Ten or so years ago, ascetic good health was strictly for the bearded, organic-cotton wearer, and clean and lean diets were not remotely fashionable. Christiane Duigan (pronounced “Dye-gun”) took up both, joining forces with her husband James (aka Mr Clean and Lean) to launch Bodyism, a company responsible for helping sculpt the bodies of the likes of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lara Stone. This was the noughties. The excesses of caffeine, cigarettes and champers-fuelled living were all the rage. It was an incongruous lifestyle statement to make. Even then – before she had established herself as the doyenne of the health and wellness scene in London – Christiane was a walking advert for the kind of clean lifestyle that has manifested itself into the quite the lifestyle status symbol.
When we meet, she is sitting sipping a green smoothie in Bodyism’s new home, a wellness mecca on Westbourne Grove and the home to the pair’s signature work out classes, a deli serving healthy food and drinks around the clock and top notch beauty treatment rooms. After years working from the Bulgari Hotel gym in Knightsbridge, it’s the first bricks and mortar space under their growing wellness lifestyle empire.
There’s no question that the pursuit of health has had more than it’s five minutes in the spotlight. If five years ago was about a Celine bag, today’s ultimate status symbol might just be a pair of Lululemon tights and a green juice. That said, if there’s one topic that has been looming over the past few years, it is the question of whether it all has staying power. But just one cursory search online for anything health, fitness and more accurately, performance-driven, and chances are you’ll land on some feature or another singling Bodyism out from the crowd.
You can credit its success to a large extent to Christiane, whose mission to change the way we think about our bodies, to detox our diets and to not only cut out bad processed food but to eat as organically as clean as possible, has helped shift what was once a small business into what it is today. Don’t be fooled though, she’s not self-righteous about it. The pair is known for helping you tackle the psychological barriers as well as the practical dimension. Somehow, people walk away (or not, as the case often is) feeling so good, they quickly want to jack in their nutritional nemesis altogether. Their approach is a game changer and does indeed seem akin to the “magic” of which we’re admittedly first to cast off as hippy-drippy humdrum.
Naturally, we’ve had her on our hit list of people we’d love to quiz about their health and beauty routines so we turned up armed with questions: about changing careers tracks (she went from valuing jewellery to joining James with the business), finding work-life balance (alone time is a must), co-founding a company with a significant other (contrary to belief, it’s not difficult at all), and everything Bodyism and Clean and Lean can do for women just like us. Then, of course, there’s the string of beauty questions from the beauty products she swears by, to how she maintains that impressive head of hair. If we could have a lifestyle swap with anyone, she’d be on the list and here, she reveals all…
I grew up in a family that owned a business, and so I picked up the knowledge on how to run a small business by osmosis from going after school to help out and doing odd jobs for my parents. When I completed my education and entered the workforce I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Having grown up in Australia playing sports and living that Aussie healthy lifestyle, I knew I had an interest in health and wellness. I tried multiple jobs, from valuing jewellery to working on a shop floor and in the course of these experiences I by default grew my business knowledge. I learned about operations, marketing, finance and human resources.
When James and I met and started Bodyism from a small room in South Kensington, I naturally jumped right in from flowers to invoices. As the business grew I was able to draw on my skills and experience to help develop the business and support James, who is the face of the brand. With hard work and passion our dream has come true. We have been able to create a flagship space in our Notting Hill gym, café and concept store. Every element of the club has been carefully thought about. From the lighting, which mimics the patterns of daylight to evening, to the natural materials and the air conditioning which pumps out purified oxygenated air. We tried to create a safe space that embodied our roots, so it feels like a home where you can nourish your mind, body and soul under one roof.
I loved being fit and healthy as a child and teenager in Australia, but when I was twenty I moved to Brazil and put on a ton of weight, suddenly I was on the other side of the business. I was trying fad diets and going to every single exercise class trying to shift the weight. Only when I met James and followed his Clean and Lean philosophy was my life transformed. I lost the weight and was easily able to maintain my figure as the philosophy is so balanced and kind and fundamentally sustainable. Once I developed a healthy mind, my approach to my body completely changed. It was at this point that my early love for health and wellness really turned into a passion and a career.
