The North Shore Winter Club is transforming in more ways than one. For Steph St. Laurent, no detail is too small if it will have a positive effect on the environment around him. That’s why it was important for Steph to shed the negative connotations of the fitness centre’s old name (a name which I won’t even reproduce in this space).
I caught up to Steph to talk about the changes and a few other interesting stories unfolding in the newly-coined NSWC fitness centre: HybridStrong.
KC: I’ve noticed traffic is picking up in the gym. There was a new participant joining the Bootcamp class this morning, new people working out in the evenings, new faces, new staff - why do you think that is?
SSL: I think it comes down to truly changing the culture and the climate of what the gym feels like, as opposed to just saying it’s happening. For members and their families, it’s not just from the perspective of athletics, it’s health and fitness as a whole. Having the right personalities in the trainers helps create an environment where people feel comfortable to come and improve their health and fitness. So, we’ve needed to add staff to service that demand. From a club perspective, that’s a massive compliment to how we’re being received and doing what we’re doing in the gym.
KC: List the top 3 things you’ve seen in the gym in the past month.
SSL: Oh, boy, ok. First one that comes to mind is the influx of hockey teams coming in for dryland. There are 5 teams that have wanted their dryland handled by us, it’s phenomenal.
Second, having the North West Giants in there is fantastic. It’s a mature, older team and the fine example they set for younger athletes is a huge bonus to our younger hockey players. The younger athletes see them training, they ask questions and I can talk about how we’re training a team that is that successful and number one in their league.
Third is the increase in the amount of parents in the gym, and other adults who might have kids playing hockey or tennis. You’re right, it’s getting really busy in the evenings after work.
KC: On the name change, HybridStrong. The gym obviously has no affiliation with the militant group and the horrible things going on in the middle east, so why did you feel a change in name was important?
SSL: it was really the only way to go, I felt. My sole focus with the fitness centre here is the preservation of a positive outlook of the gym, because it’s so positive inside. I didn’t want the slightest inkling of negativity, especially a label that evokes such strong negative connotations. I want nothing but great feelings and vibes in here, people come to the gym to escape and improve themselves, so it should be a safe environment in every sense of the word.
KC: Explain the name HybridStrong - where it came from, what it means to you and what it means to the North Shore Winter Club.
SSL: HybridStrong is my personal business branding that I had for my gym facility in Ottawa before I left 5 years ago. It was a sad moment when I relocated to Vancouver and leaving what I worked so hard for behind. HybridStrong represents an athlete’s need to be a hybrid of every component of strength - speed, agility, power, balance - the truly functional and successful athlete will be a hybrid of all those systems put together. The ability to incorporate all these systems will go a long way toward determining if an athlete is at the top of their game or not.
KC: Tell me a bit about the people you have working for you in HybridStrong.
SSL: I’m lucky to have Vanessa and Romeo who have been here for a while, and Chase is the new guy who just started. My sole focus when it comes to developing a department is who the people are as individuals first. What’s their bedside manner? How invested are they in helping people as a whole? I believe knowledge is important, but I believe maturity, care and attention far outweighs your practical training knowledge. I look for those qualities and the rest takes care of itself. People who can relate to their trainer get more work done. It should be a fun and rich journey, improving yourself in training sessions with any trainer at HybridStrong. I want to be able to leave any client with any trainer at any time and they’ll know that we’re all on the same page. The quality of their training will always be second-to-none, that is so huge for my department.
KC: And so far, so good?
SSL: So far, so good man. It’s been outstanding.