I spent last weekend in the company of one of the greatest Swedish icons; no, not Björn Borg, ABBA, or the Chef from The Muppets – but Volvo! Throughout my childhood in Karlskrona (southern Sweden) literally everybody’s parents drove this marque, including mine. Our country has a reserved, understated national culture, and it’s a point of humor that the populace differentiates its individuality by buying the *newest* Volvo. Now though, the exquisite, silky and muscular aesthetics of this freshly-launched beauty, the XC40, make our old 1990s Swedish 240 estate look about as aerodynamic as a cube! Our weekend at The Grove was themed around the classically Swedish concept of Lagom (there’s no direct translation but perhaps conjure Goldilocks and her ‘just right’ porridge), and part of my role was to lead a group of fabulous lifestyle press around a 30-minute HIIT workout on the ‘wellbeing’ part of their experience. Click MORE to read my thoughts on this car, to see how we got on with lagom, and to get a little BTS from the event!
Lagom is super duper Swedish; it’s all about striking an equilibrium of moderation to achieve sustainable contentment; neither having too little nor wanting too much, but instead realizing exactly the right amount of something, whether that be food, holiday, weather, experiences etc. It’s a very Nordic concept, and to me, it means that things are just right, just the way they are.
The XC40 is Volvo’s first small SUV, and you might say that it too is Lagom. But something’s seriously ‘off’. When cars are designed, visionary artists summon totally badass concept sketches that set car aficionados alight, but then somewhere between sketching and production, someone’s job is to make that car look really, really boring, as if it might have been a new car 10 years ago when vehicle silhouettes were aggressively cuboid. At Volvo, they have apparently forgotten to hire that person, and the result is a car that looks just as awesome as the concept sketch! Consequently, I think the XC40 is going to be quite the hit, especially because the monthly cost for a decent spec is actually good; there’s a lot of car-for-money (we Swedes are also notoriously frugal!).
My time in the vehicle was ultra comfortable (even though my press ‘chauffeurs’ did their best to test the limits of road-holding!), with my memory being characterized by an abundance of natural light inside the airy, glass-rich cabin. There are also neat, functional design flourishes and attention-to-detail that you’d expect to find on a luxury saloon at 2x the price, along with electronic connectivity that effectively turns it into a 4-wheel-drive iPhone! Hands full with the weekly shopping? Merely genuflect under the boot with your leg to pop the trunk! Lost your parking space at the Westfield multi-story haystack? Track, start, climate-control and/or lock your car from iPad. Spluttering from the noxious city fumes? Breathe ionized, filtered air in the cabin, whilst being massaged and soothed by dulcet tones from the crisp, 600-watt capable (!!!) Harmon Kardon audio. Then there’s wireless inductive phone charging (no cables), Apple CarPlay (so the whole system works with your iPhone seamlessly), heated steering wheel (essential on frosty days!), 360-degree reversing cams, self-parking etc… In other words, nice, modern, logical features you’d actually want in the car if you designed it yourself!
When we arrived at the gorgeous parkland bathed in glorious sunshine (and 0 degrees temperatures!), the fitness session I hosted for Volvo was to be a 30-minute outdoor bodyweight class. We went for a 2-minute jog around the perimeter of the park ground to start the warming up process, and then sub-groups alternated between wall sits and sprints back and forth, for around 5 minutes.
After that, it was ‘jackets off’ and we took up position on the mats to start the circuit of 6 moves with different options to cater for different fitness level; we tackled a minute of walking planks followed by a minute of stepping lunges/jumping lunges, a minute of press ups, and a minute of squats/jumping squats, then 30-45 seconds of Static Plank holds with the option of scapula retraction, and 30-45 seconds of clapping sit-ups. In between each, a 30-second mini recovery of high legs to keep warm.
When one cycle of all 6 moves had been completed, we took a break for a minute before hitting it again for the next cycle, and then the third and final cycle, at which point the body was in serious lactic-acid mode! A warm-down stretching session wrapped things up with the power HIIT session lasting 30 minutes on the nose.
Since Lagom is about balance, there was also Swedish Massage and cinnamon buns involved, as well as some aerial yoga!
It was my first ‘consumer experience’ of Volvo’s products since my childhood days; whilst they’re still a Swedish champion today, they’ve changed a lot over the years, and are clearly at the leading edge of lifestyle design and technology; and like any patriotic Swede, I really love it!