We’ve all had those moments of scanning the timetable and having our fancy tickled, only for something to stop us hitting ‘book now’. Especially when it’s a new-age, gong-bashing inner journey to the outer edges of who the hell knows where, right? Well, whether it’s nerves or scepticism holding you back, our reviewers are here to give you first-hand experiences from Gymbox guinea pigs so you know exactly what to expect. And we reckon Hayley’s account of Gonged Out might persuade you to take a trip sooner than expected…
This is certainly Gymbox’s most experimental class. No sweat, no thumping music, no aching limbs - just a whole lot of gong.
A gong bath or ‘sound massage’ is a guided meditation where you bathe in healing sound waves. You’re warned you may hallucinate, break through to another plane or even cry - and yes, I hear all you sceptics out there loud and clear. Since the start of the year I’ve been embracing yoga and wellness more, so reviewing this class wasn’t as excruciating as it would have been 12 months ago. I’m pleased to say I’m much more open of mind these days.
I did the Tuesday lunchtime session at Elephant and Castle straight after aerial yoga, so it was something novel to look forward to after a fairly punishing class. (I’d heard it involved being 100 per cent snuggled in a hammock for the whole 45 minutes so I was totally down with that.) We weren’t allowed in the room until our teacher or ‘guide’ Rachel had ‘set the energy in the room’ and when we did it was as far removed from a gym studio as could be.
Rachel, dressed in a floaty white dress, had speedily erected a large metal gong in the room surrounded by feathers and tassels and all sorts of magic bits and pieces. To begin, we were instructed on how to actually get into our hammocks - it looks easier than it is - so this was a good start, and told to totally immerse ourselves in the fabric. She even had sleep masks! The good thing about being in your own private cocoon is no one can see you so you can completely give yourself over to the sounds.
We were instructed on our breathing briefly and told that some people can transcend into a place of uneasiness so focusing on our breath and picturing something that makes us smile is a helpful tool to combat that - transcending can be unpredictable after all. What followed next: Rachel, who had a lovely melodic voice, walked around the room with some sort of pretty tinkling chimes and peppermint oils, and spoke about feeling safe and whole and content. I kind of drifted off at this point.
Then I woke to the sound of deeply reverberating gongs gathering in crescendo, then fading out, then starting up again. I half-dreamed of big fluffy cupcakes and remember thinking that I had a lot to do for the rest of the day including pack for a trip… but also thinking ‘all will be well and I’ll just lie here and drift a bit more’.
The vibration of the gongs are supposed to connect with every cell in the body and take you on a journey. They certainly did that. While the first part of the class was guided, most of it was not and that’s the beauty of it - your thoughts take you wherever they want to go while this awesome sound crashes round you and tickles your toes.
The time flew by and before I knew it, the soft tinkling was back and we were being told to slowly wake up and emerge like sleepy little worms from our hammocks. Everyone was blinking and yawning and weirdly, I was ravenous. Rachel was a clear professional. It is easy to become a bit over-earnest when it comes to meditation but she was fun and soothing and with a terrific energy. We all fairly floated out. Here’s to the power of the gong.