A burst of neon lights has landed on Mount Alexander Road in Melbourne’s north-west with the launch of Upstate Studios Ascot Vale.
It’s the fitness studio’s ninth in Victoria, since sisters Gail Asbell and Charelle Cuolahan opened the first in Geelong in 2009. Other locations include the flagship in Fitzroy, Balaclava in the south, Torquay (where Asbell lives) and more across regional Victoria.
Unlike other fitness studios that work on a franchise model and only allow memberships at one or two locations, Upstate members can attend classes at all of them, meaning there’s a wider range of classes, spots, instructors and times.
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Upstate offers four main class styles and three are on offer at Ascot Vale: yoga, hot mat Pilates and reformer Pilates (boxing classes are available at other studios).
“All of our classes – whether it’s reformer or hot Pilates – have options for different levels, so that makes it accessible for someone, whether they’re doing their first class or they’ve been doing Pilates for a long time. There’s always options to challenge [yourself] as well,” Asbell says.
Each class type is divided into different styles. For yoga there’s the vinyasa-focused power flow, slower (but no less difficult) yin, and a version of yin that includes a sound bath and meditation. Hot Pilates styles includes “strength”, which uses heavier weights, and “burn”, which focuses more on toning, plus “original”, which is a combination of the two. And on the reformer, the “jump” class is more cardio-focused, “burn” tests your strength and stamina, and the regular power reformer is a full-body workout.
The new studio is in an industrial space with brick walls and high ceilings that once housed F45. In keeping with the look of previous Upstate studios, there are pops of yellow throughout the space, which has walls covered in black and white collages.
“Attending a new gym can be intimidating for a lot of people, but everyone at our studios is super welcoming and friendly,” Asbell says. “If anyone as a beginner is keen to try something out, going to a brand new studio is great because there are usually a lot of new faces, too.”