James and I with Bodyism have never actively tried to fill a market gap. Instead Bodyism came about because we wanted to change people’s lives and empower them to make healthy choices. We wanted to provide a solution that was safe, results-driven, kind and a sustainable life for people. For us, it’s all about the “why”. We do it to change people’s lives and all of the other arms of our business have really sprung from that. The bodywear came about as we felt women and of course men shouldn’t have to compromise on style while exercising. The solutions based supplements were created to help people achieve results in a healthy way and are incredibly nourishing.
We never expected the health and wellness market to blow up like it has. It’s very exciting that it’s such a growing industry and I think it’s wonderful that so much attention is being paid to health and wellness, but equally you have to be so careful about where you get your information from now. There’s a lot of new people in the market making claims that really have no real foundation. What we do is really try and empower people to make the best choices for themselves “you are your own best nutritionist”, pay attention to your body after you eat, do you feel tired and bloated or energized? The same applies to exercise: do you feel exhausted and punished or energized and uplifted. Listen to your body and make the right choices yourself. I don’t think the industry has reached its peak, I think it will continue to grow and expand. But I do think that there will be a backlash against products that are labeled ‘healthy’ like green juice or bliss balls that are actually full of sugar. The same goes for many products labeled ‘gluten free’, they are often full of sugar and chemicals.
I don’t stick to one brand when it comes to beauty products. I love to pull the hero pieces from a particular range and find what works best for me. I get my facials done by Katherine Jackson; she’s like the Heston Blumenthal of the skincare world! She makes all her bespoke products based on your skincare needs. Katherine’s serum is a pillar of my skincare routine. Susanne Kaufmann makes incredible organic skincare products that I often turn to too. I always use a cleanser and I’m currently enjoying one by Skin Therapy.
While I try and keep my routine as natural as possible, I do like to try out more scientifically driven products and find that products from [Los Angeles-based dermatologist] Dr Lancer produce really great results. I use his three-step method, which involves exfoliating, cleansing and then nourishing with a moisturiser when my skin needs more attention. As the seasons change I try and use hydrating products and of course sun cream. Growing up in Australia, sun cream is essential; I love one by a brand called Epione in Factor 50. But honestly, I attribute my healthy skin to a healthy lifestyle and to Beauty Food, our supplement containing a daily dose of collagen, antioxidants and alkalizing greens that fights aging and assists with the repair of damaged skin.
During my pregnancies, I was far more cautious about what I put on my skin, going organic whenever I could. My skin could be quite hormonal but I always took the Beauty Food supplement to help balance my skin out. When I was breastfeeding and taking it, I even noticed my children’s hair and nails growing. It was incredible to see.
HAIRCARE, NAILS & MAKE-UP:
I don’t do much when it comes to my make-up but I do wear a tinted moisturiser and wear false eyelashes, which saves me so much time. At the moment I’m using Erborian CC Cream, which is nicely tinted, along with and a quick slick of Carmex and I’m pretty much ready to go. I do my own nails because I’ve always found it therapeutic. I love to sit with a cup of our tea and paint them. It signifies time to myself, where I can relax and not be interrupted. At the moment I’m loving Nails Inc., as they are starting to move towards offering greener, healthier formulas. With my hair, I trend to wash it myself once a week and get it blow-dried once a week at ShowDry in Notting Hill. The days in between I use the ShowDry Dry shampoo, which I couldn’t live without. I love Redken’s Cream Cleanser Shampoo for my at home washes too.
HEALTH & WELLNESS:
I follow the Clean and Lean philosophy when it comes to my diet, which luckily involves having a treat day as it is all about balance. I love food, and my favourite treat is chocolate pudding. To me, being healthy means having a really good balance between mind, body and soul. I work on all these aspects at Bodyism; I eat my Clean and Lean meals there, I train doing yoga and ballet and sometimes do a treatment with our food psychologist and at the weekend I sneak around the corner to Melt and have a chocolate pie.
I confess I don’t cook at all. I am so lucky to have James’s mum who taught him all about health and organic food. She has just moved to London and comes around to our house and cooks us healthy, delicious meals every night. I could not be more fortunate. It’s so important to try and switch off and relax. At the weekend I love to turn away from emails and spend all my time with my small children.