My running partner and friend Christelle Newton won an online competition to trial Biofit the world’s first ‘biophillic’ indoor gym nested in the heart of West Notting Hill, London. When she asked if I would like to attend with her I remembered reading an article on Biofit and distinctly remembered thinking ‘wow that’s different’. In the article the founder Matt Morley said, “evolutionary history shows we’ve been lifting, carrying, jumping, striking and crawling for millions of years, working at varying intensities, so we start there.” So naturally (get the pun?) I said yes please! Within a week there we were waiting for the class to begin in a studio which can only be described as a jungle within a concrete jungle.
Biophilia hypothesis is the idea, that humans seek natural environments and are mentally and physically healthier when connected to nature.
This organic pop-up gym was founded by fitness instructor Matt Morley who has over 20 years of experience in a variety of fields such as martial arts, yoga and gymnastics. We trialed his ‘mindfulness & movement workshop’ which was one of five classes on offer. Matt’s amazing balance and ability became very apparent early on in the session as he was doing multiple controlled pistol squats and I was standing around gulping, thinking ‘how on earth am I going to do that?’.
The class was focused all around mindfulness meditation and movement. Two disciplines which intertwine better than you would first imagine. The approach is to maximise the positive impact that you as a human has with natural vegetation, materials, scents and sounds.
The studio was filled with candles, natural scents, indigenous shrubs (minus a small palm tree) and locally sustained wood for the framed equipment. There were no mirrors, nothing metal and certainly no digital equipment. The different textures you come into contact with, especially the ‘grass’ style flooring ultimately makes you feel more connected to nature than you’ve ever been before.
During the class we did a mix of activities, starting with 45 minutes mindfulness meditation which included sitting and walking meditation, followed by balance and co-ordination style activities. One of the ‘games’ was a co-ordination style tag rugby game whereby we had to competitively crawl in a pattern before sticking opponents on the shoulder. Sounds easy right? Nope. The idea is to control your mind even when you are being tested by others to keep focused on the game.
Myself and Christelle really did have fun and the whole experience was amazing. My favourite take away from the whole evening was that both Matt and his brother Charlie who ran the class had a very refreshing positive attitude towards the group as a whole, making you feel included. They both live and breath this style of workout and it completely rubbed off on me.
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