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Gymbox breaks new ground with launch of mental health programming

Gymbox has introduced a series of new classes dedicated to improving mental health
The new Mind category comprises five different classes
The research-backed classes have been designed to support exercisers to adopt a holistic approach to wellbeing
Mind was created by Jess Parkinson, who said the plan was to create a safe environment for members to prioritise their mental health
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Gymboxhas introduced a series of new classes dedicated to improving mental health.

The new Mind category, which comprises five different classes, has been specifically designed to support people wanting to improve and nurture their mental health.

The five classes include two existing classes – Cocoon (aerial hammock relaxation), Weight Lifted (focused on stress relief) and The Portal (sound therapy meditation) – and three entirely new ones.

"Weight Lifted" is a 30-45 minute session scheduled for when members need to shake off the day. Tapping into the principles of Trauma Release Exercises, the session combine shaking therapy with breathing and movement to deliver freedom from the pressures of life.

'Catch Some ZZZs' has been designed for members who struggle to get a good night’s sleep. The class has been built around the Military Method*, breathwork and progressive muscle relaxation.

'Regulate' aims to help members navigate the short- and long-term symptoms of anxiety and panic. Through guided journaling, deep relaxation and breathwork, the studio provides a safe space to calm the nervous system while introducing to practical tools to apply in day-to-day life.

The research-backed classes have been designed to support exercisers to adopt a holistic approach to wellbeing, encompassing both physical fitness and mental resilience.

Jess Parkinson, holistic master trainer at Gymbox and creator of the Mind category, said the plan was to create a safe environment for members to prioritise their mental health.

"In a time when looking after our mental health is becoming more appreciated and understood, it's an incredible feeling to know we are able to offer a space for people to switch off and take time for themselves," Parkinson said.

"We live in a society that's very achievement-driven and that seems to worship ‘busy-ness’. Taking time out to address our stress, anxiety and overall wellbeing will give us more time in our days, more space in our minds and a healthier relationship with ourselves," she said.

*About the Military Method

Summary from Medium

Bud Winter (1909–1986) was one of the best sprint coaches ever. Across 30 years at San Jose State University, he produced 27 track and field Olympians and three Olympic gold medallists. At one time, his runners held every world record for sprinting events.

As a young coach before WWII, he experimented with sports psychology — in particular relaxation. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in Naval Aviation and was assigned to the Del Monte Pre-Flight school in California.

Early in the war, the Navy had a problem. America was losing. Despite recruiting the best and brightest and spending a fortune on training and technology, new pilots were cracking under combat conditions. They suffered from fatigue and froze under pressure. They shot at the wrong airplanes. On top of that, training was too slow — they needed new pilots sooner.

The Navy tasked Winter with using sports psychology to improve results at the school. He created two equal groups of cadets: a control group and an experimental group. He then took the experimental group and trained them in progressive relaxation techniques.

One technique enabled airmen to teach themselves to fall asleep within two minutes. Sitting in a chair. With the crashing of simulated bomb sounds around them.

This technique resurfaced with the publication of a new edition of Winter’s 1981 book Relax and Win. It captured the imagination of the sleepless everywhere, leading to hundreds of articles.

Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes


Sit on a chair, right back in the seat, legs uncrossed, feet flat, and hands inside thighs

Eyes closed, breathe slowly, exhaling tensions

Relax the forehead, relax the eyes

Relax the jaw, let the mouth hang open, relax the tongue and lips

Drop the shoulders, relax each arm, one segment at a time

Relax the chest and rib cage, let the midriff out

Feel the state of relaxation and associate it with the word ‘calm’

Check face and upper body for tensions that have reformed

Relax each leg, one segment at a time


To sleep take 3 deep breaths and try one of the following for 5 minutes

Imagine you are lying in the bottom of a still canoe, on a still pond, looking up at a beautiful sky

Imagine you are in a large black velvet hammock in complete darkness

Say the words “don’t think” for 10 seconds

If you can successfully clear your mind of active thoughts for 10 seconds you will be asleep.

