At many gyms, getting as many people as possible through the doors is a priority. Classes start early, finish late and run back-to-back throughout the day. Change rooms are crowded. Queuing for equipment is common. And forking out hundreds of dollars a month for all of this is expected.
But Chifley Tower’s new wellness club Soma Collection doesn’t hew to this model. In fact, the space feels more like a social club than sports centre. HIIT (high-intensity interval training), yoga, Pilates and even meditation classes are offered here, creating a holistic health experience that’s unusual in the cluttered CBD fitness market. Located in the heart of Sydney’s financial district, Soma’s primary clientele will likely be high-flying C-suite executives and corporates craving a chance to switch off and sweat the stress away. But the doors are open to anyone wanting to enjoy its luxe wellness services.
Shaking up an industry dominated by cheaper mass-market gyms was the motivating priority for co-founders Simon Anderson, Franco Atashi and Amy Atashi. They don’t pretend that Soma is the perfect fit for all. In fact, they prefer it that way.
“We’re not after every single person in the CBD, we’re keeping it to a small pool of members who will stay with us for a long time,” Amy tells Broadsheet.
Soma’s classes and services are divided into four pillars: strength, studio, spa and social. There are two group-class studios and a gym, along with massage, physiotherapy and beauty treatment rooms. Members can choose from 70 yoga, Pilates (mat and reformer), flexibility and barre classes each week, plus more than 30 high-energy HIIT and boxing sessions. Classes are capped at 18 participants, giving trainers the opportunity to offer personalised advice to everyone.
Personal training is the next big focus for Soma. With a combined 30 years of personal training experience, Anderson and Franco lead the charge when it comes to coaching. There are 30 trainers at Soma, each mentored and trained in-house, with a holistic focus on improving flexibility, mobility and mental health, in addition to traditional fitness goals. “The more I’ve worked in the corporate realm, I’ve realised the importance of stress management, posture correction and rehab,” explains Franco.
Soma’s interiors – designed by Surry Hills studio Giant Design (Goodfields, Spice Alley, Cuckoo Callay) – are about as luxe as gym interiors can get. Dark timbers, bronze accents and brass touches set a premium tone, while the airy studio spaces have linen drapes that let in soft, glowing light.
One of the highlights can be found in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. Two state-of-the-art infra-red saunas are the perfect spot to stretch or zen out after a tough class. It’s all part of the team’s desire to foster a sense of connection with the members, giving them a space to de-stress and improve their overall wellbeing.
“We felt the whole mentality in larger commercial gyms is to push people through like a sausage factory. There’s no sort of long-term care,” says Amy.
The team is planning to launch a series of wellness workshops to educate members about caring for their minds and bodies outside of class. “We’re hoping to create an oasis for executives. When work gets stressful, they can come in and unwind. No matter what style of workout or experience they’re looking for, they’ll find it all under one roof,” says Franco.
Ground Floor, Chifley Tower, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney
Mon to Thur 6am–8pm