You may have heard the words ‘immersive fitness’ floating around the health and wellness scene as of late, and whilst you probably have some idea on what it involves, chances are you’re not entirely familiar.
In short, immersive fitness is about taking your workout beyond just the physical and tapping into your bodily senses. By doing so, you are immersing yourself into a mental and physical experience (with meditative-like benefits) in the aim of achieving a holistic state of wellbeing.
Intrigued? We’ve recruited Jacinta McDonnell, founder of immersive yoga studio, W1LL, to help explain the concept further and how this unique style of fitness might just be the thing your workout routine is missing.
First thing’s first, what exactly is it?
“Immersive fitness and wellness is the creation of a space and or experience that removes you from your day-to-day whilst you do your workout,” says Jacinta. “It’s much more than a workout, it’s a multi-sensory experience including light, sound and sometimes smell and taste.”
“Immersive experiences are inspired by cinema, live concert experiences and interactive gaming. It combines purpose-built studios and live instructors with immersive video.”
How does it differ to yoga, meditation or other fitness/wellness styles that focus on the mind as well as body?
“A lot more focus is placed on the way you feel in the space and how you feel completing the workout vs. just the actual physical workout,” says Jacinta. “Light and sound play such a vital role in how we feel and how we are motivated to move. These enhance our physical workout but also leave us feeling better than before. Immersive fitness delves deeper into your mental state as you submerge into the experience.”
What can one expect from this multi-sensory experience?
“These types of classes aim to give you a break from the stressors of everyday life—whether you want to push your body to its limits or gain some peace of mind,” says Jacinta. This is achieved by the following:
Touch: It’s something that has always been a part of fitness, but immersive yoga takes it to a new level, where you pay specific attention to how you feel through each movement, embedding a more physical element into the typically mind-focused session. Sound: Music is at the core of W1LL where we start with the tunes and build inspiring workouts with the beat. Sight: The screen in the front of the class is adorned with inspiring imagery that take you to another place. Smell: With the growing popularity of essential oils, it’s no wonder studios have started incorporating more aromatherapy into classes. At W1LL in particular, the classes end with a spritz and massage with essential oils which binds a strong connection to self. The benefits of smell include relaxing effects, brain stimulating and energy.
Who is immersive fitness best suited to?
“In my opinion—everyone,” says Jacinta. “I think if we move better and feel better, we are more likely to continue to move and nourish our bodies each day and each week which leads to a stronger body and calmer mind.”
In saying that, what are the main benefits of this style of fitness?
“I find that these spaces create a greater sense of wellbeing and a greater sense of community without judgement or ego,” says Jactina. “Many fitness spaces can feel intimidating and we can find it hard to focus on the actual work out because we are distracted by everyone else around. Immersive experiences remove this as all of our senses are fully engaged.”