As soon as they set eyes on 19-20 Barn Street, Nyambe Ikasaya and his wife Rowan knew it was their place.
Never mind that it was a second-hand furniture store showing no signs of closing down – the couple were happy to wait it out, hanging a board in their house that read: “One Life Studio, opening 2009, 19-20 Barn Street.” They got what they asked for – and a year early.
In 2008 the building came up for lease. “Straight away we went for it”, says Nyambe – which meant scrambling together resources, taking advance bookings from loyal clients, seeking financial advice from clients in the industry, and rallying the family round to build treatment rooms, tile the bathroom and turn 19-20 Barn Street into One Life Studio. He recalls: “Everything just gelled together like magic. And here we are.”
Nyambe Ikasaya emigrated to London from Zambia nine years ago, and his fitness career was born and bred in Hackney. Following a series of ‘odd jobs’ from cleaning to telesales to fundraising, he took a new path towards what would become One Life Studio – starting with a personal training course in Finsbury Park, and building up a client base at the now-closed Bay Health Club in Stoke Newington. Rowan was a yoga instructor teaching locally, and the pair soon developed a “clear vision” for their own studio.
The result is an unusually airy space among east London’s Victorian architecture – an open-plan studio where a miniature ‘gym’ blends into a yoga space which blends into the reception area, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto a quiet street. Yoga, pilates (classes are limited to ten students per session) and personal training are on offer, as well as a range of treatments including osteopathy, acupuncture and massage.
One Life’s holistic approach to wellness aims to “leave no stone unturned”, with the ultimate goal of achieving balance between nutrition, rest, addressing stress and state of mind and, of course, movement (One Life’s replacement for the word ‘exercise’) – which Nyambe always recommends doing barefoot to make use of the neglected muscles in our feet.
Clients come to One Life with a variety of goals – from new mums getting back into shape after pregnancy, to a sixty-two year old now fitter than most men half his age. Its personalised approach is also an immersive one, and Nyambe makes it clear that achieving balance involves a serious commitment.
“This space is a platform for people to come to when they’re ready to make that lifestyle change. We facilitate that lifestyle change for well being.”
One Life offers a donation-based acupuncture clinic on Mondays.
One Life Studio
19-20 Barn Street
020 7249 4441