Functional Training Institute

Unconventional Trainers Down Under

Unconventional Trainers Down Under

Australia’s Best Unconventional Trainers


People are looking for a challenge with their training and they want something different. It is these demands from the consumer that has led to an explosion of popularity for unconventional training in Australia.

A few years ago, people would’ve thought you were crazy if you incorporated ropes, tyres, chains, yokes and even kettlebells into training sessions. People wouldn’t have thought it was possible to even get a quality workout without complex machines. Unconventional training has now become the ‘it’ training method as and people are embracing the added challenge and diversity to a typical workout.

Australia is home to some of the best unconventional trainers and programs in the world. They all have underlying similarities and emphasise high intensity, community, originality and safety.  Four programs and trainers that led the way are Nathan Helburg from ZUU Training, Taco Fleur from Caveman Training Australia, Luke D’Astoli from Warrior Workout and Heath Barwick from Van Demon Fitness HIT Centre.

ZUU is a body weight training style developed 8 years ago. It incorporates very specific programming that use primal patterns movements to achieve specific objectives. Considered “low impact” yet yielding heart rates 220+ it is now used in elite sports around the world & Armed Forces for high end conditioning.

The animal like bodyweight movements with the combination of elite programming has been shown to improve strength endurance, cardio vascular, anaerobic threshold, mobility and strength through range.

Nathan believes the values that underpin ZUU such as honesty, respect and no ego’s are central to the rising popularity of the training.

Caveman Training Australia was developed in 2004 because the term ‘Bootcamp’ had lost its relevance. Every trainer was using the term and it now longer identified tough or unconventional training.

Caveman Training is High Intensity Conditioning with very limited or no rest. Exercises are done quickly but safely and at high intensity. Complicated Olympic lifts are not included in group format.

The workouts are extremely effective at developing muscular strength and endurance, burning calories, and improving cardiovascular health. Each workout is extremely high intensity and lasts only for 15-30 minutes.

You can identify a Caveman Workout by observing a circuit style workout that may use sandbags, tyres, deadballs, ropes, chains, kettlebells, powerbags. There is also some terrific bodyweight exercises such as handstands, explosive pull-ups on the diagonal pull-up bars, and exercises using Olympic rings.

Warrior Workout is a program that features prominently at Melbourne Gym ‘Acumotum’. The gym is characterised by an awesome open space that filled primarily with synthetic grass. Shoes are optional but hard training is not!

Warrior Workout is a no-holds-barred advanced metabolic conditioning workout. It is not for the faint hearted or the newbie exerciser. It is a workout that involves the use of battle ropes, kettlebells, powerbags, tyres, sledgehammers and monkey bars. Its aim is to place a high demand on your heart, lungs, muscles and mental strength.

There is a dynamic structure to the sessions allowing for challenges to be completed for time or reps or you may find yourself competing against a partner. Every day is a new challenge.

It’s effective because of its time efficient programming and its adoption of High intensity interval training (HIIT).

Heath Bardwick is not only one of Australia’s best unconventional trainers but he is also one of the fittest. It is his approach to exercise that has shaped ‘The Van Demon Fitness HIT Centre’. Heath didn’t want to create a gym that appealed to the sedentary person but rather he wanted a mecca for the ‘freaks’.

You will witness amazing feats of strength from both males and females. It is not uncommon to see people doing body weight thrusters, double & triple body weight dead lifts and muscle ups, Atlas stones, yokes, logs, sledgehammers and 400kg tyres are standard equipment in ‘Van Demon’ programming.

Heath credits the success of his clientele to the logical programming that is offered. You won’t see high rep Olympic lifts or people lifting ambiguous random weights. Each weight and exercise is carefully selected to help that person get to their goals.

Van Demon Fitness is certainly not for everyone and Heath makes no apologies for this. They cater for people that want results and are prepared to do the work required to get them. 

Heath’s philosophy is clear and simple, “many people find the training required to reach their goals is too hard. In this case the client has three choices… Harden up and do the work and reach their goal, change their goal or leave the centre.”

These are four of Australia’s best unconventional trainers and gyms. They thrive because the preach core values of hard work, scientific programming, collaboration and innovation.

Dan Henderson is the owner of ‘The Australian Institute of Kettlebells (AIK). AIK educate trainers and coaches worldwide with accredited courses in kettlebells, battling ropes, powerbags, mobility and MMA conditioning using powerbags and kettlebells.

Dan has an honours degree in Human Movement and is IUKL Level 3, IKFF Level 2 and IKSFA Level 1 qualified. He has trained all over the world with many great coaches and specialises in kettlebell and battling ropes training.

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