An Amazing Success Story

It’s incredible what a powerful tool exercise can be when we have the proper motivation.  When I bumped into Viola one evening I hardly recognized her.  The transformation she had made in a few short months was stunning!    I asked her to share her story…I hope you find it as inspirational as I did:


My name is Viola DeHaro and I have been a member of the gym on and off for the past 20 years.  I can still remember Julie working at the desk and your sons were there at times.  I loved the different classes you offered; back then our favorite was the Step with Beth.  My kids are all grown now and I retired in November 2010.  I was already overweight and gained another 40 pounds after retirement.

I have high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease and an old knee injury that has a way of creeping up every once in a while.  This past September my blood work, which is checked every 3 months, came back positive for diabetes.  The doctor informed me I would have to start taking another pill which would only cause more kidney damage.  I was already taking 3 pills daily to control my BP and 1 pill for cholesterol.  I asked him to let me try to get a handle on my weight problem and I was going to start going to the gym on a regular basis.  So in October I started my journey.

At first I could only do 2-3 minutes on any machine and I was DYING.  I went almost every day for the first 2 months.  I did only cardio and most of it on machines you can sit down on and exercise.  My knee didn’t hurt like on the treadmill.  I now could last 30 minutes on the treadmill.  Hurrah!  I would not leave until I had burned 300 calories working out.  After 6 weeks of exercise and a daily intake of 1200 calories I was no longer a diabetic…I had lost 15 pounds and was back in the pre-diabetic zone. 

After four months of 4-6 workouts a week at your wonderful gym I was having trouble getting my heart rate up.  So after a visit to my Doctor he decided to take me off one of my blood pressure pills.  Hurrah, it worked–I was now able to get my heart rate up.  After six months of this program I had lost 40 pounds and was no longer pre-diabetic and my cholesterol reading had also dropped.  So the doctor took me off another BP pill and the cholesterol pill.

So to make a long story short, since October I have lost 52 pounds and have eliminated 2 BP pills and 1 cholesterol pill.  I was able to accomplish this with really just eating less and exercising.  After losing 40 pounds I started taking classes again.  I really enjoy the Cardio Dance class with Lana and the Baila Beats.  I love how you offer so many options for us older members.

Thank you HealthQuest and Tony for your vision.




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Functional Training-Where the Rubber Hits the Road

With traditional workouts the results of our efforts are easy to measure.  A bodybuilder can throw a tape measure around his bicep; a runner can track time and distance; we can step on a scale or tell if our clothes are fitting differently.  But with functional training we’re using an entirely different criteria to judge whether our workouts have been effective.  It’s all about how our body reacts and deals with real-life stresses.

Those stresses can cover a wide range depending on the individual.  For some it may be as simple as being able to sit or stand for long periods and remain pain-free.  For the “weekend warrior” it means no aches and pains on Monday morning.  The whole idea behind functional training it to have your body prepared for whatever twists and turns life throws at you…whether that’s chasing after your kids or surviving a few hours of manual labor.

In recent years the workouts my wife and I do have shifted to include more and more functional training.  She begins each morning with a long walk with her dog, then follows that up with a trip to the Club in the afternoon.  She loves taking classes and raves about the great workouts she gets in Core Fusion and Power Sculpt.  Lately I’ve been getting most of my exercise at the track, running, doing sprint drills, and finishing up with a few calisthenics.

Recently we put our training programs to the test during a family vacation to British Columbia.  Our two sons, both in their early 20s and very active, wanted to do some day hiking.  I was in charge of planning our excursions, and my goal was to find some treks that would be challenging enough to keep the kids interested but not so tough that mom and dad would be holding them back.  After doing a substantial amount of web surfing I came up with a pair of outings that I thought would fit those parameters.

Up the chains we go!

