy in this trade I needed to be a triple threat – I had to be able to act, sing and dance. I failed the first time I applied for a performing arts school but this was the push I needed to raise funds myself to realize my dream and so my love of dance began. I trained as a professional dancer at one of London’s top performing arts schools, Laine Theatre Arts. After graduation I was lucky enough to go to America and perform in three shows iBroadway, Celebrate The World, and Boogie Wonderland. When I returned to the UK I was asked to choreograph for a production company, alongside beginning to teach a few classes in and around London, and also coordinating and running dance workshops for all ages across the UK. I fell in love with what I do, the variety, the places and meeting great people and haven’t stopped since. I have worked and accomplished so much since college and I love building my brand. Recently I’ve travelled to China to teach at three ballet institutions and also Italy where I taught a three day Disney on Broadway workshop. Currently I run three of my own classes and also teach at Pineapple, London Studio Centre, Dance Works, and  some of London’s top gyms and fitness centres.

How would you describe your teaching style?

There is no point coming to a class if you’re not going to reap the rewards, I therefore make sure every part of your body gets a workout yet you also have fun. All of my classes are different depending on the style of dance; Zumba is high energy (some have been known to call me crazy) and a complete body workout. Being a professional dancer I use choreography to your benefit which actually provides you with a great core and muscle engaging workout. Barre is a class run at a slower steady pace, but don’t think it’s a breeze or any less of a workout as I use the techniques from ballet and put them into an easy to follow workout which caters for everyone, from the absolute beginner right up to the professional. After all, we all would want to have the strength, stamina, and body of a professional ballet dancer.

How did you think up ‘Barre at the Bar’? Why would you recommend your activity?

We at The London Dance Company love to try new things and think outside the box. We want customers to have fun and some people can feel intimidated in gyms and dance studios. Basically, it’s not about the barre – it’s about you so this is where Barre@the Bar came from. For the class all you really need is something to keep your balance and rest your hand on, so what better place than a bar? Everyone loves a bar! Therefore, we have just taken the traditional ballet class and set it up with a modern twist in a relaxed and accessible location for everyone! If you’re looking to tone sculpt and just have fun then this is the class for you!

Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?

1. I was born with a hole in my heart

2. When I was younger I was regularly on Eastenders and The Bill, playing a thug. When you meet me you won’t believe it!

3. At the age of 21 I travelled from Alaska all the way down the west coast of America to Antarctica (Canada, America Mexico, Peru, Panama, Chilli, Argentina)

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not at work?

I love traveling and sightseeing so jumping on a train; whether it’s to take a walk along the Thames, going to Richmond, Greenwich, or going further a field out of London and just picking north, east, south or west of the UK for a few days. I just see where I end up and what different cities and towns have to offer. Or, even better, I love jumping on a plane and travelling to another country – I love to explore!

What’s your favourite part of London? Any places you’d recommend there?

So many to list but my top three places in London are: Sunday evenings @ Dirty Martini, Pineapple Studios (I go every Tuesday and Thursday to train and keep up on my game, Pineapple is thriving with talented individuals and is a great place to network), and finally I do love London’s Parks: Hyde Park, Richmond Park, St James, Chiswick Park, Holland Park – they all have their own charm, appeal and individuality.

If you could try any experience in the world, what would it be?

Would have to be to fly a plane!

Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Try Something New

Wonderush Spotlight: Mindfoldness Origami

The world is a busy place these days, and we’re all getting increasingly frazzled. Sometimes it’s nice to take some peaceful time out, and mindfulness has become all the rage. But if yoga and colouring books aren’t your thing, how about a bit of Mindful Origami? Yes. That’s a real thing. We caught up with Sam Tsang from Mindfoldness to find out more:

How did you get into origami?

It was probably due to my primary school teacher who folded me a flapping bird. It wasn’t until after university that I got more serious. I placed a bouquet of origami flowers on gumtree.com on a whim, to see if I could sell it. It sold, and the number of sales slowly began to escalate until I got banned from the site for using it as a selling portal. Then I set up my own website. From  there I regularly sold origami bouquets for weddings and first anniversary presents. A customer asked me to teach them how to make a flower as a paper anniversary gift for his wife, and from there I started to teach. At first it was just individuals, and then it was  for groups, and corporate workshops, and hen-dos.
In April 2015 a journalist from The Guardian contacted me for a quote about origami being mindful for an article she was writing. In September a book publisher saw the article and asked me if i would be interested in writing a book about mindful origami! I naturally said yes and that book, The Book of Mindful Origami, was released on the 7th April. My second book – The Magic of Mindful Origami – will be out on 8th September.

