Jen­nifer Her­sch on get­ting the body beau­ti­ful with Soma

The Wharf - - This Week People - Olivia Palam­oun­tain

Ev­ery­thing is Yoga,” said School Of Mind­body Ath­let­ics co-founder Jen­nifer Her­sch.

“At Soma we try to fos­ter val­ues of dis­ci­pline, re­spect, in­tegrity and hon­esty and re­frame the usual idea that work­ing out is just los­ing weight and build­ing mus­cles.

“Ath­letic train­ing should en­com­pass an in­te­gral ap­proach, train­ing the mind as much as the body.”

The east Lon­don-based “next gen­er­a­tion health club” was founded by hus­band and wife team Dr Theo Koutroukides and Jen­nifer Her­sch as an an­swer to the lack of in­tel­li­gent train­ing across the in­dus­try.

Jen­nifer said: “My hus­band and I met at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity and both come from sports, dance and aca­demic re­search back­grounds.

“We couldn’t find one lo­ca­tion that was in­te­grat­ing train­ing prin­ci­ples in a smart way and cross­ing the di­vide between the worlds of sci­ence and art.”

Classes cover TRX, Yoga, Barre and cy­cling, with a phi­los­o­phy that in­cludes a zero weights pol­icy and heated studios for ev­ery class.

“The in­dus­try is in­un­dated with ket­tle bell and boot­camp classes us­ing weights,” said Jen­nifer.

“Theo and I haven’t lifted a weight in over a decade. You can have bet­ter in­te­gral core strength when you know how to use your body ef­fi­ciently.

“Theo just uses TRX mixed with hot Yoga, cy­cling and a few barre classes thrown in to achieve his strength and you can see from his pho­tos he’s not short of mus­cles. “I trained with the NYC bal­let and there’s a huge aes­thetic dif­fer­ence between the tra­di­tional gym body and ath­letes who have an art form – their bod­ies reflect mas­tery of move­ment.” Lo­cated on the up­per ter­race of Old Spi­tal­fields mar­ket, Soma is one of a group of busi­ness that have been brought in to pi­o­neer the re­gen­er­a­tion of the mar­ket. “The land­lord saw us as part of the ren­o­va­tion. East Lon­don is his­tor­i­cally the hub of cre­ative and in­no­va­tive en­ergy and we are bring­ing a sim­i­lar in­no­va­tion into fit­ness,” said Jen­nifer. Soma is the first stu­dio to pro­vide per­son­alised train­ing plans and sci­en­tific progress track­ing across each dis­ci­pline, of­fer­ing stu­dents an ini­tial over­all as­sess­ment with the op­tion to track goals and progress with an app. DNA, tox­i­c­ity lev­els, body com­po­si­tion and heart rate are just some of the things that can be tested. Jen­nifer said: “Theo is the sci­en­tist in the part­ner­ship and feels pas­sion­ate about the in­te­gra­tion of sci­ence and mea­sur­able re­sults in health and fit­ness. If you’re a num­bers freak we of­fer that across the board, or you can just go with the flow.” SOMA of­fers a range if mem­ber­ship op­tions and along with teach­ing classes, Jen­nifer and Theo train along­side stu­dents. “We prac­tice what we preach,” she said. “I think of Soma as the Soho House of fit­ness, with­out the pre­tence. You might run into our dog Obree, and our baby daugh­ter will be run­ning around some­times. “This is our life pas­sion and our mem­bers should feel like they’re com­ing home.” Mem­ber­ships start from £25 for a sin­gle credit to £249 per month for un­lim­ited ac­cess. For more in­for­ma­tion go to

In­side the Soma fit­ness stu­dio, founded by hus­band and wife team Dr Theo Koutroukides (right) and Jen­nifer Her­sch (be­low right)

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