If it feels like it’s impossible to separate any form of health and wellness news without a social media plug or fad, we get it. As much as we’re all on a path to live our best lives, exercise regularly and drink our bodyweight in green juice and water, the reality is often a tad different than what’s perceived on a smartphone, but there’s one health brand and space that truly is the real deal and so much more than an Instagram post - Bodyism…
The UK-founded club and wellness brand encompasses everything good about fitness and health minus the fluff. While the gyms incorporate the very best physical, mental and emotional wellbeing support, the supercharged supplements (which you can get your hands on via Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter) are both body and beauty-boosting sachets of magic. In short, if you’re looking for an all-over holistic approach to fitness and health, this is your one-stop shop.
We caught up with Bodyism’s CEO, Nathalie Schyllert, who has worked with the brand in almost every facet, from personal trainer to product development and everything in between, to find out how she incorporates health and fitness into her own busy life with two children, and were so inspired by her realistic yet committed approach to it all. From how her background in ballet has helped her role, to her relaxed yet educated take on food, exercise and motherhood, we took away so much from this chat with Nathalie and know you will too.
Photography: Lars Hansen Photography
Bodyism is so much more than just one aspect of health and wellness, can you briefly explain all that it entails?
Our philosophy at Bodyism is based on the four pillars of health: movement, mindset, nutrition and sleep. This is a more holistic approach to fitness and it’s what sets Bodyism apart from other gyms. Members of our Notting Hill club not only have our personal trainers on hand, but they also have access to our nutritionist and naturopath, as well as ‘best in class’ beauty treatments and massages. We also encourage members to incorporate different styles of training into their programmes. For example, if a member loves hardcore HIIT training, we usually recommend that they mix it up with low intensity activities like yoga or pilates. We find that this rounded approach is much more sustainable and enjoyable in the long term. It’s so important to have both a healthy mind and healthy body. Even if you’re working out every single day, you won’t get the results you want if you’re not sleeping properly as this is so detrimental to physical and mental health. This is why our trainers really get to know our members and are able to give them lifestyle advice in addition to their physical training program.
How did you first become involved with Bodyism and what led you to your current role as CEO?
11 years ago I began my career in wellness as a Personal Trainer with Bodyism. After a couple of years, I got involved with membership sales and started to enjoy the admin side of the business more and more. I then co-founded the Activewear range for Bodyism seven years ago whilst managing the gym business. In 2016, I was appointed CEO of the business, overseeing 8 sites worldwide and our supplement range that is exclusive to Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter. I really see the value of having done so many different roles within the company. It’s much easier to manage the team since I’ve done many of their roles earlier in my career. My role is very versatile and I truly love seeing our Bodyism clients worldwide develop, becoming happier, healthier and stronger.
You were once a dancer in your hometown of Sweden, how did fitness fall into the picture and do you still dance today?
I was in the Royal Ballet school in Sweden but I had to stop my dancing career early at the age of 15 as I had an injury in my foot that would be difficult to fix. Instead I focused on my academic education and I started to go to the gym around the age of 16. I tried a lot of different styles of exercise styles such as boxing and spinning. I quickly found out that the training styles that works best for my body were the ones using my own body weight instead of heavier weights. I found a way to tone my body more than bulking up. This was especially important to me at the time since I was modelling. It’s very much what we also do today at Bodyism, a mix of training that is toning the body in a more gentle way. I also started yoga regularly about 12 years ago and it has helped me in so many ways, both physically and mentally. I think my ballet background has helped me a lot in my different careers both in modelling, as a personal trainer and now as a CEO. It’s helped me to not only understand my body but has also taught me discipline and hard work. I do still enjoy dancing with our amazing barre and dance/sculpt instructors.
You’re a mother of two with a demanding career that includes a lot of travel, how do you fit exercise and healthy habits into your daily routine?
When I’m in London I’m based in our flagship club in Notting Hill, so it’s easier for me to fit in exercise during my work day. I usually do 5 different classes per week and I do a mix of Barre, Yoga, Pilates and our signature Blueprint class. When I’m travelling I usually travel to one of our Bodyism locations so then I try to fit in some PT or Yoga sessions with our resident trainers. Both in Notting Hill and our other locations we offer Bodyism approved food and drinks, so it’s much easier to make healthy choices everyday. On flights I usually bring some salads and healthy snacks so I don’t have to eat the plane food. I also usually book in for a massage for when I arrive at the hotel after a flight to reduce water retention and tension in the body.
Do you incorporate any healthy habits in your kids’ routines, if so, can you tell us what and how?
Yes, my kids both do Kid’s Yoga at Bodyism and they try a lot of different activities such as football, dancing, tennis and swimming. At this age (3 and 5 years old) I think it’s important to try a large variety so they can find something they really enjoy doing. Activities should be fun for children but I think it’s also the same philosophy when you become an adult. You should have fun and enjoy the exercise you’re doing and mix it up. In that way it’s more likely that you’ll stick to your routine.
