Asics put “the world’s first running track to train your mind” on the map with the launch of its Blackout Track earlier this month. By removing all distractions, including light, the sportswear brand has created a meditative running environment. The custom built 150-metre course in London has no technology, no music, no scenery and no finish line, which forces athletes to focus their minds and ultimately perform better, according to leading scientists and coaches.
“Asics was founded on the belief that a sound body fuels a sound mind, so this campaign goes right to the heart of who we are as a brand,” Asics global CMO Paul Miles told marketing company Edelman UK, which created the campaign for the brand’s new Gel-Kayano™ 25 shoe. “Our promise is to bring our founder’s vision to life in the modern age—where negative distractions of the mind can prevent us from reaching our potential and going the distance.”
The track was designed to launch the Gel-Kayano 25 and has been trialed by runners such as Olympic medallist Deena Kastor and adventurer Danny Bent, though runners of all abilities are invited to experience running in the darkness. Asics has also supported the initiative with other wellness offerings, partnering with human performance and mindfulness coach Chevy Rough on its website and asking the Asics running communities, FrontRunners and SMSB, to leave technology at home and complete repetitive circuits to train the mind first and body second.
The synergy between brain and body was discussed in our “Future 100 2017” report, which noted the growing number of wellness offerings from popular fitness brands. Luxury gym chain Equinox created a class called HeadStrongto promote mindfulness, with each of the four stages of the class marked by changing colored lighting for extra sensory stimulation. In winter 2017, David Lloyd launched Vitamin Me, a 30-minute mood-enhancing workout that incorporated the sounds, smells and sights of summer to combat the effects of seasonal affective disorder.
Biofit, described as the world’s first biophilic gym concept, opened in London as a pop-up in 2017, demonstrating the benefits of working out in an environment with natural vegetation, colors, materials, scents and sounds. This “organic gym concept for big city life” uses exercise equipment made from recycled materials and hosts workouts which avoid repetitive activity, instead promoting mindful movements that connect breathing, the body and the mind.
As we found in our “Well Economy” report, definitions of health increasingly encompass both mind and body, with 79% associating the word health with physical condition and 75% with mental health. This presents a real opportunity for brands willing to invest in more holistic health offerings.