SPN’s Founder Jaime Cooke - Wild & Untamed
The Secret Behind Soul + Power + Nutrition
Interviewed by Karen Brost Whyte
Each month we shine a spotlight on the extraordinary women who have inspired our hand-drawn illustrations and the collections we curate around them. Jaime Cooke is our October "Diamond Eye" cover girl and is the founder and curator of her LA-meets-London emporium of fitness, fashion and funk called SPN which stands for Soul+Power+ Nutrition. The good vibes and positive energy are palpable as soon as you walk through the front door of their stunning glass oasis and it's nearly impossible to not feel inspired and hopeful that soon you will be transformed into a female gladiator. Wait, did someone say make fitness fun through a camaraderie of great music, mouth watering healthy smoothies, cutting edge kit and accessories and a dance party spin class with a live-DJ? Although we are predominantly considered to be lazy and living in Richmond with two small children, we're slightly addicted and on Day 7 of channelling the SPN vibes using their newly launched SPN+ app. A combo of live and pre-recorded classes but, although 2-D the recipe is there and it's almost as if we can hear the smoothie maker whizzing in the background. We will continue to jam via satellite until the day that SPN studios comes to Richmond.
We can't quite help ourselves falling deeply in lust with the breath-taking look of Jaime's modern and airy fitness emporium but I for one became immediately aware that the classes might be too "next level" for this slow-moving designer. Thankfully, I was proven refreshingly wrong. Our MVE class was filled with a good mix of shapes, sizes and levels of fitness and both through Jamie's joyful Canadian spirit and an incredibly curated playlist of music we were motivated to a level of nearly having fun. I now find myself rather shockingly on Day 7 of channelling the SPN vibes through their newly launched SPN+ app. A combo of live and pre-recorded classes and, although 2-D, their unique recipe of calm, cool and uplifting vibes is firmly present and it's almost as if we can hear the smoothie maker whizzing in the background. We will continue to jam via satellite until the hopeful day that SPN studios arrives in Richmond. Yes please!
The newest SPN studio is opening in Sevenoaks in less than a month and will be a one-stop-shop for food-fitness fun and fashion. The fully kitted cafe will also serve their signature smoothies as well as lots of others delicious and healthy nibbles to indulge in after spin class. Look out for products from our exclusive SPN-ZaZaBoom collaboration and make sure to follow Jaime and her team of inspirational experts @spn.fit. You can also enter to win incredible prizes including a one-to-one private training session or "Fit+Mind+Body" consultation with Jaime.
Q&A with Jaime:
So, when exactly did you first realise that you had a healthy stack of unique female super- powers? Three young children, atypical loving marriage, a successful serial entrepreneur, stacks of feisty exotic pets, a massive and stylish family estate to curate and maintain, charity commitments, becoming an iconic fitness and nutrition influencer in her 40s, educator, chef, and on and on.
Oh wow, that is greatly appreciated but I’m afraid those accolades are a significant overstatement - I surely wish I had a few super-powers up my sleeve and my first choice would absolutely be to acquire a set of wings, preferably in gold lame, to help me keep things purring between our flagship studio in Tunbridge Wells and the new studio about to launch in Sevenoaks. If I had to pinpoint one personal strength as my go to "secret weapon" it would be that of a “master-juggler” and this is due in part to spending a lifetime working in a diverse range of careers. I started my career in advertising, then later jumped at the chance to become a young editor of a luxury spa magazine and then later found myself firmly sizzling in the fashion frying pan when I decided to launch my own luxury boot brand called Mukluks - they all sort of feed into one another and have given me a multitude of skills to draw from. My one piece of advice to anyone who is looking to start any type of new business is to make sure they experience and master every role, no matter how small and tedious, to perfection. By having this granular knowledge of how every facet of your business ticks, it will help you to thoughtfully and intelligently grow your business.
Who most inspired you growing up in Canada?
My father is, and always will be, the biggest inspiration in my life, love and career. He’s continues, even in his seventies, to be a driven and dynamic influence on us all. He steadily worked his way from the bottom of the ladder and continued fighting and excelling until he reached the very top of his career – always with 100% dedication and drive. He also managed to somehow maintain his loyalty, kindness and has always been considered to be a fair human being. His strong work and family ethos were both a priority, but he just had a way of keeping them in perfect harmony. He’s the glue that held us firmly together as a family and continues to be the unconditional coach and supporter for everything I do. He’s also still madly in love with our mother after 40 years which of course is adorable and rare.
3/ Other than early morning school runs, what drives you to “up your game” every single day? Is it music, mediation, sex, drugs??
I can’t even take credit for school runs at the moment, as I teach at the studio most mornings, again a need for those golden wings. My classes fuel me with motivation and flood my body and mind with endorphins that carry me through to dinner time. One of the greatest and deeply satisfying parts of my job is seeing the direct effect the classes have on the lovely people who have attended. Although simple, it's a profound and long-lasting effect that moving the body can have on your mood, your mind and your confidence. This transformation can actually feel like a super-power and the good news is that anyone can tap into it the “magic” with a slow and steady commitment to “moving the body.”
