It’s been a flurry of excitement over at the Healthier Choices Canberra HQ. We’ve been…
When Charlie and Andrea Murray left for Okinawa, Japan, they took the entire contents of their Melbourne apartment. They returned with only two suitcases, a baby girl and a killer business idea.
here. is a wellbeing studio that helps people discover a slower, more mindful way to live through yoga, psychology and Pilates.
Okinawa is one of the planet’s ‘blue zones’, where the average life expectancy is significantly higher than that of the rest of the world. In fact, five times as many Okinawans live to be 100, compared to the rest of the Japan.
So what’s their secret?
“Mindfulness is something that’s embedded into Japanese culture” explains Charlie. “If you look at a lot of of their rituals throughout history that have continued into modern day, there’s a lot of mindfulness that’s built into them.”
“The live a really slow, chilled out life over there and we kind of fell in love with Japanese culture and everything that comes with it.”
If you consider the concept of mindfulness to be a little “woo woo” or out there, it might be time to reconsider. With backgrounds in physiotherapy and clinical neuropsychology respectively, Charlie and Andrea are far more interested in the evidence-based side of wellness.
“We’re trying to offer a menu of services that are all evidence-based, so there’s a solid scientific evidence base behind them all. They cover both domains – the brain and the body. We’re offering pilates for your body, psychology for your brain, and yoga to cover both aspects through mindful movement.”
It’s rare to find psychology services co-located with yoga, which is exactly what makes here. so special. Adrea and Charlie hope to address that stigma that’s often associated with seeing a psychologist. While hugely beneficial for mental health, many of us feel scared or apprehensive to visit a psychology clinic.
“That’s part of why we’ve got this mix of different services like yoga and Pilates that people find more accessible and are more used to going to” says Charlie. “People can come into this space and sit at a table with a psych reading Kinfolk magazine and having a coffee, rather than having to do it in a private room. Likewise, if you want to chat in privacy, you an always have your session in our beautiful consult room too.”
Charlie stresses that the psychology services aren’t exclusively for people who have serious mental health issues.
“We want to help everyday people with everyday issues. You might not have depression or clinically diagnosable anxiety, but you might get pretty stressed out from time to time and worry about things a lot. There’s still strategies that you can put in place and learn about that can make a massive difference in your life, you just need to be taught about them.”
The airy, light filled studio couldn’t be further from a typical psychology practice.
“There’s a lot of minimalism in Japanese culture, which we sort of fell in love with” says Charlie. “Everything has a place, everything is as it is for a particular reason.”
It’s a concept that’s mirrored in the physical space of here. Furniture and fittings are minimal, but purposeful and beautiful – think hanging light pendants from Denmark, and sleek furniture crafted from American oak. Even the finer details like the brass sink and business cards sourced from Canada. It’s the kind of place where it’s an absolute pleasure to spend your time.
“We were looking for a space for over a year and we couldn’t find one that we liked – everything felt a bit sterile or didn’t have enough natural light. As soon as we walked into this place and saw that there were six and a half metre high ceilings and it was flooded with beautiful light, we loved it.”
The high ceilings create an even greater sense of spaciousness, enhanced by bright white walls – though the effect is anything but clinical. Heritage listed wooden trusses frame the ceiling and the shopfront is built from original Canberra red bricks.
“They dismantled all the walls, burnt the paint off the bricks individually and they’re all original bricks from the Brickworks in Yarralumla. If you look closely they all have ‘Canberra’ stamped on them.”
There are also plans for a small retail section, stocking a hand-picked selection of specialty items.
“We’ll be selling things like Mörk hot chocolate from Melbourne, we’ll be a Kinfolk [magazine] stockist, and I want to get some single origin beans from Japan as well. Part of the idea behind the big communal table is that people can come in and have a coffee after yoga. We’ll be running batch brew filter coffee from Red Brick Espresso.”
In addition to offering yoga and Pilates classes as well psychology services, here. will be extending their services to workplaces, offering tailored experiences including wellbeing subscriptions and day retreats “to help teams slow down and work fast”.
“What we want to do is share that story of slow living with people, and try to help people de-stress their lives.”
Couldn’t we all use a bit of that?