Granted, a good playlist is a great way to motivate yourself through a workout, with the beat of your favourite song humming in your ears and encouraging you to the end of a training session. But now fitness classes are going one step further, as it’s becoming an increasingly popular exercise trend to alert all five of your senses, rather than just your hearing. This is known as multisensory or ‘immersive’ exercise.
“Immersive fitness studios take your usual workout and incorporate light, sound, scent and sometimes even taste to create an experience that engages your mind and body, aiming to remove you from dayto- day stressors,” says Charlotte Cox, founder of FLY LDN (flyldn.co.uk). “The focus is on how you feel in the studio and during your workout. Visual and auditory stimuli play a huge role in how we are motivated to move, our perceived exertion and sense of wellbeing.
We have all experienced this to some extent. Think about how it feels when your favourite song comes on during your run and suddenly it gets a little bit easier. Or perhaps you’ve been for a massage and the combination of soft music and essential oils has left you feeling rested and restored. Immersive fitness studios are building on these experiences and taking them to the next level.”
But before you dismiss this as just another gimmick, the benefits speak for themselves: “Our research shows that using technology to create immersive fitness experiences increases satisfaction and decreases the rate of perceived exertion for new exercisers,” says Steve Tansey, head of research and development at Les Mills UK and Ireland. “In essence, people work harder without knowingly doing so. The positive power of the mind on an individual’s ability to push their body during training is remarkable and something we know is central to immersive fitness experiences. People get so lost in the visuals, they forget how hard they’re working so they get fitter and faster.
3. Immersive exercise classes to try today
Take your yoga class to the next level with Chroma Yoga. This class combines light and colour therapy techniques with stimulating soundscapes and natural scents. The studio is a one-ofa- kind space, cut off from the outside world, which transforms as it moves through the colours of the spectrum. Find out more at chromayoga.co.uk
With a range of progressive yoga and low impact training classes, FLY LDN is a great option for multi-sensory fitness experiences. Set to spine-tingling playlists, with cinematic visuals (think of breathtaking Himalayan mountain ranges one minute and crashing ocean swells the next) these workouts have been designed to transport you away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Find out more at flyldn.co.uk
This immersive 40-minute cycling class is inspired by cinema, live concerts and interactive gaming, with the workout drawing upon all the senses and aiming to transport participants into a new world as they train. The class creates the sensation of ascending steep glaciers, sprinting around digital velodromes, cruising into peaceful sunsets and even diving underwater. Find out more at lesmills.com
Transform your at-home yoga session with these immersive exercise inspirations
If you can’t get to a multi-sensory class, don’t worry, as you can make your own version from the comfort of your own home with these tips.
Give your usual yoga session an atmospheric switch-up by dimming the lights and pressing play on a 10-minute video on colour wash meditation from your laptop. These are easy to find on the internet.
Burn incense or essential oils (see our guide on page 104) that promote de-stressing benefits. “Scents such as lavender and rosemary will help individuals focus and relax during yoga,” says Daria Kantor, founder of TruBe (trubeapp.com). “This can have a significant impact on the cognitive benefits of the exercise itself.”
Create a playlist of sounds that have a calming influence on you. This could be typical spa music, the sound of rain or even just your favourite band.
Opt for your fave gym clothes. “Something as simple as wearing your preferred clothing can really boost your capacity for exercise,” says Daria.
Certain foods and drinks can enhance your workout. “Drink a matcha tea before exercise and you may be surprised by the improvement in your performance,” says Daria.