Best places to keep fit in Carlton

Photo: Asif Akbar

Photo: Asif Akbar

CULINARY and shopping experiences might be what we mostly associate with Carlton. However, there is much more to explore in this “Little Italy”. Voila, it’s time to get fit! Marcella Purnama shows you how.

University of Melbourne Sports Centre


Cultivate your muscles as well as your mind at Melbourne Uni. Photo: supplied.



It’s not just a place to study; the University of Melbourne has participated in various sports throughout its history, and was the overall champion in the Australian University Games in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2006. With such awards in hand, the university offers a range of facilities and 40 different clubs to join, from Tae Kwon Do to table tennis, fencing to futsal.

Getting fit is easier with friends. Join a team at Melbourne Univeristy. Photo: supplied.

Getting fit is easier with friends. Join a team at Melbourne Univeristy. Photo: supplied.

Open everyday throughout the week, the Beaurepaire Centre is a two-storey health and fitness complex. It houses a fitness gym and an indoor, heated, six-lane, 25m lap pool. A single visit gym pass costs $15 for Melbourne University students and $18 for others. And if you want to go for a swim, it costs $4 per visit for Melbourne University students and $5 for others.

Carlton offers plenty of places to get fit and have fun, like the Melbourne University Sports Centre. Photo: supplied.

Carlton offers plenty of places to get fit and have fun, like the Melbourne University Sports Centre. Photo: supplied.

Melbourne University offers group fitness classes. Photo: supplied.

Melbourne University offers group fitness classes. Photo: supplied.

The other centre, the Sports Centre, offers yoga and pilates classes, and has badminton, squash, and basketball courts. The outdoor facilities include a basketball court, four tennis courts, and two barbecues – ideal for cerebrating with friends after a game well played.

Melbourne University Sport is located on Tin Alley, 100m north of Union House (enter the campus via Gate 1 on Swanston Street). Check out their website for opening hours and detailed pricing.

RMIT City Fitness


Conveniently located in the heart of the city, RMIT has long been a favourite destination of international students for fitness facilities. The gym – City Fitness – offers a $10 casual day pass and has personal training sessions to help you with exercise choice and technique, injury, pain, nutrition and stress. Personal training costs $280 for eight half-hour sessions.

Let a personal traininer help get you into shape at City Fitness

Let a personal traininer help get you into shape at City Fitnes. Photo: supplied.

City Fitness also affers group fitness classes including body pump, yoga, belly dance and kettlebells (a type of weight training). A variety of classes run throughout the week around lunch times and in the evenings. Classes are suitable for all levels, so don’t be shy to knock on the door.


RMIT City Fitness is located on level 3 of building 8,which can be accessed from Swanston St. It is open Monday to Saturday, and closed on public holidays. More information on opening hours and pricing is available on the RMIT website.


The “Baths”


The 19th Century facade of Mebourne City Baths. Photo: Simon Tay.



You’ve probably passed the 150-year-old facade of Melbourne City Baths hundreds of times, but this architectural gem offers more than just historical significance. The baths house a 30m indoor heated pool with four lanes for lap swimming, a gymnasium, group fitness classes and squash courts. Swimming costs $4.70 per visit for students.

Melbourne City Baths is open everyday and located at 420 Swanston St. Check out Melbourne City Bath’s website for more information on pricing.

Carlton Baths, on the other hand, has an outdoor heated swimming pool, making it worth a visit when the sun is shining. The swimming pool is open to public from the October 1st to April 30th. Other facilities include a multi-sport stadium for badminton, basketball, netball and soccer. Group fitness classes are offered, including boxing circuits, yoga, pilates, and body pump.


Carlton Baths is open everyday and located at 248 Rathdowne St. For more information on opening hours and membership, see the website.

More gyms


Fernwood Womens Health Club on Nicholson St and Fitness First in Melbourne Central also offer a range of  group fitness classes and gym facilities.




Mangala Studios offers dance classes that aim to develop individual style. Photo: supplied.



If dancing is your first language, you may want to take a look at Mangala Studios just off Lygon St, or Dancehouse on Princes St.

Established back in 1970, Mangala offers yoga classes, tai-chi and its famous creative dance class. The classes, based on “music and art”, aim to develop an individual’s own dancing style. And if you are keen enough, Mangala also offers diploma and summer school courses.

Mangala is located at 73 Grattan St, and classes run on weekdays. Further information about timetables and pricing is available from Mangala’s website.


If dancing is your first language, check out Mangala Studios or Dancehouse, both conveniently located in Carlton. Photo: supplied.


Dancehouse boasts that it is the only school in Australia dedicated solely to contemporary dance. Established in 1992, it offers various casual dance classes throughout the week, including Bollywood dance, Odissi classical Indian dance, contemporary dance, African Congolese dance, and South Indian Bharatanatyam classical dance, among others. Casual passes range from $12 to $20, but only full term courses are offered for some dance styles.

Dancehouse is located at 150 Princess St. For further information about timetables and pricing, contact the website.


Parks and gardens


The pond at Carlton Gardens, a cool place to chill out when studying gets too much. Photo: Simon Tay.



While it’s seldom you’ll hear your friends say “let’s go to the park” instead of “let’s go for a coffee”, Melbourne is home to superb parks and gardens. And here’s a bit of trivia for you: Melbourne is reputed to have the largest population of European Elm Trees of any city in the world – including Europe.

Even a lazy stroll in the park is good for your overall health and wellbeing, but if you’re keen to burn some extra calories, turn things up a notch and for a jog or run, or round up some friends for a game of frisbee.

Princess Park is home to the Australian football club – the Carlton Blues – and the Princess Park Tennis Club. It’s a lovely spot for a barbecue with friends on a sunny day (with barbecues located near the playground at the end of MacPherson St), and you may even catch a glimpse of the “Blue boys” training. It’s a good park to cycle around, and there are some popular dog meeting spots, for those with a canine companion fond of socialising.

Princess Park is located directly north of the University of Melbourne and bounded on its eastern and western sides by Melbourne General Cemetery and Royal Parade respectively.


Melbourne's parks are great for a walk, run or cycle. Photo: Simon Tay.


Carlton Gardens is home to the Melbourne Museum, IMAX, and the Royal Exhibition Building. Despite the constant trauma experienced by Melbourne University students having to visit the Exhibition Building for their exams, Carlton Gardens is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it has a special cultural and physical significance. According to the World Heritage listing, the Exhibition Building and the surrounding gardens are “of historical, architectural, aesthetic, social and scientific (botanical) significance to the State of Victoria.”

Don’t let your nightmares about sitting exams at the Royal Exhibition Building turn you off the splendid Carlton Gardens. Photo: Simon Tay.

The garden has a Victorian era landscape design with sweeping lawns and varied European and Australian tree plantings. The Exhibition Fountain, located right out the front of Exhibition Buidling, celebrated its 130th birthday last year. The northern section of the garden contains tennis courts which can be used by the public, the curator’s cottage, and a children’s playground designed as a Victorian maze.

Carlton Gardens is located right on the northeastern edge of the CBD, and is bordered by Rathdowne St, Victoria St, Nicholson St and Carlton St.

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