Meet Gym Boss Reema Stanbury
Across the pond, we find inspiration, in a young fitness entrepreneur who is destined to turn London on its toned butt. Read to learn about Stanbury's daily routine. If nothing else, you will be inspired to hit the gym today.
On any given morning, you’ll most likely find Reema Stanbury starting her day at BLOK, one of London’s buzziest, best-looking new spaces to break a sweat…and you’ll also most likely find her ending her day there as well. It’s not that the 35-year-old lifelong Londoner is a gym rat—she’s more like a gym BOSS.
Two years ago, Stanbury and her husband Ed opened BLOK with partner Max Oppenheim in northeast London’s Clapton neighborhood. It’s an insanely chic workout space with a high-minded focus on design and aesthetics as much as on its programming and amenities, from the 160-plus class offerings, to the on-site cafe serving up healthy bites and bone broth. In other words, it’s the kind of place where gym rats would happily spend their days. “Fitness plays such a huge role in their lives, so we feel it’s vital that our customers should love coming to BLOK,” Stanbury says. It’s a philosophy that very much speaks to how many of us regard fitness today: as an integral lifestyle component, not a punishment.
With a freshly-opened second location in Shoreditch, and a third to come in the next few months, Stanbury, who’s also a mom to two-year-old Ava, is busier than ever. These days, it’s all about finding balance and, “everything in moderation,” she says—sound advice we could all probably benefit from. Read on for Stanbury’s daily routine, her fuss-free approach to style, and her list of the best spots to hit in her hometown.
What’s your morning routine like? We live on site at BLOK so I try to do a 6:30 AM class most days while my daughter is asleep. It gives me time to exercise and get ready before she’s up, and then we start the day together with the usual routine of breakfast, off to nursery, and then I’m at my desk by 8:00 AM.
Early day! So would you say you’re naturally a morning person? No, not at all. But I'm constantly chasing the day if I don't get that 6:00 AM class in.
And for breakfast? I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best breakfast, but it’s an apple with peanut butter. Every morning after my workout.
I actually think that’s pretty healthy after a workout! Right? You have sugar for muscle recovery, along with protein from the peanut butter. Speaking of which, was health and nutrition always a big focus for you? I spent many years working for Honestly Healthy’s co-founder, Vicki Edgson—she’s a celebrity nutritionist over here. She became a very close friend of mine, and I learned a lot from working with her. I’ve always had to watch my weight, and over the years I've realized the importance of feeling healthy and balanced. Vicki helped me to do this, and opening BLOK gave me the opportunity to impart some of that knowledge. I'm by no means a qualified nutritionist though, and the industry has moved on so quickly, I leave that side of things to the professionals now!
I do think it’s pretty amazing how much more informed the general population seems to be about nutrition, wellness, food allergies, gut health, all those sorts of things, these days. Absolutely. I think with the rise on Instagram, blogs and influencers, fitness and wellbeing has become far more accessible and plays such a huge part in people's lives now.
Has motherhood changed your approach to wellness? Yes, I've spent the last two years surviving! I had great plans of owning a gym, popping Ava out, and being size 4 all over again, and it just didn't work out that way. I was tired, and my body didn't respond to fad diets. So these days it's about balance. I run my own business, I work very long hours and I'm permanently trying to juggle work, motherhood and the odd occasion where I get to treat myself with a glass of wine. In order to achieve all of that, it has to be everything in moderation. There is no room for starving myself, no room for packing in three classes a day and living on juice. I need balanced meals to fuel my days and a realistic exercise routine.
Ok, let’s talk about BLOK. You have over 160 classes a week. How is that even possible? As people's jobs and daily lives have become more sedentary, it’s become almost essential for people to proactively seek out exercise if they want to keep themselves moving, and there is a huge demand for group exercise—many people now do a fitness class four or five times a week. Fitness plays such a huge role in their lives, so we feel it’s vital that our customers should love coming to BLOK and always feel that they’re learning and progressing. We encourage our instructors to constantly adapt and innovate, so our classes are always changing. We have 30 different types of classes, and we offer classes throughout the day, seven days a week—over 350 classes a week across the two locations.
When you say you live “on site” at BLOK, that means…upstairs? Yes, we’re now based on site at BLOK Clapton, which is situated in a converted Victoria Tram Depot in East London. It's a pretty cool place to live, and a great place to bring up our daughter—with a nursery, florist, photo studios and of course BLOK right there.
If anything, it’s got to be quite convenient for making those 6:30 AM classes—no travel! What’s your favorite class to take there? Until recently I was always a complete cardio junkie and love anything that feels like it's going to kill me! Recently, I've felt the need for more balance in my routine—I regularly work a 14-hour day—and I’ve found a new love in barre. It gives me the cardio workout I crave, but helps to calm my mind. We've also recently introduced classes, BLOKsculpt and BLOKflex, which really work on stretching your muscles for a longer, leaner look. At 5’3,” I'm always seeking anything that's going to make me a little taller!
How would you describe your personal style? It's actually quite hard dressing for the gym when you're not actually working out in one, and this is something I've had to work on. I tend to keep things fairly classic, and then like to throw in the odd seasonal piece. I like a good pair of jeans—J Brand are my go-to—and decent cashmere for the winter. At the moment, I'm buying a lot of Acne, Comme des Garçons, and Alexander Wang.
Where do you like to shop? I’d say most of the shopping I do these days is online. It’s great to be able to try things on at home, on my own time. Usually I shop on Matches, Net-a-Porter, Brown’s. Anything with same-day delivery is a major plus, too—especially for last-minute events.
What are some of your most tried-and-true fashion items? My Balenciaga City handbag. I'm a certified shopaholic and bag addict. You name the bag, I have it, and yet I still pretty much always use my Balenciaga for a meeting or just nipping to the shops. You can put everything in it—including spare nappies and kids clothes—and still look chic! I'm also living in white leather Saint Laurent trainers at the moment. They’re smart enough for a meeting, but not too dressy for the gym.
Fuss-free style— I love that. Tell me about your beauty regimen. I was very lucky to be blessed with good skin, which I've inherited from my mother. She taught me to always look after it, so I’ve always invested in good quality products. I mostly use Linda Meredith and (MALIN+GOETZ) products. I absolutely love their recovery treatment oil. I'm totally obsessed! My other beauty secret is Claire Peters. She's the only facialist I know who can make you appear years younger in under an hour!
What would be an indulgence or splurge—fashion, beauty, wellness, or whatever—you would happily give yourself? A trip to Neville Salon for a haircut. I drive there, and it can take close to an hour, but I’ve been going there to get my hair done since I was 18. I have balayage once every six months and then will usually have a tint on my roots and a cut in between. Nando Spano, one of their stylists, has been cutting my hair for nearly 20 years and is a great friend!
What would be your perfect weekend day? It would be a relaxing Saturday morning, no rushing, then stepping out for a wonder through Broadway Market—it’s only open on Saturdays—through all the fun food stalls and different vendors. Yeah, just a beautiful day out walking around.
Aside from dropping by BLOK for a class—which I definitely plan on doing—what else would you recommend for my next visit to London? Hit Dover Street Market for all things fashion and design, then take a stroll down Albermarle Street for a spot of shopping; Scott’s for cocktails and people-watching, The White Cube for an exhibition, Printworks for a night out, Nightjar for a date, I Will Kill Again for a hangover brunch, and Noble Rot for amazing wine!
Ok, the most important question of all: coffee or tea? Oh, definitely coffee.