When former Broadway performer Ashley Verma got injured, she channelled all her energy into creating Define London, a new fitness concept that already has a cult following in the capital
Props to Ashley Verma. After dancing through injuries live on stage with a smile on her face, she has somehow managed to transition seamlessly from a successful career as Broadway performer to one of London’s most exciting new names in fitness.
‘My journey into the fitness scene started around 12 years ago after I moved to New York and started a Broadway career. I was yearning for something else as well though, so I found group exercise and it felt like that was where I needed to be,’ says Verma.
‘I had an amazing luxury of having incredible instructors with everything you could ask for and juggling it with a Broadway career.’ Verma fell in love with exercise and started creating her own concepts of how her classes would be and started writing it all down.
While performing eight shows a week, having her own personal training clients and teaching about 15 classes a week, Verma was devastated to discover that she had completely ruptured the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in her knee.
‘They looked at me and said that they didn’t know how I was still dancing and performing,’ she explains. ‘But I tipped my hat to all the training I was doing at the ballet barre because it helped my body to be strong, lean and stay together. The barre really creates longevity in fitness.’
I’m very much a New Yorker in the sense that the hustle is real
Clearly, Verma isn’t someone to give up or wallow in self pity and, instead, she used this as an opportunity to launch the fitness ideas that she had for so long: ‘I’m very much a New Yorker in the sense that the hustle is real,’ she laughs. ‘That’s always been my mojo, even as a kid.’
So, how did she end up in London? ‘My husband pushed me to build the studio and brand that I had wanted for so long,’ she explains. ‘He is from London so that was a big catalyst. We made the move two years ago and hit the ground running building my brand. It’s been a rollercoaster. But the most amazing people in London have embraced my ideas and my concept and I couldn’t be happier.’
From here, Define London was born, a selection of unique classes that use body-burning, stretching and strengthening systems to help you achieve a strong, lean, sculpted body through an evolving mix of fitness exercises, simultaneously combining strength training and cardio so not only are you burning fat, you are building long lean muscle.
It uses an intense mix of isometric moves while incorporating cardio-infused sequences throughout the class to keep your metabolism high. While they stick to a formatted class within each concept, no workout is alike because they change up the choreography in every class to keep your muscles guessing.
I knocked on every door of every gym and asked if I could show them what I could do. It’s like auditioning for a Broadway show all over again
The biggest benefits of the classes are improved posture, muscle definition, weight loss, increased flexibility and reduced stress. And it is designed for all fitness levels too, so as long as you have a positive attitude, Verma promises to give you that burn that leaves you wanting more. Their goal is to define a stronger, healthier, more inspired version of you.
‘I knocked on every door of every gym, corporate and person and asked if I could show them what I could do,’ says Verma. ‘It’s like auditioning for a Broadway show all over again. But I got very lucky and one of those doors that stayed wide open was Google where I have been training clients the Define concept at their different offices.’
Verma now has a team of instructors working for Define London and is opening her first studio on Great Portland Street in Fitzrovia soon. So what can people expect from the studio?
‘They can expect Define all day, every day,’ laughs Verma. ‘It will be taken beyond the Define concept that some of my clients know now – I want to take it further. So it will have three different levels of Barre classes that will be offered on the daily every week.
‘We accommodate for all levels and all injuries as, obviously, this was very important to me.’