KX private members' club CEO Graziano Arricale on fitness, food and a fresh start in 2021
Red light rooms, curated diet plans and futuristic laser treatments lead the exclusive club's charge into a post-pandemic world
Graziano Arricale, the CEO of Chelsea private members' club KX, is a man with a penchant for a smooth sales pitch and a love of detail. With confidence and articulation borne of a mix of a PhD laboratory and Kensington elite culture, his answer to the first question levelled at him about a new feature in his club's gym contains references to infrared radiation, tissue regeneration and something called photobiomodulation therapy.
After a gruelling year in which the very idea of group exercise, restaurant dining and communal lounging was presented with an existential challenge, Arricale refuses to let adversity affect his ambitions; he has already set the stage for a series of fascinating new launches across his club in early 2021.
Founded in 2001, KX has become a haunt of the high society figures of west London, from Hollywood A-listers to billionaire CEOs, all of whom swear by the club due to its strict adherence to the latest academic developments in sports science, nutrition and beauty therapies. Over the years, the KX has developed a reputation for introducing cutting edge technologies to its gyms and the latest peer-reviewed dietary schemes to its kitchen in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve.
And based on the upcoming launches he and his team have organised in the fields of fitness, gastronomy and beatuy, it appears that Arricale sees 2021 as an opportunity for more of the same, despite the setbacks presented by the pandemic.
At the forefront of this set of new facilities is the KX Red Fit Cardio Detox, an exercise space in which guests, be they partaking in pilates or a strenuous cycle, are blasted with infrared light as they get their sweat on. This rather aesthetically intense new feature, the first of its kind in Europe, is emblematic of KX's drive to always be at the cutting edge of wellness by harnessing the power of bizarre - but effective - science.
"When we look at bringing on new treatments, exercise regimes or concepts into the business, everything is evidence-based," he tells me. "We tend to look at the research and science behind any new activity and unless we believe it works, we wouldn't bring it into the club."
I probe further into the benefits of exercising in what looks like the Eye of Sauron. "In the Red Fit room there are lights that emit infrared waves and remain on during workouts, and there is research that proves that this provides a photochemical effect that is somewhat similar to photosynthesis in plants.
"What this does is activate your body at a cellular level. Our team has developed various programs in which you do fairly gentle cardio, but the onslaught of infrared by these lights reduces oxidative stress on your body, increases cellular energy, increases your metabolism, reduces inflammation and supports detoxification of the body."
"There are some pretty big claims around red rooms so [KX wellness director] Gideon [Remfry] spent quite a bit of time looking at peer-reviewed studies on photobiomodulation, and he was satisfied that it had a tangible biological effect on people."
KX has a whole host of other launches lined up in the following months, though few are as intimidatingly sci-fi-esque as the Red Room. Over in the kitchen, Arricale has scouted a new head chef in William Best, formerly of The Square, Wiltons, The Ritz Hotel, to concoct a new menu that is a deft mix of indulgent, rich dishes and detoxifying plant-based cuisine.
"We brought William on board and gave him a brief for the menu and I think what we've created is fantastic," Arricale says. "It's two-thirds healthy and good for you, and one-third decadent and luxurious. You have to give people an option; I don't think everyone is being super cautious in what they're eating at all times."
The most eye-catching addition to the menu - and one that goes firmly in the "indulgent" category - is the Wagyu katsu sandwich, a helping of exceptionally high grade Japanese beef steak coated in panko breadcrumbs, popped between two slices of bread and served with a classic katsu sauce.
"We've also got plenty of salads and clean protein, such as grilled fish with fresh vegetables," he continues. "So we've managed to completely rewrite the menu but still retain both healthy and decadent elements."
Those looking for the ultimate health kick at KX can partake in the club's very own curated meal plan, The Vital Diet, a close relative of the on-trend Sirtfood diet.
Far from a gruelling slog of calorie cutting and self-flagellation, Arricale and his team believe in the preservation of mental health during dieting periods, and say their meal plan strikes an ideal balance between health and happiness.
"The diet consists of shakes, shots and juices, and then you've got healthy meals that are substantial; this is not in any way a starvation diet," Arricale insists. "You eat properly and you feel satiated."
Arricale says that the theory behind the balance of the Vital Diet stems partly from the misery which often accompanies crash diets. "I was training for a marathon a few years ago and needed to drop weight to get fit for it," he tells me. "The way I did it was through typical blokey, aggressive calorie reduction, and I lost loads of weight and was in good shape but I was absolutely miserable. It was unsustainable."
"I think the key to being healthy in the long term is eating in a way that is both satisfying and enjoyable," he adds.
So how does the Vital Diet bypass the anguish of normal calorie cutting plans? Sure, it offers healthy meals that leave dieters full, but it has another rather game-changing ace up its sleeve: it allows red wine and chocolate.
But food and exercise are just two nodes in a wellness trifecta. The club's innovative spa is also due to launch a new pioneering menu of treatments, curated by head of the spa Caroline Curry.
These treatments, which it goes without saying are back by a wealth of academic studies, include everything from KXSuper Advanced Facials to a Facial Peel Programme and the Ultimate KX Facial with Laser Genesis Plus. And for those not yet lucky enough to be fully-fledged KX cardholders, the spa is open to non-members too.
With launches across the board at KX and a new branch opening in New York City later this year, KX has come out of the pandemic swinging and ready for 2021, though Arricale remains cautious about the prospect of reopening fully.
"Government restrictions have posed some problems for private members' clubs and we are pleased that we have managed to stay open during parts of the Tier 4 lockdown in a responsible and safety-conscious mannerm" he says. "However, if it means we can avoid going in and out of these lockdowns for the next few months, I would rather we shut everything down fully so we can distribute a vaccine and reopen the club to its full capacity as soon as possible."
Whether it's detoxifying wellness or simply a gut-busting wagyu sandwich you're looking for, Arricale's plans for 2021 demonstrate that there are few better all-round members' clubs in London than KX when it comes to scientific expertise, cutting-edge facilities and fine dining.
For more information visit KXlife.co.uk