The first took us up a very steep canyon to a beautiful backcountry waterfall.  The High Falls Creek Trail gained over 2000 feet of elevation, most of it in the first mile.  Many sections had chains and cables attached to the rocks so you could pull your way up and over the rocky outcroppings.   You could venture off the trail a few feet and be treated to some vertigo-inducing drop-offs with nothing for hundreds of feet below you.  There were also views of the Squamish River below us and snow-capped peaks around us,  but the real payoff was the falls.  It  started with a long cascade that tumbled down a narrow slot canyon before roaring over the edge and crashing down into the main canyon far below.

Found it!

Rather than back-tracking back down the cliffs we opted to continue up the canyon for several more miles. Eventually we reached a logging road that switchbacked down the mountain and returned us to our car.  The round-trip added up to about eight miles of hiking, and everyone survived this first excursion with no complaints of being tired or sore.  Score one for functional training!  That gave me confidence that we were going to be able to handle the excursion I had planned for later in the week.

Near the Juan de Fuca trailhead…still smiling because we didn’t know what we were in for!

Our second hike was slated to be on the Juan de Fuca Trail which runs parallel to the Pacific Coast where the mountains meet the sea.  Although there was no net elevation gain, it consisted of a relentless chain of uphills and downhills as you make your way through the many canyons that drain this section of forest.  The section I chose is usually done as an overnight backpacking trip, but I figured that with light packs and an early start we would be able to navigate it’s 16 miles in a day without too much trouble.

Although the forecast called for cloudy skies, our hike began with a steady light rain falling.  Over the past few days we had heard a lot of complaints about how much rain had fallen in June and how little sunshine southern BC had received this spring, but this was the first real evidence of it that we had seen.   We all had waterproof jackets so we decided to trust the forecast and continue on as planned.  It wasn’t cold so a little bit of rain wasn’t going to slow us down!

The scenery was beautiful…through forest, over small streams and log bridges, down onto deserted beaches, back into the woods,  over bigger creeks and suspension bridges, down to tide pools, the views were always changing.  And as we’d hoped the weather gradually improved and the rain ended.  But the one thing that didn’t change and never improved was the mud…the trail was a mess! With all the June rains and the protection of the forest canopy above the trail never had a chance to dry out.

Depending on the topography some sections were in decent shape, and early on a lot of the bad sections had elevated boardwalks going over them.  But as we got further away from the trailhead the boardwalks disappeared, the ascents and descents got steeper, and the mud got deeper.  Our pace slowed.  Every kilometer we’d pass a trail marker and in some of the really bad sections it would take us close to 30 minutes to navigate one of these 1000 meter sections.  The family was not happy and ready to mutiny.  But we had no options…there was no place to bail out and we’d left the car at the other end of the trail.  So forward we pressed.

Our muddy path…the photo gives you an idea how sloppy it was!

Many hours later our tired, muddy clan finally reached the parking lot where our car awaited us.  The last several miles had been rough…nobody was talking or paying attention to the scenery.  We were all in “get me out of this hell-hole” mode.  Although this is one of Vancouver Islands most popular hiking trails, in 16 miles we had passed only one other couple.  I guess everyone else had gotten the memo about the trail conditions!

I would like to say that due to our workout regimens we emerged from this ordeal unscathed–but that would be a lie.  The next day we all had sore calves–and any trip down a set of stairs or steps was sure to produce a chorus of “ouch, ow, ow, ouch, ow, ouch”.  But given the rigours that we’d put ourselves through on that trail, I think we acquitted ourselves pretty darn well.  The soreness only lasted a few days, and I’m sure in another week or two my family will be speaking to me again!

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Motion activated water bottle fillers---we got 'em!

I am happy to report that new drinking fountains have been installed at three locations in the original building!  Two of the units (one upstairs on the cardio deck, one near the main weight room) have bottle fillers incorporated into their design.  This allows you to easily fill your own bottle with chilled filtered water.

We already have two of these fill stations located in our new addition.  Since that area opened in July, our members have used them 90,000 times.  We’re selling less bottled water, and we’re OK with that.  That’s a lot of plastic bottles that won’t be thrown away, and that’s a very good thing!!!

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Here Comes the Crazy

Because most people had January 2nd off as a holiday, this Monday will be the first “full week” of the month.  In this business that means we can expect to be very very very BUSY!  New week, new month, new year, and everyone’s excited to start it off in a healthy way.

