Husband-and-wife team Sammy and Andrew Prowse already had two physiotherapy, pilates and yoga practices and were looking to open a third when Andrew drove past 1441 Malvern Road one day. Built circa 1920, the heritage-listed building was run-down, had no ceiling and was home to a flock of pigeons. But it was also exactly what they were looking for.

“We had to have a lot of vision, but knew based on the corner presence of the building, natural light, good foundations and location that it would work,” says Sammy.

The couple have made a name for themselves via their inspired physiotherapy clinics, which all share the same apt name: Universal Practice. Sammy, a long-time physiotherapist who worked in elite sport for years, was studying yoga in India when the seed for their business was planted.

“I’ve always loved the way yoga has made my body feel, but it wasn’t until I was studying yoga in India and delving into the science and philosophy behind it that I began to clearly see the comparisons between this ancient practice and modern medicine,” she explains.

“When you look at the foundations, science is retrovertedly proving that there are tangible health benefits to yoga and other movement therapies with strength, stability, mobility, circulation and physiology (breath).  Physiotherapists are perfectly positioned to deliver movement, as we are highly skilled and trained in the human body and its functions.”

Sammy and Andrew opened the first Universal Practice three years ago in Richmond. It was quickly followed by a Fitzroy version a year later. Combining physiotherapy, yoga, Pilates and strength and conditioning, the clinics take a holistic approach to health and wellness.

“We treat sports injuries, spinal conditions, joint injuries and general aches and pains, alongside offering group classes and creating specific and individualised exercise and rehab programs for our clients,” Sammy says. “We wanted to create a place that took people through the whole cycle of healing, from trauma and pain through to performance and wellbeing.”

The plan was always to have three businesses and form, in Sammy’s words, “an arc around the CBD”. Clients who work in the north but live in the east will visit one studio during the week and another on weekends, and vice versa.

“We were attracted to Glen Iris, as it complements our Richmond and Fitzroy north side locations and offers a really strong and connected community, and an abundance of schools, families and sporting teams.”

Once the Glen Iris location was chosen, Sammy and Andrea had their work cut out. The neglected building was in need of an update, but it was crucial to the couple that they respect its period pedigree. Piccolo Architecture handled the renovation and De Campo Architects redesigned the interior. The building’s exposed beams, Edwardian windows and exterior tiles were kept, while oak floorboards, high skirting boards, curved walls and white paint were added for a soothing ambience.

“It was about breathing new life into old bones,” says Sammy. “We wanted to create a place that felt like home to our new neighbourhood, a place that would preserve its history, where they would feel welcome.”

Feeling welcome and safe is important, Sammy points out, because relaxation can aid the healing process. To that end, the studio was designed as a sanctuary where clients can take a break from hectic schedules and stress.

In total, there are three physiotherapy treatment rooms for individual appointments, a strength and conditioning and yoga studio, and a fully equipped Pilates studio with reformer beds, trapeze table, Wunda chair and ladder barrel. With their Glen Iris launch completed two weeks ago, the couple is looking forward to becoming a part of locals’ lives.

“We are really excited to support local schools, businesses and sporting teams, as we do with our Fitzroy and Richmond communities,” Sammy adds. “For us, improving the lives of people in the community is a huge part of why we do what we do.“

Universal Practice is offering Kay & Burton readers a complimentary initial physiotherapy assessment and complimentary group class. To book, use the code #MALVERNLOCAL. Valid until October 31, 2019. Call: 9822 7873. Email: Website:

Images courtesy of Universal Practice

Image courtesy of Universal Practice

Image courtesy of Universal Practice

Image courtesy of Universal Practice

Image courtesy of Universal Practice

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