Tight Club Athletics
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Par Jessica Napier

Finding the Tight Life

“What type of pizza would you be?” isn’t the sort of question you’d expect to hear at the start of a workout. Then again, Tight Club is nothing like a typical gym.

A personal trainer with a perma-smile, Keighty Gallagher starts all of her group fitness classes with a check-in question to help everyone get to know each other. “Fitness is intimidating,” she says. "My goal is to create the least intimidating environment possible.”

The former track star began developing her not-so-typical personal training style back in 2011 when her Alibi Room coworkers asked her to help them get in shape. Using East Van parks, rooftops and alleyways as her outdoor playground, Keighty led the crew of non-athletes through dynamic workouts focused on fun. “My job was to change the way they felt about fitness,” she recalls. “It meant creating a new language around movements and inventing theme workouts like Zombie Apocalypse training.”

It wasn’t long before word spread about her signature sweat sessions. “We were one of the first groups to start posting pictures after workouts on social media, tagging people and creating public accountability,” Keighty says. As momentum grew, she decided it was time to find a home base, for both her and her growing fitness community. In 2013 she moved into a laneway house just off Keefer Street and transformed her two-car garage into a makeshift studio: The Coach House.

Fitness is intimidating; my goal is to create the least intimidating environment possible. - Keighty Gallagher, founder and personal trainer
Personal trainer Keighty Gallagher first launched Tight Club in 2011
A former Portland State University track star, Keighty Gallagher first launched Tight Club back in 2011. Photo credit: Valerie Legere

A House Becomes a Home

Moving from an outdoor playing field to a small-scale indoor studio posed its own challenges, so Keighty got creative and designed a high-intensity mat-based workout that would utilize every inch of the space. And while the back-alley locale gave The Coach House street cred, the environment was anything but intimidating. "When people walked into The Coach House, they were walking into my home," Keighty explains. "There was a sense of safety and familiarity."

After two years and countless burpees, Tight Club started to outgrow Keighty’s garage. “I was craving legitimacy,” she recalls. “Running three classes in the evenings got to be a little much for my neighbours."

When it came to funding a brick-and-mortar studio, Keighty turned to the Tight Club community to help turn her vision into a reality. She launched an Indiegogo campaign and was overwhelmed with support, raising $40,000 in just one month. She scored the perfect space on Union Street and got to work constructing The Field House.

Ply Studios helped design a sleek monochromatic space inspired by Keighty’s athletic roots. A house-like white frame over the check-in desk pays homage to Tight Club’s former home, while painted lines on the floor resemble those of a running track. “We also put a lot of work into our post-workout design space to encourage people to hang out after class,” Keighty says. The fridge is stocked with nourishing beverages from The Juice Truck while the lobby area features pummel horse-inspired stools and a green wall of plaster-cast running shoes created by Ricky Alverez of Tinto Creative.

Tight Club's durable-yet-soft flooring features painted white lines that are reminiscent of a running track or a basketball court.
Tight Club's durable-yet-soft flooring features painted white lines that are reminiscent of a running track or a basketball court. Photo credit: Valerie Legere
Tight Club's sun-filled lobby area is the perfect spot to relax before or after a sweaty workout.
Tight Club's sun-filled lobby area is the perfect spot to relax before or after a sweaty workout. Photo credit: Valerie Legere

The Future is Tight

While its style is nothing like that of a typical big box gym, Tight Club is outfitted with all of the equipment you’d expect to find at a state-of-the-art fitness facility, including a TRX suspension system, BOSU balls, resistance bands and boxing gloves. Classes range from low-impact to high intensity: Booty Luv focuses on strength and stability, Tight Sweat provides a high-intensity interval workout, The Athlete blends Crossfit-style training with movement drills, and Yoga and Chill offers the perfect restorative class.

“When I was putting together the spectrum of classes, I wanted the member to get it all,” Keighty explains. “A well-rounded athlete needs flexibility, stability, agility, strength and cardio.” The Chinatown studio also offers one-on-one personal training and hosts a free run club every Tuesday night.

For Keighty, Tight Club is about much more than exercising for an hour a day – it’s about building a sustainable healthy lifestyle. She says, “Living a Tight Life is about striking that balance between treating yourself and working hard for what you want, and about being inspired by the community of like-minded individuals who are all in it for the same reasons.”

Comfy pommel horse-inspired stools were custom designed by Bowen Island design firm Gamla.
Comfy pommel horse-inspired stools were custom designed by Bowen Island design firm Gamla. Photo credit: Valerie Legere
Custom neon signage at the Tight Club studio on Union Street in Chinatown.
The Tight Club studio on Union Street in Chinatown features custom neon signage. Photo credit: Valerie Legere
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