Words Kirk Truman
Photography Astrid Schulz
“I began to feel like the gym was something that I had to do to be healthy – in the same way that I would go to work to earn money. I wanted to create an environment that made people want to exercise and want to be fit. I didn’t want people to feel as if it were a chore.”
For many Londoners, blighted by routine, by tube rides into the grey tunnels of our lives and jobs that seem only to drown us, health and fitness has gotten to be a chore. We live with the knowledge that our health is not a given but an active choice we make in life, that our bodies take true courage and passion to respect and value. A career which followed an entirely different path to that which she desired, an underlying passion to continue pursuing her practice of dance and structured health routine, Lina Petraityte avows to me the story behind The Egoist Body, and her motive to follow this path toward a career in fitness.
Lithuanian born Lina founded The Egoist Body just over 5 years ago now. After having studied economics, she went on to work in finance at Hedgefund in Mayfair. This had been a step away from another life back home in Eastern Europe, where she had trained as a professional ballroom dancer since the age of 5. Though Lina wasn’t originally taken by dance her mother encouraged her to attend classes – which she frequently skipped. Soon, however, she began to practice dance on a regular basis as a youngster, developing a passion for health and fitness working closely with a number of dance partners.
She worked for half a decade in finance, describing her daily routine as simply work, sleep and eat – often unbearable. During this period the long hours and workload caused her to become stressed in herself, leading to the development of health issues such as allergies. Health and fitness had become a secondary priority to Lina’s intensive workload. This was something that really bothered her.
The routine of the job had meant that it wasn’t feasible for her to find time to exercise, focus on nutrition and, of course, dance. As Lina tells me, “I began to feel like the gym was something that I had to do to be healthy – in the same way that I would go to work to earn money. I wanted to create an environment that made people want to exercise and want to be fit. I didn’t want people to feel as if it were a chore.”
The longer she spent in her financial career, the more she felt trapped and unsatisfied with her day-to-day routine. Having realised the decline of her health was perhaps caused by the stress and long hours, Lina lost passion, deciding that it was time to focus on her health and fitness. She explains that “Before I started my role, I was very fit. With my job in finance I never had the energy to exercise or the time eat healthily. My job meant that I often would have my lunch brought to my desk – it was almost impossible to leave the front of my computer screen!” This was her lowest level of fitness, thus it was to become the foundations of a very different career direction.
Lina began searching for a place in order to set up a boutique style personal Yoga & Pilates studio whilst still continuing her day job which she soon decided it was time to quit. She started with the idea in mind of enabling people who had followed similar careers and routines to herself: to enjoy flexible, healthy and stress relieving classes around their busy, and often chaotic, lives.
In searching for her studio, Lina eventually found her way to Fitzrovia – more specifically Fitzroy Square. Lina tells me of the lucky circumstance she found the location; “The studio wasn’t advertised at all – I found it through a friend of mine who was a member of the Georgian group, which the house belongs to. The space needed a lot of work, but what stood out to me most of all was the view of the square and the natural light that shone into the space. It felt like home to me!” She laughs.
Soon after, having fallen for her dream studio at No. 6 Fitzroy Square, she did not only begin work on readying it to open, but made the floor above the studio her personal residence. The studio space of The Egoist Body makes for the perfect collaboration of classical Georgian architecture and a modern health alternative. The experience of the classes here is calming, a breath of fresh-air away from the bustle of central London. With views looking through the building’s tall classical Georgian sash windows and out over the beauty of the square, Lina and her team of instructors offer an intimate and bespoke way to enjoy Yoga and Pilates, with health and nutrition advice on hand.
Many clients who attended when The Egoist Body originally launched 5 years ago are still regular clients today. A general mix of genders makes up the users and there is much sociability between them. The studio hosts 3 classes a day; lunchtime, evening and late evening. Although the majority of her daytime and evening clients are local and living in the Fitzrovia area, or transients who work in it, Lina finds that late evening clients come from much further afield: many fall under the category of people she sought to help when opening the studio; people who work very long hours and find exercise to be a chore. Unsurprisingly to Lina, many of these people work in finance.
Upon opening, Lina’s was one of the only independent studios of its kind. Today The Egoist Body continues to grow strong, with new regular clients frequenting the studio – many of whom were referred by other attendees. The sessions here are a stray away from much larger classes, and are taught by true professional teachers whom, unlike many conventional trainers, understand the importance of the practice and precision of instructing these classes without damaging the bodies or joints of attendees.
With health and fitness becoming more of a focus in London as a whole, Yoga and Pilates classes are becoming more popular and the norm for both genders, Lina confesses that today many of her former colleagues in finance have come to turn their health around. Today, Lina is looking to start a new business called ‘Retreats I Love’ which aims to help people incorporate their health into a short-term retreat. Fitzrovia is both Lina’s neighbourhood and the home of her business.