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Fitness Roadtest: The Den Canberra

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“The range of equipment and variety of exercise at The Den is massive.”

Someone recently asked me what is it that makes a good gym class.

I responded that it has to be physically challenging, fun, safe, have a friendly, welcoming vibe and there’s got to be value for money. If I can walk away having learned something new? Then you’ve really nailed it.

The Den in Deakin checks every one of those boxes, and more. This impressive space is tucked under EQ café is like all my favourite workouts rolled into one.

Is it challenging? Absolutely.

I tried their 20:10 class – that’s 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. This style of training is called tabata and it is seriously tough. The class is set up with a whole series of different stations where you work out for 4 minutes, alternating between two exercises. There’s a mix of strength and conditioning stations but you can expect each exercise to be fairly high intensity.

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The range of equipment and variety of exercise is massive. There’s sled pushes, ski ergs, treadmills, assault bikes, rowers, box jumps, kettle bells, bosu balls, rope slams, burpees, squats, crunches, boxing…the variety means you’ll never get bored and you’re constantly challenged.

What I really love about this format is that you can push yourself really hard at whatever level is right for you. My first session, I gave it my all and had nothing left in the tank after. I had worked so hard that I decided to treat myself to a green smoothie at EQ. Stopping to take a photo, my trembling arms gave way and I spilt piping hot coffee all over me and a solid ¾ of my smoothie in the gutter. I was so embarrassed I sprinted to my car and took off at the speed of light…

But I digress.

The point is, I was exhausted.

The next time I went along however, I was on the tail end of a flu and feeling weak and fatigued. I was still able to complete the whole class, I just took it easier than I would if I was feeling 100% – which is a testament to the fact that you really can scale this class to your own needs.

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Is it fun? Absolutely – the combination of group training and varied exercises means that while the class is tough, it’s enjoyable and you have people to cheer you on along the way. I liked that there was a few exercises that were a bit different and that I’d never tried before, like wall climbs – where you lower yourself down to the ground using a thick rope, and pull yourself back up again.

What about safety?

Well, with over 25 years of experience as a strength, conditioning and injury rehabilitation coach and Personal Fitness Trainer, Mick Mackell knows what he’s doing. His impressive resume includes 10 years as the Head Trainer, Rehabilitation Officer and Boxing Coach for the Canberra Raiders, and he’s also worked with the Vikings Rugby Club, Brumbies 21’s, U21’s NSW State of Origin and U21’s Australian Rugby League Team.

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Not to mention, Mick is just an all round nice guy and a supportive, encouraging coach. He’s there to show you the exercises and make sure you’re doing them safely but won’t shout, push too hard or hover.

What about the vibe?

Well, one of the things I noticed when I first walked in is that while there is a variety of different people and fitness levels, there is a lot of fit people and everyone works really hard. That being said, it’s not the type of environment where you’re excluded if you’re not super fit or isolated if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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You complete exercises with a partner or small group so there’s always someone to show you how to do an exercise and encourage you. On both my visits everyone was smiling and chatting, and you get the sense the regulars all know and like each other. It’s the kind of place I would be very happy to spend my time.

Let’s talk value for money at The Den

The memberships are pretty competitively priced, and there’s different options to suit your needs. An unlimited membership is $42 per week and will give you access to the 20:10 classes that I attended, as well as strength classes, boxing, yoga, intervals, and metabolic conditioning.

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Classes are run in the mornings, during the day, evenings and weekends so you’re bound to find something that will fit with your timetable. There’s also 10 session passes, casual visits and reasonably priced personal training.

The whole gym is based on a revolutionary ‘U System’ – a program designed for you, around your timetable and your goals.

Did I learn anything?

Well, I learned I shouldn’t try and balance beverages after a heavy duty tabata session!

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Seriously, I learned new exercises (a pretty impressive feat given all the fitness road tests I’ve tried), a new way to push my body, and importantly, I’ve got a new Canberra fitness facility to recommend to anyone looking to improve their fitness in a enjoyable and challenging way.

Special Reader Offer

The Den is offering HerCanberra readers a free two week trial, plus a complimentary coffee at EQ cafe. To take up this offer, simply email attheden@outlook.com to register.

the essentials

What: The Den Canberra
Where: 70 Kent Street, Deakin
Website: thedencanberra.com

Photography by Martin Ollman

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