Winters found that any thought of movement prevented sleep — so imagine you are still.

If you practice this a few times per day, in five weeks you should be able to fall asleep at will.

You should also try it in bed at night (Winter recommends lying on back with pillows under head, knees and each arm.)

But the sleeping technique, while useful, is not the core message of the book.

The technique helped cadets reduce fatigue, and to sleep better at night.

But Winters discovered something else. The relaxation technique, when combined with positive self-suggestion, made the cadets better at everything.

The relaxation group beat the control group in nearly every regular cadet activity, often by a huge margin. They did better at sports. They could identify Japanese vs US planes much faster and more accurately. They got higher marks in examinations (Military History was an exception). They were also happier and less stressed.

Unfortunately, despite early success, the program was scrapped, Winter claims, for political reasons, but he brought the learning back to the track.

Key Relax and Win Tactics

Winter studied champions in many sports and noticed something interesting — they never looked as though they were putting in the effort.

In the old days, coaches thought that the beetled brow, the clenched fist, and the set jaw characterized a champion in action. Then came World War II and coaches found that it was the sleepy-looking guys with the loose jaws and limp hands — who were not only turning in the best athletic performances, but were also shooting down the most planes.”

Winter’s theory was that tension in antagonistic muscles slowed a runner down. The trick was to relax those muscles using fewer muscles to do the same tasks. Winter’s coaching revolved around tactics to keep his athletes relaxed at all times, and in any situation. Here are four of the most important.

Loose Hands, Loose Jaw

Shouting “RELAX!” from the sidelines tended to be counterproductive. Winter found that tension, particularly in the forehead, jaw, and hands seemed to be the most damaging. He would constantly cue his athletes with “Loose hands, loose jaw.” This specific cue helped the whole of the athlete relax.

Other common cues:

“Run fast, stay loose”“Get the wrinkles out of your forehead”

“Drop those shoulders”“Let the meat hang from the bones”

90% Effort

Another curious thing that Winter and his coaching team discovered was that sprinting at 90 per cent effort was faster than at all-out effort. It took a lot to convince athletes of this, and it had to be demonstrated. Athletes wanted to leave everything out on the track for the team, but pulling back effort 10 per cent was faster. Trying too hard did not work — it caused unnecessary muscles to fire.

Let Nothing Bother YouWinter found his athletes were prone to psyching themselves out. He felt that it was a way for them to give themselves an excuse if things didn’t go well and it caused things not to go well.

He wouldn’t accept negative talk from the team. If it was hot, the team would say they loved to run in the heat. When the team traveled to Idaho to compete, the home team thought the Californians would be disadvantaged by the cold weather. Instead, the team ran outside in shorts and rolled around and played in the snow. They won the meet.

Don’t give yourself an excuse to fail.

Mental Set

Along with the relaxation routine, Winter encouraged his athletes to ‘imprint’ positive messages regarding attitude while in a relaxed state. If they were running a race — they would repeat “I am going to run fast and loose”. If they were asking someone on a date they would say “I am going to be happy, interesting, poised, and thoughtful.” He lay great stock in these auto-suggestions, for his athletes and for other parts of life too.

Winter felt that the best attitude for any type of competition was “cool confidence” not indifference. This is a balancing act.

You must want to win. you must be determined, but must be loose — relaxed. Your adrenaline is up, but you must be in control. This presented a paradox. He had to teach cadets to be pepped up and relaxed at the same time.

"We studied such great champions of those days, such as Joe Louis, the great boxer, Joe DiMaggio, the great baseball player, Dutch Warmerdam, the great pole vaulter," said Winter. "We noted they all had sleepy, relaxed looks on their faces. Their arms kind of dangled. What was more important, THEY LET NOTHING BOTHER THEM! Whether it was hot or cold, whether the stadium was full or empty, whether the competition proved vicious or gentle, whether they were performing in practice or competing in Madison Square Garden, the seldom, if ever, lost their cool confidence and relaxed efficiency.”

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