I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared during my first lesson at Revl. Hot pilates and yoga have been my thing for years, and when I go to the gym you will rarely find me lifting weights heavier than five kilograms. As I looked around the jet-black studio filled with fit patrons, squat racks, and unfamiliar machines, I felt out of my depth.
Co-founded by Ben Woolford and Josh Mildren, Revl is a group functional fitness studio offering personal training techniques in a robust group environment. There are 20 locations around Australia, as well as four in Singapore and one in Dubai. I tried the newly minted Collingwood range, owned by Wayne Markus (who is also behind 80s America-inspired eatery Evie’s Disco Diner in Fitzroy).
Three programs are offered at Revl: Move, Perform and Sweat, each featuring a variety of classes focusing on different parts of the body or results. It’s about movement, conditioning and lots of repetition. Performance focuses on fewer reps and heavier weights, measured progression and technique. And it’s a high-intensity workout designed to burn sweat. Each program is available three days a week to ensure a well-rounded approach to training.
My first class was Movement (Upper), focusing on the abdomen and arms. I planned to hide in the back of the classroom, but we were working on circuits in teams. Instructors apply a two-part program at the beginning of the lesson, which includes warm-up and repetition of exercises such as deadlift and ski erg. I was embarrassed by my inability to do a single chin-up, and I was grateful to trainer Matt Jackson, who quickly showed me a modified exercise: self-supported ring pull-ups. The class catered to all strength levels and the instructors provided PT level attention. There were also different time, calorie, or rep-based goals to help you stay in your comfort zone or push you even further.
“We work with all fitness levels,” says trainer Adam Coombes Spreadsheet. “Programming is great because it can be personalized for everyone in the company. [a group structure].”
My favorite class was Sweat, which tests your anaerobic ability with short, sharp, high-intensity exercises like ski ergs, row ergs, and box jumps. You gain 40 seconds of remaining time after each set. It’s great for anyone like me who prefers cardio to strength and finds a team element to keep them accountable. I also tried the dreaded Echo bike here, which works your upper and lower body simultaneously.
Alternatively, there’s Sweat (Motor), which tests your aerobic abilities with long, consistent efforts with dumbbell complexes, ergs, and other endurance exercises.
There are two weekend classes: relay-style Sweat Team on Saturdays and Complete on Sundays. The first sees you tackle a time-based goal in groups of four or more. The latter combines strength, endurance, and functional exercises, such as bicycle ergs, over-the-shoulder deadball throws, and deadlifts (barbell hip hinge movement). My wife patiently helped me perform my first and only barbell hip thrust (a hip exercise in which you lift your hips with a loaded bar at your hip crease).
Collingwood is the only Revl studio offering Sunday classes, with plans to add running clubs and skills sessions soon. Free social Saturdays are held once a month and “Team Games Saturday” are held twice a year.
Opening a Revl studio was a very simple task, says Markus. He had been interested in moving from hospitality into the fitness franchising game since 2019 after seeing a citywide shift toward healthier lifestyles.
“There are elements that apply to both hospitality and fitness,” he says Spreadsheet. “It doesn’t matter how good your wine or beer is; If it is delivered in an uninspiring space with uninspiring staff, you will fail. Experience and excitement… if those aren’t there, it won’t be for you.”
What makes Revl Collingwood so appealing is its fun “vibe” as well as its prime location. The music is exciting, the coaches are energetic, and there is a solid community of encouraging and supportive members. My first week on Revl was tough, but it reminded me how fun functional fitness can be. It’s the perfect starting point for anyone looking to get back into weightlifting, technique, “intense” group fitness, and anything in between.
300 Wellington Street, Collingwood
(03) 9002 0072