How would you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style depends on the workshop I’m running. I teach several different kinds. There’s a team building one with a modular origami model, a hen-do origami flower bouquet workshop, a mindful origami workshop which focuses on the use of origami as a relaxation and meditation aid, and a general fun and educational origami workshop. In all of these I try to make it as relaxing, fun and as entertaining as I can but at the same time tell you some interesting facts and encourage you to learn a new craft.

Why would you recommend origami?

In recent years there has been an immense uptake of people practising Yoga, Pilates, Tai-chi and meditation. There has also been a massive resurgence of the arts and crafts fields – the immense popularity of Etsy and adult colouring books is testament to this.  I believe that the increase in popularity of both of these fields is due to a reaction to our digital lives. Many of us spend over 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen creating virtual documents that are read once and never seen again. From the moment we are awake to the moment we sleep we are connected to the world, answering queries on multiple devices or glued to social media.

We all need to be able to quieten our minds and to find some inner peace to balance out the constant noise of our modern digital lives.  Many of us also need to have a creative outlet to express ourselves, and to make something tangible, something we can touch. Origami is a relaxing and peaceful hobby, a beautiful art, a craft, a science and a meditation all in one. When you are folding paper, there is stillness, calm and an inner peace. There is something beautiful in turning a plain, flat piece of paper into an amazing three dimensional object with just your own hands.It’s one of the simplest art forms in that it just requires a piece of paper and your hands – there’s no need for tools such as pens, brush, inks and paints.

I call origami ‘yoga for the mind’ as it allows you to stretch and exercise the creative and artistic areas of your brain that most of us don’t utilise on a day to day basis.

Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?

My other passion is cooking and I have actually appeared on three TV cooking programs the first series of Masterchef Goes Large, Chef versus Britain with Gino D’campo and Britain’s Finest Dish. I did want to pursue a career as a celebrity chef but found that Origami was far more interesting.

I was also the main organiser and adjudicator for the Guinness world record for the largest origami elephant display.
We had 34,000 of them and it took six hours to count!

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not at work?

I actually have a daytime job working at a Bank! So origami is very much my hobby. I might consider switching careers one day, but at present I enjoy the stability of a day time job alongside my fun and entertaining origami hobby that has led to my own business, being involved in a world record, and publishing two books!

What’s your favourite part of London? Any places you’d recommend there? (Shops, businesses etc)

Tricky question as I have lived and worked in a lot of London. As a foodie Soho and Hoxton are close to my heart as it has such a diverse restaurant scene. In Soho, I like Patara for the best Thai food, and Joy King Lau and Hakkasan for the best Chinese. Atari-ya has the best sushi. In Hoxton, Taydo cafe does amazing Vietnamese food. Stickywings on Brick lane do the best buffalo wings, and I like Beigel Bake for 24-hour salt beef beigels!

If you could try any experience in the world, what would it be, and why?

I’d probably go to Japan so that I could visit the Tsukiji Tokyo fish Market and eat the freshest sushi on the planet, and also do origami!

Break Your Routine, Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Try Something New

The Wonderush Spotlight: Disco Yoga

We’ll come clean right now- it can sometimes be difficult to get Team Wonderush to exercise. Put us in an aerobic workout context and the shocking extent of our unfitness becomes depressingly clear. Get us into something low-impact like yoga, and we turn into giggling children. But then we met Disco Yoga. It is so much fun. We had to catch up with Sarah Hunt and find out more about how this awesome class came into being:

How did you get into what you do?

I went to my first yoga class by mistake. I had just moved to a new area in Vancouver and there was a gym across the road. I had never been drawn to gyms but I decided to sign up for a pass. I used to walk around the weight room, not knowing what to do. One day, I decided to leave shortly after I had arrived and the receptionist caught me. He laughed and suggested a yoga class that was just about to start. I was reluctant but went anyway. I fell in love with yoga instantly!  Within a short time, I signed up for a yoga teacher training course.

How would you describe your teaching style?

Energising sequences to stretch and strengthen our bodies mixed with calming and restorative poses to relax and nourish our minds. My teaching style is light hearted, upbeat and playful, but also relaxing and balancing.

