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9 Degrees Indoor Bouldering Climbing Gym
Photograph: Supplied

Unusual fitness classes in Sydney

Scrap the gym and enjoy a good sweat at these wacky workouts around the city

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While manic repetition of squats, lunges, sprints and push-ups is one way to stay healthy and rev your engine with endorphins, some fitness fans prefer a more left-of-field sweat sesh than what a gym or an aggressive bootcamp can provide. These unusual workouts let you dance, bounce, swing and climb your way to a healthier you, and you'll have a ball getting there.

If you can’t make it to a class (or are yet to stock up on the requisite glow sticks) you can make jogging fun along these scenic running routes in Sydney. Then, cool off in the salty embrace of our favourite ocean pools.

After all that hard work, why not treat yourself? Check out Sydney's best spas.

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The best weird workouts

  • Sport and fitness
  • Personal training
  • Drummoyne

If you’re the kind of person who constantly blames being time-poor to avoid the gym or going for a run, then we’ve got the workout for you. Exolt EMS in Drummoyne (and soon, Neutral Bay) has taken charge in bringing this European exercise technology to Sydneysiders, and it's changing the way we look at exercising. EMS training (that’s Electro Muscle Stimulation for the newbies) is a cutting-edge shortcut to rock-hard abs and a butt you could bounce a coin off.

EMS training works by sending tiny electric pulses through your muscles as you work out in a specially designed suit. The suit is sprayed down with water to help the electricity conduct, then is strapped to your body like a form-fitting life jacket. Believe us when we say, this training is no joke.

  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

Kitted out in hot-pink Reebok Classics, white legwarmers and a striking bodysuit and crop top combo, our instructor Shannon Dooley looks like the picture-perfect ’80s icon. Modelling herself on the queens of home video fitness – from Jane Fonda to Olivia Newton-John – she adopts a Workout Barbie pose at the head of the Retrosweat class, in front of a mirrored dance hall. We jump around to Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’, bust a lung to Boy Meets Girl’s ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ and thrust in earnest to the Proclaimers’ ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’.

Aside from a few coordination issues, one never forgets how to shimmy sideways while flailing arms and legs in the right direction. Retrosweat really did what it said on the tin: we danced to 12 original ’80s tracks and we sure as heck worked up a sweat. But fitness alone isn’t the reason fans flock to the party every week. This class is serious fun –  and where else can you plunge into a squat while holding a pineapple?

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  • Things to do
  • Sports
  • Alexandria

9 Degrees is a bouldering gym located in Alexandria, where climbers don’t use ropes or harnesses but instead scale shorter walls beside thick, padded flooring. The benefit here is that you won’t need a climbing partner, equipment or much training – you can just strap on a pair of shoes and explore the centre’s 140 different climbs in nine degrees of difficulty, from entry level to competition levels.

It’s very close to SkyZone and the Rocks Brewery, so you can easily make a day of beer-fuelled sporty indoor activities. These bouldering specialists now also have sister gyms in Parramatta, Waterloo and Lane Cove, if you want to explore more climbing routes around the city.

  • Sport and fitness
  • Yoga, pilates and meditation
  • Castle Hill

Have you ever been daydreaming while in shivasana and found yourself thinking, ‘hey, wouldn’t this be much better if I were hanging upside down?’ Well, someone at a boutique yoga studio in Castle Hill did. Outside of their standard yoga and Pilates classes, AerialFit offers brave yogis the chance to get creative in an unusual practice, hanging from hoops, silk fabrics and even a trapeze.

They run various different styles of suspended classes, each with a fresh twist of circus, dance and endurance. They all allow for a total body workout, building your core and stabilising your joints, as each muscle is required to constantly support your movements while in the air. The classes rely heavily on developing and maintaining the skills you'll learn progressively, so most run as ten-week programs, but you can drop in for beginner classes most days. 

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Ever wondered why world class athletes and sports teams train at high altitude? The oxygen levels in these zones make for super-effective workouts – meaning you can spend less time working out for a greater return. The group training sessions at Combine Air take place in a room that simulates the altitude of 3500m above sea level by reducing the amount of oxygen available in the arena. The unique environments create time-efficient and effective workouts – burning more calories during and after training and increasing lean muscle mass.

Sound good? We agree – and Combine Air’s central Paddington location means you can use your extra time at the neighbourhood’s excellent shops, cafés and restaurants.

There are also studios in Rozelle, Concord, Sydney CBD and a fresh new space in the Shire.

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Winnie Stubbs
Lifestyle Writer
SRG Thai Boxing Gym
  • Sport and fitness
  • Boxing
  • Alexandria

The air is hot with the smell of anticipation, sweat and Deep Heat muscle rub in this busy Muay Thai gym, where everyone from complete beginners to near-famous grapplers can work out on the mats and learn new skills. Known as the ‘art of eight limbs’, Muay Thai is an intense full-body fighting style. To remember all the weapons in your self-defence arsenal, sing the remixed heads-and-shoulders song: "fists, elbows, knees and shins, (knees and shins)".

You’ll be using them all as you dance around the padded training area, learning and perfecting strikes, blocks and grappling techniques. There’s a lot of focus on kicks and knee attacks, so the training pads are much larger than other boxing gear, including a full body pad for push kicks – when you slam the base of your foot into your opponent’s belly and send them flying backwards. While the introductory class is more about mastering the absolute basics, you can move up in the ranks to face more advanced fighters in intricate grappling dances, throwing heavy blows and dodging swift elbow jerks.

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  • Health and beauty
  • Redfern

If you’re a Melbourne-based fitness enthusiast, you’ll likely have heard of FoxFit; the female-only fitness studio that’s been facilitating hyper-toned mirror selfies for some of the city’s most elite fitness influencers since 2019. And after five years in Melbourne, FoxFit has launched its first Sydney studio. The classes are designed specifically to help female-identifying people achieve peak fitness; the ultimate workout, minus the macho energy. 

https://media.timeout.com/images/106065460/image.jpg
Winnie Stubbs
Lifestyle Writer
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