Hettie Holmes and Shara Tochia, co-founders of online magazine DOSE, are putting a new spin on the term ‘hedonism’. At the forefront of London’s wellness scene for over a decade, they champion the notion that exercise and living well are the new stimulants. DOSE – an acronym for the ‘happy hormones’ dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins – is aimed at the capital’s “healthy hedonists” seeking balance in a fast-paced world. Culture Trip catches up with the duo to get their insight into London’s wellness scene.
Culture Trip: What’s the story behind DOSE?
Hettie Holmes: Both Shara and I have always been interested in the wellness world. We’d both been working for start-ups – I was working for FaceGym and Shara with 1Rebel – but we soon realised there was a gap in the market for the healthy hedonist looking to stay fit and healthy without compromising lifestyle choices. We met at one of Shara’s spin classes at The Gherkin rooftop back in January 2016. At the time, there was no one offering information on where to find the best workouts in London and also where to reward their efforts afterwards.
After running focus groups and sending out questionnaires, we realised the demand for such a service was huge. Hedonism has taken on a new meaning – Londoners still want to work out, and see that as an important part of their lifestyle, but are also conscious of striking a balance. DOSE will tell you where to find a great candlelit yoga class but also the best places in the area to eat and drink afterwards.
CT: London’s wellness scene has exploded in the last few years – what do you think was the turning point?
Shara Tochia: I think the launch of spin studio Psycle four years ago was one of the turning points. Psycle was one of the first major boutique gyms to come onto the scene. Slowly, we noticed our friends were becoming more interested in these kinds of classes, and more and more restaurants were offering vegan dishes. The rest, as they say, is history.
CT: How do you think Londoners’ attitude to health and wellness has changed?
ST: It’s becoming a lifestyle. Going to the gym is no longer about just honing your body – it’s about putting in that quality time and looking after yourself. Londoners are no longer going to the gym to just sweat it out – they’re going with friends, on a mission to boost their health (both mental and physical) and making it part of their social life.
CT: What do you think is unique about London’s wellness scene?
HH: Londoners are by nature pretty hedonistic, more so than in other cities. Londoners are concerned about the balance and have realised you can have both. We like to work out in a nightclub-esque environment and go for a cocktail afterwards. We’ll have a green juice before a HIIT [high-intensity interval training] workout at the Ministry of Sound and then go for dinner with girlfriends. DOSE is on a mission to show that health and hedonism don’t have to be separate – the lines are being blurred.
CT: What’s next for wellness in the capital?
HH: Young female millennials are the demographic driving London’s wellness wave but as this generation gets older, its priorities will change. People have realised back-breaking, high-intensity workouts aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all. I feel an increased focus on recovery and slowing down is the next big thing. The likes of meditation and gong baths (a form of sound therapy done using gongs or crystal bowls) are already on the London scene, but they’re not yet mainstream. I think Londoners will become less aesthetically obsessed and will start to work out to feel better.
ST: Millennials are drinking less and less in London, and this trend will only increase over the next few years. Some of the biggest brands already offer zero-percent drinks and are proof you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.
CT: Any advice for staying sane in a fast-paced city like London?
HH: Finding what gives you your natural high is key to staying happy in a crazy urban environment. Don’t be afraid to listen to your body, and try to step away from stimulants like caffeine, sugar and alcohol as well as social media. Keeping your happy hormones in check will keep you on the right track.
CT: Any tips on being healthy and fit in London on a budget?
ST: Do your research. Groups like ClassPass offer good discounts. Also remember you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on boutique classes – PureGym is great, and there are loads of free run clubs in London, such as Parkrun, that won’t cost you a penny.
CT: What are your top wellness spots?
ST: I love Reformer Pilates at Heartcore, brunch at Caravan in King’s Cross and cocktails at Ladies & Gents in Kentish Town – their spirits are made using locally sourced fruits from Hampstead Heath allotments and syrups from Kentish Town honey.
HH: A barre class with Ashley at DEFINE in Fitzrovia is my go-to workout, but you’ll also find me refuelling at Dishoom and sipping healthy cocktails at Laki Kane on Upper Street.