16 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2019 issue 5

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Leisure Management - Bio Hacking


Bio Hacking

Silicon Valley hacker Dave Asprey used his tech skills to gather the latest fitness kit to create a bio hacking boutique. Kath Hudson investigates

Kath Hudson
Upgrade Labs has opened a luxury club in the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. The 6,000sq ft facility is the second to launch and included 15 different technologies PHOTOGRAPHY: zekeruelas.com
Upgrade Labs has opened a luxury club in the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. The 6,000sq ft facility is the second to launch and included 15 different technologies
Upgrade Labs is looking to develop 1,000 sites by rolling out its full-size concept, and developing a version with a lower price point. A class-based concept is also in the works.
People are willing to pay the price to go away feeling better after just one session and with a report card about their health
Cryotherapy chambers take people down to minus 250o F to boost their immune system and reduce inflammation PHOTOGRAPHY: zekeruelas.com
One of Upgrade Labs’ more unusual pieces of kit is the Atmospheric Cell Trainer, which changes air pressure to work at a cellular level
The infrared sauna is believed to promote muscle recovery, calm inflammation and boost mitochondrial function
Equipment has been selected to give maxium results in minimum time
Members can buy one-off access to the lab, or commit to a regular membership, with packages from £382/month to £2672/month

How did Upgrade Labs come about?
It was created by Dave Asprey, a computer hacker from Silicon Valley, who was the first person to put anything on the internet. He spent so much time working and not enough time on his health, that he ballooned to 300 lbs, causing him to experience terrible fatigue and brain fog.

After a year of intense dieting and exercise, he decided to put his computer hacking skills to good use to solve the puzzle of his body, figuring that the body is like hardware and the brain is like software. So, he travelled the world in pursuit of better health.

He returned to Santa Monica and opened a coffee shop – selling his turbo-charged beverage, Bulletproof coffee – while filling his house with tech that amplifies health.

It was the type of stuff that was only previously used by the super wealthy or professional athletes, not the public. Wanting more people to benefit, he acquired the store next to his coffee shop and spent $2m (€1.77m, £1.5m) on equipment, which was when I asked for a job.

I’d spent 15 years in the health and fitness industry, most recently as a master trainer for the POUND workout (see HCM March 2019, p 12), which involved constant travelling from continent to continent.

My task was to figure out the concept, the programming, the customer journey and the costings and also to find staff who were able to deliver the concept. We launched the business in 2017.

Tell us more about Upgrade Labs
It’s more space age laboratory than a health club. Highly-trained “biohackers” use cellular-level data to develop individualised custom plans for high performance in brain, body and recovery. There’s no guesswork – machines crack the code and accelerate results. Performance is constantly monitored and programmes are adapted to maximise results.

Do people work out or relax when they visit?
It depends on their goals. Fifteen minutes twice a week on The Cheat Machine is all that’s needed to build strength and endurance. It’s like lifting weights, but the machine works out the appropriate amount of weight for both the push and the retraction.

On the flip side, the PEMF (Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field ) is all about recovery, detoxing, energising and reducing inflammation – it pulls with the earth’s magnetic field and re-energises the body on a cellular level.

The technology can induce the benefits of three hours of exercise in just 30 minutes, as the machines tell the body how to respond. Members lose fat and build muscle without breaking a sweat or raising their heart rate.

How does the membership work?
People can either come for an hour and use one machine (US$75, €66, £57); purchase an hour with a trainer who will curate the experience (US$175, €155, £134); or monthly memberships start at US$500 (€442, £382) a month, rising to US$3,500 (€3093, £2672), depending on how often they want to use it.

Who are the members?
There’s now an amazing mix. We started with high performers like celebrities and elite athletes; then the very affluent professionals came in; they were followed by people with injuries and those in the midst of a health crisis. We’re now starting to see ourselves spread to the general public. People are willing to pay the price to go away feeling better after just one session and with a report card about their health.

However, we want to take the concept more mainstream and we’re currently looking at ways to offer it at a lower price point. Firstly, I’m working on a group exercise model so that our biohackers can work with multiple people at one time. As we’re planning a large-scale rollout, we’ve also developed relationships with equipment manufacturers to drive the cost down.

What are the expansion plans?
Orangetheory is our inspiration: its CEO, Dave Long, has been massively supportive and shared a lot of their learnings. So, we’re looking to follow them and are setting our pie-in-the-sky figure at 1,000 locations worldwide. We also already have 200 people interested in franchising if we decide to go that route.

We’ve just opened our second site in January, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, which is 6,000sq ft (372sq m) and includes 15 cutting-edge technologies, with custom packages suited to the location, such as getting ready for the red carpet and decreasing travel fatigue.

Flagship stores, like Santa Monica, will need a footprint of 4,000-6,000sq ft (372sq m to 557sq m), as they have an integrated medical complex. We envisage there’s scope for 40 of these worldwide, in major cities like London, New York and Sydney.

Added to this, we’ll offer a smaller model of 2,500sq ft, (232sq m), with the working title of Express Labs. These will be significantly more affordable, with less equipment and could work in any city.

Amanda McVey
"The technology can induce the benefits of three hours of exercise in just 30 minutes, as the machines tell the body how to respond - Amanda McVey, vice president, Upgrade Labs"

Road Warrior Reset: For before or after travel. Claimed to eliminate jetlag and boost the immune system

Red Carpet Radiance: An ‘internal detox’, billed as leading to ‘glowing, toned skin, increased energy and a calm mind’

About Last Night: Designed to purge toxins, rehydrate and repair damage caused by a big night out

Sweat: 60-minutes which are claimed to be the equivalent of a week’s worth of exercise

Custom: A 60 minute experience involving any three technologies from the recovery or strength labs

Pricing for monthly memberships

$500, €442, £382 (unlimited)

Fire & Ice
$750, €663, £573 (unlimited)

$600, €530, £458 (one session a week)

$1080, €955, £824 (two sessions a week)

$1440, €1273, £1099 (three a week)

$3500, €3094, £2672 (up to seven a week)


Cryotherapy chamber
Three minutes in a -250 degree Fahrenheit chamber boosts the immune system and releases endorphins

Infrared lights promote muscle recovery, decrease inflammation and boost mitochondrial function

Bone trainer
Strengthens bones by applying optimal biomechanics and bone compression.

The Cheat Machine
Adaptive resistance technology, which gives the benefits of a week’s worth of weightlifting in two 15 minute sessions

Atmospheric Cell Trainer
Futuristic pod which changes the air pressure to work the cellular energy system

Oxygen Trainer
An oxygen mask that alternates between high and low oxygen, giving the lungs a good workout and saturating cells with oxygen. It’s used with an exercise bike

This is currently being tested by NASA for space flights to Mars. It combines compression and cooling technology during a HIIT session to allow individuals to push beyond limits and recover faster

The Vibe
G-forces penetrate every muscle fibre to make them vibrate at 30 times a second, allowing a complete workout in a few movements

BreathE EZ
Breathe in specially charged EZ water vapour to repair cells

Through vibration and the earth’s magnetic pull, the Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field promotes cell regeneration

Originally published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 5

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