Under normal circumstances this spike in Club usage can be a challenge.  Unfortunately for us next week isn’t going to be “normal” at all.  We’ve come to a bottleneck in our construction project, and the timing couldn’t be worse!  It reminds me of the movie “The Perfect Storm”.

Beginning Sunday evening we’re going to be prepping for the new flooring that is going downstairs.  This will affect the main corridor from the front door to the backdoor and the old hallway that goes down to Studio 1 for most of the week.  Then on Monday the area over and around our temporary reception area will be getting sheetrocked, so it will need to be closed off.   We’re being hit high and low, front to back, and it’s going to be a real challenge.

There will be times during the day when our reception area will need to be moved.  We still plan on using the back doors as our main entry, but that too might need to change at times.  Fortunately we don’t foresee having to take any equipment out of service, but with so much work going on in the main corridors you’re not going to be able to take the most direct route to get to it.  Just think of it as an extended warm-up!

The good news is that we’re getting very close to getting our front entry back.  Our new reception desk was already delivered, so once the flooring is down we should be able to make that change relatively quickly.  This will also allow us to move the coffee lounge back downstairs where it belongs.

Making it through this next week is going to be a challenging hurdle.  But the finish line in is now in sight, so if we can all keep focused on that-rather than on the temporary inconveniences-we’ll be just fine.

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Everyday We’re Shuffling Shuffling

Perhaps the biggest challenge we’ve had  during our construction project has been the never-ending game of musical chairs we’ve been forced to play.  Big moves, small moves, some lasting only a few hours, others lasting many months, it seems like we’re constantly rearranging something.    Prior to starting the remodel we had about as much equipment packed into the Club as was possible, so when we began losing space to the wrecking ball, finding a spot for everything became impossible.

Unfortunately we didn’t have an excess of storage space to begin with…we were already using an off-site location to house some of our stuff.  So when the remodel began and we found ourselves needing to empty out entire rooms, we were faced with a huge problem.  We had tons of stuff that needed to be relocated…and much of it was a real hassle to move.   Some things had to go away for an extended period of time, while others would need to disappear (for days or months) and then reappear later in another location.

From the beginning we’ve tried to keep as much equipment available to our members for as long as we possibly could, while still staying one step ahead of the construction crew.   From there it would often get complicated…figuring out what could stay, what had to go, and how long until it could be brought back.   For a while we rented a storage trailer that we kept in the parking lot; other things went to an off-site storage unit.   As part of our addition we added a fairly large storage room to the back of the building, but it’s been entirely taken up with construction materials.  And while we did add a significant amount of storage space into the existing building, very little of it is currently available for us to use.  Somehow it worked out that those spaces will be the very last things that get finished!

Lately more and more stuff has found its way into makeshift storage areas scattered throughout the building.  We’ve had an area tarped off in the upstairs weight room for months.  Lockers and other large items have found a temporary home in Studio 1.  Many of our day-to-day supplies have migrated several times lately…they started behind our temporary front desk, then moved into the lobby, and now are residing upstairs in a corner of the cardio deck.  Keeping track of what we have and where it is has been a real challenge.

Thankfully the worst should finally be behind us.   While we will still be closing some areas and moving things around for a few more weeks, from here on out we should be gaining space instead of losing it.  More equipment will be coming out of storage and being placed back in service.  The tile, fixtures, and other building materials that now jam our closets will be taken out and installed.  At long last the end of all the shuffling may finally be in sight!

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The Big Push

The newly refurbished cardio deck

With the new year fast approaching we’re anxious to get as much space as possible out of the “under construction” category and put it back into service.  We expect to make major headway in this effort over the next few days.

We passed a major milestone over the Christmas holiday and reclaimed the main cardio deck on the second floor.  With the return of this 2000 square feet of floor area, we were able to make some major moves in terms of relocating cardio equipment.  All of the pieces that used to be above the men’s locker room were cleared from that space, as were about a dozen pieces from downstairs.

