The first thing Dave Asprey will tell you about his newly opened Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica is that it's not a gym. Rather, he says, it's the world's first "human upgrade" facility dedicated exclusively to biohacking, or tweaking your biology for better performance.
At first glance, the light-filled space adjacent to his Bulletproof Coffee café on Main Street certainly looks like a gym, with personal trainers standing by and gleaming equipment lined up.
But take a closer look, and that equipment is unlike anything you're used to seeing in a health club, from the cockpit-style atmospheric cell trainer by the door to the rotating virtual float tank in the center of the room. These are the same machines that Asprey has in the $1-million performance lab at his house in Victoria, Canada.
"It has been a dream for several years to make this level of technology available for everyone," said Asprey, the world's most famous biohacker. "Part of the role Bulletproof plays in society is to make people aware of all the things they can do to tap into their full power — and it's frustrating to me that this kind of amazing technology isn't more widely available because it makes such a big difference."
With this first lab, Asprey and his partners are learning how to scale these "stacks" of treatments for mind, body and cellular health for a larger audience of Paleoites, Bulletproof podcast listeners and butter coffee drinkers, with locations to follow in other cities.
Brain and body hacks
Some of the lab's equipment might be familiar to elite athletes and hard-core fitness enthusiasts. There is the oxygen trainer, which uses a bike and an oxygen mask that alternates between 100% oxygen to low oxygen air to optimize cardiovascular function and performance. Or the cryotherapy chamber, in which three-minute stints in temperatures as low as minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit are meant to decrease inflammation, enhance recovery and boost the immune system.
Although Asprey may not want to call it a gym, many of the machines are designed to complement or expand on the gains its users have made at the gym, starting with the cheat machine, which delivers an adaptive resistance strength workout that eliminates the user's ability to "cheat" or use momentum, said to deliver a week's workout in 15 minutes.
There's also a bone density trainer to support all that muscle, as well as "cold cardio," a cooling and compression bike that is being tested by NASA for space flights to Mars.
Other treatments for cognition and mental performance include neurofeedback; a dry float tank that induces a rejuvenating, dreamlike state; light therapy; and heart rate training to manage stress response.
While they're between treatments, members can have a vitamin IV infusion administered by a nurse at its in-house lab and clinic area.
"Most of the technologies are focused on recovery, immune system function, cellular health and cognitive performance, and other areas not available in the standard fitness concept," Asprey says.
Pulling ahead of the research curve
If this all sounds a bit out there, it is.
Much of the research on this equipment is still in the early stages and therefore, like biohacking, it's an experiment you're performing on yourself in hopes of getting ahead of the research curve and feeling and performing better.
Because the treatments are unfamiliar to most people, staff members expect people to come in to try a few individual treatments before they commit to a membership, which ranges from $500 a month to around $1,500 per month depending on frequency of use. Each membership includes a battery of tests and an individualized treatment plan depending on performance goals.
It's certainly not inexpensive, but Asprey's team says if you come in once a week, it's comparable to paying for a very high-end personal training session. And for many, he says, it will be the thing that helps them feel and look better, when traditional workouts and dietary changes are not enough.
"This," he says, "is about getting the best biological return on the effort you put in, and that works for everyone."