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SPA DOCTOR: I’ve got the inside story on ageing 

Whatever we might tell other people, we all know how old we really are. And looks can be deceptive: it’s what’s going on inside our bodies that really matters.

Factors such as our weight, how much fat we are carrying, our cardiovascular health and our mental wellbeing all add up to give a far better picture of how ‘old’ we actually are. To put it simply, our body age can be vastly different from our real age.

It is a theory I can relate to: I don’t think I look bad for my 40 years, but I feel exhausted. I used to wake up and hit the ground running, but now it takes me several hours to really get going. I typically hit a mid-afternoon slump, and it’s not uncommon during my 90-minute evening commute to fall asleep.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa, pictured,  runs the unique Body Age Challenge 

Could I be ageing inside faster than I should be? What can I do about that? To find out the answers, I agreed to take part in a unique test – called the Body Age Challenge – being offered at the Gainsborough Bath Spa.


The three thermal hot springs in Bath were discovered by the Romans and they were later prized by the Georgians for their healing powers.

The water, which surges out of the ground at about 33.5C, is said to contain more than 42 minerals.

The Gainsborough, which occupies a stately Grade II listed Georgian building opposite the Thermae Bath Spa, is the only hotel in the city to have access to the spring. It also boasts a private Spa Village where guests can ‘take in the waters’ or enjoy massages and facials.

This year the hotel is hosting a series of wellness events that are open to the public, one of which is the Body Age Challenge – it is hosted by local nutritionist and weight-loss guru Heba Al-Zuhair. I was invited to meet Heba at her Bath clinic for a taste of what will be on offer.


The effervescent Heba greets me at her Nutrition and Wellness Centre with home-made herbal tea – brewed with spring water from the well in her garden, of course – before we sit down to discuss my health. Lining the walls are before-and-after pictures of clients she has successfully help shed pounds.

They also look remarkably younger and happier. Heba says: ‘Weight loss is why people come to me, but there is a whole picture behind it: why do we gain weight, why do we crave food, what is that doing to our bodies?’

My assessment includes a detailed questionnaire on every aspect of health, from my family history of illness to my own specific concerns.

Heba measures my weight, height, blood pressure, pulse, body-fat percentage, muscle mass and hydration levels. These, combined, give her my body age.

I’m bowled over to be told that I’m almost two decades younger inside – just 23 – than I really am. So why do I feel so exhausted?

‘You just need to rest more,’ advises Heba.

It’s true I work long hours and exercise just about every day. But it is reassuring to know that I’m not completely decrepit inside.

The consultation has given me food for thought.


The first Body Age Challenge happens on April 12 and costs £35 per person. There will be a nutrition lecture and body-age testing from Heba starting at 11.15am, followed by a healthy two-course lunch at the Gainsborough’s fabulous restaurant, Dan Moon. Guests will also receive a Neal’s Yard Remedies goody bag.

To book your place, visit or call 01225 355 329.

For more information about Heba, visit nutritionand