best online fitness programs

Interview with Luke Istomin, Co-Founder of Varlah

What do you do and how did you get into the industry? 

I’m a personal trainer by trade and have been building international fitness businesses now for the last five years. I’ve always been involved with fitness: as a child playing all sorts of sports in the country side of NSW, Australia. I left my job in the coal mines to pursue my dreams of being a personal trainer in Sydney. I worked my way up the ranks and trained Hugh Jackman for the Australia and Wolverine movies. I subsequently trained many Hollywood actors, supermodels, rock and pop stars, billionaires, entrepreneurs, and people from all walks of life.

I co-founded a group fitness chain in 2012 which has now grown to over 500 clubs throughout the world – F45 Training. I have stepped away from that currently to focus on my new project, Australia’s first on demand fitness streaming channel – VARLAH. We launched in September 2016 and plan to be the “Netflix” of health and fitness. You will be able to stream all of our workouts, education packages and other programs ranging from

• Children’s workouts

• High intensity bodyweight and also resistance workouts

• Sedentary programs to get first timers moving

• Pre and post natal routines

• Over 50’s

• Yoga

• Barre

• Mindset

• Pain relief modules for back, shoulders and lower body.

• Stretch and mobility classes.

Plus so much more… It’s truly going to be the destination for people to go to for all health, fitness and wellness desires.

Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes. 

Behind the scenes in the fitness industry? That’s quite a good question… Let me just say this with absolute certainty and request to the rest of the world out there – don’t believe everything you see in fitness photos. The amount of editing, photoshopping and retouching that goes on in 99% of photos is ridiculous. I’ve made a huge point in making sure that our workout videos are all shot in real time with everyday people. There are mistakes made from myself presenting, the people doing the workouts, and everything else that could go wrong. And we leave it all in those scenes for the viewers to see that nothing is faked or staged. In this day and age, I want people to be able to connect and resonate with myself and the people also doing the workouts via Varlah throughout the globe.

What’s the best/ worst part of your job? 

Seeing the positive effects that healthy eating and exercise has on people is always a buzz – I never get tired of experiencing. The not so glamorous part is the 4:45am alarm clock six days per week, and now, working on my laptop for over 10 hours per day can be a bit exhausting at times. But I have an amazing team to work with and we all get along fantastically so that helps keep us sane.

What’s your favourite meal/ drink? 

My girlfriend is Italian and we travelled throughout Hawaii, USA, Europe and Asia last year for a few months… And I have to say that some of the best culinary experiences were the simple, but delicious tasting foods of Italy.  We probably had a Caprese salad twice a day, and I was on a quest to find Italy’s best Tiramisu…. It was so awesome that we are planning to go back there again next year.

What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?

I’ve been to a lot of movie or studio sets with clients of mine when they’re filming. To see how close to death some stuntmen come on a daily basis is humbling. A friend of mine had to jump from a 40m tower and land on a giant safety mat, as he jumped, a gust of wind came and pushed him slightly off the mark, and he landed within a few inches of the edge of the mat… literally a few inches more and he would’ve been killed. He simply laughed, climbed back up the tower and did three more jumps!  Crazy or what!??

The perfect day off would be…

… spent driving fast toys with my mates at the Nurburgring track in Germany.  If it has an engine, I want to make it go as fast as possible. The thrill of speed never wears off on me.

That, or a day lazing around the Amalfi coast swimming in the grottos and eating the freshest seafood caught straight from the sea.

A day in the life of a entrepreneur…

… is amazingly varied. Some days you can be the biggest king of the jungle, and the very next, you feel as though you are the ant in that same space. But that’s what it’s all about, being able to sustain the tough times and soak up the good times when they come. The people you meet who can share similar ideas or even totally left field ideas that help grow and develop your business is always so inspiring that you have to start each day with the same positive attitude as the same day you decided to quit the regular 9-5 job and work for yourself.

What do you do for fun?

Ride motorbikes, drive cars, travel, love, eat, drink nice wines, run fitness camps in Hawaii, see my family, have a laugh with my friends and not take myself too seriously.

What’s something you’d like readers to know about….

Truffle oil. Seriously the BEST addition to ANY dish!  My partner and I are obsessed with it.

What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?

A beautifully slow cooked lamb shoulder with a Malbec will have me loving life.

What’s your view on the food scene in Sydney?

It’s the epicentre of cultures in Sydney. With it growing so fast and being home to so many races, backgrounds, and beliefs, the food scene is incredible. I’ve travelled the globe, and nothing beats the produce that we have so readily available here in Australia.

The night life however in Sydney is embarrassing. We have so many ridiculous laws that have literally shut down our night life and suburbs are losing their identities. The government has been extremely poor in it’s decisions to attempt to work with the community and businesses to make Sydney City a desirable night time destination.

What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?

I’m extremely excited that VARLAH will be launching the first of many new platforms and programs for our members throughout the world.

Check out VARLAH here!


  1. A very well done interview. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Everybody sure looks really fit! *face palm* LOL!!!

  3. The ‘Sedentary programs to get first timers moving’ would be perfect for me!

    • Ha, ha Sean, with all the eating that you do, I’m surprised you’re not the size of a house. 🙂

  4. wonderfully taken interview .
    i enjoyed it a lot because i love exercise and especially yoga [though can’t find much time for regular exercise]
    thank you for bringing such nice conversation .really very positive !

  5. 4.45am? He he… I can’t never get up that early!
    Can you, M?

    • Sure can. I have a similar routine. Exercise at 5am. It’s the only way to fit it into my day and counter balance all of the ‘tasting’ I do.

  6. I do my morning exercise. Tuesday is my light work out and Sunday is my day off.
    Coffee is on

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