Known as London’s largest urban spa, 3,300sq m ESPA Life at Corinthia has gained a reputation for providing a comprehensive wellness experience. Conventional services, such as massages and sauna, sit alongside more unusual services, including gut analysis and brain power optimisation sessions.
But its focus is not solely on relaxation and rejuvenation. Fitness plays a prominent role in the spa’s offerings, and has done so since its opening in 2011. Last summer mindful fitness sessions, held alongside the River Thames and in St James’ Park, were added to its mindfulness services. And earlier this year, it upgraded its fitness centre with the installation of Technogym's state-of-the-art Artis range.
Building on this momentum, 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.”
And ESPA founder Sue Harmsworth appears to agree. She says the concept’s focus on maximising quality of life via technology and multiple treatment modalities perfectly complements ESPA Life’s “philosophy of creating next-generation experiences.”
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 spent six years overseeing the development and execution of luxury hotels in Africa and Asia.
In contrast, Higgins entered the health and fitness industry as a pilates trainer before going on to co-create Bootcamp Pilates and Ten Pilates. After being asked to run Fox Studio’s fitness and wellness programs for the cast of the film Kingsman: The Secret Service in 2013, Higgins turned his attention to working as a cast trainer and exercise rehabilitationist for film studios worldwide.
Looking at the career path of the two men, it’s clear that both have vastly different working histories, but they say it’s this amalgamation of expertise that sets BodySPace aside from anything else on the market today.
Price explains: “Having consulted on health, fitness, wellness and medical wellness for 16 years, I have built up extensive knowledge of the industry.
SP&Co is focused on medical wellness and we also have a strong offering for oncology patients. To keep standards high, we use a lot of technology and everything is evidence based.”
Describing the birth of BodySPace, he adds: “David and I have consulted in the hotel industry for years and we wanted to put our experience together and launch BodySPace. So we brought in health technologies from medical wellness clinics and from sports, and added them to David’s vast Pilates and body movement experience, and it worked 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. “We were approached by Finchatton, the brilliant developers of Kingwood. They felt that there were synergies and asked us to work alongside them to create a fantastic training/spa space for the residents of Kingwood. It was a great experience and we are very proud of the space,” says Higgins.
ESPA Life at Corinthia is the duo’s second BodySPace project, which according to Higgins arose from “a longstanding relationship with ESPA Life at Corinthia and ESPA founder Sue Harmsworth, so it was a natural evolution to launch our flagship hotel BodySPace concept here.”
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.
“Heart rate variability is probably the biggest physiological marker for those interested in reaping the benefits of personalised training for fitness and overall wellness,” explains Price. “It’s a great marker of things like hydration and sleep, as they all affect variability.”
To achieve highly accurate heart rate variability monitoring, BodySPace utilises technology from Firstbeat, a physiological analytics company, to provide hotel guests and visitors with personalised insights on stress, exercise and recovery – all calculated from heart variability data.
“This technology times the heartbeat. We then look for the time between the beats and use this information to personalise the effect our training is having on you,” says Price.
But training effect is not the only outcome the duo has prioritised in its concept. Heart rate variability data is also used to determine clients’ heart coherence – a measure of the pattern of the heart's rhythm. Research conducted by the US HeartMath Institute has shown that coherence is an indicator of harmony between the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems, and as such, the ultimate measure of total body health.
Price explains: “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 various programmes.”
These bespoke programmes – which cost from £750 (US$995, €848) to £4,400 (US$5,840, €4,973) 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 luxury spa.
But as hotel users, many BodySPace clients are undeniably busy, highly-pressured and on-the-go. “To allow for this, we have drop-in one-, two- and three-day programmes where people can come in, get the information they need and make use of the technology. We’ll develop a programme for you that you can keep up with at home,” says Price.
“Because we have the high-tech monitoring equipment, clients can re-test every three to six months and see how they’re doing, what their lifestyle is doing to their health markers and make any changes needed. Sometimes how you feel and the condition you’re truly in are disjointed, so having an objective measure is useful.”
Looking to the future
Price and Higgins are firm in their vision for BodySPace. “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 can understand their bodies and minds better, and function at their most optimal across all aspects of life.”
So what does the future hold for the duo? International expansion – and soon, according to Higgins.
He says: “The BodySPace concept was specifically designed to fit seamlessly into luxury hotels, spas, resorts and private residences anywhere in the world, so over the next five years we are planning to open more BodySPaces around the globe.”