As we move sequentially through the process, the next step is to complete the remaining flooring on the second floor.  That is scheduled to occur over the next few days, and while it will present some challenges (access to some areas upstairs will be limited at times) once it is completed we’ll finally be able to begin “stretching out”.  There will be three new alcoves for cardio equipment…one overlooking the parking lot, one above the lobby, and one above the weight room.    The large multi-use space over the men’s locker room (where we used to have cardio equipment) will now be totally devoted to core and stretch.

With the completion of the new spaces upstairs we will be able to move the remaining equipment out of  “Studio 1” and begin work on that space.  We will also have room to bring in some new cardio equipment.   As soon as all of the equipment has been placed in its permanent location we will be attaching the new personal TV screens.  Unfortunately there will be a brief transition period (1-2 weeks) when no music or video options will be available on the cardio equipment.  But once the new equipment is in place you will have complete control over what you watch or listen to, with approximately 50 channels from which to choose.

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Night Moves

Say bye-bye to our lovely plywood walls and railings!

Tonight after we close the steelworkers are coming in and will begin installing the new railings on the second floor.  We’ve been using bare plywood for temporary walls in various locations for the past 16 months.  It will be a huge burden lifted when they are finally gone.  Not only will things start to look much more finished, but it should really open things up so the Club feels even more spacious!

During the day the focus has been on completing the remodel of the space the women’s locker room used to occupy.  The framing, rough plumbing and rough electrical is all wrapping up, and by the end of the week most of the sheetrock should be installed.  The addition to the men’s locker room is coming together nicely; you can already tell the new glass block window is going to let in a lot of light, and the steam room looks very spacious.

Since the weather has been cooperative we haven’t rushed to switch back to using the front door.  Up until now there’s been a lot of building materials and construction debris going in and out, so we felt it was better not to add all of our foot traffic into the mix.  However once the drywall is complete we’ll probably make the changeover and move our old front counter into the spot that the new front counter will eventually occupy.

It would have been nice to have the new front counter installed already, but that just presented too many problems.  Things have to happen sequentially, and the desk couldn’t go in until the flooring was done, and we didn’t want to do the flooring until we were done moving heavy equipment over it, and we needed the heavy equipment to put up the railings, and the railings couldn’t go up until the framing was done, and on and on it goes.

Installing the finish flooring upstairs will take place next week.  That’s going to be a little tricky when we get to the space over the men’s locker room.  There may be some times of limited access to those areas, but it shouldn’t last for more than a day or two.  Then we’ll turn our attention to the floors downstairs.  That’s going to be a lot more challenging, as we need to do the entire main corridor that runs from the front of the Club to the back.  We haven’t figured out exactly how we’re going to accomplish this yet, but it will involve breaking it down into sections and working at night.  Again it will probably mean some areas will be closed off for short periods of time, and we’ll also need to be creative about where we direct traffic and how we access certain rooms.  We also have to correct some drainage issues with the floor in the men’s shower area…which may block access to the pools and spa for a couple of days.

We really want to have things as close to wrapped up as possible by the end of the month.  We should have all of the cardio equipment that is downstairs back upstairs, and the coffee lounge that is upstairs back downstairs.  We’ll be using the front entryway, the elevator will be in operation, and the small weight room and the big new stretch/core area over the men’s locker room should be operational.   The men’s locker room addition….maybe…if it’s not done it will be close.   

 The only major area that won’t be in service is the fourth fitness studio/basketball room.  Again it’s that “sequential” problem…we can’t move the equipment that’s in there back upstairs where it belongs until the floors are done and we have the elevator back in service.  But that room just needs cosmetic touch-ups (floor refinished, paint, basketball and kickboxing equipment installed), so it will just be a few weeks into the New Year when it should be ready for action.

We will then have just two relatively minor areas that won’t be complete.  One is the coed spa that will be outside next to the small pool.  We’re still working through some issues with the flooring and aren’t sure when it will be finished.  The other is the juice bar.  We’ve decided that we want to get everything else done and running smoothly before we  tackle that project!

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