The Paramount Recreation Club is a sleek, Palm Springs-esque space that promises wellbeing for mind, body and spirit. It opened in April and is the latest business to be launched in the now-bustling heritage-listed Paramount Pictures Building in Surry Hills. It comes after the recent opening of Paramount House Hotel and of course the already-established Paramount Coffee Project, the art-house Golden Age Cinema and Bar and co-working hub The Office Space.

It may be a place where you can exercise, but Recreation Club CEO Barrie Barton wants you to know it’s not like a “regular” gym.

“We were wondering whether there was a better and more relatable way to [run a gym]. Could we create a place that provides physical, mental and social health, and could we design it in such a way that it seems more welcoming and a little less intimidating?”

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The answer is yes. Firstly, the rooftop terrace space doesn’t look like a gym; it’s been designed to appear and feel like an empty swimming pool. Small cacti and succulent gardens line the edges and it’s dotted with white tables under bright blue shades. Even the design of the kiosk keeps to the theme. It’s thin, white, narrow and has a decorative ladder making it very pool-esque. The studio is equally good looking, with large windows and lines that follow the building’s 1940s functionalist-style curves.

“Part of the promise is that people are getting off the busy street and stepping into a beautiful environment with a slower pace. It needs to be restorative,” says Barton. “It’s not a place you would treat like a standard gym where you would rush in and rush out. We want people to experience the site for longer, and do more for their body and mind.”

The exercise programs have been designed by fitness and health director Jordan Ponder and are based on the pillars of strength, conditioning, mobility and core. Classes incorporate elements of Pilates, yoga, barre, Olympic lifting, boxing, skipping and meditation.

“It was actually hard to recruit staff because we didn’t want [to hire] classic gym trainers,” says Ponder.

The result is classes led by ex-Commonwealth long jumpers, dancers and musicians.

Mental fitness gets just as much attention; there are meditation classes, workshops and talks on offer. “It’s not only about making people look better and perform better but actually feel better, and that’s as much a question of psychology as it is of physiology,” says Barrie.

To recover from all that exercise, the kiosk serves a short menu of sandwiches, salads, bowls and breakfast cups, alongside house-made sodas and Reuben Hills coffee. “We like to think it’s healthy but it’s not health food,” says Barton.

The menu was created in consultation with Commonwealth Street neighbours Griff Pamment and Sam Christie of Longrain (they are also behind Cho Cho San and The Apollo). It’s designed to grab and go, or you can pull up a seat and take in the view of Surry Hills.

Treatment rooms will also open in May week offering physio, chiro and dietetics. Ponder thinks these on-hand experts elevate the club’s offering. “Health can be so segmented. You see all these different people but none are really communicating with each other, so there’s a disjointed approach,” he says. “Here we’re giving people a really progressive approach to what they need.”

The Paramount Recreation Club is slated to open Thursday 12 April.

Paramount Recreation Club
Rooftop, Paramount House, 80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9211 1018


Mon to Wed 6am–8pm
Thu & Fri 6am–3pm
Sat 6am–2pm
Sun 7am–12pm

Mon to Fri 6.30am–3pm
Sat & Sun 7am–2pm