The founders of Fitness Playground have opened a 24-hour underground gym in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills called The Bunker. And it’s easy to see how it got its name.
“We’ve gone with the theme of ‘going into a bunker’,” says gym co-founder Justin Ashley. “So when you walk in the foyer you take an escalator down this concrete chute.”
Ashley worked with architect Joe Snell – who also designed Yulli’s, Tapavino and Balcon by Tapavino – to create a space inspired by a nightclub; there’s lots of exposed concrete, neon lights and brushed metal. There are no windows and the lights modulate to reflect the time of day.
“We knew that, being an underground facility, a key part of it was going to be lighting, so we really went all out on the lights,” says Ashley.
The 500-square-metre space (just slightly bigger than an Australian basketball court) is also decked out with 24 speakers and four subwoofers. “The sound system was a really big thing for us. We’re targeting a particular demographic who are really into their music and want to go to a beautiful environment to train.”
The Bunker is boutique, meaning it's about creating tailored programs while keeping membership numbers low – Ashley says about a fifth of the number other gyms usually allow – and class sizes are capped at 18 people. It’s not for gym newbies, either; classes have been designed for people who have trained for more than three years (although members can also do their own workouts and there’s personal trainers available).
“The class sessions will progress rather than repeat, so you’ll still get good workouts. For example, you might do gymnastic rings, a very complicated exercise to do, and week-on-week you’ll build your skills until you can master the next [exercise],” says Ashley, adding you’re not going to find conventional Zumba, step or barre classes here.
Instead The Bunker offers gymnastics rings, barbell classes or handstand lessons. There are elements of AFL and rugby union training, circus performance, acrobatics, bodybuilding, combat sports and Olympic weightlifting – all shaped by the experience of the instructors.
The gym’s also tried to source its machines from 10 to 15 different equipment suppliers, compared to the usual three or so that gyms often use. “We chose barbells from Sweden that they use in the Olympics, we have our pin-loaded weights that come from Canada, half of our cardio equipment is from America, and half is from Italy,” says Ashley.
69–81 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills
(02) 8098 0508
Daily 24 hours.