I found out yesterday that the Toronto St. GoodLife is closing. While to many this may seem like just one out of hundreds of clubs so no big deal, or another fallout from the great shut down – for me, this one particular club changed the entire course of my life!
In the Fall of 2004, I was at my lowest point ever. I was in a terribly unhappy relationship only to be matched by my terribly unhappy job in the corporate world. And then like a ray of light, I was told there was a brand-new upscale gym opening and they were looking for personal trainers. This was my opportunity to take the leap into full-time and I seized it. After some pretty intense interviews, I was offered the job and I immediately walked over to my manager and handed in my notice. Two weeks later I started my new life and career, with no idea of the possibilities that lay before me, all I knew in the pit of my stomach was that meant to be. The very first person I met had ironically made the same leap from corporate to full time fitness – we were in it together and have been friends to this day.
November 1st, SoulFit, a women’s fitness boutique and a division of GoodLife Fitness opened and with it one of the most perfect collections of humans to see it through. Personal Training was a slow start but after the holidays I began to hit my stride. It was also at this time my relationship had gone from bad to worse, and over the course of the 6 years we had spent together my friendships had all but dissolved. This new group of co-workers became my lifeline and after my relationship ended were right there to hang out with on weekends, cheer me up through the days and talk with during quieter moments. It was during those 6am chats while I waited for my morning clients to come in that I met a girl named Sarah working the front desk and brand new to the city. Over the next few months a deep friendship was formed, over the next year she became my best friend and still so to this day. It was at this front desk that I met Renee and Erinne with whom I’ve shared so many laughs and amazing moments. I met Ally and her crew, Lindsey, Lucy, Jill, Blair, so many others and of course our beloved Faye who kept that machine clean and running the entire 16 years!
These aren’t the only friendships from this club that changed my life, there are also the members I had the pleasure of teaching, some of them still follow me to this day including my first ever personal training client. They helped build my confidence as an instructor with their dedication to fitness and laughing at my poor jokes in between. I taught BodyFlow, Pilates, BodyStep, BodyJam and 6 classes a week on the Gravity machines as well. It was my fitness manager Carol who encouraged me to apply for a Master Trainer position and even though it didn’t happen then it set the course to the long and incredible career I’ve had to this day. Even after I left full time teaching in 2011 to begin to build out YogaFit Canada, I kept my connection to the Toronto St. club (the name was changed along the way) and held on to my very favourite class. Monday night BodyJam 5:30pm that I taught for 15 years – to most of the same people! One family in particular, Kelly, her mom Karen, and her sister who now lives in Bermuda and would still come to class when she was home for a visit. It was Kelly who got the news first yesterday and sent me a message. I just burst into tears. Getting back to that class was the hope I’ve been hanging on to for the last 7 months, the one thing that would make everything feel like normal again. To 16 years of dedication to those walls and to everything that happened inside them, the absolute incredible energy we shared there together. The people, the events, the release classes and team teaching. The most beautiful studio of all the clubs I’ve ever been in, that I loved teaching in with my whole heart. We never got to say goodbye.
I understand that this club needed to close, I do. But in these times of the grand debate of whether fitness clubs are important or not, of trying to make the powers that be understand our industry even just a tiny bit I felt compelled to share my story. These clubs are WAY more than just a place to work-out. They are our homes away from home, our communities and in our darkest times are lifelines. We need our clubs open! I don’t know how to say it any other way.
PS that photo is me, 2006 striking a pose in the studio at Toronto St.