From Grand Theatre to Modern Playground: Newtown’s Inspiring Transformation

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From Grand Theatre to Modern Playground: Newtown’s Inspiring Transformation

Tucked into the bustling King Street is One Playground Newtown. But this haven of treadmills, barbells and now, reformer beds, wasn’t always the sleek space it is today.


Rewind back to the 1920s, the building was originally built as an independent cinema. After 40 years, the big screen was switched off and the theatre closed down. From here, it changed hands many times and after a stint as a kitchen fittings store a furniture store and a warehouse, the building was eventually abandoned.



By the late 1990s, neglect had taken its toll and what was once a thriving space for creativity was gutted and abandoned with only the four exterior walls still standing.



The building’s chapter as a fitness facility came about when Lifestyle Fitness took over the upper levels of the space, charging just $199 for an 18-month membership.


When they went into administration in 2015, the beautiful and historic Theatre had lost its charm, a mere echo of its former glory.


Enter One Playground

From day 1, One Playground has always been up for a challenge!


Fast forward to 2015, the opportunity came for us to enter the building and we jumped at the chance to take it over, despite only being in business for 12 months.


We were young but we saw the potential. We might not have had the funds to create everything we wanted to but, in just 3 weeks, we renovated and transformed the space (as well as the other site we acquired from Lifestyle Fitness down the road: One Playground Marrickville!).


We introduced sled tracks, monkey bars and climbing ropes and ensured the space became the Playground we knew it could be. This wasn’t just about updating the space; it was about creating a unique training experience.



Elevating the Experience

Now fast forward to 2023, we’re a privately owned company and were in a position to take the space to a new level and, after major renovations, we were able to fully reinstate the beauty of the building. 


The concept: elevate your training.


We took a dark, masculine and urban space to something beautiful, putting a modern twist on the grandeur of the building. We opened up the 5 and a half meter ceilings, illuminated the columns, lightboxes and mirrors adorned the walls, and the large windows adorned with sheet curtains, flooding the space with light: training in the clouds was born.


This was major change number 1.




The Arrival of Reformer

Major change number 2 came this year, just shy of One Playground’s 10th birthday.


The owners of the building have been in the space for the last 30 years, operating a framing shop on the building’s ground floor.


We’re not exaggerating when we say we had many conversations with the owners about expanding our occupancy into the lower level. But dedication paid off and keys handed over as we expanded our footprint to almost 2,500 square meters over all three floors.



In April 2024, our third Reformer studio opened its door, taking our class offering to over 200 a week.


The entire lower floor is exclusively for Reformer and reflects the concept of the rest of the building, focusing on natural light and materials.


You can spot the sheer curtains and crosshatched white windows that we have on level one replicated in the space. Organic stone floors on entry are balanced with soft hardwood floors inside the studio.


The studio itself has the capacity to transform. 7,000 hand-installed mirrors create a dazzling display of light while dynamic lighting controls change the colour and atmosphere of the room in accordance with the mood, music and class.


And of course, the Body Balance Allegro 2 beds are best in class.



A commitment to Quality and Community

Creating a space like this takes time.


After we opened up Marrickville Wellness, we recognised how popular Reformer was and quickly moved to open a satellite reformer location in Surry Hills.


Newtown wasn’t far behind. Over a year of planning and meticulous design went into creating this state-of-the-art, custom Reformer studio, including four months of construction and three months of design to get to the point where we opened up a single studio.


What does that mean for a One Playground member?

Now, we have over 200 classes every week for a fraction of the cost of a boutique studio.


We’ve also added two new formats to the timetable: Flex, designed to target and tone your upper body and Jump Board to set your lower body on fire.


One Playground’s story is one of vision, hard work, and a deep respect for history. We have transformed a forgotten space into a vibrant community hub, offering a diverse range of fitness experiences under one roof.

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