The running club AM:PM prefer to define themselves as a crew. These slick rogues are a kind of fitness family for whom the entire city is a venue. The group meets for regular runs around the city, with variations on the course plotted on the day. It’s part of the code to never let another runner run alone, and to always support and push one another, so it’s a form of free training with an addictive element: the social aspect and shared focus on personal limit busting is a powerful motivator for many of its members.
From the 2,000+ member Melbourne Running Meetup to the newly launched Adidas Runners, there are plenty of other running clubs in Melbourne, but AM:PM is the only self-professed ‘run crew’. What this means is that while anyone can join for free, applicants must first consider a manifesto about family, connection and creativity and submit a response describing their personal philosophy and what they are ‘about’. While diversity is stressed in the credo, members tend to come from creative fields and evidently share a certain sensibility and a willingness to identify with ideas that founder Ben Clement says “go beyond running”.
“While running is a way to see and experience the city, AM:PM also leave an impression on the city as they pulse through it in their mostly black clothing.”
Australian research in 2017 showed that for 21% of young gym goers, not having people to train with was one of the main reasons for lapsing gym memberships, so the movement away from big fitness towards community recreation and social exercise makes sense. As Ben said, the crew “more so attend Yoga/Pilates or go swimming” than go to the gym. As Lauren Mechling wrote in a piece for The New York Times “Many of the gyms that cater to fashion models and investment bankers can feel like bastions of blowouts and entitlement, while public parks and recreation centers still welcome urban dwellers across every imaginable spectrum”.
While running is a way to see and experience the city, AM:PM also leave an impression on the city as they pulse through it in their mostly blackclothing. They offer a sense of belonging for members and a productive pastime – some would say obsession – that is at once exclusive and egalitarian.
Lily Keil is Senior Editor at Right Angle Studio. She trained and worked as an editor at Melbourne University Publishing before freelancing for diverse publishers for a few years before joining Right Angle. She has been published in magazines such as Meanjin, January Biannual and Higher Arc and was a co-editor of Good Sport magazine in 2016. Her childhood in remote Tasmania may be the origin of her abiding fascination with cities.
Photography courtesy of Ben Clement and AM:PM.