ICYMI: in 2010, not-actually-Australian actor Russell Crowe co-founded a gym called 98 in Sydney, with former pro British rugby league player Chris Feather.

The pair met while Crowe was filming Robin Hood in the UK, but it wasn’t long after that Feather pitched the idea for 98 Gym and Crowe jumped on board.

In the 12 years since, it’s opened a second Sydney location, expanded to Brisbane and this year arrived in Melbourne. The team has converted a cavernous warehouse on a busy Cremorne side street into a monochrome den for strength and conditioning training.

There are six different classes that run throughout the week: two for strength training, two for conditioning, one for cardio and “game day”. Each class is designed to focus on one element of your overall fitness, which is then put to the test on game day.

“If you’ve trained and ticked all the boxes all week, you’re fit and strong, then you work with the team on a Saturday for game day,” Feather tells Broadsheet. Each week the exact challenge changes to test a different ability. “Last week, it was 20 kilometres on the bikes, relayed between teams of four. You can get on, sprint and then tap out.”

Feather drew on his rugby days to create the program, making a point to tune out of online fitness trends. “There’s a lot of fad training going on – people will just copy some program they saw on Instagram,” he says. “There’s a lot more to it than that.”

When Feather offered me a trial class, I opted for the one I thought would make me least sore afterwards: cardio. It kicked off with a floor-based warm-up circuit: think bands, burpees, planking et al. Then, it was an all-out session on the bikes with some extremely muscular, twice-my-size types who were coping a lot better than I was. Admittedly the trainer’s directions were encouraging, but I could’ve sworn she was about to shout, in full Gladiator style, “Are you not entertained?”

98 Gym Melbourne
31 Cremorne Street, Cremorne