Tight Club’s “Tight Life Challenge”

For the past decade, running has been my main source of exercise. I’ve tried to mix it up, but nothing has really stuck. This might be because my four years of NCAA volleyball training left me with a bit of an ‘anti-gym’ attitude. I also couldn’t justify paying for a workout when I had the seawall and trails at my disposal. 

Things have changed

I’m now five and a half months pregnant. In the first trimester, I began having serious pelvic/joint pain after long runs. I adjusted my distance and pace, but the problem didn’t go away. Sadly, Effie and I have had to accept that running just isn’t right for my body right now. I started to feel anxious about how I was going to get my sweat on regularly if I couldn’t run. I’d tried most classes and workouts in the city but never felt the experience was as fulfilling and enjoyable as my daily run with Effie and friends.

Was there a workout in Vancouver that could rival the fun and fitness I’d found in running?

I’d heard the buzz about Tight Club. ‘Everyone’ seemed to be going and the feedback was all positive. My friends Zach and Meghan of The Juice Truck finally convinced me to go. This new Chinatown gym was founded by former Oregon Ducks track athlete Keighty Gallagher (pictured below). Before she opened her Union Street Tight Club facility, she operated a gym out of her home garage that became so popular, she was able to raise $40K through an Indiegogo campaign that would go towards her new space. This proved just how beloved — and essential — Keighty and her gym are to Vancouverites.

Why I love Tight Club

Keighty has truly achieved her goal in making workouts fun again. No two Tight Club works-outs are the same. Even throughout the 60-minute classes, the exercises vary greatly. As a result, classes fly by — perfect for those who bore easily. Also, the exercises and movement are ‘athletic’ (no dumbbell curls here) and innovative (ever heard of Beyonces on ice?). Take the ‘Booty Luv’ class: many of the exercises taught in this particular session work the small muscles that surround bigger ones (which are often neglected). It’s these movements that help prevent injury and provide the strength to power through daily activities…aka life.

What is ‘The Tight Life Challenge’ and who should consider joining?

After attending classes on repeat for a month, Keighty invited me to join the May edition of Tight Club’s Tight Life Challenge as an ambassador. How does she describe the program? “It’s the ultimate commitment to personal health in a super supportive setting. It’s the kickstart I need to get back on track in terms of fitness and nutrition, and doing it in a group makes it that much easier.”

My answer was an enthusiastic ‘yes’.

Tight Life is a three-week program that includes three intimate group classes per week (with the same members and trainer), nutritional coaching, and nutritious, post-class meals. “It’s all about combining everything you need to be healthy”, described Tight Life trainer Rachelle Bonneville.

L-R: Rachelle Bonneville, Christina Culver, Carley Mendes 

Trainer Rachelle, a soon-to-be physiotherapist, was one of the friendly, encouraging faces I looked forward to seeing at each workout. Belonging on covers of health and fitness mags, this UBC Human Kinetics student leads by example with her ridiculously fit physique. And with her university background, she was able to answer every exercise/muscle/injury question our group threw at her. Rachelle kept motivation high with bi-weekly group emails detailing upcoming work-out focuses, our ‘homework’ (mini-workouts to do at home on off-days) and an unwavering positive attitude. She was also very thorough at explaining the movements in class. If you’re worried about not knowing certain workout basics, don’t fear. Our first two sessions took things slow to learn the mechanics of push-ups, slam ball throws and other favourite Tight Club moves.

How does Rachelle describe The Tight Life? 

“Picture a health and wellness booster shot coming from all angles of your life: dietary, physical and emotional. We’ve combined forces to make sure you get sweaty three times per week, tighten up your nutritional habits and prevent any post-workout pizza with a tasty and nutritious salad! Accomplishing goals isn’t just about the push ups, perfect form or infinite tabatas. The Tight Life teaches you everything you need to know about a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle.”

Before the three-weeks begin, there’s a prep day that includes fitness testing and goal setting. Body measurements (waist, thighs, arms, hips, calves) are noted in inches. Squat, push-ups and plank maxes are recorded. Weight is written down and pictures are taken. This is to record progress. I’m not one for the numbers but I recognize it’s a foolproof way to observe progress — and this can provide huge motivation to continue down a healthy path. Being pregnant, my goal was to ‘maintain’. And thanks to The Tight Life, I did just that. Other than my belly increasing by two inches, everything else remained about the same.

Though the time commitment may sound daunting to some, the three weeks fly by and it really is the perfect amount of time to get on track with fitness and nutrition. One of my fellow Tight Lifers said she’d never really ever worked out before and she handled the sessions well. Another classmate was looking to kickstart a return to active living after years of no exercise. The ‘challenge’ (in the program’s name) refers to the challenge that will occur between you and yourself. That said, if you’re already committed to a regular personal fitness and nutrition routine, The Tight Life Challenge may not be the right fit for you.

The Tight Life Program is equal parts fitness and food (nutrition)

Holistic Nutritionist Carley Mendes of Oh Baby Nutrition led the nutrition portion of the program and she joined us on day one to go over the basics. Carley provided us with her nutrition guide, which includes recommended snacks, sources of protein, grocery shopping tips, a Vancouver restaurant guide, foods to avoid, foods to focus on and even a 3-day meal plan. She also made herself available to answer all our nutrition questions. My favourite part of her manual was the plant-based snack recipes, which included a peanut butter fudge (pictured), ‘chocolate’ dipped bananas and frozen cherries covered in coconut milk. Four of Carley’s five recommended ‘proteins to enjoy’ were animal-based. Being a plant-based eater, I couldn’t get behind this section of her guide, but everything else seemed like great advice: eat lots of leafy greens, reduce refined sugar and choose carbs wisely (root veg, amaranth, quinoa). 

Carley has generously shared her highly-addictive, super-healthy nut butter fudge recipe! Get it here.

To my delight, our post-workout meals were 100% plant-based, created by the wonderful Christina Culver of Culver City Salads and my friends at The Juice Truck (providing delicious proof that there’s plenty of protein in a plant-based diet). After each work-out, I couldn’t wait to see what Christina had made for us. Meals rotated between variations on veggie quinoa salads, zucchini noodles with avocado pesto and salad rolls. For a whopping 24 grams of protein, we washed it all down with nut and seed mylk from The Juice Truck. It’s impossible to feel unhealthy while eating these types of meals — you feel ‘clean’ from the inside out.

On our last day, we had one final awesome workout followed by a mini potluck. We sat around, celebrated our progress and got to know each other even better. I loved the camaraderie that developed between group members. It took me back to my volleyball team days where bonds were formed over sweaty work-outs, working towards a common goal and the giving/receiving of encouragement. While I didn’t talk to everyone, it sounded like all of us had made progress. Many of the gals shared that they already felt so much more comfortable going through a Tight Club work-out and that they planned on purchasing memberships (which were offered to them at 10% off) to stick with the routine. I’m looking forward to seeing their familiar faces because I’ll definitely be back at Tight Club on a regular basis. 

The Tight Life program costs $420 (or $948 for the personal challenge) and the next one is happening in September (dates TBA). Group sessions take place in the evening (5 or 6pm). Read more about The Tight Life here. 

Photos of Tight Club and Keighty Gallagher: @valerielina @kezianathe @brianvanwyk

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