Maddox is more than just a health club. Existing in the space between high-intensity gyms (such as Barry’s) and serene wellness studios, it swaps blaring music and trainer commands for calmly spoken words of encouragement – and protein shakes for cups of Kakadu Plum Co Jilungin bush tea, and alkaline and gumleaf-infused waters.

The entrance off Flinders Lane is discreet, but what’s inside the century-old Customs House is far from it. Step through a gently blue-lit tunnel into a stunning reception space by local interior-design firm Hecker Guthrie. Stippled concrete walls and original Baltic-pine floorboards contrast with the sleek stainless-steel benchtop and glass-tiled back wall, while an undulating, human-scale digital work by Melbourne artist Justin Ridler gestures to the long hallway. In its nooks you’ll find works by local artists as part of a collaboration with Matt Bax’s Clifton Hill gallery Grau Projekt, which is bringing a series of solo exhibitions to the space – first up, sculptor Pimpisa Tinpalit. And the slick branding is by Melbourne design studio The Company You Keep.

After years in the fitness game, working at a large chain, Davey Ramburuth’s mission with Maddox is to reshape the industry. Together with co-founder (and partner) Annie Nguyen, he’s moving away from intense mirror-clad gyms, lock-in contracts and a physical-fitness-first focus. The pair has instead created a new urban retreat in the middle of the CBD. “In addition to movement as medicine, we wanted to explore how design can be used to nourish and restore our wellbeing,” Nguyen says. “Through design, we wanted to create a communicative space that is welcoming and inclusive (not intimidating), restorative and energising, immersive and experimental. We wanted to celebrate our city’s love for art and design.”

Maddox was conceived as a place to relax and restore, both physically and mentally. A place to get your workout in, but also to linger, sipping on a cup of tea in the foyer’s “campfire” seating area. Plush poufs, made from New Zealand sheepskin, add softness; Frama’s statement Triangolo chair delivers structure and form, and the long bench grounding the gallery-like space is made from a single block of cedar wood.

A bust of Greek philosopher Socrates presides over the gym space, which includes pods dedicated to mobility, cardio and strength. “Our three pods are based on the movement types which collectively enable a holistic and balanced exercise program, similar to a balanced diet,” Ramburuth says.

Classes are trainer-led, 30 minutes long, and operate with a maximum capacity of six people. Each one is designed to be as emotionally evocative as it is physical, with a focus on breathing and considered movement. Ramburuth is also conscious of his training style, taking a “words of encouragement” over “constructive criticism” approach.

At the cardio pod, high-tech equipment is mixed with raw structural beams and reclaimed timber from a dilapidated railway bridge in regional Victoria. You rotate between treadmills, bikes and rowers in the energetic classes. At the strength pod, it’s all floor work and weights, with a program tailored to your personal limits. And the mobility pod centres around functional and suspension training. Some classes focus on one pod; others are a combination of two.

The team also runs seasonal classes with the Technogym Kinesis machine, which improves strength, coordination, flexibility, and posture and breathing control with its pulley system – offering more than 200 individual exercises. Right now, Ramburuth is hosting strength and conditioning classes for golfers but says as the seasons change, he will introduce similar classes for soccer players and skiers.

After your session, refresh and reset in the gym’s private change rooms, fitted out with Aesop products. There are no communal showers here.

Maddox has a range of pack options. One X (one session) is $40, Discoverer (three sessions) is $100, Explorer (10 sessions) is $400, Adventurer (25 sessions) is $1000 and Pioneer (50 sessions) is $2000.

Maddox Fit
325 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9958 6825

Mon to Sun 6am–8pm