Urban Explorer Series: Interview with Deanna Brash
“To me, I think the term “wellness differs from person to person. What is optimal for one person may not be optimal for another; it is very individualised. To me, wellness is a combination of the physical, mental, and emotional state that we live in on a day-to-day basis”
General Manager of Bodyism
Our Urban Explorer
Could you please briefly introduce yourself to our guests?
I am Deanna Brash, and I am the General Manager of Bodyism. I oversee the day-to-day operations of Bodyism – from its overall strategy and planning to art direction for the whole company. My team and I work very closely together in which we’ve created a community, family, and culture that is all about helping and supporting each other in both our personal and professional development.
How long have you been in the fitness and wellness industry?
I have been in the fitness and wellness industry for 14 years. I started super young as a professional dancer at the age of 19 for the Premier League football club. At the time, I started my own dance company while branching into the fitness industry in operations management. Then, I worked at the Tracy Anderson Method for several years before embarking on a fruitful career path with Bodyism, coming up 8 years now!
Do you think London offers a variety of outlets for people to retreat and take care of their minds and bodies in the midst of the hustle and bustle?
In the last few years, more than ever before, we have seen numerous fitness gyms and wellness centres popping up in London, especially after Covid. Nowadays, people are becoming more conscious of their health, and everyone wants to biohack, go cold water swimming, and meditate. People are proud to talk about it, whereas back then it was deemed a little bit “out there”. This is the direction we want the world to go in and we are proud to be a part of that.
Tell us more about Bodyism and what first-time guests can expect.
The philosophy of Bodyism is grounded on being kind to yourself, and having a community of trainers, instructors, and health experts to support you on your wellness journey. Whether it is educating our members to eat a more balanced and nutritious diet or motivating them to excel in a certain class, we hire good people who love what they do and who are passionate about what they do. Be it making a great cup of coffee or delivering a fulfilling training session, everyone here does their job with love.
That said, Bodyism is a phenomenon within the fitness industry we were the first to create a 360-wellness club where clients could come in for their PT sessions while our trainers would be already discussing with them the mindset elements, the nutritional elements, and making sure that they feel cared for, holistically.
As the General Manager of Bodyism, what does your day look like on a typical day?
No two days are ever the same. Each part of the year has its seasons within the industry. For example, we generally see significant peaks for memberships coming through around January and September. Aside from our wellness company, we also have a supplement business in which we have developed seven incredibly high grades of protein-based supplements. Hence, it can get quite busy!
What does “urban explorer” mean to you and how do you think you fit into this term?
When we think of the term “urban explorer”, the first word that comes to mind is “city”, but for me, it is about connecting with nature in these urban areas. Whenever I am feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed in London, I will go down to the river and take a long stroll by the river or in a park for a few hours. There are so many opportunities to connect with nature in these urban environments. Recently, my family and I traveled to São Paulo, Brazil where we just cycled around the city, and it was just so pleasant. I think it is important to get out there and do things that are going to help us feel connected to nature and in turn, improve our mental wellbeing. That is how I would envision myself as an urban explorer – taking care of my well-being through my tourism choices.
Empowering Your Wellbeing Journey
What does wellness mean to you?
To me, I think the term “wellness differs from person to person. What is optimal for one person may not be optimal for another; it is very individualised. To me, wellness is a combination of the physical, mental, and emotional state that we live in on a day-to-day basis. You look at toxic positivity and it is fine to be positive and it is important but not to a point that is unhealthy. With this in mind, it is also fine to feel the emotions and cry. That is what true wellness means to me; being able to embrace balance from an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual perspective.
What does your daily personal wellness routine consist of?
Yes! Day movement is a non-negotiable for me. Even if you just have 10 minutes a day, it is better than nothing. Meditation is also a big part of my life, and I think it is very grounding. I also notice my body’s physical response when I’m not doing it, and I start to feel anxious. By meditating, we can calm our minds and embrace a more mindfully balanced approach to every day.
What is your favourite Bodyism class if you could only pick one?
I may be biased in saying this, but it must be the Bodyism Sculpt class because I designed the concept. It is a dance fitness-based class where we focus on mobility work, then we move into dance-inspired hula and a combination of strength training and pilates. It is a real mix of various styles of training that will make you energized inside and out.
How do you think the wellness community in London differs from other cities around the world?
I have been very fortunate to go to some beautiful locations where wellness is at the forefront. On the flip side, there are times when there can be a bit of a disconnect. For instance, in Capri, there is such beautiful nature where we can go swimming every day and the food is so fresh, healthy, and delicious. While some places may not be as ahead of the game in terms of the classes they offer, if you look for physical wellness and mental well-being, you can surely find it anywhere.
What do you love most about working at Bodyism?
It all goes back to the community element, and I just think we have been so fortunate to cultivate an incredible working culture. Our core values – kindness, compassion, and respect – are always encouraged in the company and I love being surrounded by great people who continue to nurture this culture.
Are there any wellness gurus that you look up to?
Growing up, my parents were very active – my dad played rugby and I would follow my mom as she did her home workouts. I remember doing callanetics as a kid in the living room and as I look back, the instructors in the 90’s home workout videos made a lasting impression on me. Growing up, I also really looked up to my dance teachers like Jeffrey Daniels from Shalamar who taught Michael Jackson.
Where does your travel inspiration come from?
My travel inspiration comes from Instagram and Pinterest. Nowadays, Instagram has a function that allows you to save the locations so it makes it convenient for me to keep track of where I would like to visit. Also, anytime someone shares a restaurant recommendation or hotel in a lovely country, I immediately go onto Google Maps and pin the location for future reference!
What other destinations are on your bucket list?
I have never been to Australia so that is definitely on my bucket list. I would love to visit Melbourne. I would love to visit places in Asia like Japan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and especially Bali for wellness. However, I find that people can ruin places sometimes as it can get too touristy. That said, I would just love to do a month in each destination and travel around to different places across the region.
In 3 words, how would you describe London?
Diverse, Creative, Brilliant