City Gym, the “gay gym” in Sydney, Australia's Darlinghurst gayborhood, first opened in 1978, the same year that launched the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Billy Moore, the trainer behind the gym made it an all-inclusive venue that quickly became a haven for the queer community in the ’70s and ’80s, as well as drawing bodybuilders and celebrities (including Jane Fonda, Grace Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hugh Jackman, and The Rock).
But for decades, the gym was home to predominantly queer clientele and it also became well known in the LGBTQ+ community for its annual Mardi Gras parade floats and serving as a rehearsal space for other floats.
After the dawning of a new millennium, the gym began to lose popularity -- and many of its member. The gym’s website is transparent in stating “these years witnessed a mass exodus of long-term members, including our extended LGBTQI family.”
When Moore passed away in 2014 the gym went to new ownership uninterested in the gym's long history. Now City Gym is back after a $1.5 million renovation, and the latest owners are a part of that history and set on rebuilding the gym's queer folllowing.
Billy Kokkinis (on right) took over running the gym in 2017, and bought it two years later with business partner Andy Mamasioulas. But Kokkinis was no interloper, he'd been a personal trainer at City Gym for decades, having first gotten a job there in 1986 when he was just 15. He was a part of the gym's vaunted history, and determined to regain the glory days of the past.
In late 2020 he and Mamasioulas completed a $1.5 million renovation designed to entice the community back in droves. The gym has reopened under strict health guidelines and looks forward to becoming the LGBTQ+ hub it once was.
Check out a virtual tour below.
Near the entrance a new cafe serves Allpress Espresso from New Zealand and healthy meals, smoothies, and protein pancakes made fresh each day under the supervision of head chef Harnady Susantio, who Broadsheet reports previously worked in the kitchens of two of Sydney's high-end restaurants (Tetsuya’s and Aria).