JOINT VENTURE: Darren and Shanee Lawrence have opened a new gym where RT Edwards used to be.
JOINT VENTURE: Darren and Shanee Lawrence have opened a new gym where RT Edwards used to be. Darren Hallesy

Business savvy couple make new city gym vision a reality

ONE couple is determined to help the people of Ipswich become the fittest and happiest versions of themselves.

Darren and Shanee Lawrence have just opened their new F45 Training facility in the lower level of what was the old RT Edwards store at 66 East St.

The couple started working in fitness in North Queensland, and after deciding to move back home to south-east Queensland, set their sights on what was a golden opportunity in Australia's fastest growing region.

"We have a three-year-old son and wanted him to grow up close to family," Shanee said.

"We were up in far-north Queensland where we owned a backpacker hostel, when we took the chance on building a 24-hour gym," Darren said.

"After seven years up north, we wanted to come back to the south-east and when we saw the F45 concept and the technology involved, we realised it was on the edge of innovation in fitness.

"I loved how the classes were structured, and the community feel the concept has about it.

"Ipswich was by far the most appealing territory available. We looked at the growth and the history of Ipswich and the only other one locally is in Springfield.

"We like the business hub in Ipswich, as F45 is good for people who are time poor and in the 18-60 age group looking for an early, lunchtime or early evening class."

F45 is a concept that is growing every month since it began in 2013 and is seeing studios pop up all over the country to meet demand.

"Currently there are 700 F45 gyms worldwide, and over 480 in Australia," Shanee said.

"The idea began in Paddington Sydney, so the brand is a uniquely Australian-made fitness model."

F45 is a group session which runs at 45 minutes a time, with the heart-pumping Saturday Hollywood class going for an hour.

With classes limited to 27 a class; you can also use heart rate technology to trace your progress.

"This is functional training at its best," Darren said. "We utilise big screen TVs all around the studio which demonstrate each movement, and there are more than 3000 exercises that could pop up any day.

"No two classes are the same and every workout is different. We are looking to run six to seven classes a day, starting at 5am and fully integrated with music.

"Five minutes warm-up then straight into it, and it's all time-based.

"If there's an exercise you're doing for 45 seconds, you can work out at your own pace."

The couple is opening a gym in a competitive market, where Ipswich has had an explosion of gyms opening across the city in the last two years, including five CrossFit gyms, Snap at West Ipswich, and four fitness studios in the Top of Town, but they are confident they will find their offer appealing. F45 is now open at 66 East St, via the entrance next to Chemist Warehouse on South St.

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