Keighty Gallager: Founder, Tight Club
It's the crack of 11:30 on a breezy morning in North Vancouver as hip hop starts blaring out of the studio inside the Distrikt. I'm here for Tight Club, the class that Keighty Gallager teaches here, along with other stints at her coach house-turned studio in Strathcona. This space in particular looks nothing like the generic gyms I've been to, with high exposed ceilings and a framed picture of Biggie with the caption 'Namaste.' With a devious smile, Keighty breaks down the routine she's made for us over the next hour. It includes a series of push ups, quick jaunts through the parking lot, and burpees, which until today were something I avoided due to friends' torturous stories. The class is high energy, (the loud rap continues, to my delight), and though I’m beet red in the face and at times look like I might cry, I am enjoying the challenge and for once I don’t feel lame for being unable to keep up.
For those who know me definitely wouldn't describe me as 'an athletic type.' In high school, I frequently made excuses to skip phys-ed class, and later in life, joined (and promptly quit) a number of gyms. But the energy in this room and Keighty’s genuine chirps of encouragement quickly prove addictive. She shares the story behind Tight Club and her quest to create a wave in modern athletics.
When did Tight Club officially launch/when did you start it?
"The early ages of Tight Club was pretty scrappy. Every friday I’d start my day texting my friends, trying to rally their butts down to Andy Livingston park to try out this “fun” workout I designed. What was cool was that these people werent your typical gym rats. My very first group workout I led had a soft spoken fashion designer, a ceramics artist (with clay stained tights to add), a writer and a server. No one identified themselves as the “workout type”...but were open to the idea that being fit was a good thing. Their openness allowed me to experiment with the language I used as I figured out queues to help them better their form and posture, making the workouts super goofy and fun. Word spread that I was leading a fun class, but moreover, that I was getting some pretty influential people in the Vancouver creative scene together to sweat. I came to realize that you don’t have to be a jock to be fit, which is the whole idea behind Tight Club."
Was it a difficult transition going into your own business (financial-wise, scheduling, etc)?
"The difficulties of running a business have just started to rear its ugly head. Of course it was a scary transition leaving a stable restaurant job, but the hard part now is building a sustainable foundation to will keep things running for years to come. I actually went to school for business and marketing and wish I had paid more attention to the those "useless" finance and accounting classes. Im realizing I'm a way better personal trainer than business woman."
What is the main goal of your classes? What do you hope people will gain out of them?
"This is kind of a three part essay:
1. I want people leaving with the knowledge of proper functional form to be able to apply them to other classes AND understanding the 'why' behind the exercises chosen.
2. I want people to love movement and not be scared to enter the 'burn room' often found in sprinting / burpees...etc
3. I want everyone taking my class to feel like they are part of a friendly community. I fully support class chatter and some of my best friends in Vancouver have been made in my classes."
Were there any challenges or obstacles going into running your own business?
"Of course. Where do I begin...I made a conscious decision to not work for a mainstream gym for the sole reason of preserving my brand. Providing an alternative fitness experience is my mission, and I found that there were too many restrictions preventing Tight Club'isms from standing out if I chose to work for someone else. However, choosing Distrikt Movement located in Deep Cove as Tight Club's home away from Strathcona has been an absolute pleasure and seamless relationship."
"Its natural to know what parts of your business you rule at, and on the flip side what skills you may lack. I've found that just because I'm bad with numbers doesn't mean I can let my accounting slip. I am just finding out now the power of delegation and let me tell you, it's like opening the door to an Earnest Ice Cream packed freezer. HALLO! GOOD TIMES!"
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting Tight Club?
"Its about realizing that work makes me happy. Just recently I've felt quite overwhelmed with my workload, finishing 12 hour days with more work to be done and feeling pretty lousy and helpless. However, the moment a client shows up for a workout, I'm able to shake that dog shit feeling almost instantly. Teaching movement makes me happy - Tight Club has helped me find that."
What/who/where inspires you?
"Music, movement and location. A hot jam can make burpees feel like a hot bath, and if you're doing them on some crazy secret rooftop in Strathcona, then call me an inspired woman."