Sitting quietly next to a carpark used mostly by Beverly Hills cinema goers, Leisuredome Gym continues to do best what it has done for 30 years: getting clients’ results. It is designed to accommodate the hardcore bodybuilder, filled with spot specific machines such as the standing calf raise and minimal cardio equipment.

Walking inside is like taking a trip to the past. There are no large TV screens, blaring repetitive music, or overzealous trainers present; just clunky weights, cold steel barbells, and downright dedicated staff and clientele.

This, according to Leisuredome owner and competitive bodybuilder Sasho Ognenovski, is the perfect recipe for keeping a gym business afloat in the age of Anytime Fitness and Instagram models. He shakes my hand, and takes me inside a pink walled room filled with weight training machines only the dedicated gym goer would know how to use.

“You must find a niche market. Our market is not only bodybuilding competitors, but also anyone who enjoys that old-school gym feel,” he says. “We try to purposely avoid looking like a fitness centre, but rather a training facility where you can actually zone out and train properly.”

Loud music and deceitful gym memberships make for some of the top complaints for the fitness industry. However, at Leisuredome, Ognenovski says it’s more “like a family” than a business.

“If you join, we just don’t leave you out in the open. We talk to you, help you on your form, and really get to know you. You’re not just a number with a key card. You don’t see that much in modern gyms sadly. It’s less home-like these days.”

He adds that this sense of companionship and focus on performance, rather than making members feel ‘comfortable’, explains why the sport of Crossfit and the number of ‘boxes’( A crossfit gym) is now so massive. It is so popular that ESPN broadcasts the CrossFit Games live and trainers can earn CrossFit certification.

However Ognenovski is unsure where CrossFit is headed to next.

“It has been around for 15 years but only in recent years has its popularity skyrocketed. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Bodybuilding has been around for much longer.”

Be it bodybuilding, CrossFit, or increasing sales of health supplements, people are clearly more interested in their health than ever before. But Leisuredome’s owner does not share the same enthusiasm for pills and powders.

“We tell all our clients to focus first and foremost on [their] diet. This is because diet makes the most difference to your body,” he says. “Supplements, of course, do help, but only slightly. I mean, they’re called supplements for a reason. They are there to supplement an already healthy diet, and no more.”

However, it is not only the supplement industry that has come under fire by fitness professionals. The fitness education sector is also heavily scrutinised for its rushed five week personal training courses, monetary ‘sales’ on certificates, and forcing trainers to pay to be certified in everything from boxing to kettlebell use.

“Most trainers today are under-qualified. The short five weeks courses that are advertised everywhere are not as great as they seem. Even I, a professional bodybuilder, opted for the one year TAFE course on personal training,” Ognenovski says. “Why? Because I don’t know everything about the human body and having extra knowledge only makes me a better trainer. When people pay $60, $70, or $80 an hour for PT, they expect quality service. What quality does a five week course provide?”

The other thing that baffles him is 24 hour gyms - the ‘ever open’ model that has become a standard for gyms these days, but which Ognenovski says could create a lot of safety issues.

‘What good is CCTV or safety buttons when you’re hurt at 3am in the morning? What it someone gets stuck in a machine?,” he asks. “You need someone there 24/7 to check up on people.”

So where is the fitness industry headed? Is it going to be ruled by WODS (Workout Of The Day), paleo dieters and Olympic lifters? Or is it going to be full of never-closing gyms?

As I wrap up my conversation with Sasho, I shake his hand and proceed to take a few pictures of his gym. But as I bask in the smell of iron and admire the posters of bodybuilders past, I can’t help but think that this gym may be the last of its kind: the last to respect its clientele and actually provide fitness first.

Themistocles works as a Personal trainer in Ultimo Sydney. As a Communications undergraduate, he hopes to contribute to the 'body image' discourse and work as a health journalist in the future. Contact him at, or let us know what you think below.