I try to make healthy organic meals for my kids but I’m not obsessed. For example, I don’t cut out gluten or dairy completely from their diets, I just try to make healthier options when possible. One of my kids’ favourite breakfasts is banana waffles. I just mix banana, eggs, buckwheat flour and oat milk. They would never know that they are actually healthy. I’m very lucky that both my kids like healthy options, my son even said out of nowhere the other day when he had sashimi with a delicious marinade. “Mummy this is better than chocolate”. I think it’s important that they try ‘adult food’, you never know what they will enjoy or grow to like.
What is one type of never-fail exercise you rely on when you are time poor or without any equipment on hand?
Our Bodyism Exercise Bands are amazing for a quick workout on the go. You don’t need a gym with fancy equipment, just a bit of floor space at home or in a hotel room. They take up virtually no space so you can pack them in your bag while travelling, even if you’re just going away for a few days. They’re also really versatile – you’d be surprised how many muscles you can work with just one little band! If you don’t have a band though, our signature Blueprint class structure is the perfect quick workout. It’s four bodyweight exercises: alternating curtsy lunges, tricep press ups, plank shoulder taps and mountain climbers. You do each move for 45 seconds and repeat the circuit for 4 rounds.
How did you manage to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy and the newborn days? Do you have any advice to new mums wanting to slowly get back to moving their bodies?
I went for a lot of long walks most days and I also did pregnancy yoga regularly. I was feeling really sick for about 3 months at the beginning of both pregnancies so I didn’t move much at all in the first trimester. I just had to listen to my body and slow down. During a pregnancy and also when you breastfeed it’s not a good time to restrict yourself food-wise but you can always choose healthier options when you have cravings. For example, having sweet potato wedges instead of normal fries, homemade healthier pancakes, gluten free goat’s cheese toasties or cauliflower pizzas.
Good, healthy food is such a big part of the Bodyism ethos, can you tell us your favourite lunch or dinner to prepare for yourself and the family?
I’m usually always in a hurry so I like to prepare one tray to go in the oven for 15 minutes with all the ingredients for a full meal. One of my go-to meals is salmon fillets with lemon juice and olive oil, sweet potatoes cut into cubes, slices of red pepper and asparagus. It’s also great because there’s hardly any washing up to do after the meal, just one oven tray. Other options could also be a homemade gluten free pizza base and then everyone in the family can pick their own toppings. Both my kids loves black olives so I usually try to add mozzarella with a mix of vegetables and olives.
Career and kids - how do you and your husband make it all work?
My husband is a very hands-on dad. As an example, this week he’s with both kids in Sweden while I have to work. Due to his work in finance he’s not able to come home until 7pm most nights, so he can’t help much during the weekdays but then on the weekends he takes the kids more and I can attend a couple of classes at Bodyism. Obviously my kids come first and I’m always thinking about what’s best for them but it’s also important to understand that as parents we need to take care of ourselves to be better partners and parents. Both of us have careers that take up a lot of time, but we feel better when we exercise so we need to prioritise that.
We try to fit in about two date nights per month and also see our friends. So on average I go out for dinner once a week. I’m trying not to book up too many evenings since I know it will affect my energy levels during the day. I need all the energy possible for work and my family and at this point in my life I have to prioritise this. We have a great nanny that helps a lot since we don’t have family that live in London, but I always try to come home for dinner time and I drop the kids off to school at least 3 times a week.
What is your definition of self care and how do you make time for it?
For me, exercise is my self care. I feel so much more energetic if I train in the morning and I can focus better at work. I also appreciate when I have time to go for a long walk with my best friend. We can catch up on all things in life at the same time getting some training in – the best combo! I try to fit in a massage or a facial every week, we have treatment rooms at Bodyism so I usually do a treatment at the end of a work day.
Tell us about the move into supplements - how are these best used and what do they actually do?
We currently have seven different powder supplements that are packed with powerful superfoods. Each one has a different function and supports your everyday health and wellbeing in a different way. For example, our Beauty Food supplement is packed with marine collagen peptides that are not only great for skin and hair, but also boost ligament and tendon strength. Serenity is great for pre-bedtime as it relieves stress, helps with jet lag and improves sleep quality. I also love the Body Brilliance which tastes really chocolatey and indulgent but is actually full of super greens and protein. In turn, all of our supplements improve your energy, reduce your risk of injury and boost your performance in your workouts. It’s worth mentioning that we don’t recommend our supplements to be used as meal replacers but rather as an addition to a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.
Bodyism has gone global - what’s next for the brand and any plans to move into the Australian market?
We just opened our first club in the UAE in Abu Dhabi at Jumeirah Hotel on Saadiyat island in January. This has taken our full focus this year. We have a couple of exciting new locations in the pipeline next year but I’m afraid Australia is not on the cards just yet. Hopefully in a few years Australia will be next!