Ps: In order to improve clarity, strength and an extra dose of energetic drive, add in a bit of regular strength training. Again, start out really slow and just build on that when you feel like you need a bit more of a challenge. It’s all intuitive as long as you’re kind to yourself.
4/ What is your philosophy of fitness and how to maintain consistency and commitment? Do you think a fit and healthy body leads to a fit and healthy brain or the reverse?
It's actually the most fulfilling part of my job when we get to see the utterly miraculous transformation of our clients, both in mind and body. The goal for most people when they first walk through the doors is initially just to “get fit” physically but what they soon discover is the infinite silver lining provided with exercise and that is an unmistakable positive head space. Every type of movement has a place and a purpose; Yoga and Pilates for breath-work + mind/ body connection and Indoor Cycling and HIIT for tapping into the endorphins, it all makes us feel good and listening to what your body needs at that given moment is the most important thing. It just takes a bit of practice. When we are feeling the most out of balance in life, it's usually due to not observing, feeling and listening to our bodies. In just a few minutes of silence and basic breath-work, most of our physical and mental barriers can be overcome.
5/ What book(s) are you reading ATM? Please tell me there is no time for reading?
I’m actually reading an incredible book that I would highly recommend called Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living by Glennon Doyle. It’s one of the greatest personal revelations that I’ve ever experienced when reading a book and, again, it’s so very simple! I highly recommend that EVERY woman on the planet reads this book.
What film or tv character would you most likely channel for a bit of bad-assery inspo?
Showing my age a bit here but I’ve recently started to binge watch the original 90s series of Sex and the City. In one frivolous episode I find myself transported right back to one of the most carefree times of my life, when all I worried about was whether I was going to get a mani-pedi on a Saturday afternoon or go rollerblading in the park. When we’re given the all clear to party-on, you can be sure that I’ll be channelling my favourite wild, eclectic and girls-girl Carrie Bradshaw for a good dose of shiny handbags, tulle skirts and a pair or two of Jimmy Choo's.
My favourite line ever in a Sex in the City episode?
As Carrie ran for the dreaded last Staten Island Ferry of the evening, she stumbled, lost her ruby slipper and said "Oh no, I lost my Chooooo!"
6/ Have you discovered any natural approaches or methods to reduce anxiety and help to promote a happy healthy mind and body?
My anxiety started at the end of last year when I was going through a really difficult time in the business. I felt in my gut that things weren’t quite right, but I was just too scared and confused to face up to it. I just continued to push in the same direction that was refusing me the ease I had become accustomed to. It wasn't until I started having panic attacks in my spin classes, that I realised how our subconscious worries can manifest themselves into dangerous and reactive outcomes in our brain function. It was a truly terrifying realisation and for the first time in my life I was afraid to teach the classes that had once inspired me. I really suffered physically and mentally for several months and it wasn't until I fully stepped away for a week away that I was able to gain perspective on the fundamental problem in the business, something that I had worked so tirelessly to create. Once I was able to come to terms and accept the situation, I was able to physically and emotionally move on from the disappointment and hurt and my anxiety vanished. Change is scary and usually difficult, but I can now recognise the massive upside to our streamlined new path. This milestone moment taught me to face my fears head-on and to always listen to my body and gut as stress can do harmful long-term damage to both the brain and body.
Recently I discovered an incredibly quick and effective technique to fuel my brain and body for the whole day. The secret is deep-quick-breathing and cold showers using one of my favourite immune system gurus, The Wim Hoff Method. I start my day with a rather shocking cold shower, although I do admit to starting with a bit of warm in the beginning, and then follow up with Wim’s simple free app that takes you through a 3 minute circuit of his trademark intense breathing exercises, and nothing can get in my way! It seems too simple to work, but there is science behind the method, it feels invigorating and it works.
I heard a great phrase by Jay Shetty, “We can control our emotional state with our breathing”. Let your breath control life, not life controlling your breath. I haven't had an attack since.
6/ What is your secret guilty pleasure? Food, fun, flirtation?
The one thing that has consistently made me weak in the knees is my life-long affair with Italian food - Lobster Linguini holding the title as my greatest love. To maintain the delicate balance between primal cravings and good sense, I willingly indulge fully at least once a month.
8/ What advice would you give to someone who has added a few unwanted “lockdown love handles” and is interested in easing themselves slowly into a healthy and fit lifestyle? And how can we consistently try our best to make the best decisions about what we eat?