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Break Your Routine, Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Travel, Try Something New

My Life as a Musical Theatre Tour Guide

London’s theatre scene is amazing. From giant, long-running musicals to low-budget fringe productions that still knock your socks off, there’s something to keep everyone entertained. But how much do we really know about the theatres themselves? Fortunately the brilliant Neil from The West End Musical Theatre Walking Tour can help us find out more. We caught up with him to find out how he got where he is today:

“I first came up with the idea of starting a Musical Theatre walking tour just over a year ago and have been having fun entertaining audiences of all ages around the West End ever since. My main aim is always to inspire people about Musical Theatre with my passion, hopefully with them leaving having learned new things about this amazing art form and the theatres it is performed in.

I have been working as a singer/actor for over 15 years, starting out gigging in hotels in Bournemouth.  I also spent a lot of time performing in local amateaur dramatics which I really enjoyed, but went on to hone my craft on a professional level as I really wanted to perform for a living. It was at this time that I went on to win two national singing competitions (one judged by Amanda Holden and Earl Carpenter), which spurred me on and gave me the confidence to pursue my dream in earnest.

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Lifestyle, Live More Awesome, Popular, Spotlight, Try Something New

The Wonderush Summer Social

The weather got a bit good a few weeks ago. We sat in our office getting very excited about that fact, and decided that the fast-approaching Summer was something we should be celebrating. Shortly after this we sat in our office watching a blizzard over Kensington, but by then it was too late. The seed was sown.

In those early weeks of excitement we came up with the idea of the Wonderush Summer Social. It would be a chance for Team Wonderush to meet their members and partners, and for those members and partners to meet each other (obviously it would, as that is the very definition of the concept of a ‘social’).

We picked a fantastic venue called Loading Bar in Dalston. Nary a Friday afternoon passes at Wonderush HQ without some kind of game being played, and Loading had them all. Like, literally all of them – board games, video games, you name it. It felt like home.

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October
Break Your Routine, Lifestyle, Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Travel, Try Something New

The Wonderush Roundup: Things to do in London in October

Another month is over already. The nights are drawing in. The Christmas stuff is already out in the shops and yet, weirdly, there isn’t a whole lot of Halloween stuff yet. This is all very scary, and to avoid these thoughts we’ve been looking in some of the super-cool stuff that’s going down in London this month. Andso, here is our round up of things to do in London this month:

1. London Harvest Festival Show

Because what says ‘it’s October now’ like a giant bloody pumpkin? As a disclaimer, they haven’t actually advertised giant pumpkins as far as we are aware, but we’re basing this on the harvest festivals of our youth, where there might sometimes have been a pumpkin. This harvest festival also comes without the need to bring giant piles of tins to school, which is another bonus. Also, homes brew cider. ‘Nuff said.

2. Veg Fest

We’ll level with you right now: October is a full month of ‘fests’. First up is Veg Fest, which is a full weekend devoted to veganism in all its forms. With everything from information about vegan nutrition for cats to speed-dating for the over 50s, this event caters to all tastes. That is, as long as they are very, very specific and not in any way inclined towards cheese burgers.

3. Rum Fest

Anything with the tag line “Rum is more than a spirit, it’s a lifestyle” sounds OK by us. This show comprises tastings, demonstrations, and a carnival hour. We can’t guarantee that it also includes people doing impressions of Captain Jack Sparrow, but that’s certainly what it looks like in our heads.

4. NFL on Regent Street

The NFL have been bringing games to London for nearly ten years now. This is the first time they’ve done so in the midst of the rugby world cup, which might throw up a few awkward comparisons from people who like their sports people to not be padded to the hilt, but that’s by the by. On October 24th the NFL takes over Regent’s Street for a day. Traffic chaos for bus drivers, American football-themed fun for the rest of us.

6. Thrill The World London

On October 24th at 10pm join thousands of other super-cool people, or people with too much time on their hands depending on your point of view (Team Wonderush are firmly in the ‘super-cool people’ camp) in an attempt to break the world record for the most people doing the Thriller dance in zombie costume at the same time. There are events scheduled around the world, so it’s basically almost the olympics if you think about it. You have to really really think about it.

7. Big Draw

The Big Draw isn’t a London exclusive, but there are lots of events taking place all over the city. The theme this year is ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’. Whether that story is something epic and poetic about how amazing you are, or whether that story is how you skipped every art class from age twelve onwards because you couldn’t stand the smell of paint, there’ll be something for you to try. So please do.

