Inside the world’s first organic gym
29 Jan 2017
While working out outdoors is great for wellbeing, it has its practical limitations. Bad weather, lack of green space, no changing rooms - or lockers for that matter - put many people off. Biofit’s founder, Matt Morley, has a solution: nourishing indoor oases that allow people to experience the benefits of nature whilst working out inside.
“I’m a big believer in the value of the gym and the community that comes with it,” Morley tells us at his first Biofit pop-up in Notting Hill. “The offering used to be quite formulaic, but boutique gyms have revolutionised the industry. However, I didn’t want to create another niche gym offering. For me, Biofit was about taking a concept I’d developed and applying it to where I came from: the hospitality and real estate industries. Biofit is positioning itself as the world’s first organic gym concept.
“While residential developments, hotels and offices all have some sort of wellness facility. It’s often pretty dull and full of mirrors and machinery. I thought there must be a fresher more natural, more engaging way to look after this. Which is where Biofit comes in. I’ve created a template that can be applied across a variety of spaces and locations,” Morley explains.
Biofit is a B2B product that can live within another development. The Notting Hill pop-up that launched in January is essentially a physical pitch to potential developers and partners who’d be interested in applying it to their own spaces. For Morley, it’s a way of bringing the concept to life with a working prototype.
The design of the space was developed in partnership with the award-winning landscape architect, Lily Jencks. Everything in the space, from the equipment to the walls uses natural materials, textures and colours. There are over 70 different plants in the space, each chosen for their air purifying qualities, and a forest mural on the end wall.
Using the pop-up as a conversation starter, Morley is hoping to show people Biofit’s potential and explore how it could adapt in the future. Creating content is key to its success. As well as hosting an events series in store, there is a research study taking place from Ukactive on the benefits of indoor biophilic exercise. They’re measuring everything from attention-related task performance to visitors feelings towards nature. “No one has combined biophilic design and green exercise, so I thought it was a good opportunity to get some quantitative data on this,” Morley adds.
With most of his budget spent on the fit out, one of the biggest challenges Morley tell us he faced was how could he bootstrap his marketing campaign. “Don’t underestimate the importance of local area marketing. That means handing out flyers, going into offices and HR departments of big companies nearby. Flyers are cheap and surprisingly effective when it comes to reaching the local community. Online content has also really helped. I started promoting Biofit about a month before it launched through PR and then started online campaigns a week ahead of launch.”
It appears to have worked. Over 250 people have already signed up to classes at Biofit and Morley tell us the response has been great. “If I could have fed people this, I couldn’t have got closer to what I was hoping for. You always think no one will care, but it’s been really reassuring to hear the positive responses from our visitors. That’s what makes it all worth it.”