Yes, that is precisely the key word, start slowly all whilst extending kindness, respect, and compassion to yourself. If you’re looking for a consistent and healthier lifestyle, you need to incorporate a bit of self-love into the equation if you’re looking for lasting changes. I’ve seen all of the extremes and typically the first to fail are the clients that adopt strict and unsustainable food and fitness regimes. Your brain quickly creates a subconscious association with deprivation, hunger and pain, and it's our natural survival mechanism of "flight or flight" that kicks in and can sometimes result in a dash to grab a dozen crispy cremes for the kids of course, wink. Regardless of your age or long-term goals, it’s best to start simply with a few walks and just one class per week. It's usually the radical judgement that we put on ourselves that leads to failure. Just allow yourself a nice and healthy pace and just allow yourself a day off if you feel like it. This allows your body, as well as your brain, to increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts. The other key piece of advice is to do what you enjoy and allow yourself the chance to try new things. Its ok if you absolutely hate spinning at the end of the 45 minutes, you don’t have to ever do it again. That’s the beauty of being easy on yourself and unafraid to try new things. There is no failure, there’s only the fear of trying. Find a workout that allows you to stay in both mental and physical shape. For some it’s spin class 1x a week, a yoga class mid-week and a weekend breath-work class to restore the balance and to reboot the brain for the upcoming week. I’d also recommend making small changes to your routine to keep things interesting and one of the easiest ways is to just take things outdoors. It’s quite miraculous when we simply infuse a bit of fresh air and the dazzling sights and sounds of nature. It suddenly feels a lot less like work and a bit more like an escape and indulgence.
The subject of food and diet is an endless well of conversation and debate and it, of course, plays a massive role in your fluctuating energy levels and weight loss goals. Creating a healthy and sustainable diet, that people actually still enjoy, is 80% of the weight loss journey. Whether you’re going for a radical plant-based diet or one of the 100's of other options, the key is to create a healthy balance so that you get everything you need and in the right proportions. It’s an up-hill battle for most people and our approach is that “pain” usually results in “gain,” as in weight. Moderation is always the key to long-term success.
It’s the simplest and silliest of statements but just “be conscious” of what you actually put in your mouth. So much of what we eat is either driven by how we are feeling about “life” or simply as an afterthought in our over-scheduled lifestyles.
Take an extra moment and ask yourself, what is the alternative choice to that delicious burger and fries and will the healthier option fuel me with more energy to get through a tough day? It’s an impossible call when we’re stressed and busy but even if you choose the healthy option twice a week, that’s a very healthy and positive start.
After years of collaborating with our incredible clients and the many experts that we frequently reach out to in health, nutrition and fitness, we’re “popping buttons” with pride in announcing the recent launch of our new on-line platform which combines the entire lifestyle needs of the SPN recipe, Soul, Power & Nutrition. It’s literally a dream come true and is the result of a fair bit of blood, lots of sweat and a river full of tech tears. We’ve finally been able to harness the “Big 3” all under one umbrella. Our app SPN+ offers Fitness, Wellness and Nutrition. @spn.fit
Check out our new platform SPN+ www.spn.fit with over 100 workouts (many of them stream live from the studio), mindfulness, nutrition, and we have just launched our 30-Day food and exercise program online which has a 98% success rate. Just saying…
Ok last question lovely, what is your #1 favourite recipe that is the perfect blend of
Naughty and Nice for those of us just starting our journey of awesomeness?
Right, there are literally hundreds of recipes that I’ve experimented with over the years and many of the best ones I’ve learned are from the local chefs that create nutritional wizardry on our fitness retreats (see website for more details on our 5star fitness getaways.) My all-time favourite and family crowd-pleaser is called Courgetti Puttanesca, which loosely translates to “Slutty Courgetti,” which is obviously a bonus. Here’s how I put it together.
Courgetti Puttanesca (Slutty Courgetti)
2 tsp ghee
3 garlic cloves, diced
¼ tsp chilli flakes or a little fresh chilli to taste
8 anchovies drained and chopped
90g pitted olives (drained weight) chopped a bit but we like them whole
1 ½ tbsp small capers rinsed and drained
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped saving a little for the garnish
6 large courgettes
1 tbsp butter
Extra virgin olive oil to serve
Sea salt and black pepper to season
Heat the ghee in a pan over a low heat and very gently fry the garlic and chili flakes for 1 minute- don’t let them brown or burn.
Add the anchovies and stir and cook for 30 seconds and stir and cook for 30 seconds, using your wooden spoon to bash them up a little as they fry.
3. Add the olives. capers and tomatoes, turn up the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until you have a very thick and rich sauce. Add the parsley and season to taste, you won't need much salt as the anchovies are naturally very salty.
While the sauce is simmering, use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make the courgetti. Or you can simply use a regular vegetable peeler to slice the courgettes lengthways into very wide ribbons, which you can then slice in half. You might want to cu the long strands in half to make them easier to eat.
Soften the courgetti in a pan with a little butter, stirring over a low heat for three minutes. Alternatively you can save time by just running some of the hot sauce through your courgetti- the heat and salt in the sauce with soften them.
Serve the courgetti with the sauce. Add a generous sprinkling of parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to each bowl before serving.
A tiny rebuttal from the self-confessed lethargic designer-interviewer person. I had the great pleasure of taking one of Jaime’s MVE class during our recent trip to her flagship studio in Tunbridge Wells and it honestly left me with an exhilaration I haven’t felt since my 30’s. The class is also offered live on the SPN+ app so you can experience it for yourself from your living room. If it weren't for the fear of her seeing me, I'd consider joining the virtual class just to dance around the living room to the nightclub worthy playlists she creates herself.
Sign me up for a few sessions of DJ-JC at Ibiza’s next closing parties and fingers crossed for those carefree days to return.
Love to Jaime and her incredibly inspired and creative team at SPN fitness.
You made us all want to PUSH IT REAL GOOD!