Melbourne’s flourishing wellness scene is a core part of this dynamic city filled with health food fanatics and fitness junkies. Whether it’s old school health and leisure activities or a desire to embark on an international fitness trend, locals and visitors are never too far away from fulfilling their health and wellness goals. Melbourne faces the usual big city dilemma – traffic, constant construction, a crowded inner CBD, and a workaholic lifestyle. However, it is also teeming with open, green spaces, is flanked by the sea and, with mountain ranges within an hour of the CBD, is an ideal location to embrace an active lifestyle. And while those staying in Melbourne’s affluent areas such as South Yarra, Fitzroy, Prahran and Richmond will be spoilt for choice, health and fitness hubs are spilling into most areas, meaning it’s easy to break a sweat in Melbourne.
Hugo Taylor Black, founder of The Wellness Guide and Empowered, says that Melburnians have “a drive to become their personal best [and] we’re seeing a major societal shift towards healthier lifestyle choices. But rather than striving for perfection, Melburnians are on a quest for a fulfilling life balance.” This balance has led to an explosion in practices that look at health in a holistic and integrated manner, incorporating mindfulness and alternative therapies working towards a greater sense of wellbeing.
Melbourne has seen an increasing number of practices that incorporate mindfulness and alternative therapies | Courtesy of ALL FOR ONE
Activate your body
From boxing, to HIIT, aerial yoga or hot vinyasa flow, Melbourne’s gyms and studios are teeming with international fitness trends. And with spaces designed for social media, finding a suitable studio to flex your personality in, be it white-washed walls channelling Danish hygge or gritty warehouse locations that just make you want to get tough.
Get strong with Core Candy’s line up of core-centric activities like Barre, HIIT, pilates or kettle fleek. This boutique studio offers smaller classes so visitors are bound to get the attention they deserve. With bare-bricked, graffitied walls and neon lights, it’s got that inner city vibe to help push through any work-out.
‘If these walls could talk’ is a phrase taken quite literally at Humming Puppy in Prahran. The yoga studio emits a humming noise engineered by acoustic specialists ARUP to take yogis on a deeply immersive and sensory journey. The climate-controlled spaces incorporate dark tones and brass details, adding to the atmospheric experience. You can choose from one of four classes – Mellow Hum, Unified Hum, Dynamic Hum or Deepen Your Hum – depending on your yoga level, and you don’t even need your own mat as the studio provides equipment by Manduka.
Want something with a little more power? Try F*IT, Melbourne North’s bespoke boxing-inspired studio that combines real boxing movement, strength and interval training. It also happens to be Insta approved, and the nightclub-inspired design and lighting will make sure all perspiring selfies are on point. After a session, head to the bar where protein smoothies (or vodka cocktails on certain nights) can be whipped up on site.
If a hectic cardio workout is too much, soar into warrior pose with aerial yoga at Body Flow Yoga. This serene and Swedish-minimalist inspired space has yogis floating off the ground to experience deeper stretching, myo-fascial release and strengthening across the entire body. Remember to sign up for an intro class to this trending form of yoga before diving in.
Anne Love, a wellness consultant and Director of Mindful Moments Australia, says that there is a big shift within the city to “integrate activities, services and attitudes into the fabric of our lives to support people on all levels, whether physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.” Cue the explosion and mainstreaming of mindfulness and meditation practices which are popping up in studios, as well as corporates, across the city.
Anne suggests that studios like Happy Melon in Armadale, which teach the combination of mental and physical practice, is an excellent step to finding a balance between fitness and mental health. Here, students can choose from a range of physical activities, such as reformer pilates to dynamic boxing, and a variety of meditation practices. With the mantra, ‘Get the mind right, the body will follow’, it offers meditation classes for beginners to those already experienced who are looking to deepen their understanding of what meditation is.
