Clubs / Fitness

Move it! How electronic music is reinventing fitness beyond the dancefloor

By georgia marsh, Saturday Feb 22, 2020

It’s a possibility that if you’re well into your nightlife, your health may be at the mercy to your lifestyle. And fair play to you: you’ve tried the gym game, but find the prospect of exercising in Broadmead (or spending any time there, full stop) pretty bland and boring, the long strings of Herculean lads queuing for their go on the weight station totally unmotivating and recoil at the ear-busting EDM pumping through the speaker system.

At this rate, the only thing really getting you going if Friday and Saturday nights on the dancefloor, for there’s no one who can make you move quite like your favourite crate-digger can.

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Much like the chemical release of exercise, dance music is spirit-lifting and dopamine-enhancing, but even a playlist of your most calming, galvanising or euphoric tunes can’t make a soulless half-hour on the treadmill any less painful. But what if you could capture the mental and physical benefits of electronic music while retaining the irreverent vivacity offered by the dancefloor?

Libby Bawden coordinates HIIT the FLOOR – a calorie-burning workout session based on the High Impact Interval Training you may have seen offered at your local gym. While HIIT seeks to raise your metabolism, sculpt your muscles and decrease your heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar even 24-48 hours after the session ends, Libby prides her class on its immersive rave experience. Complete with live DJs mixing drum and bass, its heart-pumping exercise set in the uncanny environment of Motion twice a fortnight.

“The music we listen to helps drive us through our workouts,” Libby explains, “but I was always so uninspired by gym playlists, but with drum and bass I feel I can just keep going – I’m often running over the 60 minutes because I get totally lost in it. I love to see the crowd when the bass drops and you can actually see the energy spread through the room.”

While cage-rattling club-gym hybrids are undoubtedly a great way to get moving if you’re so inclined, electronic music and movement can also be bewitching and tranquilising. Up until recently, Hamilton House offered techno yoga – a class prized by 24-year-old Niamh who would frequent the class on weekend mornings to quell her hangover. “I loved the rhythms and movements as I felt the bad energies from the night before evaporated. Techno can be spiritual and I felt this practice was a perfect marriage of the industrial and the soul.”

Though the classes are now defunct in Bristol, the medium is still going strong in Berlin – the mecca of the genre. Speaking to Rob Bennett who runs Techno Yoga in the German capital, he sees it as not a workout but as “concentrated and precise – a partly free movement merging into dance.”

Whether he or his colleague Crawford McCubbin are discovering dynamism in Donato Dozzy or Rrose, “the sounds favoured are deep and minimal where space and frequencies are foregrounded. True yoga, as it was originally taught, is a movement meditation and hypnotic techno music is conducive to deep meditative states. Whilst techno yoga might seem to be a radical departure from traditional yoga, it remains true to ancient yogic aspirations – being a meditative, centring discipline where healing in the sense of ‘becoming whole or connecting with the source was the main focus.”

HIIT workouts burn fat and build muscle. Photo courtesy of HIIT the FLOOR.

And as any dance music devotee would know, it’s connection that lies at its heart, no matter where you find it or how you choose to consume it. “I’ve had people say that they’ve never felt comfortable at a gym or workout classes,” Libby says, “but here they feel safe, included and actually part of a family. I think drum and bass, more than any other genre, really fosters that whole ‘family’ feel, welcoming everyone.”

HIIT the FLOOR comes to Motion twice a month. To find out more and to book tickets, visit www.motionbristol.com.

Read more: How Intrigue have been bossing the Bristol drum and bass scene for 17 years

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