8. London Porridge Championships

It might feel like you don’t have any strong feelings about the hot oats that mark the barrier between bed and work, but deep down, you know you do. For instance, we’re sure there would be a public outcry if we said we liked ketchup in our porridge. And we don’t. Because that’s weird. We like straight-up mustard. Anyway, the London Porridge championships see competitors battle it out to produce the most creative and tasty porridge they possibly can. One of the entrants will be the winner from a Waitrose competition so you know that shit’s going to be full of humous.

This week’s honourable mentions go, of course, to Halloween – which will see drunk people dressed up in amazing costumes, children nagging people for sweets, and amazing costumed walks of shame – and Oktoberfest, which will also see alcohol and the occasional costume. Put simply, get drinking, folks.

These events are all really cool, but they’re all really, really one-offs. For loads more cool things to in London, don’t forget to check out our main site.

Live More Awesome, Spotlight

Making of “Something New. Everyday.”

We’re really proud of our landing page image. So proud, in fact that we put together a slide show to demonstrate exactly how it was created. After all, we didn’t make Content Lead Sid sit down and painstakingly paint the thing for, like, 24 straight hours for nothing. So here’s what it looked like in all of its incomplete-but-still-pretty-cool glory.

Antidote's playground games workshop
Break Your Routine, Lifestyle, Live More Awesome, Spotlight, Things To Do, Try Something New

Class Spotlight: Antidote London

A couple of weeks ago the whole of Team Wonderush went to Antidote London‘s playground games workshop. We ran around like mad things and basically regressed to our seven-year-old selves, and it was hella fun. Afterwards, we just had to shine the class spotlight on Team Antidote to find out how the whole thing came about:

How did Antidote start?

It’s a great story actually. We were set up by an amazing man who realised he wanted an escape from the stresses of his working life and to do more fun stuff that would connect him with his friends and family too. Not only that but he wanted to enable other people to experience this wholesale escapism – so he set up Antidote! He’s a very successful businessman (and clearly a very good philanthropist too…) He and the original Antidote team then set about researching activities and workshops that were the most uplifting, unusual and fun and then went about delivering them in 3 monthly seasons for the public to enjoy. Ta-dah.

How would you describe the style of the sessions?

Chilled, friendly informal and fun. And warm! We really always try to create the most warm welcoming atmosphere possible. People can take from the sessions whatever the want really (apart from like, our phones and stuff…) Our programme is super diverse and something we’re mega proud of, having taken years to curate it and build up a pool of completely awesome facilitators. We only work with facilitators that really are top of their game so while the styles of sessions are hugely different (as some are dance, some games, some singing) the quality is the same. We also believe that you can BE REALLY BAD at our activities, but that it’s about having a go at something rather than mastering it.

Why would you recommend your sessions?

Because everyone deserves a chance to be a big kid once in a while. And do so in a chilled atmosphere full of awesome new people. Because we think it’s good for your mind and body to be constantly exploring and trying new things. And because we are like, really nice.

What is your favourite playground game?

Oooh that’s bloody hard isn’t it! Perhaps a game called ‘Let’s All!’ where each person in the group takes turn to shout out random instructions and the group follows them. Grandmother’s Footsteps is an absolute classic that Jo loves. Or any game that involves animals. Elena loves animals.

Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?

Elena originally trained as an opera singer. Jo originally trained as a contemporary dancer.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not at Antidote?

Cook. Eat. Repeat. Find secret pubs. Watch Outlander. Specifically watch Jamie in Outlander.

What’s your favourite part of London? Any places you’d recommend?

Little Bay in Kilburn because you CAN EAT IN A TURRET. Ruskin Park in Denmark Hill which is a sweet little wild oasis. The Faltering Fullback pub in Finsbury Park which has a Narnia garden and great thai food. The hidden Skip Garden Cafe behind King’s Cross for a day date. Deptford Market for treasure.

If you could try any experience in the world, what would it be, and why?

Climb Machu Picchu! There’s an incredible West African instrument called the kora which I’d love to learn. Oooh and we’d love to experience meeting Bill Murray too. Obviously.

For more of Antidote’s workshops and a whole load of other things to do in London you should definitely check out our main site and get yourself signed up to anything from crafting to cocktail making, and salsa to standup.