Life got you wanting to run a million miles? Hugo suggests joining the sports stars and other Melbournians escaping the rat-race with sensory deprivation at Beyond Rest. Here, spacious floatation pods allow visitors to turn inwards and turn off. Their latest Journey Floats series and Mindful Floats series, with guided meditations within the pod, will take you to a whole new state of being and are perfect for those who find it difficult to still the mind on their own. It gets our tick of approval for offering free floats for every four hours of volunteer work with one of their selected charities completed by users. Locations include, Collingwood, Prahran, Hawthorn East and Moonee Ponds
Get into meditation with a guru guide at The Fifth Directionin St Kilda. Founder Asher Packman (who is also the President of Meditation Australia) believes that Melbourne is breaking new ground in how we view wellness. “Yes there is the physical aspect, but we also cater for the mental and spiritual aspect,” says Asher. “And spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean religious, but is more about understanding meaning and purpose in this life.” Asher appreciates the importance of all these to our overall well being, offering classes focused on HIIT, functional fitness, strength, loaded movement, animal flow, circuit training, core training, yoga and, of course, meditation. There’s also Men’s and Women’s circles (held weekly) that involve meditation and interactive dialogue around the true nature of masculinity and femininity.
If meditating or conventional streams like therapy don’t tick the wellbeing box, then try something unique – and take a baseball bat or club to household objects to let go of all stress and rage. With its motto ‘Break Things. Feel Good’, The Break Room has become a place in which to safely break, crush and shatter objects to your heart’s content, with the goal being to come out a calmer and happier person than the person who went in. Break-up gone badly? No one will judge if your ex’s favourite coffee cup goes accidentally missing…
When it comes to integrated health, Melbourne is at the forefront of these advancements and Melburnians are definitely looking at their health in a holistic way – from what they eat and where it comes from, to what their bodies need to keep in optimal shape. “The last few years have been huge for holistic health,” explains Hugo, “with esoteric wellness practices gaining some major mainstream cred, from acupuncturists and massage therapists to nutritionists and energy workers.” This has led to the development of all-in-one studios, which cater for health and wellbeing from head to toe.
There’s no doubt that Melbourne remains ahead of the foodie scene in Australia. Hugo notes that “in recent years, particularly in the café space, [the trend] is towards plating up simple, good and honest food. More and more places are paying homage to local growers, farmers and producers and, of course, seasonal produce.” Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda is one of the many cafés in Melbourne to embrace vegetarianism, with a menu that is 100% plant based.
Nothing says healthy quite like being frozen. Cryotherapy – essentially using extreme cold as a positive stress on the body, is seeing profound benefits by encouraging resilience, strength and a more robust immune system and is becoming increasingly popular in the city. Anna Rogacki and Meg Campbell, owners of RitualCryotherapy, explain that “cryotherapy increases the production of noradrenaline, a hormone responsible for decreasing inflammation in the body. Given that most chronic disease is the result of inflammation, this is a huge benefit of regular cryotherapy.” It involves exposing clients to cold, dry air for up to three minutes in specially designed chambers, promoting natural healing at the cellular level. Alternatively try out some local cryotherapy treatments, which target specific areas to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain. “At Ritual, we are passionate about therapies that support the nervous system and believe they are particularly important in today’s busy day and age,” furthers Anna.
Clean eating and choosing local, organic ingredients from retailers focused on sustainability continues to gain momentum within the city landscape. Terra Madre, which first opened its doors in 1996 in Northcote, remains one of the city’s most notable organic food stores, and will soon be opening another site in Brunswick. While it caters for a range of diets, from paleo to vegan, its holistic approach to food and health extends to its Wellness Clinic, where visitors have access to a team of dedicated practitioners offering services in naturopathy, acupuncture, massage therapy, psychology and kinesiology.
Looking for that one-stop shop to nurture the whole body? Head to All for One in Yarraville where any fitness, health and mental wellbeing journey will be supported in a stylish studio. No matter the objective, its team of physios, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers in pilates, yoga and meditation will collaborate to create a personalised and effective plan to reach the best ‘you’.