24
Feb
09

Steve Nash Sports Club: not for pikers

One of the benefits of staying at the St. Regis Hotel, newly renovated with the traveling business person in mind, is a day pass for the Steve Nash Sports Club. Talked of in hushed terms by the city’s fitness junkies since rumours of its opening over two years ago, it’s a state-of-the-art, nearly 40,000-sq. ft. facility that’s located downtown, just around the corner from the hotel, on Granville Street. And so, following my complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel’s downstairs dining lounge, I decided to check out the gym said to “mirror the fitness philosophy” of its namesake, a Canadian basketball player.

I was met in the reception area by member sales person Cheryl MacDougall. Our tour took us to the first floor, which has a juice bar franchise, rows of cardio machines and an air-conditioned spinning room “unique to Vancouver” for its projector screen (usually showing bike tours) with Surround Sound, and the locker rooms, which have amenities like towels, shampoos and “body wash” (whatever happened to soap?). When we got to the second floor, where all the weights and weight machines are, it was time to ask the tough questions.

SC: What about hook-ups?

CM: I’m very good at hooking people up, actually. I’ve hooked up a couple in the gym, who are engaged. In fact I think they got married this weekend.

SC: How did you do that?

CM: I tend to talk to everyone and anyone. Through my job when people come in and sign up, I’m not just signing them up. I’m building a relationship with them. So, I tend to find out a lot more about their lives and they find out about me. Over time people will be like, “Hey, what’s their story?” or “Do you know that person?”

SC: How did it happen with this couple? Was it the classic, “Their eyes met across a crowded weight room” type of situation?

CM: No, I talked to both of them, separately. The one person was like, “Who’s that” kind of thing. Me being me, I knew a lot about her. And one day it was like, okay, this is it. She was coming down the stairs and he was standing there. I’d planted little hints. Then it was, “Female this is male.” Then they went out for tea. Five or six months into it they were engaged.

SC: Are they still coming to the gym, or have they stopped now that they’re hitched?

CM: Oh God no. She’s one of the fittest people in this gym. And so is he.

SC: ‘Cos some people just let themselves go.

CM: A lot of people say gyms are meat markets, but I don’t see it. But this is very much a good-looking gym. It is Vancouver, so people are single, and it is a place people go where they think they might meet someone. I met my ex in a gym, in London. It is a great place. It’s all about networking. I know a lot of people, and a lot of people think I’m a big flirt. I guess I am and I’m not, it’s just my personality. It’s my job, I talk to people. I check in and make sure everybody’s happy. And it’s a great place for me, who’s single, to be.

Cheryl continued the tour, showing me the “espresso bikes”, which have screens that that simulate “riding” through the alps or the desert, the reformer pilates stations, and a personal training area. There are 19 personal trainers on staff.

SC: Are the personal trainers instructed not to date their clients?

CM: No, there’s no rule. I think it’s up to them. Once you take it to that next level, it probably makes it difficult to train the clients. I’m sure the trainers have been hit on, whether from staff or members. But we do have a huge selection of very nice looking trainers. With different qualifications.

SC: How are they recruited? Are there pec-hunters?

CM: Like corporate headhunters? No, they just apply.

On the third floor, we came to a third studio, this one for yoga and pilates. “We’re trying to be a green club,” Cheryl said. The studios all have bamboo floors, the carpet is recycled, the light fixtures use less energy, and it doesn’t print a lot of paper; all the classes are online.

Compared to my gym, which is located underground in a dank dungeon-like room and where the men’s locker area is the size of a broom closet (but far worse smelling), it’s an impressive space—practically fortress-like. Indeed, the only sour note was the security precautions—I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, and had to get permission to record my conversation with Cheryl. And she wasn’t allowed to give me the rates. “We like to have people come in and see the facility first,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll come into the gym whether they hear about it through word-of-mouth or a friend brings them in, or they hear how great Cheryl is at the gym.”


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