An open letter to Hammer enthusiasts, friends and people who have stumbled across this (and have liked what they have heard and stayed):

So it’s been quite a few months since I last spoke and a hell of a lot has happened since. 2014 has been quite a watershed year for us here at Hammer HQ, one of which is the change from Hammer Performance to Hammer Athletic. That’s right, we have a new name but more importantly is the change in facility; no longer are we two personal trainers at a commercial gym, but instead, we are now a staff of 5 at our own purpose-built facility in East Brisbane with the freedom to pursue our philosophy.

What is this philosophy? What is Hammer Athletic all about? Well, where do I start? We have been trading since late October and in this time we have been working out the kinks of how best to run the facility. I mean, I always had a plan to run it a certain way but so often in life, perception does not reflect reality. So remember, a good coach copies and a great coach innovates – with this in mind, some plans have had to be tweaked and probably in the future, a few more grand ideas will also have to be as well (we aren’t quite ready to take on Gold’s Gym just yet). Needless to say, I think we are almost there.

Let me explain what my aim of this facility is and what our core values illustrate firstly by saying what it’s not – it is not my aim for this facility to directly compete with the latest trends in health and fitness. I firmly believe that the rise of 24 hour health facilities, Crossfit, Bodybuilding and others will have their day in the sun in the immediate future with a tipping point to come shortly thereafter. Eventually however, people will get sick of cheap gyms with no culture or instruction and the novelty of a gym that you can rock up to at any time will pass (cause we all want to work out at 3am on a Saturday). People will also get sick of paying big bucks week in, week out to perform the latest and greatest fad that, once life kicks in (as it so often does) and ruins routine, focus and motivation, ultimately leads to an irrecoverable loss of progress along with that $50 a week. Also, I think people will get sick of analysing themselves in the mirror day in, day out, constantly counting calories or trying different dieting methods just to cut up for a comp or a festival, striving to replicate their latest Instagram idol (say no to #fitspo people!) and constantly saying no to mates who want to socialise with you.

To be honest, Hammer Athletic’s business model isn’t the best when it comes to making money (I’m not rolling in a Bentley on 22’s just yet). What I want is to sleep at night knowing that the service, care and culture provided here are the exact things that I would like to experience as a gym goer. Put simply, it is based around a sporting team culture; I have been very lucky to be involved in sporting teams all my life and I feel being a part of a team is the best way to train, bond and achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in fitness and health.

IMG_0981So how are we achieving this team-like culture? Firstly, we aren’t a walk in walk out gym; we are a hybrid of sorts. We have a full class timetable designed specifically to flog you as hard as you personally can go, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an elite athlete, designed for everyone specifically to address such a difference. If you are afraid of pushing yourself than it might be better that you join somewhere else; in my view fitness is hard and therein lays its appeal. We shouldn’t be hiding from it or packing it in and going somewhere else because it is easier. So if you want to know what classes we offer, check out the website, I couldn’t be bothered explaining them here (I didn’t waste time on their descriptions for nothing). However I was always told the harder you work, the luckier you get so if you dig in and stay consistent, all those results you’re looking for will happen, especially with the methodology we are pushing at Hammer HQ: ‘Come on, it’s science.’

So, back to the hybrid structure – yes, while we offer classes like other gyms, we don’t open the gym floor for regular members. The gym floor is for personal trainers to take clients through specifically designed programs – no-one on our floor does sessions unsupervised.

This minimises meatheads hogging equipment, it reduces gym-floor selfies (they’re illegal in our gym – besides, we don’t even have mirrors) and it reduces general ignorance and rudeness on the gym floor. How? Well, because of the team of trainers we have and the quality of people that participate, that type of culture can’t breed as Hammer trainers do not advocate, endorse or suffer such culture. We believe that this difference makes it an overall better environment in which to workout. If you like vainglory, that’s great – but perhaps this place is not for you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, whatever rattles your chains I guess – but we would prefer that you rattle those chains in another facility.

Another way you may witness our culture is through our group programs. Every couple of months we will hold group programs, encouraging as many of our clients as possible to get on board. At the start of every year I periodise the year as if I was planning the fitness regime of a sporting team. That is, I always have a high volume base building program at the start of the year, followed by strength capacity programs, strength/power programs, onto pure accentuation and finally, maintenance of strength programs throughout the rest of the year.

You might be reading this thinking “Well I don’t want to be really strong. I want to lose my gut/arse” or whatever your problem area is. However, with a format periodised like this you’re more likely to achieve your goal and keep it off as it isn’t an 8 (or 12) week challenge which encourages a big cliff dive after completion. It’s impossible to sustain such high levels of discipline all year round unless you’re looking to compete and I’m guessing most of us aren’t. Having your programs designed and periodised this way allows for sustained improvement year in, year out allowing the hiccups of life without substantial detriment. What these programs also do is break the barriers between strangers, encouraging clients to get to know each other in a way that fosters bonds in training and friendships outside of training – again, building on the team-like culture that we hold so dear.

We are big believers of “If not measuring, you’re guessing.” So every 6 weeks we put our clients through a testing battery, delivered over a couple of sessions. The reason I place a high priority on such a philosophy is simple: I am sick of the narrow minded focus on weight loss and fat reduction so prevalent within the health and fitness industry. In my mind, measuring skinfolds creates almost as many problems as it is supposed to fix. Of course, we will still perform skin folds but we also test strength standards, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and lactate threshold barriers. This gives us a whole range of parameters to consider and to improve, instead of just one. Such an approach, coupled with the implementation of new client monitoring software, we can establish what each client is experience in respect of (potential) overtraining, anxiety levels, recovery modalities and injury status, to name but a few. What we want is more people training consistently throughout the year without any sustained breaks, as consistent clients are the ones who achieve the most. Ultimately, it’s fundamental to our ethos and overall success to ensure that everyone gets stronger and succumbs less to injury – after all, if you are on the floor, its cash in our drawer.

I will finish on this point – we say on our website we may not be for everyone, but by no means are we closed and insular. I encourage anyone who would normally be little worried to join a commercial gym to have look at us and give us a try. Alternatively, if you are a regular gym goer and feel stagnant in your progress, give us a try; there are no joining fees, no cancellation fees and you don’t pay for what you don’t use – give us a go without the anxiety about contracts, pushy membership consultants or constant emails. We are community based, family owned and here to bring you the best in health and fitness – and we do all that with a stupid joke, a smile on our face and a fantastic soundtrack.


Matt Ham (owner)

Comments (3)
  1. Amanda Dinsdale Reply

    Hey Matt, thanks for sharing, that was awesome to read and inspiring. I love that I’ve become a wee part of the Hammer Athletic family in the way I have. Thank you for the welcome and thank you for the sharing of your philosophy – love it. Also love training with Riley, he’s a champion. See you Friday 🙂

    1. hammerathletic Reply

      Thanks for the comment Amanda, we’re glad you’re a part of the family. Also glad to hear you’re enjoying it. Always feel free to let us know how we’re doing.

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