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January 15, 2016

Switching modes

Professional CrossFitters Kayla Banfield and James Newbury know the importance of functional space. CityMag caught up with them to see how they’re bringing their work and home life together in the CBD.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Brendan Homan

For some, a daily retreat from the city is a desirable end to a busy day.

But for Kayla Banfield and James Newbury, owners and operators of CrossFit Mode on Gilbert Street, the commute is a chunk of time that could be better spent within the city limits.

Such is the addictive draw of owning your own gym.

“I was just using [CrossFit] as a pre-season tool to help me get fitter. I went to one session and… instantly fell in love with the community that it provided,” explains James, a former rugby league player and one-time South Australia’s Fittest Man title-holder.

“I met Kayla, [she’d] just started at a CrossFit gym down south, we met at a competition and we both just went from there.”

Finding a space in the city for their joint business was a deliberate choice.


The lounge room is a cool retreat from the heat of the gym

“We get a lot of foot traffic. We’ve got the amazing space with four massive roller doors that open, so people look in and go ‘what are you doing?’,” Kayla says.

“There’s a lot of fit bodies throwing around a lot of weight and we just offer people a come-and-try class. So just having that exposure in the city has been really beneficial to our business.”

“Having the business in the CBD, we wanted to live closer to town, but we didn’t think town would actually happen.” James Newbury

Since starting the gym, the couple has commuted to and from their home in Flagstaff Hill to Gilbert Street every day, but recently they’ve bought an apartment directly across the road from their business.

“When you’re fighting against peak hour to get home, that adds another 30 minutes, but it’s also the middle-of-the-day lull where everyone’s at work and we’re just kind of twiddling our thumbs and going ‘I just really need a break’,” Kayla says.

“It’s nice to be able to remove ourselves completely from the business, and for us to be able to come home; it’s the greatest.”


New apartments come with shiny new kitchens


As well as the usual CrossFit offering, Kayla and James’ CrossFit Mode provides access to recovery services, physio, massage, podiatry, nutrition and yoga classes – something we can only assume is a great relief after all that heavy lifting.

Considering their dawn starts, post-dusk finishes, and the fact their job requires them to be physically active all day, it makes sense to reclaim whatever time they can to relax.

“Having the business in the CBD, we wanted to live closer to town, but we didn’t think town would actually happen,” James says.

“We didn’t think it would be affordable, probably, as well,” Kayla continues.

“Yeah, we thought it would be more expensive than what it actually was,” James says.

With less physical space now separating work and home for the couple, there’s an increased importance on separating the spaces mentally.

The incredible views of the city and the coast available from their balcony and kitchen window do provide a contrast to the street-level warehouse that is their business, but it’s also about aesthetics.


James Newbury and Kayla Banfield

“We’re looking for a yin/yang balance. That’s the craziness across there, and we can escape to here and just be nice and relaxed,” James says. “All we need right now is a kitchen, a place to sleep, a nice place to relax and hang out. I won’t be painting the walls with graffiti… or chucking a pull up bar anywhere in here.”

It’s a pared back approach to relaxation that is completely becoming of Kayla and James, who dedicate so much of their time to the CrossFit way of life. However, with their gym also offering sauna and spa facilities just across the road, one could assume the easy access to work might have after-hours benefits too.

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