Founder and director, First Light Hong Kong
Gert Jan Mattens is the founder of First Light Hong Kong, the dance-in-the-dark morning wellness event that has taken the city by storm. Participants are encouraged to shake their stuff in the dark first thing in the morning to energetic music, followed by a cool-down session.
Prior to his venture, the wellness expert worked in very different fields. Having grown up in a “small medieval town” in Belgium, he interned for a Belgian governmental investment agency in Los Angeles, followed by private equity and consulting when he moved to Hong Kong some four years ago. Just before launching First Light, Mattens was responsible for corporate partnerships at GuavaPass (see founder Rob Pachter in 2015’s edition of 30 Under 30).
“My vision is to change the city from inside out, through providing an escape from people’s weekly routines.”
So where did the idea first come about? “First Light addresses the pressure of a cosmopolitan city and how it affects mental health,” Mattens says. “My vision is to change the city from inside out, through providing an escape from people’s weekly routines by positively empowering them from the early hours of the day.”
Since the event’s launch in 2017, Mattens has extended the concept to evenings — “for those who want to have the benefits mentioned before, after their work.” Today, he says, the idea has grown to what was initially perceived as “weird”, to being mainstream.
“It has shaken up how people exercise and I opened up a new dimension of wellness,” he adds. “At its core, First Light attendees get to experience total freedom thanks to dancing in near-darkness while giving the attendees a taster by different wellness professionals.”
What powers him? “A concept by author Leil Lowndes — do something you’d never dream of doing’”
His inspiration? “I am most inspired by people who achieve something through laser-sharp focus and sheer ambition. Besides that, I love to be around people who demonstrate high levels of social intelligence in addition to being superb storytellers.”