How the super fit property developer gets his mind and body into shape.
Long before Tim Gurner was famous as a luxury property developer, he was the owner of a small suburban gym. The 22-year-old had built it from scratch in 2004, painting and plastering and bringing in the equipment. National Australia Bank had loaned him $180,000 and he can’t work out why they did that. He had nothing behind him.
His dad was suffering from blood cancer – multiple myeloma – and died not long after the gym, My Well Being, opened its doors.
“I was insanely close to my dad,” recalls Gurner. “I lost my best mate and my dad and it was just completely heart-breaking.” But it got worse. Over the next six months, three of his grandparents died. And the gym was struggling.
He remembers sitting back in the middle of all these funerals, thinking, “What am I going to do with this loan? I don’t have any way to pay it back without getting the gym to work.”
There were two options: roll over and declare bankruptcy, “or I had to do what would make dad proud and get out there and work harder than I ever have.”
Next day he was back in the gym at 5:30am. He walked out at 9pm. And that was his life for the next year, training customers, inputting invoices into MYOB by hand, cleaning toilets, selling memberships. Six days a week.
It was a lesson in what the body could do.
“The reason I started the gym was I’ve always been a huge believer in wellness and health. It’s now been proven that ageing is a disease, and it can be treated, and you can live longer if you treat your body properly and My Well Being was a very small version of what we’re now doing [with Gurner’s new wellness centres Saint Haven]. When most gyms were called Pump Iron or whatever, we were specifically My Well Being. We had a focus on yoga, strength and meditation. We were quite early in that piece.”
All those deaths had left him wondering about ageing and mortality. “Mum and I debate all the time why dad got cancer. He used quite a lot of pesticides out at the farm, which is one thing mum blames. He had a lot of stress that he internalised, which I think had something to do with it as well.”
For Gurner, strength is an integral part of wellness. He’s been lifting weights since he was 14. “It helps you live a longer and better life, but it also makes you feel so much better. What I felt going from a scrawny kid to someone who actually had strength, some confidence behind it. I think the mental side of training is as important as the physical side. Some people need to go out, take drugs and drink alcohol to get that high. My biggest high is, without doubt, when I’m training.”
In the 16 years since Gurner sold the gym and started building a property development empire, he’s devoted, he estimates, more than a million dollars to trying out everything that might make him healthier, stronger, more resilient and mentally agile – all the “biohacks” that make up his holistic wellness package.
As Gurner told Forbes Australia in an exclusive report, “anything that is out there that’s a biohacking/testing thing I’ve done it. From micro-dosing mushrooms to infrared saunas, to steam, to Oura, lymphatic drainage. Everything. I want to try everything and see what works for me.”
Here are the Tim Gurner go-to hacks that he believes contribute to top performance, longevity and wellness:
1. The ChiliPad
Rest and recovery are a core part of Gurner’s wellness routine. He says that his Chilipad has been transformational for getting a good night’s sleep. Essentially, it’s a blanket that lies flat beneath your fitted sheet and keeps your bed at a set temperature all night. Think electric blanket but for cooling. The blanket cools your bed to an optimal temperature which apparently allows the body to fall into a deeper sleep faster and for longer. “I never sleep well in hotels anymore because I don’t have this”, he says.
2. Joovv Red Light
Reduces inflammation and stimulates mitochondria and is said to reduce pain, aid recovery, help wound healing and improve athletic performance.
3. Oura Ring
The ring that comes in silver, gold or black monitors how your body feels and what it needs. When you need more sleep, when you might be getting sick, when to push hard. Gurner’s personal trainer/life coach Nam Baldwin sees his Oura Ring results every week. “He knows exactly where my body’s at. He knows where my head’s at because we talk every week. He knows when I’m in a bad place and need help and he knows when I’m firing. He’s like a psychologist.”
A wristband that monitors recovery, sleep, training and health with personalised recommendations and feedback.
5. Infrared Sauna
A sauna that uses red light to heat the body. Has claimed benefits of anti-ageing, detoxification, heart health, immunity, muscle recovery, sleep and weight loss. Gurner uses it on Sundays and on recovery days.
6. Face Infrared
Claims to benefit the collagen in the skin and reduce wrinkles.
7. Ice Bath
Reduces inflammation, relieves sore muscle, and supports immunity, but Gurner also sees it as a way to learn to stay calm under extreme stress.
8. Steam Room
Improves skin health, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, aids recovery. Gurner has one next to his ice bath and infrared sauna. He might use it on a Sunday recovery day.
An EEG-based meditation app that reads your brain waves and plays peaceful weather sounds when you are calm, but if your mind drifts you hear stormy weather to bring your attention back to your breath. Tim Gurner meditates twice a day for 10 minutes. It “keeps my crazy brain calm”.
10. Lymphatic Drainage
The Normatec boot uses pulsed compression to massage the legs to reduce swelling, increase circulation and aid recovery. Gurner often wears one while watching television.
11. Venom Recovery
Wraps designed for ice and heat packs to fit on the various joints.
12. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Mat
Said to improve healing on the cellular level by affecting the voltage of the cells. It claims to be backed by “thousands of clinical studies”. Tim Gurner lies on it while lying under the Joovv red light, above.
13. Anxiety Blanket
A blanket with 35kg of beads inside, its weight spread across the whole body is said to be like a great big hug. “It’s incredibly calming,” says Gurner.
14. IV Drip
The fastest way to get vitamins and minerals into your system, IV drips are said to boost energy, immune function and cardiovascular health. Gurner’s contains: hydrating fluids, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, Super G Antioxidant (a store bought formulation), L-carnitine (derived from amino acids and crucial to energy and brain function), taurine (a crucial amino acid found mostly in meat). Gurner will usually do the IV drip on a Sunday recovery day.