Here’s our guide to the city’s best places to eat, train, shop and relax.
1\ The Gym
Converted warehouses in industrial estates lend a suitably utilitarian air to the serious business of working out. Few do it better than Australian Strength Performance, a minimalist, no-nonsense space that features all the tools you need for serious shape-shifting – squat racks, chin-up bars, tractor tyres and battle ropes. Formerly a workshop, it’s the perfect place to tinker with your rig.
STRIP FAT FAST
Use this lard-blasting workout from gym founder and master strength coach Ben Siong to incinerate fat deposits
A1 High-bar back squats 10-12 reps x 5 sets
A2 Neutral-grip chin-ups 10-12 reps x 5 sets
B1 Romanian deadlifts 10-12 reps x 5 sets
B2 30˚incline dumbbell press 10-12 reps x 5 sets
C Sprints 30 secs, walk recovery x 10 mins
Perform as supersets. Do 3 times a week. “A HIIT protocol to finish ensures your body maintains an increased kilojoule burn post-workout,” says Siong.
2\ The Cinema
The history of the Melbourne burger scene can be neatly divided into two epochs: pre- and post- Huxtaburger. Since 2011, its milk bar vibe and subtle Cosby Show theme have whet the appetite for simple grass-fed beef burgers that detonate on your tastebuds like culinary crack. The secret? “A good burger is the sum of its parts,” says founder Daniel Wilson. “Like an orchestra, every ingredient contributes to the performance.” Use his blueprint to make a killer burger at home.
For killer mouthfeel, spread clarified butter on the inside of a bun then toast on a grill. “It makes it crispy and also steams it from the inside so that it compresses nicely around the fillings,” says Wilson.
Use grass-fed beef, adding only salt and pepper. “You want to taste beef not mustard or breadcrumbs,” says Wilson. Before cooking spread your mince to 1.5 times the diameter of the bun to allow for shrinkage.
3\ The Coffee Hit
The city’s benchmark for premium beans, Market Lane’s point of difference remains its seasonal showcase of exotic varieties – currently Guatemala. “We offer 3 or 4 varieties in season rather than having a year-round homogenous blend created from over 50 origins,” says founder Jason Scheltus. “We embrace the changes that come with coffee’s seasonality.”
4\ The Comedy Club
If you’re keen to catch a topshelf comic outside of the city’s renowned comedy festival, check out cheap ‘n’ cheerful dive bar Spleen on a Monday night. “Spleen is where I go to try out new material,” says veteran comic Tom Gleeson. “It’s also a great place to find your new favourite comedian.” Probably worth mentioning: it’s free.
5\ The Cinema
Rainy day? Catch a flick at this art-deco gem, recommends Jake Wilson, film reviewer for The Age. “It’s the last old school picture palace with double bills of cult and classic movies projected from rare 35mm or 70mm film prints or digitally in 4K,” says Wilson. “Everything looks spectacular.”
6\ The Sneaker Shop
The high-end cult-sneaker market is best viewed as a game, with plenty of dead ends and closed doors in the search for product that can vanish in a puff of smoke. “Exclusivity has been the driving factor for us,” admits Brendan Mitchell, founder of Up There, a stripped-back loft space at the business end of the CBD. “You need to give people a reason to find you.” In this case the trainer treasure hunt ends with offshore New Balance and “upper tier” Adidas running shoes you won’t find anywhere else. Mitchell’s tip for getting your hands on some cool kicks? “Go in the day after the launch of a limited edition sneaker and ask the staff what their favourite sneaker left is.”
7\ The Swimming Spot
Not up for a swim in the murky waters of the Yarra? Don’t worry, neither is former Olympic gold-medallist Michael Klim, who prefers a dip in the bay. “I like swimming off Kerferd Road pier towards St Kilda along the pylons that are 200 metres apart,” says Klim, whose titular skincare range now features a post-dip product called Klim Swim Wash (you might need it after this!) If you’re brave enough to take a dip, Klimmy recommends focusing on the 3Rs to refine your stroke:
1 / Rhythm Try to keep your movement fluid through the water.
2 / Relaxation Your recovery (when your arm swings out of the water) should be loose, not stiff or rigid. Your wrist should lead the way.
3 / Range Find the right stroke length, keeping it long and smooth.
8\ The Run
Kokoda Memorial Walk 1000 Steps, Tremont
Located at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges, you won’t find a more stunning setting for a morning trot. A bracing 3km climb through a verdant glade of ferns, manna gums and blackwood trees, it’ll get your blood pumping and calves thrumming.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
Use six-time Eureka Climb champion Mark Bourne’s tips to storm the steps
1 / Hit the hills. “Build up your aerobic capacity through running and cycling on hills, which increases strength in your glutes and quads,” advises Bourne.
2 / Step to it. Run flights of stairs in intervals. In race prep, Bourne does 10 flights 4 times with walk-down recovery.
3 / Eyes on the prize. Take steps two at a time – it’s most efficient, says Bourne. And keep your chin up. “It helps keep you strong throughout your core and hips,” Bourne says.