Annandale for everyone

The view through the Annandale Gym’s floor-to-ceiling windows across the Crowther oval early on a spring morning is worth the early wake-up. Plovers pick at the grass. The School is still, as through resting before the onslaught.

Boys have been training on this patch of ground since the original Annandale Pavilion was opened in 1956. The design was ahead of its time and a great boon for the 600 boys then at BGS. It was named in honour of Walter Annandale Jack, who attended BGS from 1885 until 1892, along with his four brothers.

Walter’s father, Andrew Jack, migrated to Melbourne from Scotland in 1862. There, he had worked at the Annandale & Son Ltd Polton Paper Works – hence Walter’s middle name.

When BGS Headmaster Dr Crowther died suddenly in 1918, Walter, by then a company director, joined lawyer William Frederick Weigall and Dr Crowther’s widow, Alice, to ensure that the School continued. Walter became one of the founders and benefactors of the School in 1923, joining with Canon William Hancock to guarantee BGS as an independent entity under the aegis of the Church of England. He was a member of the School’s first Council (1924–44) and then Chairman (1934–65). In 1960, he was awarded an MBE for social service to young people. He was a gentle, self-effacing man with strong values, who gave generously to the School and the local community.

By the late 1970s, BGS had grown to more than 1000 boys. The original pavilion was replaced by a larger facility, also called Annandale. Completed in 1982, it served the community well until 2017.

Back in the stunning ‘new’ Annandale, completed mid-2018, Ian Miller, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, is running an interval training class for the BGS community. The School is keen to share this facility and the Annandale Gym is now open to members. (If you’re reading this, you probably qualify as a community member, but you can check on the Annandale Gym website – look for the FAQs.)

Unlike many other gyms, all the trainers at the Annandale Gym are university-qualified. So, whatever your fitness level and your training goals, they know exactly how to help you obtain the results you want. Classes are small and each member receives individual attention.

“People hear the word ‘elite’ and they assume this gym is not for them,” says Ian. “But it’s for everyone. Everyone’s ‘elite’ is different. For one of the School’s PE staff, it might be training to run a marathon. A Junior School mum might want to be able to run around after her kids. For a retiree, it might be enough fitness to improve their golf game.”

BGS staff member Julie Ellwood has been attending classes regularly since the Gym opened.

“I hadn’t been to a gym for a while before joining Annandale. I found the early-morning interval training classes great. These classes are set so you can personally challenge yourself, and the coaches are encouraging and supportive.”

Claire Clarke, who teaches in the ELC, is another regular.

“The trainers offer an excellent range of classes to suit all abilities. The sessions are fun and varied, including both challenge and clear guidance on technique. I would recommend them to anyone wanting to improve their overall strength and conditioning.”

Classes, which run at various times outside school hours, currently include indoor cycling, interval training, circuits, boxing and yoga – but we’re open to feedback and suggestions. We want this Gym to fulfil our community’s needs and increase your wellbeing.

To find out more, visit the Annandale Gym website. Our trainers are currently offering free fitness assessments to Foundation Members to help you work out which classes would suit you best, email Megan Hall for more details. 

Now, the School is beginning to shake itself awake. Boys shout to each other across the Crowther. Staff walk past the Gym, juggling coffees and laptops. In the Music School, someone is doing their saxophone practice. It will be another busy day at BGS. Walter Annandale Jack would be pleased.

Visit us at the Annandale Gym Open Afternoon
Friday 30 November, 3–5pm