Embracing a new “evolution-friendly fitness method”, Biofit is a nature-inspired biophilic pop-up gym that has opened in London’s Ladbroke Grove.
Designed by award-winning landscape architect Lily Jencks, the Biofit gym features living plants, artificial grass, natural pine essence aromatherapy and hand-made wooden workout equipment. There is nothing digital, electrical or mechanical.Biofit founder Matt Morley says: “Human evolutionary history shows we’ve been lifting, carrying, jumping, striking and crawling for millions of years, working at varying speeds and intensities according to circumstance; so we start there.
“To counteract the effects of a sedentary, 21st-century lifestyle, Biofit then integrates mobility work into every session to restore range of motion and protect the joints from injury. We also use play to practise new movement skills and stimulate the neurological pathways in a fun, interactive way.”Biofit aims to “bring the outside in”. Jencks says: “Our society needs to calibrate our relationship with the natural world, which is leading to a surge in this kind of biophilic, nature inspired design.”With scheduled classes running until February 3, Biofit is a showcase for a concept that is intended to be rolled out in hotels, health clubs, residential complexes and offices in the near future.The Biofit pop-up also provides an opportunity to conduct research into the benefits of biophilic environments in conjunction with the UK Active Research Institute.
Dr Steven Mann, lead researcher at the UK Active Research Institute, says: “Previous research into the wellness benefits of nature-inspired design has focused largely on corporate offices, schools and hospitals with findings showing positive gains in productivity, enhanced learning comprehension and increased healing rates.
“However, to our knowledge, this is the first of its kind in a gym environment so we’re very excited to be breaking new ground and looking forward to reporting the findings.”Biophilic design is already catching on among architects and interior designers. Luxury, eco-embracing mini-chain 1 Hotels is the best example in the hotel industry.
Its properties in New York and Miami have verdant living walls, free organic fruit in the lobby, walls clad in reclaimed wood, free-hanging air plants and beds with hemp mattresses, among many other nature-inspired innovations.
Biophilic design consultant Oliver Heath says: “With mobile technology slowly creeping into every aspect of our lives it’s becoming more and more important that we find ways to create a good work-life balance.
“Strengthening the connection to nature can help to reduce the stress that focused concentration creates (present when we look at screens) allowing effortless concentration which is relaxing and recuperative.”
Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, the parent of SH Group, a lifestyle hotel brand management company that manages 1 Hotels, says: “At first, our guests may simply notice the graceful twist of driftwood in the furnishings. However, what we are really offering is an evolution of the entire hotel experience, one that is more natural in regards to the way we arrive, sleep, eat, relax and do.
“By focusing on simple changes that make life better, we will encourage guests to stop, recalibrate and hopefully gain some inspiration from the small steps we have taken to protect nature at each property.”