While training to fit into your skinny jeans might get you short-term results, I believe that exercising for reasons other than vanity will give you the motivation to stick to your workout routine in the long run. Looking good then becomes a life-long bonus.
When I first discovered Amenzone Fitness, I immediately noticed its slogan: “Training for life”. Originally from the U.S., the fitness franchise is a cross between a gym and a community. Its concept is built around the idea of using recycled tires as the foundation for back-to-basics, dynamic workouts. There is no fancy equipment and there are no mirrors.
“We don’t allow the vanity. We find that true strength comes from within. You don’t need to look at yourself or watch somebody else to define how well you are doing,” says founder Amen Iseghohi, who got inspired by the teachings and values of his grandmother – a woman who used exercise as a vehicle for self-empowerment.
Since I am now a proud Amenzone Fitness ambassador, let me give you five reasons to check it out for yourself.
You will get into killer shape –fast!
The signature Primal class is not for the faint of heart. You alternate body-weight movements, athletic drills and strength exercises for an hour non-stop. But despite the high intensity, the trainers always encourage you to go at your own pace and take breaks when needed. I hate when trainers yell at you to keep going even though you feel like you are going to get sick and you are clearly not able to maintain good form anymore. This is not the case at Amenzone Fitness.
If you are a beginner, you can start with the Rebel Roots class. Other classes include Muscle, Strength and Conditioning, a circuit-training session with an emphasis on functional movements that work different muscle groups.
Whether you are using the battle ropes, flipping a tire, pressing it overhead while performing lunges, doing plyometric moves or mixing a push-up with a side plank, the workouts will engage every muscle of your body and get you drenched in sweat.
You will cultivate a positive outlook.
The murals of the studio feature motivational sayings such as: “True healthcare is self-care”. With no mirrors around, you have no choice but to focus on the moment and on your body for what it can do –not what it looks like. The trainers encourage you with positive words and high-fives. “We look for people that are animated in their approach, they are positive, they smile and they celebrate life. People just love being around them,” says Amen of his staff members.
Amen was born in Belgium and raised in London. But when he was eight years old, his parents sent him to live with his grandmother in Benin, West Africa. They wanted him to gain a deeper understanding of his heritage.
Over there, kids would play with abandoned tires. His grandmother, a strong and active woman, would encourage the children to use the tires to exercise. She used the opportunity to make parallels with life values and teach the kids that they should never give up.
When Amen moved to the U.S. in 2003, he maintained a sense of gratitude and a solid work ethic. Fuelled by his passion for fitness, he left behind a successful corporate career to build a movement inspired by the approach of his grandmother.
His philosophy and contagious optimism transpire in the atmosphere of the fitness studio. After a few workout classes, you might find yourself feeling happier.
It will give you an excuse to try goodies from the Goji health bar.
The Goji health bar is a superfood haven. Forget supplements and protein powders, the Goji bar serves smoothies and juices ($7.50-$8.50) made only with nutrient-dense, whole foods. Bee pollen or Maca, anyone?
All of the products are vegan and gluten-free and several ingredients are also organic. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, there are guilt-free baked goods ($3-$8) such as cookie bites and raw brownies.
I love sipping on the Hydrade beverage ($5) after a sweat session. Made with maple water and strained raspberries and packed with electrolytes, it is nature’s answer to Gatorade.
You might make new friends…or even tie the knot.
I have never stepped foot inside the gym without striking up a conversation before or after a class. Seasoned members introduce themselves to newbies and people motivate each other during workouts. “I don’t say that I’m building gyms, I say that I’m building communities,” says Amen, who knows of at least three couples that met at Amenzone Fitness (in the U.S.) and ended up getting married.
Different studios host different group activities. By attending wine tasting nights or joining book clubs, workout buddies develop meaningful friendships with like-minded people.
It turns fitness into a party.
Literally. When Amenzone Fitness opened its first Canadian location in Montreal, it hosted a flash mob in the middle of Ste-Catherine St. downtown. Be on the lookout for the occasional DJ night, a workout party –complete with live beats and glow sticks– that you will not want to miss. You might also spot the Amenzone Fitness truck on the road hosting free, outdoor workout sessions. And in any given class at the studio, the music is always blasting and the playlists are on point: Amen is a hip-hop aficionado (no complaints!). In other words, you get all the fun of clubbing minus the hangover.
Amenzone Fitness locations:
Downtown: 1972 Rue Sainte-Catherine O., 438-795-3123
West Island : 1250, chemin Herron, Dorval, 514-500-4009
All photos are courtesy of Amenzone Fitness Canada.
Disclaimer: I am an Amenzone Fitness ambassador and have received a complimentary one-year membership. All opinions are my own.