Designed by Hecker Guthrie, Maddox Fit feels more club than gym – and that’s a good thing.

Maddox Fit is a new entrant to Melbourne’s health and wellness community. The Hecker Guthrie-designed club – which is positioned by its founders as the ‘the future health club for freethinkers and leaders of tomorrow’ – is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, though is slated to reopen in 2021. In the meantime, the operators are wisely finding unique ways to bring branded fitness experiences to their users.

In the summer the brand held Process 2020, a paid online event which invited those members to digitally exercise with a personal trainer, followed by culinary and cultural experiences with special guests. The initiative reflects the qualities which drive the physical space: immersive, multi-faceted and experiential. And, while in Australia’s gyms and fitness industry is projected to fall by 5.9 per cent in 2021 (as reports IBISWorld), such activations may serve as a lifesaver for established brands and protect a future for young ones. Livestream concepts, digital competitions and gaming technologies are among the ways that the wellness sector has grappled with the spatially restrictive consequences of the pandemic this year. These strategies have helped keep brand loyalty up, albeit users’ workouts being redirected to personal living rooms and garages.

And, while statistics show that people have considerable and potentially disastrous wariness about returning to their pre-COVID fitness spaces, a wide majority – 87 per cent of consumers to be precise – express barriers to exercising happily at home, found The Shopper Agency and Design Partners. Spaces like Maddox Fit may currently be out of reach, but it doesn’t mean that they need cease to provide inspiration for shaping the future of fitness. It is worth considering whether intimate, smaller scale locations such as Maddox Fit could have more power to earn users’ trust back post-COVID when mega gyms, considering their size and audience, may not.

When the brand is able to open its doors safely again, a sleek, ambient training space awaits its members. Situated in a century-old building, Maddox Fit is a composition of futuristic materials such as stainless steel, glass and mirrors, and the natural, like reclaimed timber and raw-textured wall surfaces. In the reception area, a large screen projects atmospheric black-and-white imagery, setting a mood which continues throughout with the help of thoughtful, concentrated lighting. The designers carefully considered individual user experiences and transformative ritual of exercise to carve out the spaces and bring them to life.

Hecker Guthrie worked with branding specialist The Company You Keep to establish a brand identity which makes itself clear throughout the gym, while a collaboration with contemporary art gallery The Grau Projekt resulted in a range of sourced artworks, like a sculpture from Pimpisa Tinpalit, which further reflect Maddox Fit’s values.