According to ukactive.com, in 2016 gym membership was at an all-time high, with one in eight people a member of a club. Little did we know then that the entire world would be forced to exercise in their living rooms for over a year. They say that in 2020 we leapt five digital years in eight weeks – and the fitness industry was transformed for ever.
While it’s too early to know the statistics of gym-returners now they have reopened, one thing is certain: many of us have found new ways to exercise that didn’t exist pre-Covid. For some quick-thinking entrepreneurs it has given rise to a new wellbeing category: the digital health club. Some of the best of these are set up by dynamic female wellness professionals who offer expert nutritional and fitness advice, live classes, discussion forums and exclusive offers, all at a fraction of the cost of eye-watering gym membership fees. These are my trusted favourites…
Nutritional knowhow: Artah
Looking to lose weight, break bad eating habits and gain more energy? Look no further than Artah (artah.co), the brainchild of Rhian Stephenson, a nutritional therapist, naturopath and fitness expert (also the former CEO of UK spin class sensation Psycle and an ex athlete). Membership to her online health club is £12 a month/£115 a year. You will receive a weekly meal plan and recipes for 365 days a year (both omnivore and plant-based options), monthly member workshops on useful wellbeing topics (the next on 26 April explores the gut), as well as virtual retreats, guided cleanses and shopping-list plans. It is Rhian’s goal to take the complexity out of being healthy.
Strengthening gym classes: Chloe’s pilates
A-listers escaping London flock to the Cotswolds for Chloe Hodgson’s addictive body-strengthening sessions – her classes are packed out weekly. Chloe, who is passionate about form, function and helping us live injury free, started online Zoom sessions during the first lockdown back in 2020, simply as a way of delivering her regular classes to her dedicated clientele. Soon, however, her slick new platform (chloespilates.com) was born. For £20 a month you can join her weekly online full body strengthening class as well as access over 120 on-demand videos. There is also a downloadable balanced recipe guide created with nutritional therapist Rosemary Ferguson for all the family (Chloe’s healthy chocolate balls are the tastiest replacement for shop-bought chocolate bars I know). You can’t fail to be inspired by Chloe’s upbeat, encouraging manner and strong body.
The pregnancy platform: Mamawell
Rosie Stockley has become one of the UK’s go-to names for pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postnatal exercise. With over 15 years’ experience in personal training, her platform Mamawell (mamawell.org) is beneficial to all women wanting to gain strength, fitness and increase all-round wellbeing. For £29 a month there are three new workouts every week (both live and on-demand), a workout library for picking and mixing your favourite classes, as well as yoga, pilates and mindfulness sessions. There are also Rosie’s recipe favourites and a group support forum for when you need a little encouragement. Rosie’s approach is nonjudgmental and supportive, and the platform is ideal for any level of fitness.
Therapy on a roll
Onolla is a recently opened wellbeing boutique in Barnes, South London, with an expert edit of natural products. My favourites include the mood-boosting aromatherapy rollers. Aira Therapy’s Homeworkers Aromatherapy Pulse Point Roller Ball, £9.50, relieves aches; Menopoised Find Calm Aromatherapy Pulse Point Oil, £19, contains neroli, lavender and ylang-ylang to quieten the mind, while Ilapothecary’s Speak Your Truth Aroma Roller, £28, is a reassuring mix of rose, sandalwood and vanilla. Onolla.com
A prickly pick-me-up
Move over, apple cider vinegar – there’s a new sister on the block. Prickly pear vinegar (£14, sacla.co.uk) from Sicily is believed by Italians to have multiple health benefits, from reducing blood sugar levels and cholesterol to helping control food cravings. Just add a dash to water and enjoy.