GoodLife opens in the city
GoodLife Fitness celebrates grand opening on Tuesday
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2014 06:00 am
Shortly before opening their doors on Tuesday afternoon, members of the welcoming committee at GoodLife Fitness were still scrubbing the floors … in skirts and high heels.
But as five o’clock rolled around they all stood ready, pamphlets in hand, greeting the first customers between shiny rows of new cardio machines and scratchless, heavy weights.
After more than a year of waiting, the Canadian fitness giant has finally opened its doors at 525 St. Albert Trail.
Among other things, the 24,000 square-foot, two-floor facility offers 103 pieces of cardio equipment, 58 pieces of strength training equipment and hundreds of dumbbells.
“The more the better we find,” says Amanda Copithorne, marketing manager for western Canada. “During the day there will be plenty of equipment but then at five o’clock or six o’clock it’s a rush and you don’t want to disappoint anyone.”
The large array of available equipment and the 24-hour (Tuesday to Thursday) service is one of the key features in many GoodLife clubs, says Copithorne.
On the first floor, ellipticals, treadmills, stair masters, and other cardio equipment is lined up facing a large, wall-mounted TV.
Upstairs, customers can work their muscles at different weights along with the “quick-fix” circuit, a row of nine machines designed to get even the least athletic people engaged.
There’s also a large exercise room and one designed for group-cycling classes.
Memberships vary from about $30 to $60 a month, depending on the plan and layout of the facility (one club, or all, or only a few in the region; hot yoga classes or not), and whether users pay corporate, student or family rates, which come with certain add-ons, such as towel and child-minding services.
The company looks to keep prices competitive, and sell to “everyone,” explains CEO and founder David Patchell-Evans, who has spearheaded the company since he opened the first GoodLife in 1979.
“Our goal is to give every Canadian the experience to go to GoodLife,” he says.
He adds that the St. Albert club is comparable to other, larger GoodLife facilities in the cities. There are some amenities, such as the child-minding room.
But otherwise it’s kept to the basics, clean and relatively décor-free – minus some niceties, such as the four massage chairs, inspirational quotes on the walls, and the sauna room and ironing board in the change rooms.
“It’s not like a downtown Edmonton club. It’s suburban, with an attention to detail and care,” he says.
Asked whether GoodLife is worried about competition in the city, Patchell-Evans shrugs and smiles.
“We try to provide the best experience in Canada for exercise,” he says.
Jack Ballash, facility manager at Servus Credit Union Place, says he’s not worried about GoodLife opening as the two facilities cater to different demographics.
Servus Place, a municipal facility, is providing a place for recreation to families and individuals, anyone from toddler to senior, he says. That includes a gym and workout rooms, but also the aquatic centre and other amenities, he says.
But they may lose some of their younger members now, people between 18 and 30, and those without children, who may want nothing else but a place to work out, he says.
“And if you just want a fitness centre and maybe free-weights, GoodLife may have that for you,” he says. “We try to give a lot of different opportunities to recreate.”
In the future, Servus Place looks to expand parts of its facility: tripling its fitness centre, quadrupling locker spaces, and growing their studio space and lane pool.
Plans for the expansion have existed for three years and are expected to go before city council sometime this year, says Ballash. Whether they will change now that more fitness facilities exist in the city, he could not say.
“Right now our plan is pretty solid. Personally, I would say that we would want to continue on that path,” he says.
According to Ballash, St. Albert now has about 24 different fitness providers, including everything from larger gyms to smaller, private facilities such as kickboxing and yoga studios.
To him that’s a sign of variety, different opportunities, and healthy competition. But others think the city has reached its limits when it comes to gyms.
“I definitely don’t think there is room for anybody else at this stage of the game,” says Christine Rawlins, manager at Sturgeon Valley Athletic Club.
Rawlins is not too concerned about bigger competitors because there is still a market for intimate and personalized environments, she says.
Nonetheless, owning a smaller business, she does need to continuously look to improve her facility, keep up a higher standard for instructors, and specialize in equipment, she says.
That, and being committed to the community through fundraisers and local events, keeps smaller business alive, she says.
“We feel that we are better connected with the St. Albert community and with our members, their individual needs and preferences,” she says. “We pride ourselves in knowing our members’ names.”