Text by Charlotte Walter 
Photos by Jørn Tomter / tomter.net

It’s 11am on a rainy, windswept autumn Saturday and as I reluctantly brave the elements I wonder how  anybody could dare step out, let alone exercise. However, as I approach the terrace house that’s home to
Fairground Fitness, I’m met with an enthusiastic hug from Priya, who has a more positive outlook on the
weather. “It’s actually beautiful training in the rain, especially after the intense summer we’ve had,” she says.
"It feels really energising." Her brother Johannus chips in, “Summer was killer, I was squatting 240kg three
times a day in 30-degree heat so this is a refreshing change!”

Stepping into the home of Priya (27), Johannus (22) and Marcus (19) - the siblings who make up Fairground
Fitness - is like being whisked into a menagerie of art, culture, sport and animals. Giant wooden props line the
hallway, painted set designs from their dad’s Australian theatre company, whilst Nacho the long-legged Jack
Russell skittishly follows my lead towards the delicious smell of coffee in the kitchen.

“We weren’t meant to stay in this country for so long. Our parents are Indian and Irish, we were born and
raised in Perth, Australia, homeschooled whilst the theatre company toured the country, finally settled in the
UK but even then we moved around London and Essex - we’ve travelled all over. But then our parents decided
on Hackney and this is the longest we’ve lived anywhere,” says Johannus. Priya adds, “Wherever we go we
always try to bring the community together - just like at fairgrounds, where people used to congregate to
enjoy themselves. That’s part of where the name 'Fairground' came from.”

Fairground Fitness is an ambitious project that aims to put the fun back into fitness in a no-frills, but no less
intense, home workout. Earlier this year, the garden was re-designed to house a mini outdoor gym, complete
with squat racks, bench press, farmer carriers and yoga/pilates equipment. Each sibling is a fully qualified
personal trainer with their own clients, aged from 12 to 47, who visit the gym weekly. So why do it in your
backyard when you can train in a gym? Priya explains. “We’ve trained people for a long time and we’ve
worked in gyms too, but we don’t like the atmosphere and commerciality of gyms today. We wanted to create
a space where people can enjoy training and become better versions of themselves.”

Making fitness fun and less impersonal is something the trio feel passionately about. “In gyms the sessions are
much shorter, the focus is on the training and that’s it. But by doing that, you ignore everything else going on
in a client’s life that’s just as important to fitness levels as the training itself,” Priya says. Marcus nods in
agreement and says, “We always ask about your sleep, what you eat, your weekly routine.” Johannus tells me
the science to back it up. “Exercise is simply stimulation. If you want to build up muscle, you need to train, but
sleep is the time those muscles grow and recover, and food is the nutrients you’re feeding those muscles to
grow. Your circadian rhythm will tell you that the time phase between 10pm and 7am is the sweet spot for
deep sleep and recovery.”

At Fairground Fitness there’s no clock-watching. “We start when our clients are ready psychologically and we
finish when they’re done physically,” Johannus says. They also maintain close contact with their clients
throughout the week. “We love our clients!” exclaims Priya. “A lot of what we do is psychological, so we want
to check in with them. We refuse to do crash courses because they never work - we aim to strengthen their
mindset and body in a way that educates them.”

I wonder how their parents felt about them digging up the garden? “They support us 100%. We saved for
months to be able to buy the equipment, so they knew we were serious,” says Marcus. There is no doubt that
the trio are creative. They run a budding Instagram account with polished video content shot and edited by
‘whizz photographer and filmmaker’ Priya, Marcus is a keen artist and designed the brand’s logo and upcoming
clothing range, whilst Johannus is more business-minded. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t charitable, as
he’s quick to assert. “Sometimes it can be wrong to overcharge a client. For example, I train a twelve-year-old
boy who struggled with confidence and was quite overweight. His mum came to us to ask for advice and after
a couple of months’ training, the difference is incredible. Apart from his physicality, his confidence has soared.
I refuse to charge his mum and others who don’t have a good living situation. We believe fitness is important
but it should be for everyone.”

I ask what’s next for Fairground Fitness. “Street events are making a big comeback. We’d love to take the kit
out and get the whole neighbourhood doing competitions. Once you give it a go, you realise doing weights
isn’t really scary at all. We’d love to do local events to give everyone the chance to try,” says Johannus. Marcus looksfurther ahead. “We want to expand into everything. We’ve designed a clothing range, we are all further
studying massage and nutrition, and we’re also releasing a docu-series called ‘Local Legends’ that heroes
extraordinary people in the community.”

For now, they’re focusing on expanding their client base and delivering the first samples of their clothing range
by Christmas. I ask whether the trio have any tips for the party season. According to Johannus, it’s all in the
planning. “Don’t feel guilty that you’re enjoying yourself. Try and pick a couple of days a week where you don’t
go mad with the mince pies, and limit your alcohol on those days too.”

If all this sounds a little serious, Priya reminds me that “training’s the fun part - or it should be. And if you fall
off the bandwagon, there’s always January…”

Instagram @fairgroundfitness
Website fairgroundfitness.co.uk