Pursuing Your best, Together
O-Studio is the work of three locals with a wide array of experiences in the world of sport, meditation, yoga and well-being. In a time where there’s an information overload on all things health, fitness and wellness their approach is refreshing, exciting and focused. O-Studio is a restorative environment as much as it is a place to work on performance in a way that applies positively to all aspects of life - not just athletics.
Interview: Olivia Sisson
Photo: Nancy Zhou
Located on Welles Street, O-Studio offers flotation therapy, yoga, meditation, sauna, ice bath, massage and other recovery services in a space that’s calming and restorative. Friends Tim Bateman, Jess Smith and Sam Thomas set up O-Studio in 2019.
What is O-Studio all about?
Tim: There’s so much out there when it comes to being the best you can be. People understand the gym model and generally know how to get well physically, how to get strong, fast or flexible. But so little time is put into developing mindset. There’s a massive difference between understanding you need to be resilient and building the skills you need to actually get through the hard times.
Performance isn’t necessarily about being on fire every moment of every day. For me, it’s about being able to drop my work when I need to be present with my wife and kids, and managing stress so I can be my all with them. What many people don’t know is that there are so many tools and practices we can use to help us build our mental performance. We started O-Studio to give people access to things like floating, yoga, meditation and cold immersion which can truly help us to be at our best.
Sam: There’s a lot of research and evidence based strategies for improving mental skills and performance. Throughout my degree in psychology I saw time and time again that these findings weren’t getting through to the general public. The benefits of things like regular flotation and meditation are so clearly able to help solve modern problems like sleep deprivation, cell phone addiction and chronic stress. However, there aren’t many places for regular people to put these ideas into practice. It’s my goal with O-Studio to translate the latest research to support real people to be at their best, whatever that may mean to them.
What have your own journeys with these tools looked like?
Jess: Yoga makes people feel good and is a big part of life in my hometown Santa Cruz, CA. I didn’t actually like yoga that much when I first tried it out. But eventually I tried it again and started to enjoy it more. I’ve gained a lot of friendships through it, especially here. I love the teachers we have at O-Studio and getting to know them. Everyone brings something special to our space and it’s really special to see people discovering the power of recovery.
Sam: I was 15 when I first tried meditation. I was a kid who really struggled with focus so I tried it out. After two weeks I felt like my whole mind had changed. For the first time, I was able to truly engross myself in reading for long stretches of time. This hooked me into the world of mental development which has taken me from learning to read, write and speak Thai, to developing my memory through mnemonic tools and completing a degree in psychology and philosophy. Now I’m sharing these tools with my community in the heart of Christchurch.
Tim: In professional sport, your performance is under the microscope every single week. It became clear to me that your physical skills week in week out don’t change that much, but what’s going on mentally is where things really make a difference. The penny dropped for me when I first tried flotation in Japan, and ever since I’ve worked hard on my mental game. The impact it’s had, not just on my performance on the field, but off it too with my kids and in business has been mind blowing. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to find and use these tools, and O-Studio is my chance to give this opportunity to the people of Christchurch. It’s an uplifting environment where we can become our best together.
What’s the story behind the name?
Sam: O is truly a shape that resonates. Balanced. Simple. Well-rounded. Smooth. It’s a shape that embodies universal qualities that we strive for. But O also asks a question: what does it mean to you to be at your best?
Any advice for people that are trying these things for the first time?
Jess: Try O-Connect from home! We created it just before lockdown. We filmed 48 yoga classes in 3 days. It was mayhem but we did it with a smile. It’s a really beautiful thing that came out of lockdown and makes it easy to start yoga from home. You can also pop in and talk to one of our staff. Every class offers something different and we can meet you where you’re at.
Tim: A lot of what we do here like floating and meditation can become frustrating quickly. The big change for me was realising that everything we do comes back to breath. Once I understood that, these practices became like reps in the gym. This became training for me. Each time I come back I’m a little bit better, it’s just like training a muscle. It’s hard at times but if you’re prepared to stick at it you’ll get the benefits.
Did lockdown change your approach at all?
Tim: I think it helped us all ‘create the space’ and tap back into what we actually enjoy doing. At O-Studio we’re trying to convey the idea that you can keep those things you love in your life, they don’t have to fall away. Keeping that space rather than paying lip service to it is so important. Lockdown really reinforced what we do in that way.
Sam: I think having so much space gave a lot of us new insight. Now that lockdown is over it's up to each of us to keep that space in our lives before the world comes rushing back in. Our O-Studio members seem even more appreciative of being in a physical place with real people.
What are you up to when you’re not at O-Studio?
Tim: Spending time with my two girls. I try to spend as much time with them as possible. And I try to keep physically fit as well. I also love going for a meal at Rangoon Ruby or Raw Sugar or for a coffee at The Origin.
Sam: I play music and am releasing an EP soon (I hope) actually. Also I’m back playing volleyball for the first time in a while!
Jess: Long walks on the beach, watching my son Lachie at the skate ramp, building our new family home with my husband in Sumner and staying creative in the kitchen with my little one Lily who loves to cook and dance in the kitchen with me.