Wellness is taking over the fitness industry.
A great spa experience has always been about promoting wellness and over the past few years, it’s made its way into clinics and clients’ at-home routines too. Clients expect an experience that combines physical and mental wellbeing in every area of their life. So, it only makes sense for a crucial aspect of healthy living, fitness, to follow suit.
The team behind Fitness Playground have well and truly got the memo. They’re changing up the gym experience with the opening of Wellness Playground, a dreamy space in Marrickville, Sydney that’s a fitness studio disguised as a high-end spa. It has the kind of facilities that make it a space you’ll actually enjoy spending time in and reconnecting with your health, both physically and mentally.
We were lucky enough to experience Wellness Playground for ourselves and caught up with the team behind it all to learn more about the concept and the future of wellness in the fitness industry.
Can you tell us about the experience you’ve created in your new Marrickville location? How have you incorporated wellness?
We wanted to get people off the street and into a place of calm. This new level of the gym doesn’t look like a gym, it looks a lot more like a fancy hotel or a day spa. Not something I’ve seen done in a gym before. It’s all rounded edges, arched doorways, terrazzo finishes, impactful glass and mirrors, and incredible lighting that changes to impact the mood of a class. Ultimately the design is about contributing to the types of experiences we want people to have within the different studios.
There are lots of different experiences available depending on what you feel like at the time, whether it be a dance or barre class in which the dynamic lighting guides the mood, or a yoga class in the uniquely dark yoga shala, or reformer Pilates in the boutique-style studio. These different classes and experiences are on different parts of the spectrum in terms of whether they’re designed to calm or energise you. But they all achieve similar results because they’re experiences that consider holistically the connection between spirit, mind and body.
As well as the studios, we’ve got two really beautiful spaces where people can just sit down and relax, have a tea or sparkling water, and connect, either to themselves or the people around them. People need a space to decompress from the day before they start their class, and to carry on that experience after their class. They could take that a step further and use one of our infrared saunas. There’re also the high-intensity activities in the space upstairs.
Ultimately, the space is a place where you can escape. It’s on Illawarra Road, the busiest street in Marrickville. You can dodge the traffic to grab yourself a pork roll, then enter what’s really going to be a beautiful oasis for great experiences. You can reconnect to your health, your body, your mind, all together, and you’re going to walk out feeling great.
Why do you think it’s important for people to be caring for their mental wellness the way they do their fitness?
The idea was born when the pandemic started and health – physical and mental health – came to the forefront. We repositioned our thinking, that we’re not just a fitness services provider. Our duty and ambition as a gym is to be at the frontline of preventative healthcare, a place where people come to prevent themselves getting sick. That’s where I think the fitness industry can go. We know the connections between physical health and mental health, yet there is a lack of multi-service gym facilities that cater for both mental wellness as well as physical fitness.
Where do you see the industry going?
Consumers demand more now – these days we can jump on an app, pay nothing or five bucks a month to have a coach in the palm of our hands, and we can do a gym workout in our living room. That demands then that the physical spaces, the gyms that we ask our customers to move out of their home to come and visit, need to be better than what they were before. I don’t think that the home environment will replace gyms. I think it will compete with those gyms that aren’t evolving and innovating and ensuring that coming to the gym is an incredible experience, not a chore.
What does the future of The Fitness Playground look like? Will you continue incorporating wellness into all of your gyms?
The direction for the business is to be centred around health, not purely around aesthetics like a lot of gyms are. Basically, we want to provide ultimate variety – endless experiences on just one membership. In a new location that we’re opening later this year – our flagship club, what we’re calling The Mothership – it’s going to have six group training areas across 2,500 square metres. So, although we’re not running with a wellness theme there in that next club, we’re providing our members with access to a variety of clubs – five gyms within less than a 5km radius of each other. Each facility is curated differently with a different set of classes, studios and experiences. So, our members will have access to what will soon be 600 or 700 classes a week across the different clubs.
Watch the video to take a tour of the new space.
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