Hi, I'm Gem and I'm the founder of VALA. When my partner started training for marathons, I watched him consuming preservative-packed and chemical-laden gels that were packed with maltodextrin, over-processed syrups and acesulfame k. It seemed that exercising as an act of love for his mind and body was being undone by these artificial gels and the numerous additives that they included. I resolved to change this and began making him gels from all natural ingredients. After speaking to fellow athletes about the lack of natural gels available, I noticed a great demand for a gel that performed well, didn't cause digestive upset and tasted delicious. VALA's ethos is underpinned by a holistic approach to exercise, which incorporates mental, physical and gut health. I'm a big advocate for a plant-based diet and have seen the many benefits that it has to offer, which is why I was so passionate about creating a gel from natural ingredients.
My partner Dann, who was the inspiration for VALA
I began sharing VALA sample gels with fellow runners, triathletes, tennis players and BMX riders, which received an overwhelmingly positive response. I quickly realised that running a start-up food business and juggling a full-time job was near impossible, so I decided to leave my job as an advertising Art Director in London, moved back to glorious South Wales to qualify as a Personal Trainer and founded VALA. The rest, as they say, is history.
Afan Forest is one of Team VALA's favourite spots in South Wales