WORDS

The inspiring story of DNB HIIT The Floor

Whether you’re a regular in your local gym or you just love burning calories by dancing all night, we guarantee you’ll find this story inspiring…

A dedicated D&B raver she’s been able to get into clubs and events, Libby experienced a major health scare a few years ago that made her look to find a healthier lifestyle while still maintaining her love for the music and culture.

It eventually led to DNB Hiit The Floor, the latest phenomenon in drum & bass and exercise. Following the likes of Fight Klub, her intense Hiit-style workouts tap into D&B’s unique tempo, energy and spirit and bring the worlds of wellness and junglism closer than ever.

Strictly hosted in venues and locations where raves are held and soundtracked by live DJs like Sub Zero, Mollie Collins and D*Minds – creating a rave-like feeling to her live workouts – Libby’s hosted sessions in famous rave spaces from Let It Roll to Motion, and she’s about to take her classes on the road with the first DNB Hiit The Floor UK tour announced this week.

Fresh from lockdown, which moved her into hosting online classes and developing her brand even more, Libby will be taking her unique workouts to London, Oxford, Nottingham, Bristol and her hometown Exeter. Each event will be in collaboration with a DJ from the local area and it kicks off January 28 at The Level, Nottingham, with Frenetic. With more dates and locations to be announced in the near future, it’s an exciting start of the year for a card-carrying raver who’s turned a passion into a lifestyle. Inspired, we called her up to find out more…

You’ve had an interesting journey into fitness, right?

Yeah people often say, ‘You’ve been into fitness your whole life.’ And I honestly haven’t. I didn’t really go to school much until I was 13 so I didn’t do any sports or anything like that. I wasn’t into any teams or group exercise growing up. But I’ve always loved drum & bass.

In fact my first aspiration, when I was around eight, was to be a DJ. My uncle was a house DJ in Nottingham and I learnt to mix on vinyl when I was young. That dream faded as I got older, but I always loved dancing and club culture was one of those ones who’d be there until Hazard played his last tune and the lights came on.

Then when I was around 27/28, I had some serious health issues and was diagnosed with skin cancer.

Oh no way!

The doctors said I was extremely unlucky to get it when I did, but I think I was very lucky to have found it and had treatment when I did, or I wouldn’t be here speaking to you now.

I’ve also had stomach issues since I was a teenager and, around this time, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, which there’s no real cure for. I’m a mum and I’m responsible for my daughter and I want to be around for her for as long as I can… So what can I do to change my lifestyle to make sure I’m there for her?

Like a lot of people, I started running; it’s the simplest thing to do and free. I did a few 10ks to raise money for Force, a local cancer charity who provided a lot of support for me. That was as fun as running can be but it felt like a big chunk of time away from my daughter every day. Then I read about a 12-minute Hiit workout, tried it and I could barely breathe!

So I started doing that a few times a week in the morning and I saw my body change shape within weeks. It made me want to explore and understand it more so I signed up to a PT course and studied. While I was doing that I would always train to Hiit workouts to D&B and my friend Ben from Drumsound & Bassline Smith said it was a great concept and said ‘I bet other people will enjoy doing it to D&B too’. So I developed it and contacted the Phoenix, an arts centre in Exeter, and hired the Voodoo Lounge, an alternative venue which is a very cool space. I did the class, Ben recorded a mix for me. I planned and planned it and choreographed every single step and held my first class.

Was it a success straight away?

Yeah 48 people came to the first one, which blew me away. It grew from there and was really busy for a few months then the next couple of years it ran at a loss but I didn’t care. I had an office job so I bankrolled it but loved it. I had my own thing where I could jump about with people who loved D&B every week.

Were you aware of other drum & bass and exercise events like Fight Klub?

Not when I started then when I put up one of my first videos someone tagged Fight Klub and that’s when I saw what amazing things they were doing. They’re smashing it on such a level I can only hope to reach one day. I’d love to go to one some day and support it.

I think there’s something special about our music that makes things like my workouts and Fight Klub’s workouts a success. Any dance music works for exercise but the D&B community is so special and they make these a success. It’s a community and fans are very passionate about it.

Amen! When did you start hosting workouts at Let It Roll?

My first Let It Roll where I hosted workouts was 2016 and, to this day, I can’t believe I get to work with them. I used to go as a raver and have always been a huge fan of what they do. Every year I’d go and every year they’ve upgraded where I’m hosting. In 2018 I was on the Madhouse State where Kings Of The Rollers played three hours after my class. I couldn’t believe that!

I love that! I think this captures a real trend in drum & bass and rave culture. Seeing you do that Let It Roll and seeing so many people doing exercise there, it reflects the growing attitude and change in lifestyle of ravers. Just because we’re up all night dancing, it doesn’t mean everyone is off their face all the time…

I totally agree! I’d go as far as saying there’s an exciting new generation of sober ravers. I don’t drink much or at all when I’m out now and I know others who are the same. When I first went to Let It Roll I did get very drunk the first night and I couldn’t remember the night. People would ask what my favourite sets were and I couldn’t remember. I love the music too much for that. Like those special moments, you know? Like ‘remember when Koven double dropped this tune with this tune?’ I want to remember that forever. So I haven’t been drunk for years and I know there’s a growing trend of people interested in a similar change of lifestyle. People have messaged me saying, ‘How do you do it?’ And the biggest thing is in your head. We all have those pre-rave nerves and anxiety about going out, but once you’re in there with friends and everyone enjoying themselves you realise you don’t need drink or whatever.

