Fitness Playground started as a small bootcamp. In 2014, the bootcamp was moved indoors to get members out of the rain. That became the first Fitness Playground gym, in Surry Hills.
Fast-forward eight years and there are four gyms in Sydney. The company’s co-founders, Justin Ashley and Serra Burmin, have been named Australian Young Entrepreneurs of the Year; while the gym company has been voted international fitness and wellness ‘Boutique of the Year’, at the FIT Summit in Singapore this month.
So what’s so special about these gyms?
Everything that Fitness Playground does is about inspiring change. Inspiring change for members and staff – and as a result, for the industry as a whole.
“For us, inspiring change has three parts,” says Ashley. “One, transforming the industry. We believe that if we can help inspire improvements in fitness industry services and delivery, the industry can lead the way in preventative healthcare. Helping people to not get sick, as opposed to treating them once they get sick.
“Number two is staff. The staff experience and turnover in the fitness industry is often not fantastic. Some companies in the industry have a 400% staff turnover annually. That’s not something I'm a supporter of. It’s important to create a great staff experience, a great place to work.
“But ultimately, it's about the members. If we can create spaces with a whole menu of different things to try, which inspire people to not turn off their alarm and go back to bed, there’s a higher chance that people will find something they love at the gym and start improving their health.”
Ashley says the beautiful look of their gyms make people want to come, but that's not what makes people stay. “What makes people keep coming back is the quality of the classes and coaches, and the community. The happy staff and other members.”
The company’s latest venture, Wellness Playground, is a new breed of gym. When Fitness Playground acquired an additional 700m² downstairs from their existing Marrickville club, they designed an oasis of new studios, equipment, hangout spaces, infrared saunas, creche, luxe bathrooms and a variety of experiences to help people connect body, mind and spirit.
Wellness Playground is an inspiring space that gives members an everyday escape, daily mini getaways, from their hectic lives. A space they actually want to spend time in to meet their health and fitness goals while also achieving a greater sense of balance and wellbeing.
The upstairs level, which was also rejuvenated, still has all the existing high-intensity activities (the gym floor and equipment, cardio area, the Battleground group-training studio, the SpinCity studio and more). While downstairs features reformer pilates studio, yoga, barre, dance and more. Without a hefty price tag.
Wellness Playground opened soon after Sydney’s second Lockdown, to acclaim from the industry and media. But most importantly, the members love it. Fitness Playground Marrickville club is in the top-five most popular fitness and wellness spaces in the world, out of 55,000 global locations that run from the Mindbody booking platform.
Hear it in our members’ words – here’s what some of them have to say about Fitness Playground, including the Marrickville facility…
“Great staff, great facilities! The wellness centre in particular is the dream-come-true gym and classes space. Absolutely amazing, like something out of a Santorini hotel! The classes are fantastic and you can book them on a super easy-to-use app. The free T2 tea in the lounge area is the cherry on top,” Lauren Kay.
“Fantastic club, I’m with the Marrickville branch and it is legit. Classes and gym are awesome and the wellness centre is an oasis,” Damon Bui.
“Prettiest gym in Sydney! The wellness centre is absolutely beautiful. Customer service has been excellent, the staff are always friendly and helpful. Love the yoga classes, the space is always clean and it's not overcrowded like some other gyms,” Maya Kaneko.
“I was sceptical when I originally saw advertising material for Fitness Playground. I remember my partner showing me pictures and thinking, "Well that's going to probably be as much as Virgin Active if not more". To my surprise we stopped past one day for a gym tour and I found out that it's just $20 a week for the gym. I looked down at the price then out at the gym floor and thought to myself, ‘How the hell is this quality being priced at $20 a week?’ Four months now I have been training at Fitness Playground Marrickville, three of those with one of their Personal Trainers Luciano, who's been amazing. I wouldn't take back my decision to switch, and actually wish I did it sooner,” Aidan Mison.
"I highly recommend this gym. Not only is the actual gym area great but venturing down to the wellness hub unlocks the doors to a boujee palace! The wellness hub feels like something of a resort. Separate rooms for all styles of classes means plenty of variety of classes at different times. Also, the wellness hub has pilates reformer, which is a huge, huge plus! The gym area itself is a really great vibe, it’s super-positive in there and I’ve experienced nothing but kindness exchanged between people who are coming in to train. I have to say by far, the number one thing that really makes this gym a 5/5 stars is the staff. They are SUPER helpful, extremely happy and passionate. Very genuine people. You can come here and feel comfortable knowing that it you need help there are people you can ask," Andjela Zelenbaba.