Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Denman Fitness, Vancouver

And we have our first review! This comes from Arwen:

About two years ago my mom was told she was pre-diabetic. I'm a huge, huge exercise fan, but had found less time for myself after my kids came along. So I was looking for an excuse to get back into shape, and I told mom I'd go with her.

Although that's a rather loaded term, isn't it? My shape is roughly the same no matter what I do. I'm a series of well stuffed hourglasses in every direction: front, side, arms, legs ... even my face has a bit of a swoop. I am a fractal! )

We started at a Curves, a 15 minute walk away. By the end of the first year we were dialing it up a notch. Curves was big on food plans and goal weights and stuff like that were sort of tiresome to me. Weight loss was a big part of the discussion there. My mom was a bit worried about switching gyms: she was feeling too old and fractal shaped for one of the million glitzy spandex and meat market places.

But a friend of mine suggested her gym, - Denman Fitness - which was about a 20 minute walk in the other direction. She promised it wasn't "like that", and so we stuck our head in. We liked what we saw, and for the same cost monthly, got about a zillion more options and machines, and a lot less "weight loss for the holidays" strategies on the walls. Although there is one particular sign - showing the relative girths of Canadians as marked by cities on a belt, which I believe is supposed to make us proud. Vancouverites are slightly slimmer. Likely because we are not threatened by snow for 10 of 12 months. Other than that, all wall bumph is about training - heart rates and muscle stretches and injury prevention and our gym's squash team's acheivements. Plus the occasional motivational saying about making your life what you want it to be.

It's a serious gym. There are the weight lifters on the "Conditioning Floor" who are doing serious weight lifting in a terrarium of windows and mirrors. From where I tend to stay, on the cardio and basic circuit training floor, I can watch them below me and marvel; but not all of them are hardbodies. There's a wiry senior man who works out 5 days a week down there.

I never have felt out of place. There are seniors and fat people and folks from all sorts of economic strata, all working out together. One drawback: I do not think the gym is wheelchair accessible, or not obviously so, and it does not appear equipped to handle major challenges to mobility.

I've not yet taken a class. I keep meaning to, because that was one of the reasons to move gyms - the variety - but it hasn't been a scheduling option for me because I just go whenever I can. I can't speak to the HAES quality of the instructors.
I can say that the personal trainers have been unfailingly supportive. When we first came in, our trainer made a suggestion that "weight loss doesn't happen through exercise alone", but when I said weight loss wasn't a goal for me she just said okay, made a note, and moved on. Since then, I have never once had a person mention it to me, and all the encouragement I've been offered - and that is some serious encouragement - has been really positive of health and not weight loss goals.

A good example:

My mom, still her basic fractal shape but feeling much more flexible and strong, was stretching one day after her walk. She exclaimed proudly that she hadn't been able to stretch like that since her young adulthood. One of the trainers, not ours, grinned over at us from helping another client.

"Welcome back!" he said.

We both felt like a million bucks.

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