What is Breathe London wellbeing?
Breathe London is a community of mind and body experts working under one roof (well, two roofs!). We opened our first wellbeing clinic in 2004 in the Colombo Centre, Waterloo. And in 2017, we created another clinic in the beautiful Jubilee Hall gym in the piazza Covent Garden.
Each centre has four beautiful treatment rooms. The rooms have a cosy feel-good vibe which comes with time. Over the years, thousands of people have come for treatments in the rooms. As a result, the rooms have a nurturing presence: a space to breathe in the heart of London.
It's rare to have experts in psychology and therapy working alongside bodywork experts. And we feel honoured to have attracted so many brilliant experts to the business.
Since starting our business, we've added wellbeing webinars, workshops, and coaching to support the wellbeing needs of individuals and teams working from home and in our treatments rooms.
Why do you say the community of therapists?
We currently have twenty-five therapists on our timetable plus a further ten using the rooms for ad-hoc bookings with their clients or seeing clients for remote coaching/therapy. Although they work at the Breathe London therapy centres, each has a thriving wellbeing business and ideas for promoting good health.
Most of the therapists have worked with us for over ten years, and all have a wealth of experience. For example, one of the owners of Breathe, Laura, has taught Tai Chi for twenty-five years! Similarly, Brenda has over forty years of experience in massage and yoga. So on a recent therapist catch-up, we calculated that we have many hundreds of years of therapy experience between us.
Between them, the therapists provide Podiatry, Sports Massage, Aromatherapy, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Physiotherapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Tai Chi, Indian Head massage, Laser shock therapy, Structural Integration, Reiki, Psychotherapy, Counselling, Mindfulness, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Nutrition and Positive Psychology coaching.
Why's it called Breathe?
We came up with the name Breathe back in the early 2000s. At the time, it felt like we all needed to take a breath because of being so busy and distracted. Roll forward twenty years, and the need for space has never been more important.
In late 2019 I was running wellbeing workshops in Australia. The job meant flying from Sydney to North Queensland. And as I stared out of the window, it felt like the whole eastern seaboard of Australia was on fire. On returning to Sydney, we couldn't leave the apartment without coughing and our eyes watering.
And then three months later, the world changed, and tens of millions of people struggled with breathing, and many millions died.
"Breathe London "is a reminder to make some space and time for the people and animals you love and to pause for a moment to remind ourselves to be grateful for this precious mind, body and life.
How long has Breathe been around?
We called it Breathe because back in 2004, it already felt that the world was so hectic and fast-paced that we forgot the important things in life.
If you put a pin on a map of London, the area around the Colombo centre would be its centre. It's a place with layers and ghosts. But, if you scratch the surface and then start to dig, the history of London and the whole country comes alive around the Colombo centre. If you close your eyes and imagine, you can almost see Thomas Cromwell scuttling around making deals for Henry 8th, Vikings and Anglo Saxons making war and making love, smoke billowing from the charred ruins of building after bombs, punks and skinheads fighting and city folks drinking chardonnay after a long week at work.
My brother Chris is a London author, historian, and organiser of historical walks. Over the years, he's inspired me to look deeper into the richness of what lies just beneath the surface here.
Why the Colombo centre and Jubilee Hall gym?
From the outside, the Colombo centre looked like a 1960s factory. It still does! It's an ugly duckling that's grown up to be an ugly duck. But it's real. It's got, heart. It's a place where the locals still come for a cup of tea and a chat. And it's a unique wellbeing centre in central London with tennis courts, football, therapies, community wellbeing programs, judo clubs, badminton and much more.
We've been wellbeing partners with Jubilee Hall gym since 2004, and in 2017 they invited us to develop and manage another wellbeing space in their beautiful and historic gym in Covent Garden. It's a great space in the piazza Covent Garden, filled with light and greenery.
What's the idea behind Breathe?
In addition to creating beautiful spaces and a community of wellbeing experts, our business is about personal wellbeing and encompass community and global wellbeing.
I often tweet about climate change, the food industry, inequality, racism, and deforestation. I feel very blessed to work with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and NQ Dry Tropics teams in North Queensland. These teams are working with passion, hope and optimism to save the barrier reef and protect the rainforest.
I could never see the point of simply focusing on the individual. We are a web of connections. Consumer choices are intertwined with personal, community and global wellbeing. When I eat a diet of highly processed food with high meat content, rely on UBER eats to deliver heavily packaged items, and spend all my free time screen surfing, I'm damaging our precious world and my body and mind.
And when I turn a blind eye to inequality in my community and don't help others, I'm hurting myself. Study after study has pointed out that the more unequal and unfair a community, the greater the stress levels of "the have's" and "have nots". Inequality and unfairness build mistrust, fear and lead to walls of ghettoised worlds.
Why is fairness so important? Right livelihood?
When we set Breathe up, I felt that therapists were often underpaid and undervalued. For example, if you walk into many wellbeing centres for a massage, the therapist often gets a small cut of the money you pay over.
Therefore, we decided to set our room hire charges at a rate that would allow the therapist to prosper. This means that when clients see their therapist, they know that the therapist is receiving a proper living wage for what they do. In addition, we try to champion self-care for the therapists at Breathe and make sure that financially they are fairly rewarded.
A large proportion of the money therapists pay to us as room hire is paid to Jubilee Hall gym and Coin Street community builders. Both are not for profit organisations committed to community wellbeing. And these funds are used for community wellbeing projects.
I like the idea that people working in the city come into a community centre which they wouldn't usually come into, for treatments. And that most of the money that they pay for therapies ends up with the therapists and funds good causes in our community.
It's a virtuous circle of wellbeing connecting Londoners.
Is Breathe more mind or more body therapies?
There is a clear link between exercise, gut health, getting enough sleep, healthy diets, mindset and emotional agility, mindfulness, physical wellbeing and having sufficient relaxation time.
When we started our business in 2004, there was still some scepticism about the relationship between mental and physical wellbeing. However, the traditional western medicine approach of fixing problems has evolved into a much more nuanced approach where there is a greater understanding of the positive lifestyle changes that can be made to promote wellbeing.
We wanted to create a wellbeing business that brought the worlds of Psychotherapy, physiotherapy, Chinese Medicine, Bodywork, Movement Therapies and Relaxation Therapies under one roof. Nowadays, it is much more common for mental wellbeing experts to prescribe sunshine, changes to diet, exercise and talking therapies over anti-depressants. And physiotherapists are much more likely to suggest a course of Mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to some clients with muscle tension and repetitive strain injuries.
Our treatments and joining us
Contact us today if you want to find out more about our programs, therapies, or a therapist and want to join us.
Andy Roberts at Breathe London