Liz Jacobs stands in the middle of the Barre studio inside the new Equinox Vancouver fitness club on West Georgia and points up at the ceiling. There, in a perfectly aligned formation, are a series of white hooks camouflaged against the crisp white ceiling.
“We have a grid up there; each hook holds several hundred pounds,” says Jacobs, the Vancouver location’s general manager. “So whatever the next big thing is, we’re outfitted for it. If it’s flying from the ceiling, we’re ready!” It may seem ambitious for a fitness club that’s not even open yet to be thinking about future trends, but it demonstrates not only Equinox’s confidence in its longevity, but also its incredible attention to detail. Every aspect of this place has been meticulously planned and considered.
The New York-based chain of fitness clubs (after visiting one, it really does not seem right to call it a “gym”) was founded in 1991, and has since gone on to open dozens of locations across the States, along with a few in Canada and even one in the United Kingdom. Wildly popular in hotspots like Miami and Los Angeles, Equinox has built a strong reputation for providing unparalleled facilities, training, and amenities. Even in Vancouver, a place that prides itself on fitness, there is really nothing that can match the luxury and quality of Equinox. “This is such an easy city because people are so fit; we don’t have to educate the marketplace on why fitness is important,” says Jacobs. “They already get it, so it’s just: ‘Why do I need your club?’ It’s a different offering. We have all the boutique studios, as well as a fully functional fitness floor, plus a sauna, plus a steam room. These are amenities that Vancouver’s not used to seeing in a fitness club.”
Standing inside the soon-to-open Vancouver location, which greets guests with a stunning angular staircase in the middle of the two-level facility with a 24-foot ceiling and officially opens on Nov. 16, it is hard to argue. Equinox Vancouver seemingly has it all: a temperature-controlled yoga studio; a boxing room; a cycle studio; a Pilates room outfitted with Reformers and other equipment; the aforementioned Barre studio; a main fitness studio that can host everything from high-intensity interval training classes to TRX; plus a huge open workout space and machine area with treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, and other tools you’ve probably never even heard of. There are free unlimited towels of multiple sizes, including a specialty cold eucalyptus towel perfect for a cool-down after spin class.
The club also has a spa for those wanting a facial or massage; a steam room; a sauna; a clothing boutique; a Body Energy Club juice bar with communal seating for laptop work; free WiFi; a computer station for those who don’t bring their phones along; and Kiehl’s shower and skin products in the locker rooms. Members can opt to rent a locker full-time, which gets them a mesh bag for free daily laundry service, or there are two other types of lockers available: a large one, for those who come pre- or post-work and need a change of clothes; and a small one meant for just the basic wallet, keys, and phone (it even has a USB port for charging mobile devices). There is a digital screen highlighting promotions and upcoming classes, and an Equinox app that connects it all.
When all is said and done for the day, there is also a member’s lounge complete with comfy chairs and a fireplace. If it seems over-the-top, it isn’t; the sleek and clean design of the space, with lots of dramatic wood and natural light, has a way of making people want to hang around. “I think that because we offer so many things under one roof, people spend more time here—they want to be in the lounge, they want to do their class, get their massage—just that amount of time in the physical space,” says Jacobs, who started her Equinox journey as a member in New York and eventually began working for the company. “It’s not like you’re rushing in, banging out a quick workout, and leaving. You want to be here. So we provide the communal tables and the common area, which ends up creating a really nice sense of community.”
On this day, a week before opening, the space is buzzing as the final touches are put in place. Someone operates a drill, while a group of trainers sit meditating in the boxing room (every Equinox instructor, even if they have a PhD in kinesiology, must undergo the company’s in-house education program, which focuses on anatomy, health, exercise science, workout design, and injury prevention. “We basically give them a Master’s degree,” Jacobs says). The Vancouver location will start with approximately 30 trainers teaching over 80 classes per week, and build from there based on member feedback. Equinox counts the number of people who are in every single class, every single hour of every single day, so that the administrators can understand exactly what is working and what is not. It’s real-time action to get real-time results.
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