Like sneaking off to see another hairdresser, meeting a new
personal trainer feels a bit like cheating. So it was with a twinge
of guilt that I sat in the lobby of the new Bulgari Hotel, waiting
to meet James Duigan.
But of course I was a bit excited. We're not just talking any old
trainer... we're talking Duigan, here (pronounced Die-gan). The man
responsible for the knockout shapes of some of the world's hottest
bodies... starting with The Body herself - Elle Macpherson.
James appears. He's taller, more softly Aussie-accented than I
imagined and wearing jeans and t-shirt that reads 'Make Love Not
Climate Change'. A strong handshake, a twinkly smile and he points
to the cover of the magazine I've been flicking through. "I trained
her this morning," he says. The 'her' is cover girl Rosie
Huntington-Whiteley. I mean, you really couldn't really get a
better ad for Duigan's 'Clean and Lean' ethos.
But Duigan isn't about denial. "No one should get to the end of
their life and for their greatest achievement to be, 'Well my body
fat never went above 11%'. Life is about having some fun and
being kind to yourself. We need to change the conversation; it's
not about shame and guilt. Our relationship with food shouldn't be
miserable - in fact the fastest way to put on weight right now is
to go on a diet. 'Health' has never been so unhealthy."
James Duigan's fitness training empire began aged 16 after a knee
injury put paid to his career as an Aussie Rules footballer. He got
into martial arts, boxing, jiu-jitsu and for the last ten years has
focused on changing wellness attitudes from his three base camps;
his home-town of Sydney, London and LA.
In London, Duigan has just moved 'house'. The Bodyism headquarters
has gone from a slightly shabby mews house in South Kensington to a
swanky gym in Knightsbridge in the bowels of The Bulgari Hotel. The
wood paneled gym is filled with curious playful looking equipment,
" I wanted to have lots of things to pull and push, a bit like a
Montessori for adults," he explains. The music is kept low, to
encourage a constant conversation between client and trainer. Added
bonuses include use of the hotel's 25 metre pool, spa and Duigan's
collection of ridiculously good-looking trainers.
All Bodyism newbies undergo an assessment or 'Body Oracle' and then
a programme is drawn up that could include the gym, swimming, yoga,
or "whatever it takes to get you where you want to be." But Duigan
likes to keep it simple to avoid, "Paralysis through
It's expensive; training starts at 200 quid a pop. But that doesn't
seem to stop the demand. And for those who want a slice of the
action without decimating their wallets, Duigan has penned
best-selling books and has a range of naturally and ethically
sourced supplements. "They're a pain in the a**e to make", says
Duigan, "but they allow us to reach people all over the world." 10%
of Bodyism profits go to Blue Marine Foundation. And in the next
couple of months a new community based 'ecosystem' website is set
to be launched.
I like Duigan. Despite his success he appears to be driven by more
than just ego or dollar. He was worth the guilt.
Bodyism offered all Vanity Fair A-List members the chance
to win one of three 1 hour personal training sessions with Bodyism
at The Bulgari Hotel (worth £200 each). Don't miss out on future
offers, sign up to the