Want the latest in bio-kinematics? Then head to our Canary Wharf site. Third Space is the first gym in the UK to launch a pioneering new mobility training unit called FIVE. We chat to osteopath Henry Howe about how it can help alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of problems, from aches and pains to arthritis and other joint conditions.


Our bodies were designed to roam the wild; to run and jump and sprint. So, it is hardly surprising that our sedentary lifestyles have led to structural imbalances in our bodies.

Sitting at a desk or driving for hours on end without taking a break means our muscles are not given a chance to lengthen. It is often the same muscles that are compromised and this can create changes within our musculoskeletal system, triggering significant pain.

The FIVE method was started in Germany as an answer to this modern-day issue. Inspired by the principles of bio-kinematics devised by German doctor Walter Packi, the entire body is stretched and trained against its habits using a series of wooden structures. Just four or five backwards movements per day is thought to prevent back and hip pain and even acute complaints can be tackled.

If used more intensively, the FIVE system can also improve the entire muscular system and develop strength without overly bulking up. Marco Martinez, a Five Master Trainer, says: “This method of stretching can bridge the gap between fitness and therapy.”

Henry Howe, Osteopath at Third Space Canary Wharf, says the FIVE equipment is fantastic for both beginners and more experienced active members. He adds: “For those who have struggled with stretching previously the FIVE equipment provides user-friendly and safe positions to work on your flexibility. A number of the stations have been designed specifically to reverse the desk-bound posture that many of us develop from working at desks all day.”

When trying to develop flexibility, it can often feel unsafe or too intense to really push yourself: with this new equipment, you can adjust the set-up to be appropriate to your level, and because they are fixed in these potions you are in full control of how far you push yourself. For those members who are more familiar with stretching, the stations provide an opportunity to really push yourself in a self-limiting position.

Another great attribute of the FIVE equipment is that it makes it much easier to do dynamic stretching and oscillations on. As an example, it can be hard to push a full hamstring or glute stretch in a smooth and fluid manner; on the FIVE versions of these stretches there are moving platforms to provide comfortable and progressive range increases.

“My personal favourite bit of kit is the spinal extension arch,” says Howe. “My bug bear with a lot of stretching is that people develop increases in their range of motion without being strong enough to control their body through those new ranges. This bit of kit is fantastic as it helps to develop strong muscular control in your lower abs rather than giving you a range of motion that your body can’t tolerate.”

So, when should you hit the FIVE section of the gym? Howe says the kit can be incorporated into both before and after your workout. The motorised roller is a useful tool in this respect. “Essentially it works in the same way as a foam roller but in a way that allows you to relax into the movement rather than tense up.”

Using a foam roller before exercise can increase the pliability of your muscles and, for about 20-40 minutes, will provide increased joint range of motion. Post-exercise the motorised roller is useful for managing muscle soreness.

We all know about the benefits of stretching. FIVE is about taking it to the next level and really setting your body up for the year ahead.

For assistance please speak to the Academy Trainers or watch our demo videos on Instagram @thirdspacelondon

Henry Howe is a specialist musculoskeletal Osteopath working at Third Space Canary Wharf. He is also a personal trainer and has a decade of experience within the health and fitness industry. He is known for keeping his patients as active as possible during their recovery process, ensuring no time is lost when injured.