Behind the Brand:

Bodyism’s James Duigan

The founder of Bodyism talks to Fabled about his business inspirations, being a father and acting with kindness.

I started 20 years ago as a personal trainer at a gym in South Kensington. I’ve always focused on why I do what I do (rather than what I do) and my 'why' has always been to change people's lives. It’s what inspired me to leave the gym and graduate to setting up my own business, working from a private mews house. The concept of Bodyism came first, Clean and Lean is the food philosophy that underpins the Bodyism brand.

I feel very grateful that I get to do what I do every day. It’s a huge responsibility to be entrusted with someone's health and I take this very seriously. It makes me feel energised and excited, and it keeps me committed to doing my best and fostering that culture within the team.

The key to our growth is to be humble and learn from our (many) mistakes. When Chrissy (Christiane Duigan, James’ wife) was pregnant for the first time with Charlotte I just assumed that she was going to be okay with the process and the changes that her body was going through. I didn't understand because I couldn't possibly and I had no idea of the effects the hormones would be taking on her emotions and self image. It made me realise you can never assume anything about anybody and you have to always act with kindness, compassion and respect. That was a big learning moment for me.

Opening our flagship club in Notting Hill in December 2015 was a huge milestone. To have a big, beautiful flagship in London, the town we choose to call home for most of the year really is amazing. Another turning point was having 'be kind to yourself' carved on the front of our building on Westbourne Grove. It has always been our message to people and so it was was quite an emotional moment for me. It brought a sense of permanence and gravity to what we’ve built.

I'm never really satisfied and constantly strive to get better. It stems from a mix of low self-esteem and high self-belief in that I always feel like I have the ability to do more. I’ve given myself the mission to change people’s lives and now it’s to change the world, so in order to do that I have to amplify the message through beautiful new clubs all over the world. It means more and more people are exposed to the wonderful things we stand for which takes work.

My most important job in the world is being a father. Even when I'm travelling I see them every day (FaceTime). I’m in a fortunate position because as much as I have to do the work, I make sure I spend time with my children. Not everyone can do that - it makes me feel very blessed.

Every minute of my day is 'me time.' I figured it out. Meditation isn't something that is separate from the rest of my day as I see my whole life as a meditation through happiness, kindness and my connections with people. I feel energised through being around people.

Any change that happens in your body happens in your mind first. The very second you choose to be kind to yourself and realise you deserve a happy and healthy life, everything becomes easy.

I'm addicted to feeling good through exercising. I relax by practising Brazilian Jui Jitsu. When you have a 110 kilo world champion trying to choke you, your mind isn't anywhere else! You are present and in the moment which I find very liberating - I always walk out feeling amazing and focused.

You are your best nutritionist. Things have probably become more confusing recently with the rise of young vegan bloggers telling people how to eat, with zero accountability - the key is to listen to your body and tune in to what it needs. Eat as much food that is as close to its natural state as possible and limit sugar and processed foods - by keeping it simple you will be well on the way to permanent, positive change.

Supplements are a necessary part of life in the modern world. We’re so time poor and the nutritional content of our food just isn't what it needs to be - so good quality, functional foods are a must. It’s why we created our Clean & Lean Essential range and why they have been such a phenomenal success. Body Brilliance, a powerful blend of highly bioavailable vegan protein, super greens and fibres - and Serenity, which helps people sleep deeply and naturally - are our best sellers.

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“The very second you choose to be kind to yourself and realise you deserve a happy and healthy life, everything becomes easy.”