Totally!

There’s a stigma with D&B isn’t there? I work in a gym where a lot of people used to make the assumption that, because I love D&B I must be getting messy every weekend. Or they’d be like ‘ah you lot just take your tops off and dance’. So it’s my job to show people that the messiness is just a very small fraction of the community. There’s so much more to this music and the scene who are part of it. It’s really not what outsiders perceive it to be.

 

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Yes! I’ve heard that so many times like ‘It’s so fast you must be on drugs!’ Back to what you do,  I like how your classes are promoted and hosted like raves. The line ups, venues and guest DJs etc…

That’s exactly what I want them to be like. I only ever want to host my workouts in venues where you’d go to a rave. Phoenix and Move in Exeter, Lakota, Trinity Centre and Motion in Bristol. People suggest sports hall or church halls or gyms and I’ve always said no. I want it to feel like you’re going out and it’s a rave. I love having guest DJs. You’re not just working out, you’re going to see a really sick DJ like Katalyst or Sub Zero or Georgie Riot. I want them to experience that. The DJs will ask what I want them to play and I’ll tell them not to change a thing. I want to hear them play their set because I love their music and how they mix. Like Mollie Collins. She has such a unique style of mixing, I can’t wait to smash out a load of squat jumps to her cutting between the tunes.

That’s awesome. The best DJs react to what’s going on in the crowd but I’m guessing here it’s your role to switch and react to their set?

Yeah. When I first started I would have the mixes pre-recorded and would plan every step to every beat but with the events it can’t work like that. The last one I did at Motion was with Jake Sub Zero. I’ve loved his style and listened to his mixes for years and years so I would have a good idea when he’s about to double things or switch and it was so much fun. We ended up going for an hour and 15 because we all had so much fun and went in so hard. We kept going and had the crowd screaming back at me. Some people just come for a rave too, so people were there dancing too and having a skank.

Is that okay? You don’t mind them not exercising?

Of course not! They want to see the DJ! I want to see the DJ, too! I love seeing people have fun and skanking. I’d never be like, ‘Hey you’re not doing your squats!’ If they’re having fun, then great. And, just like you said, it was really interesting for Jake. He told me he was worried because he hasn’t got the usual crowd to read and react to, but he was reacting to the exercises and movements and really got into it.

I’ve seen on social media he’s big into his exercise too. I guess the DJs you work with are into what you do and understand that?

Yeah 100% I feel so lucky to have had the support and positive reaction from everyone in the scene. Especially with my shows online where I stream from in my little attic room.

And now you’ll be doing it on tour? That’s a level up!

Yeah it is. I’ve wanted to do it for so long. 2020 and 2021 were what they were, and it was looking like it was going to happen again this year, but I’ve been quietly working away organising it. I reached out to people to see where they wanted to see classes. London was a very popular request, also Oxford, Nottingham and Prague, which is home to Let It Roll as you know. I’m really looking forward to all of them and meeting people who I know online but finally in real life.

You were training a lot of DJs during the lockdown weren’t you?

Yeah I trained quite a few people. Lockdown was a big turnaround for me. At first it felt like the end of the world didn’t it? But it ended up opening a lot of doors that I’d never considered. I’d never considered doing things online and I’d never really considered personal training in that way either, but I was made redundant when lockdown started, and I’m fairly stubborn and don’t like being defeated, so I was like ‘what can I do?’

So yeah I did train some DJs, like Turno who has been amazingly supportive of me and given me mixes. Same with Mollie who is incredible. I’ve loved dancing to the scene’s DJs for years and I want to give back. It’s amazing to be working with these people and great karma. Put something positive into the world and you will get something positive back.

Totally! And I hope you’re not back in an office job now?

No, this is my job now. Being self employed has patches and it’s not without its worries and stresses but I’m confident I can keep this going and I’m so excited for the tour. The London event is going to be particularly special. I’m going to be working with someone who I’ve followed and loved since I was a teenager and I can’t believe it’s going to happen. I’m working with local artists in each area. So Nottingham I’m working with Lottie Frenetic who I only just discovered during lockdown.

She’s sick!

Oh my god I’ve rinsed her mixes! Then the other events I link with artists. Like Katalyst in Oxford, we’re similar people and she’s a mum like me. So yeah, I’m very excited about it all and really inspired for the year ahead.

Brilliant. Let’s sign out and get any readers inspired as it’s that time of year when people look to reboot elements of their lifestyles. What’s your advice to anyone looking to bring some fitness into their lives?

The first one is to break it down and make it small change. When we think about exercise we think about full hour-long sessions in the gym or an hour’s run and it doesn’t need to be that huge chunk of your day. The Hiit classes are testament to that. Over Christmas, for example, all my workouts are 15 minutes. It’s a realistic amount of time.

My number one tip is always to drink warm water with lemon when you wake up. It sounds like nothing but not only is it great for your digestive system, doing something proactive at the start of your day changes your mindset. Like ‘I’ve had my lemon water, what else can I do?’ That small change sets you up for the day. I know it sounds small, but it does have a positive influence.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find someone who you trust. People have sent me messages explaining how they’ve had injuries, or how they feel intimidated and I totally understand. I didn’t go to a gym for the first few years. I just got some dumbbells from Facebook for a fiver. You don’t need more than that!

So yeah, start small and talk to people. I’m always up for helping anyone and answering questions. Getting fit is one of the best things you can possibly do. You’re investing in your health and the benefits of that are priceless.

DNB Hiit The Floor UK Tour launches January 28 in Nottingham

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