Pumping iron at 2 a.m.

City’s 24-hour gyms offer flexibility, relaxed atmosphere

Can’t sleep? Go work out.

After midnight there is no waiting for machines and no judgmental eyes. Many fitness centres are opening their doors around-the-clock so when 2 a.m. strikes and you’re ready to pump some iron, you can.

Nathan Bertram, 21, hits Goodlife Fitness’s 24-hour location on Kenaston at 1 a.m. at least twice a week and loves it.

“I work a lot. It’s when I have time to go,” he said.

Not only are they convenient for many shift workers, students and others experiencing irregular circadian rhythms, midnight runs at the gym offer the client a peaceful environment.

“It’s pretty quiet when I go,” Bertram said.

On top of granting the user a large portion of the gym to themselves, a dead gym can be less intimidating for those new to working out.

If you are unfamiliar with the equipment or feeling a little sheepish next to the fit babe in Spanx, the midnight workout spares you from prying eyes. 

And it’s why more and more gyms are opening up and expanding their hours.

Lisa Salyer, co-owner of Anytime Fitness in St. James, decided to open an Anytime Franchise because of the integrity of the brand. In two years, the branch is 700 members strong, and is open 24/7 – including holidays.

The advantage of having access to a 24-hour gym is huge – after 10 p.m. it will slow down a bit, but you will still see people coming in.

Lisa Salyer, co-owner, Anytime Fitness

“The advantage of having access to a 24-hour gym is huge,” Salyer said. “After 10 p.m. it will slow down a bit, but you will still see people coming in.”

Clients have their own key to the gym, which admits them to every Anytime Fitness in the world, day or night, she said.

Salyer and her husband have the rights to open another five Anytime gyms in the city. And so far, their tiny outpost in St. James is one of the few franchises actually open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Shapes on Pembina, Goodlife and many other gyms that advertise 24-hour workouts often change their hours once the weekend rolls around.

Bertram finds the weekend hours at Goodlife frustrating.

“My biggest beef with Goodlife is that it’s only open 24 hours, four days a week,” he said.

SNAP 24-7 is another gym that is open all the time, even holidays. With five Winnipeg locations, business is thriving, says Trishia Petz, owner of the St. Anne’s Road and Pembina Highway locations.

Convenience, however, appears to have its limits, as 24-hour gyms have yet to reach into downtown.

While 24-hour gyms have been thrown up all over residential areas and Winnipeg’s southern suburbia, if you’re situated downtown you’ll have a trek in front of you to work out after regular hours.

Also, while gym equipment, tanning beds and showers are available after midnight, 24-hour gyms have minimal staff, if any at all.

Salyer stresses that while personal trainers are not nearby at night, at Anytime you can book an appointment to see them after hours.

“If a client wanted to make an appointment with a personal trainer after regular hours, we would just have to make sure it was OK with the trainer,” she said.

If your New Year’s resolution was to get a fitter bod, but your schedule is tight, 24-hour fitness centres provide absolute convenience – you can get in shape without being restricted by normal waking hours.

Published in Volume 65, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 20, 2011)

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