This secret gym in North Freo, run by ex-SAS soldiers, is hidden down a laneway, in a tiny converted warehouse packed with weights, monkey bars, fat climbing ropes and a boxing cage. Mirrors, however, are nowhere to be seen. Despite the strict NO VISITORS policy, I was granted access to observe a Power-Endurance session – a gruelling mix of cardio and strength circuit training. Chin-ups, push-ups and extreme-weight-squats were mixed up with a hefty serve of burpees, rowing ergos and sprints round the block, as the trainer’s motivational cues rang heavy in the air. Membership at this gym is capped at 100 and the application process is almost as rigorous as the workouts: you’ve got to pen a letter explaining why you want to train with them and then pass six initial assessment sessions. Physical condition is not the only prereq for admission here – you have to have the mental determination to reach your goals. Little wonder that members include firefighters, elite athletes, mountain climbers and aspiring soldiers. If you slack off during your membership, however, they’ll gladly kick you out. I’m not sure I’m quite hardcore enough for this place, but I admire all of you out there who manage to get in, and stay in.
FOR The cream of the crop
TARGETS Every muscle group
CLASS SIZE up to 12
The Mill, North Fremantle, themillgym.com.
Air Supremacy is run by a troupe of circus performers and trainers in Leederville, and invites attendees to hang upside down, do flips, and imagine life as an acrobat extraordinaire. I have to say, I thought there was no chance my measly upper body strength would cut it. Lucky for me, the class is totally weakling-friendly. The teachers are there to give newbies loads of variations (like holding a plank on the ground with hands in the lowered rings, to build upper-body strength) while more advanced students casually perform 360-degree flips in the air. This class is equal parts challenging and fun – your arms, shoulders and abs will be on fire for the whole hour (look forward to that morning-after burn…). It’s so worth it for the street cred you’ll get with a pic of yourself in a Cirque du Soleil-style air pose.
FOR Exhibitionists at heart
TARGETS Upper body and core
CLASS SIZE 10-12
The AirSpace, 626 Newcastle Street, Leederville, 9328 5481, airyogaperth.com.au.
True to its name, this world-renowned class will make you feel like a mighty Roman warrior, as you grind your way around a circuit of functional, yet punishing, resistance exercises: alternating lunges while passing a weight under each leg, push-ups with one hand raised on a ball, or rolling planks on a medicine ball, to name a few of the fiercest. Every single muscle group gets a thorough bashing during class – my chest in particular was certainly unprepared for those killer presses and push-ups. As hard-core as that may sound (and it certainly is), the vibe of the place is anything but – it feels more like a happy family that decided to get together and test everyone’s mental and physical limits. The modern studio is kitted out with top-notch equipment and loads of weight options to advance towards as you get stronger. One particularly taxing move that put me to shame was the chin-up – the strong resistance bands, in place to supposedly catapult you into the air, were clearly useless on me, as my head bobbled hopelessly below the bar. Well, at least I tried to do as the Romans do….
FOR Lovers of the burn
TARGETS Every muscle group, particularly chest
CLASS SIZE 20+
F45 Training, 4/74 Wellington Street, East Perth,
0406 927 965, f45training.com.au.
ANARCHY TRAINING CENTRE
Anarchy Training Centre in West Perth has a rep for ‘no pain, no gain’ boxing workouts, and its SAP (Strength, Agility, Power) class – a circuit of muscle-burning, lung-popping, military-style moves designed to test every part of your body – is no exception. With each exercise lasting just 45 seconds, there’s no time to focus on pain. It’s a killer combo of cardio and strength: there are tractor wheels to jump on, ropes to shake and burpees to crank out. ‘Breaks’ comprise sprinting up the hill outside while gulping in fresh air. The vibe is pretty girl power, with a few stray lads. There’s no mirror gazing, or fitness fashionistas – everyone comes dressed to sweat. The intense vibe means you won’t have time to chat with your mates. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you’ll need to focus – hard – on not vomiting.
FOR Those with a death wish
TARGETS Every muscle group
CLASS SIZE 25+
Anarchy Training Centre, 505 Newcastle Street, West Perth,
0438 763 400, anarchytrainingcentre.com.au.
Yoga is challenging enough…but in the air? Come to Acro Yoga alone or with a partner, and be prepared to laugh- a lot – as you work out how the hell to balance your partner's whole body weight in the air, on just the soles of your feet. Some people will manage those seemingly effortless, twisted yogi postures while others may spend more time flying through the air and onto the ground. It takes a whole lot more strength and flexibility – than you'd think. This class will definitely guarantee an ab workout like no other, from all the giggle fits you're bound to have.
FOR Adventurous fit folk
TARGETS Arms, core, legs
CLASS SIZE up to 8
Yoga Grooves, 26 Swanbourne Street, Fremantle, 0427 839 402, yogagrooves.com.
Love the intensity of a hard-hitting, muscle fibre-pumping workout, but enjoy a micro-tuning Pilates session just as much? Enter LaGree pilates in Subi. The fit-out of the studio is modern and minimal: indoor plants soak up the sweat in the air, and metallics splash across feature walls. The Pilates machines – more like transformers than reformers – may be a little intimidating, but they’re incredibly functional. The moves (lunges, push-ups and the like) target those tiny, hard-to-reach muscular groups: in no more than three minutes, I had some intense shakes, sweats and burns going on, particularly in my butt. During class, pumping, bass-heavy beats pulse out, and the instructor’s voice booms over the top. LaGree is basically Pilates on steroids, and it’s one helluva good workout. Safe to say I avoided any stairs for a week.
FOR Pilates buffs looking for the next thing
TARGETS Legs, glutes and core
CLASS SIZE 8-10
LaFit Studio, 319 Hay Street, Subiaco, 9380 4249, lafitstudio.com.au.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN (OR HELL?)
BeMoreFit owner Brett Moore loves a good outdoor sesh. He’s cranked up the gruelling 242-stair climb up Jacobs Ladder in Kings Park, to bring you a full-body workout.
20 squats (drop as low as possible while maintaining form)
20 push-ups (in full, or with dropped knees)
20 crunches (have your training partner stand on your toes, and give them a high five at top of movement)
20 jack knives (start in a plank, then sweep your knee through to opposite elbow)
1 Jacobs Ladder staircase sprint
Repeat at least twice.
Top tip For a greater challenge, try shortening your rest break, or increasing sets.