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Hybrid fitness

Fans of ESPA Life at Corinthia’s new fitness service, BodySPace, are calling the concept “revolutionary”. Lauretta Ihonor speaks to its founders to discover what sets it apart from the competition – and how it fits in with the flagship spa

Dr Lauretta Ihonor
BodySPace is the brainchild of co-founders David Higgins (left) and Stephen Price
David Higgins is behind the London brands Ten Pilates and Bootcamp Pilates
BodySPace, ESPA Life at Corinthia
BodySPace uses technology from Firstbeat to provide personalised insight

Since its opening in 2011, ESPA’s flagship ESPA Life at Corinthia spa in London has shown a distinct commitment to combining fitness with innovative holistic therapies. Last summer the spa added mindful fitness sessions to its mindfulness services. And earlier this year, it upgraded its fitness centre with the installation of a new, state-of-the-art Technogym.

In a further step, ESPA Life at Corinthia has now partnered with the new UK company BodySPace to offer a bespoke hybrid fitness concept that combines exercise, nutrition and innovative technology to help guests improve not only their physical fitness, but their overall quality of life. “Clients often say ‘I want to lose 15 pounds,’ but when you dig deeper, this evolves into ‘I want to be fitter, feel better, have more energy and have more time for my partner’,” says BodySPace co-founder Stephen Price. “Once you nail it down, it’s really all about quality of life.”

ESPA founder Sue Harmsworth agrees. She says the concept’s focus on maximising quality of life through technology and multiple treatment modalities perfectly complements ESPA Life’s “philosophy of creating next-generation experiences.”

“BodySPace is bringing a new, highly evolved fitness and nutrition offering, which fits flawlessly within the existing ESPA Life offering,” says Harmsworth.

The birth of BodySPace
BodySPace is the brainchild of wellness consultant Price and David Higgins, the man behind the London Pilates brands Ten Pilates and Bootcamp Pilates. Price, who founded the health, fitness and medical wellness consultancy SP&Co in 2001, has worked in wellness consulting for 16 years. Prior to that, he oversaw the development of luxury hotels in Africa and Asia. Higgins began his career as a Pilates trainer, and has also worked as an exercise rehabilitationist for film studios.

The duo say it’s this amalgamation of expertise that sets BodySPace apart from anything else on the market. “David and I have consulted in the hotel industry for years and we wanted to put our experience together and launch BodySPace,” Price says. “We brought in health technologies from medical wellness clinics and the sports world and added them to David’s Pilates and body movement experience – and it works perfectly.”

The BodySPace brand was created in early 2017, and its first project, Kingwood – a state-of-the-art gym and wellness complex in a residential development in Knightsbridge, London – opened in June. ESPA Life at Corinthia is the team’s second project, and serves as their flagship hotel concept.

Unique selling point
While traditional fitness services focus on metrics, such as fat percentage, weight and VO2max, BodySPace is centred on heart rate variability monitoring, which Price says is “probably the biggest physiological marker for those interested in reaping the benefits of personalised training for fitness and overall wellness. It’s a great marker of things like hydration and sleep, as they all affect variability.”

BodySPace uses technology from Firstbeat, a physiological analytics company, to provide guests with personalised insights on stress, exercise and recovery – all calculated from heart variability data. “This technology times the heartbeat,” explains Price. “We then look for the time between the beats and use this information to personalise the effect our training is having on you.”

Heart rate variability data is also used to determine clients’ heart coherence – a measure of the pattern of the heart’s rhythm. Research by the US HeartMath Institute has shown that coherence is an indicator of harmony between the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous system, and as such, the ultimate measure of total body health. “Sometimes how you feel and the condition you’re truly in are disjointed, so having an objective measure is useful,” says Price. “We want to help clients gain a better idea of their current state of health and wellbeing, measuring how this improves as they progress through programmes.”

These bespoke programmes – which cost anywhere from £750 to £4,400 and last between 10 days and 12 weeks – combine tailored fitness training with gut health and nutrition services, recovery, regeneration and compression treatments, and myofascial release therapy, alongside the other therapies on offer at the 3,300sq ft (307sq m) luxury spa.

The road ahead
Price and Higgins plan to open more BodySPaces around the globe, but they’re firm in their vision. “It’s very important for us to create a platform where a positive evidence-based message is used to promote long-term health and wellness,” says Higgins. “We aim to deliver this to clients so they understand their bodies and minds better, and function at their most optimal across all aspects of life.”

About ESPA Life at Corinthia

• Located in the heart of London, ESPA Life at Corinthia is spread over four floors, covering 3,300 sq m.

• The spa, which opened in 2011, offers lifestyle programmes that incorporate complementary and alternative medicine, targeted fitness and injury rehabilitation.

• Offers include treatment pods, sleep rooms, Technogym's Artis range, a spa lounge and large thermal floor area that features a swimming pool, vitality pool, glass amphitheatre sauna, steam room and heated marble loungers.

• In June 2016, ESPA Life launched a suite of six mindfulness therapies for the restoration of mental and emotional wellbeing: mindful breathing, mindful meditation, mindful sleep, mindful fitness, mindful facial and mindful massage.

•lIn November 2016, the Corinthia Hotel and ESPA Life launched a year-long Neuroscience in Residence programme, led by US leadership coach and MIT lecturer Dr Tara Swart. Its aim is to examine the mental resilience of the spa and hotel’s staff and guests. The resulting data will be used to to create a special brain power study at the end of 2017.


ESPA Life at Corinthia is the brand’s flaship, covering 3,300sq m and four floors

The Corinthia Hotel London is located near the city’s West End and the River Thames

The spa lounge is one of several areas for relaxation at ESPA Life at Corinthia


Originally published in Leisure Management 2018 issue 1
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