It’s appropriate that the slick yellow-and-black colour scheme inside Mecca Fitness mirrors that of a construction site. After all, visitors aboard the gym's cardio and resistance equipment are painstakingly building new physiques. That’s also a process that owner Grant Roberts has endured both by choice and by necessity. Roberts was a champion bodybuilder before a car accident left him severely debilitated. The medical community deemed him lucky to be alive, and wouldn't condone his efforts to rejoin the fitness scene. So, during a four-year stay in Costa Rica, he took charge of his own rehabilitation, and steadily became involved in seminars, exhibitions, and competitions once again. His expertise and devotion have since been affirmed by celebrities such as Clint Eastwood, who called on Roberts to train Hilary Swank for her role as a boxer in Eastwood's film, Million Dollar Baby. The secret of Roberts’ success might be his personal touch. As the owner of Mecca Fitness, he oversees 16,000 square feet of amenities that he says on his website comprise "the kind of gym I love to train in". He personally helped with the development of the Strive strength equipment in the resistance-training area. And to show he stands behind his products, he emblazons his name on every container of the gym's MVP nutrition supplements as well as each member's newly buff deltoids. By mapping specialized zones for stretching, abdominal work, weightlifting, and women-only workouts, he readies the gym to help guests with nearly any wellness goal.
In the mornings, Kathleen Whippler—YMCA of Regina’s senior director of funds development, marketing, and communications—greets a group of ladies on their way to an arthritis exercise class. They’ve told her how the class helps keep aches at bay for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, she sees parents drop their kids off at the Y’s special-needs program. They’ve told her that before the program, there was nowhere for their kids to go, let alone a place they were excited about. Experiences like these keep Whippler passionate about her work at YMCA of Regina. “You can see the difference you make—what I do affects the lives of other people.”
These programs reflect YMCA of Regina’s overarching mission to build healthy communities. As bustling community hubs, both locations tout dozens of programs and amenities, such as four-lane pools, cardio machines, free weights, and more than 65 weekly exercise classes. Furthermore, the centres strive to make fitness a key part of any lifestyle; personal trainers lead private sessions, fitness classes include yoga and Zumba, and the Northwest centre invites guests to scale a climbing wall.
Although physical fitness is a critical part of overall wellness, the Y’s services extend far beyond the workout room. The centres host an alternative suspension program that strives to transform school suspensions into positive, transformative experiences, and the Community Café provides youth with job training. Whippler says services like these help form tight-knit communities. “It’s just a place to belong,” she says.
With fitness programs for women of all sizes, ages, and ability levels, Ladies California Fitness makes it hard to avoid the gym. The staff maintains a philosophy that fitness should be fun rather than grueling, which they translate in practice by greeting members with smiling faces and pairing them with certified personal trainers.
Though Boh’s Cycle & Sporting Goods’ staff stocks racks with gear by The North Face, Thule, and Ripzone, their commitment to outdoor adventure extends beyond the shop’s walls. Certified paddling instructors lead introductory canoe and kayaking lessons down Moose Jaw river, imparting water-slicing basics and teaching the correct hand signals for pizza delivery by the local birdlife. Simple kayak and canoe rentals are also available for up to a full day’s worth of tranquil water traversal for the more confident. When embarking on land voyages, customers can peruse the shop’s selection of bikes and parts, or get adjustments from the shop’s mechanics, who can repair and fine-tune road-weary bikes or sharpen skates and repair skis in the winter. Besides bringing together lovers of the outdoors inside the shop, Boh’s crew also runs a running club that converges Tuesdays and Sundays before setting off for hill climbs and speed drills or distance runs.
Owner Jan Henrikson has travelled Europe, the U.S., and Canada to absorb the yoga teachings of renowned masters, earning her certification in the Hatha style of Jivamukti. Since then, she has established herself in Saskatoon as a yoga expert who accepts all skill levels. Subscribing to Woody Allen's belief that "80 per cent of success is just showing up," she encourages anyone, regardless of their experience, age, or build, to immerse themselves in the welcoming curriculum at Joos Yoga.
Jan's team of instructors lead classes in several styles, including Yin yoga, pre- and postnatal yoga, and Vinyasa flow. During every session, they foster a no-pressure atmosphere, often commingling beginners and advanced participants in many classes. Furthermore, they intentionally keep class sizes small to ensure students receive personalized attention and have enough room to expand their consciousness without bumping into someone else's pneuma.
Joos Yoga also spreads an appreciation for the limbering arts through corporate programs and teacher-training courses, whose standards exceed those put forth by the Yoga Alliance.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.