A craze to have you climbing the walls
Get ready to train on the ceiling with a new approach that's sweeping the world, writes Alexandra Cain.
When a former British Royal Marines' head commando introduces a new gym system into the market, people take notice.
"Everyone who walks into the gym says 'wow', " says Ross Barbour, chief executive of Sydney's Real Commando Training, which has just opened the first Queenax gym in Australia, in a sports centre in the Sutherland Shire.
According to Mr Barbour, Queenax is the first gym system based on the notion of using every possible space: the floor, the walls, the ceiling, as well as open areas.
The big difference between Queenax and other fitness concepts is its modular structure. "The modular nature of the system means you can use the space to do anything really; it's very adaptive," Mr Barbour says.
The whole idea behind the system is making the best possible use of any space in which it's installed - it can go into a massive sporting facility or into a garage.
"You can do weights, resistance work or an anti-gravity yoga class with minimal change to the area," he says.
For instance, Queenax has a boxing system on wheels that can be rolled away when not in use so the space can be used for something else - pole-dancing classes, for example. Devices are also used for suspension or "anti-gravity" training, another fitness trend.
Mr Barbour took 10 months to build the first gym, after initially seeing the concept in the US 18 months ago. He developed the $250,000 facility with the help of investors.
Although his gym is the first in Australia to install Queenax, the system has already turned heads around the world.
"Virgin [Active] has just spent $15 million putting [Queenax] into gyms in Europe and now we're bringing it here," he says, explaining his business owns the rights to introduce the concept around the country.
There are already 250 Queenax gyms in the US, South Africa and India. It has won the support of the Benetton basketball team and the Italian navy.
The system originated in Italy, where football team AC Milan use it in their Milanello Sports Centre.
"It allows rehabilitation and means people recovering from injuries are not separated from other athletes," Mr Barbour says.
He says it is not necessary to have a large space in which to construct the system. Although his Queenax gym is 160 square metres, it can be built in a space as small as 60 square metres.
When it comes to fitness, Mr Barbour knows what he's talking about. He served as a Royal Marines commando for 22 years, rising to become head commando in the physical training school.
"You can't actually serve after 22 years, so I came to Australia where I worked with the Australian military for three years as the head physical trainer at Holsworthy," he says.
As for his plans to introduce the business around the country, he says his idea is to bring into his enterprise trainers who can open Queenax gyms in satellite areas.
He also wants to challenge the notion that bootcamp-style training is about screaming and shouting at clients to motivate them.
"It's more about understanding why you're doing what you're doing," he says.
Mr Barbour says he's interested in not just working with ultra-fit people and athletes, who he says are quite easy to train and will do as their told, but also with relatively unfit people.
To this end he's helped train a 240 kilogram blind person no other trainer would take on.
"It's all about how you can make a difference and change their lifestyle," he says. "People don't want to go into a gym and jump on a spin machine. They want to know how to train better."
He's betting that giving people access to the Queenax training system will help them do just that.