“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.

East London is historically the hub of creative and innovative energy and we are bringing a similar innovation into fitness.

Jennifer Hersch

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 of 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.”

First published on The Wharf on January 4, 2018 by Olivia Palamountain