Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie at… Duo

Has our covert reporter found a health and beauty one-stop shop?

Spa Junkie at… Duo

Image: Jay Yeo

February 04 2012
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

A glance at my address book will reveal the numbers of those five key professionals I rely on to keep me in shape in every conceivable form – from my lashes to my legs.

I like to call this my Maslow’s hierarchy of health and beauty needs. I confess I am what Professor Maslow would class a “metamotivated” spa person – someone who doesn’t just go through the motions but really hoofs that extra treadmill mile, striving for constant aesthetic betterment.

Let’s see… I have James at Bodyism, who takes daily care of my behind; Michael Charalumbous reinvents my fringe every month, while his Nyumba team keep me coiffed twice a week; Stewart at The Life Centre maintains my yogi headstand; Chanita does the twice-weekly Kobe-beef rub-down; Suzie takes care of the brows and the lashes; Dr Dray’s monthly visits have me looking younger each year; Carly at Strip ensures the bikini line is in order, and my weekly visit to the Four Seasons’ steam rooms ensures the toxic build-up of London life never reaches an extreme. And these are just what Maslow would call my B needs.

My problem, like most, is that my team is dispersed across town, and securing a slot in any of their chock-a-block appointment books at a time that suits my over-scheduled life can make assembling the G20 look like a breeze.

A one-stop shop would be simply sublime, though wholly unlikely to feature a best-in-class line-up. But when I heard of Duo, a recently opened service that offers a tailor-made, under-one-roof collection of experts for the health, beauty and fitness seeker, I had to go and check it out. The ethos is simple – a pay-as-you-go gathering of the best-of-the-best experts for the time-poor west Londoners.

It’s a dreary Sunday morning after a sizeable night before, and I’m at the brand-spanking new Duo studio on Gunter Grove in SW10; that curious no-man’s land between Chelsea and Fulham. I’m here to meet one of the three main men behind the studio – a charming, wildly friendly and, especially given the hour, energetic chap called Neville, who is going to introduce me to the concept.

We take a seat in a cosy corner in the lobby and, after a chat about my lifestyle and what I want to achieve from my fitness, health and beauty regime, he gives me the lowdown on what his assembled experts are there to provide.

“The main philosophy behind the set-up is centred around target conditioning,” says Neville. I ask him about the studio’s name, which is sometimes run together with its motto, “you plus us”, to form the catchy Duoyouplusus.

“It stands for the philosophy of you plus your personal trainer, beauty therapist and health consultant – all combined to meticulously address clients’ requirements,” he says, looking very pleased with himself. Call me a (Michael Charalumbous-dyed) blonde, but I still don’t get it.

Neville continues: “In addition to personalised training in the gym, the studio offers osteopathy, art therapy” – which apparently isn’t watercolours but a patented massage called Active Release Technique – “a UK-registered dietician, beauty therapists offering a wide range of facials from Pevonia, as well as pilates and yoga.”

Put simply, it’s a one-stop shop for a healthy, beautiful body. If they threw in a personal shopper, PA, chef and driver, my life would be transformed for all eternity.

“All new clients get started with a warts-and-all measure-up. We need to measure the good, the bad and the flabby in order to devise a fitness programme that will deliver.”

We head to one of the neutrally decorated treatment rooms to measure my Bio Signature – part of a non-invasive fat-loss programme developed by world-renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin. The method is based on the correlation between body fat and hormonal imbalances – which are often the culprit in stubborn fat storage – and a few other modern health issues, including poor sleep, low energy and, certainly in my case this morning, slow brain function. To read my body and its areas of potential concern, Neville pulls up a spreadsheet programme on his laptop and a pinch instrument to gently squeeze the excess folds in 12 areas of my body.

I had a similar pinching-test done by Nathalie at Bodyism. For me, it is a worthwhile exercise – if only for the shock factor over the extent of the fat bits on your back.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.