In conversation with Inner Studio

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Brothers and former AFL players, Will Slade and Ben Sinclair, discovered the transformative influence of the mind in their athletic pursuits and life beyond. This mental fortitude now finds expression for individuals at their newly opened Inner Studio, where breathwork meets thermal therapy.

29 January 2024

We spoke to Will about the inception of Inner Studio, their holistic approach to well-being, and how these ancient techniques can address modern-day stressors.

With the recent launch of Inner Studio, what transformative experiences do you anticipate for your community members?

Our mission is to build a community of people seeking the same; to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, to find that extra 1% and to be able to cope with whatever life throws at them. With access to breathwork classes, movement classes, and hot and cold exposure in a nature-filled studio, we provide people the space to explore their limits and grow together. We made a conscious decision to build an oversized sauna and large plunge pools so that people can do these sessions as a group and encourage each other through the discomfort of the extreme temperatures.

While many equate stress management with intense physical training, Inner Studio champions the power of breathwork, plunge therapy, and gentle movement. Can you delve deeper into this choice of focus?

Our aim is to change the way we perceive stress, by exposing the mind, body, and nervous system to controlled stressors through breathwork and hot and cold exposure to elicit a stress response and adaptation. It’s now becoming well known that the breath is the gateway to accessing the autonomic nervous system, so by making the breath our first point of call during stressful situations, we can take back control of our emotional response.

At the crossroads of time-honoured practices and modern science, how does Inner Studio integrate ancient wisdom with contemporary research to offer a holistic approach to well-being?

For millennia, yogis have emphasised the significance of breath, a focus now gaining mainstream traction due to undisputable scientific research emerging globally. We are applying these techniques, striving to make them more accessible for everyone in the community. By integrating breath, movement, and hot-cold exposure, we simplify the process, enabling individuals to better comprehend their internal experiences.

In doing so, Inner Studio empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of modern life with a profound understanding of their holistic well-being, bridging the gap between tradition and science.

Inner Studio speaks of changing perceptions surrounding stress. How do you envision breathwork challenging and redefining society’s long-held beliefs about stress?

Breathwork revolutionises stress resilience by showcasing its power to optimise mental and physical performance. It challenges the conventional notion of stress as a hindrance by demonstrating that controlled breathing enhances focus, composure, and emotional regulation. It replaces reactive coping with proactive self-regulation, empowering individuals to thrive under pressure and nurturing a new belief that stress can be a catalyst for personal growth and achievement.

Carbon dioxide tolerance is not yet a mainstream talking point in wellness circles. Why do you believe it is pivotal for enhancing an individual’s overall mental state?

Carbon dioxide tolerance directly measures our ability to manage stress. The discomfort felt when trying to extend a breath hold beyond one’s usual limit is due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the body. The ensuing feelings of anxiety and panic are precisely what we aim to address. By emphasising slow, light, and gentle breathing combined with breath holds, we methodically enhance our carbon dioxide threshold. In doing so, we gradually condition the mind and nervous system to maintain composure in the face of discomfort and potential panic.

The practice is challenging, requiring consistent dedication. However, given the rising awareness and emerging research, we are confident it will soon be integral to an individual’s wellness routine.

Inner Studio interlaces breathwork with hot and cold exposure. What inspired this unique fusion of techniques, and how do they synergise to shape an individual’s path towards resilience?

After heading to the ocean for multiple plunges a week during winter, we would often visit our older brother’s apartment building to practice breathwork in the sauna. It was during these sessions that the idea of a dedicated space to combine all three modalities materialised. Inspired by the “Ice Man” Wim Hof, we became hooked and have since delved deeper into the practices of breathwork and hot and cold exposure. Our signature “AWAKEN” class involves 30 minutes of profound, powerful breathing with breath holds. After this, participants brave a 3-minute cold plunge, concluding with leisurely time in the sauna. The essence of this session is to build our stress resilience threshold. It teaches participants to maintain calmness and control during energising breathwork and to focus solely on the breath during the 3 minutes of intense cold in the ice bath. Sounds fun, doesn’t it!

As the wellness landscape continuously evolves, where do you see Inner Studio’s place within the future of health and well-being?

We plan to expand our business across Melbourne and throughout Australia, offering an affordable option for individuals to regularly practice these modalities. Our aim is to enhance their resilience to stress and promote overall health and well-being.