“You go into a plank position, put on your goggles, and see yourself flying through mountains and diving into water.”
With wellness dominating the health agenda, companies are beginning to merge medical and wellbeing concepts.
Leading the way is Lanserhof at The Arts Club in London, the latest facility from high-concept healthcare specialist the Lanserhof Group. The club combines cutting-edge diagnostic technology with state-of-the-art training and recovery equipment, bringing together experts from across the medical world to offer highly personalized training and treatment programs.
Sebastian Kunz is the medical director of the hybrid club and medi-gym. Here he explains how Lanserhof differs from other luxury health venues, and why integrating approaches provides the best results.
What is a medical gym?
For us, diagnostics are a key part of it. We want to create a tailor-made, bespoke training plan for our members, so we do a lot of initial assessments. Every member first gets an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging scan] for body composition analysis. We can then determine their visceral fat tissue, which is important in spotting cardiovascular and metabolic risks. Members also get cardiopulmonary exercise tested, so we can determine their oxygen consumption in order to create the optimal cardiovascular training plan. We also have a nutritionist on site and conduct blood tests to see what mineral or vitamin deficits there are in the body. We can then target those through infusion plans and supplements.
In our movement and spine lab, we are able to measure the deficits in the musculoskeletal system. We can do either a complete assessment of the spine, which is posture and strength in all three planes of the spine, or we can go the route of the lower extremities, assessing gait, running style and muscle function—and then decide which training is appropriate. It could be strength training or it could be activation training—what we call neuromuscular training. We can really put the microscope on the muscles and dynamic tasks and see where the deficits are.
How is Lanserhof at The Arts Club unique when compared to other wellness destinations, and even compared to other Lanserhof locations?
It is a joint venture between The Arts Club, an old, iconic members’ club here in London, and Lanserhof, which started in Lans near Innsbruck 30 years ago. There are three Lanserhof resorts and one urban medical center besides this one, and soon to be more.
Lanserhof itself has two main concepts. On the resort side, it’s more about gut health, functional medicine, lifestyle medicine and naturopathic medicine, and what we call preventative medicine. Guests can book to go on one of our fasts. During this process, they receive a comprehensive health screening and are then guided through an aftercare program. In the urban facility in Hamburg, Lanserhof is more on the side of sports medicine, orthopedics and cardiology. That’s where I fit in, as a consultant orthopedic and trauma surgeon. Here in London, we’ve integrated both concepts with a private members’ club.
What types of service do you offer?
We have orthopedics, sports medicine, cardiology, GPs, functional medicine, lifestyle medicine, naturopathic medicine, aesthetic medicine, sleep medicine, nutrition, radiology—we have an MRI scanner in the basement—and we will integrate much more in the near future. We offer whole-body cryotherapy in our cryochamber downstairs. It’s fantastic for recovery after training, but also for treating chronic pain or rheumatoid arthritis because it decreases inflammation.
We also have an Icaros machine, which integrates training and virtual reality. You go into a plank position, put on your goggles, and see yourself flying through mountains and diving into water. You don’t even realize that you are training because you see it as a gaming experience. We’re planning on bringing this into our rowing machines. Rowing to me is very boring—it’s just back and forth. But if you had goggles on and could see yourself on the river or competing with someone, it would be a different experience. Then it would be exciting. This use of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) is already happening in rehabilitation clinics. It can help bring people back to exercise who usually don’t like to exercise. From a new scientific perspective, it’s amazing to see people immediately integrating their brain into their training.
The concept of wellness is growing and evolving. How do you define wellness?
We all want to feel well. We all want to feel good. That’s how I would describe it. We as doctors have a scientific approach, not just in terms of treating a disease but also in terms of maintaining health. It’s a timeline. If you get in early and treat a tendency specifically, you have the opportunity to predict and prevent disease.
How is Lanserhof at The Arts Club advancing the luxury wellness space?
There are hundreds of gyms in London but I don’t think there is any other gym which can provide its members with a tailor-made and bespoke training plan. Everyone says it, but how can you do it when you don’t do diagnostics? You will see how comprehensive and sophisticated our equipment is—that allows us to do all the assessments we need and to be completely bespoke. One of our GPs at Lanserhof has an interest in naturopathic medicine and the other in functional medicine, assessing sleep, diet, nutrition, exercise and stress. Whatever flares up, we can cover it. That’s unique, I would say. As far as I’m aware, there is no other gym in the world that offers members an MRI, or in any way as comprehensive a package as we do here. And aside from the members’ club, those facilities are open to everyone, not just members.
How do you envision the future of luxury wellness?
It’s hard to predict, but the key question is, “Why are people going to the gym?” They want to feel better, reduce their pain, lose weight, things that are all based in medicine at the end of the day, so it makes sense to connect the medical, personal health and wellbeing, and lifestyle. The spa aspect is also important, in terms of recovery and feeling well. It’s about the entire experience. That’s why we want to integrate more VR and, in the future, AR. Not only does it help you exercise, but it’s also fun and cool. In the future, I think integration will become more commonplace.