‘Tis the Season (For Workouts)
Check Out Montreal’s Indoor Fitness Options
During this city’s winter freeze, the streets fall silent and the sidewalks become narrow paths carved out by footprints laid down since the most recent snowfall. Montrealers seem to hibernate around this time of year, building up their reserves and waiting for the coming terrace season.
The rest of the year, the city thrives on summer activities, with Montreal being consistently rated by cyclist magazines as one of the best biking cities in the world. It’s also a city with expansive urban parks and green spaces. Joggers on Mount Royal and yoga classes in Lafontaine Park are common sights in summer.
So it’s no wonder that by January—when Montreal’s outdoor fitness goodies are wavering between distant memory and far-off dream—that gyms fill up. Not many people turn to ice skating in the Old Port as a daily exercise regiment.
As students, it may be tempting to think that we can just dive into a new fitness program after clicking around on YouTube for a few minutes. But Micaela Whitworth, the personal training coordinator at Montreal’s Mansfield Athletic Club, said that expert advice is highly recommended—even for 20-somethings starting out a fitness routine.
“You hire an accountant for your finances, a doctor for your general health, and a plumber for your plumbing,” said Whitworth. “Exercise is not a do-it-yourself type of activity. For maximum and lifetime results, invest in some professional expertise.”
She said that most gyms will offer a free fitness consultation with a certified kinesiologist for new members. It’s worth asking before signing up though, as personal training sessions can be very pricey otherwise.
Whitworth added that, along with an increased risk of injury, doing exercises incorrectly could prevent newbie exercisers from seeing the results they’re looking for. This kind of discouraging outcome probably contributes to the way the January rush thins out by mid-February.
Below are a few Montreal gym options. Despite best intentions, it’s good to keep in mind that out-of-the-way gyms are just one more excuse gym-goers use to avoid getting what they paid for—so try to think locally when you’re acting aerobically.
“Exercise is not a do-it-yourself type of activity. For maximum and lifetime results, invest in some professional expertise.”
The Mansfield Athletic Club
(1230 Mansfield St., near McGill Metro)
Named after the location of its flagship gym on Mansfield St., Club Mansfield offers a refined and luxurious gym experience. Where else does the conditioning floor have mood lighting and a beautifully painted fresco overhead?
The gym is divided into alcoves and different tiers, depending on the equipment. It’s very open and never crowded. There are no sign-up sheets on the cardio equipment, since there are always plenty of free machines. The changing room features saunas and amenities like free towels, hairdryers and assorted toiletries.
When you take into account the free Wi-Fi, it’s such a relaxing environment that it’s difficult to leave this little oasis.
Freebies: Free trials (call 514-390-1230 to book a tour first)
Cost: Under 30 years old: $85 a month
Regular: $120 a month (special rates for groups)
Plus registration fee: $250
Pros: Feels like working out in a spa.
Cons: Pricey, like a spa.
Notable features: The eucalyptus sauna is a godsend in the sub-zero months.
(Main: 1440 Stanley St., also in Westmount, Outremont, and other locations)
The YMCA is a not-for-profit, community-based organization and its mandate matches its gym-floor mantra. Management took the sign-up sheets down from the cardio equipment a few years ago and the bustling Stanley St. location now runs on an honour system.
Each gym-goer can use a machine for half an hour, or until someone asks them to get off that machine after that half-hour is up.
With many floors of equipment suited to different workout levels and styles, the YMCA really tailors its offerings to the needs of the Montreal community. The vibe inside the gym feels a bit like a multi-floor, decked-out high school gym class.
Cost for the Y on Stanley: Students: $43 a month (tax included) for a one-year membership. Cancel anytime. No annual fee. Bring proof of enrolment to register at student rate.
Regular: $60 a month and a $60 registration fee.
Pros: Central location and lots of fitness variety.
Con (or ‘Pro’ depending on what you like): Tons and tons of people.
Notable features: A pool, a basketball court and squash courts.
Le Centre at PERFORM
(7200 Sherbrooke St. W. – across from Loyola Campus)
The state-of-the-art Technogym equipment at the PERFORM Centre still hasn’t started showing signs of wear. Concordia’s research and training centre offers the best deal for Concordia students at $60 per semester and no registration fee.
It’s also quiet and has plenty of machines. There is a good variety of cardio and new weight machines which are designed so well that using them on high settings won’t result in the pressure-point bruises and discomfort gym-goers usually deal with.
Even though this gym is run through Concordia, memberships are not transferable with Concordia’s downtown Le Gym.
Freebies: Free trials and free group fitness classes Jan. 7 to Jan. 11
Cost: Student: $60 a semester
Concordia staff and alumni: $120 a semester
Regular: $150 a semester
Pros: Unbelievably inexpensive—the semester-long prices rival the cost of a single month at the other gyms.
Cons: Location. Those who don’t have classes at Loyola or live in Nôtre-Dame-de-Grace might not be able to make it work.
Notable features: New, advanced equipment, including four Technogym Kinesis machines.