Image: Jane Mingay
February 12 2010
Lucia van der Post
For the average nine-to-fiver juggling family life and a busy job, keeping fit isn’t easy; but if your working days are long and you spend much of your time on a plane, it’s a real challenge. What to do? If the matter is serious and you earn the sort of rewards that the hours you put in deserve, then Stephen Price is your man.
Price, once a professional cricketer, runs one of London’s sleekest, most intelligently thought-out centres, SP Health. Though it is based round a gym in Chelsea, it gives much more than merely time with a trainer. It offers what he calls a “fully integrated approach to improved fitness, weight management and recovery from long-term illness or disability”. In other words, the sort of service that until now has only been available to top-class athletes.
For an annual fee of £5,775 clients not only get a bespoke training programme but also access to a range of special help – from personal trainers to physiotherapists, masseurs, nutritionists, aromatherapists, yoga teachers, life coaches and counsellors. “Many of my clients are very driven people who’ve concentrated so much on work that they’re often quite dysfunctional in their private lives. We offer support in that area, too.”
There are just 30 members at any given time. Sessions in the gym or using the equipment are paid for on top, and all therapists have to be paid for their time, but for the undoubtedly high fees what you get is solo use of all the equipment (“some of our members are well-known faces who value privacy”) and access to top-rate specialists.
First off each member is allocated his or her own “wellness concierge” who works with them to tailor a programme to meet his needs and lifestyle. Most start with a one-month package (£1,300) during which they are prescribed a programme but it also enables the team and member to get to know each other. Price isn’t interested in just picking up fees from those who can’t be bothered to turn up. He wants members who really use the facilities and commit to a proper programme. One-off sessions in the gym with a trainer are £125 but the more sessions you buy the cheaper the price. For the really keen, £20,000 buys unlimited access to the gym.
But the real point of SP Health is the constant support and advice you are given. They’ve trained members for the Tour de France, for a 150-mile hike across the Sahara, and for climbing to Everest Base Camp. For those who travel they offer special programmes, supporting them abroad. As Price puts it, “It’s a year’s commitment and it’s education-based – at the end of the year they should know how to help themselves.”
There are several smaller packages for those who can’t afford or don’t want the full commitment. Keen skiers might like the four- or eight-week ski package (from £2,500) to get in shape for the slopes. Apart from fitness and strength conditioning there’s high-altitude training in a Hypoxi-training chamber (£125). “This,” as Price puts it, “means if you’re going somewhere high like, say, Aspen, the recreational skier can enjoy being there from the first day.”