When it comes to keeping fitness resolutions long-term, there’s nothing like a little bit of competition. Add in some individual attention and a sense of community, and you’ve got the ingredients that make l’Écurie Training Centre unique.
Located in a factory building on de Gaspé, within walking distance of uber hip Café Falco, Brooklyn, and newly opened Restaurant Maïs, l’Écurie has been around for just about two years, focusing on functional fitness before the idea became cool. Co-owner Vincent Lagarde told me that he had been disappointed by the lack of personal attention offered in most gyms and he wanted to create a fitness community where people could be more motivated to reach their goals.
Our visit to l’Écurie began with an hour-long functional fitness assessment by LaGarde, designed to gauge my strengths (few), weaknesses (hello ankles!) and range of motion (hands, please meet toes). It took just a few squats, lunges, reaches and attempts at stretching for LaGarde to note my handedness and guess, quite accurately, that I am an occasional runner who spends much of my day typing on a computer. If I were to become a member, LaGarde would plan out a personalized program depending on my personal goals. But unlike regular gyms, these programs are planned over a long-term basis, from 3 -months to a year. “We use the end objective and then we backtrack from there,” he explains. “What do we give you for your last program? What do we need to see at the halfway mark?”
l’Écurie is all about bringing people together to motivate each other. They’ve even gone so far as to replace private training sessions with semi-private. “People are more committed to their programs when they’re working out with someone else,” explained LaGarde. “If somebody’s having a great day, they set the bar a bit higher for the other person. It’s a win-win situation. It cuts the price for the clients and everybody gets a better workout.”
There are also 12 group classes per week focused on Metabolic Circuit Training, and members can work out on their own at any time. Lagarde and other trainers are always on hand to answer questions and offer encouragement. According to new member, Suzanne (last name withheld on request), the trainers make sure you’re doing your work. “I like to take my name, but with these guys I have to talk less and work more.” She tells us that she’s “been in other gyms and this is a different way of working out. I’ve been here only a week and I can already see the difference. My weaknesses are less weak.”
Though most of the time l’Écurie’s clients are competing against their own previous performance in timed challenges, the gym will be starting an individualized challenge starting on the 4th of February. Participants pay an entry fee, choose an objective, and are evaluated at the beginning and end of the challenge period. Winners will receive prizes and, possibly, six-pack abs, 10 lb weight loss or even just more regular gym attendance, depending on their goal.
But if you think this kind of intensive training is just for jocks and muscleheads, you’d be wrong.
“We train movement and not body parts,” explained LaGarde.