◊ THE CLASS: TSL Barre & Spin|Core◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Bare feet or grippy socks for TSL Barre
Socks for Spin/Core (spin shoes included)
A breathable tee or tank and form-fitting pants or shorts
Locks for lockers
The Sweat Lab (or TSL) is an awesome hub for lean, mean muscled hotties in Calgary’s west end. Well priced, a diverse schedule full of killer classes, and a spacious ski-lodge feel, this studio is a must visit for the Calgary fitness fam. One of the things that drew us to them is their fusion classes that offer the ultimate cross training workout. They’re combining spin with barre, and spin with yoga to maximize your sweat equity and give you a new challenge. This special sauce is a niche combo they’re leading the industry in and we’re putting money down that this is the start of a new thing. Trendy, clean, and continually evolving, TSL was on the front foot of the barre and spin trend when they opened their doors three years ago. Their success continues today with packed classes, a loyal community, and a recently opened second location in Vancouver’s North Van. Given how sore we were in ass muscles we didn’t even know we had, this studio is worth the trip to Aspen even if it’s not on your typical route.
The Sweat Lab’s flagship location is tucked away in the suburbs of Calgary’s SW and as of July 16th, 2018, TSL opened their second location in North Vancouver (1061 Marine Drive). The Calgary studio is a bit of a trek to get to without a car, however it is a ~15-minute walk from the nearest C-Train station on 69th so public transportation is pos. We also have a soft spot for this location because TSL is in a neighbourhood we used to live in back in tha day so 💕. Located in the “Shoppes of Montreux” off 85th Street SW, it’s definitely a destination for sweaty pursuits as the studio is surrounded by other family athletic centers, such as a Leap Studios (a children’s dance studio), and Master Rim’s Taekwondo gym. Parking is free and easy and if you allow yourself the treat, the European café Ladybug down the road is a MUST – if and only if you have the Belgian waffles. #workforthewaffle
TSL’s class schedule is jam PACKED. They focus on four categories of fitness; barre, spin, circuit and yoga, and they specialize in cross training and mashing up the categories so you get the best of both worlds. Think spin + barre or spin + yoga, where you’re time is divided between two studios starting in a spin room for a blast of cardio and then shifting to another studio to flow it out in a vinyasa series. With five spin classes offered (that include the combo classes), four barre, two circuit and two yoga classes (one being a warm class), there is literally something for everyone, every experience level and every sweat preference. Class lengths have a great range also with some being as short as 40-minutes for a quick full-body workout in the TSL Circuit 40, to a number of 75-minute classes like Spin + Yoga or a delicious Warm Yin class. We’ve tried two of TSL’s best known classes, TSL Barre, which is a 50-minute, high-energy workout that combines Pilates, yoga and ballet, and one of the cross training classes TSL Spin|Core. More on that later, but know this – holy hard batman.
Classes are held daily with a ton of options (8-10) Monday-Friday. The weekend schedule still has plenty of options on Sunday with seven classes running into the evening, but Saturday is a quieter day with five classes finishing by noon. During the work week, classes start as early as 6:00am and end at 8:30pm Tuesdays and Thursday. Word of caution, this studio is popular and classes fill up, so get to class a minimum of ten minutes beforehand, otherwise your spot may be given away to a feisty wait lister. Classes also start promptly on time and they don’t allow late entries. See here for more detail on each style.
Class prices are freaking great. They’re one of the lowest we’ve seen for barre at $23 for a drop-in (Xtend Barre is the lowest at $22) and interestingly, rates are the same even for spin classes and the 75-minute cross-training ones – yaaas. Memberships only make sense if you plan on taking more than three classes per week, otherwise the best deal is easily the 20-class pass, which drops per class rates to $17 pre tax. All amenities like towel service, toiletries and showers are included, and for memberships, spin shoes are also included.
- Drop-in: $23
- 5 Class Pass: $95 ($19 per class)
- 10 Class Pass: $180 ($18 per class)
- 20 Class Pass: $340 ($17 per class)
- Unlimited Annual Membership (auto-pay): $157.50/month
- Unlimited Monthly Membership (auto-pay): $178.50/month
- Students 12 Month Unlimited Membership: $103.95/month
Even from the outside, the ski-lodge vibe that befits Aspen is found in the design aesthetic of the 4,500 square foot space at TSL. Dark wood walls, industrial details and pops of graffiti color are carefully put together to create a vibe that is modern and hardcore about fitness, yet is still neutral and warm to blend with the surrounding community. The main lobby is open with a space to store outdoor shoes, a Lab café with juices and quick healthy bites, and a shop wall with Spiritual Gangster and TSL branded tanks, tights and accessories. On either side of the wall are large male and female change rooms (equipped with toiletries, showers and washrooms) that lead to the workout zone in the back of the studio. The workout zone consists of locker space, a filtered water station, and two workout rooms; one spin room and a second barre/yoga room. The spin room is dark, decorated with graffiti, and has a class capacity of 32, and the only thing that was a bit of a bummer was the twangy sound system, especially when the music was blasting. The barre/yoga room, by sharp contrast, is bright and airy with each side of the room either being made up of a wall of mirrors or a wall of windows. Overall, the space is well laid-out to accommodate a lot of students and it gives everyone enough space to navigate their sweaty bodies through the maze of the studio.
The crowd at TSL is a ton of regulars, with ages ranging from teens to grandma’s and a strong mix of men and women. Our TSL Barre class was completely full with 30+ students, all women, and a mix of experience levels. Some had a dance background, some had only taken a handful of barre classes, and others had never taken barre at all, yet everyone found their challenge. Given the class was 9:15am on a Friday, most women were stay-at home mum’s or retirees and they all knew each other well which made for a very chatty and sorority-like class vibe. Our Spin|Core class was 75% full with a pop of the male species (about 5 riders) and a healthy mix of spin fanatics and others that were quite new and still working on riding to the beat. It created a very welcoming spin atmosphere, which we always appreciate bc many spin studios can be intimidating.
- Shampoo, conditioner, & body wash in the showers
- Blowdryers, Q-tips, tampons, hair ties
- Lockers (bring your own lock)
- Disposable sweat bags
- Spin shoes provided for $2 (incl. for the first class and members)
- Class equipment provided (mats, balls, weights, etc.)
The Sweat Lab is the brain child of two Alberta couples that know each other from the ice. The founding four are made up of Calgary hitman alumn Matt Kinch and his barre/yoga/uber fit wife Raeanne, and goaltender Jeff Glass who recently played for the Chicago Blackhawks and his wife Allie. They first opened in 2014 and birthed the concept after doing a market trip to LA to sleuth out the imminent boutique fitness trend, but wanting to bring it to Calgary in a way that felt different, local, and new. Matt and Raenne, who are the most “on the ground” out of all the owners and regularly teach classes each week, have grown the team to an impressive 28 instructors across all classes. It’s a female powered roster at that; with only two brave male spin instructors (including Matt). We were lucky enough to take both of our classes from the founders and bad-ass husband/wife team; Matt and Raenne, who make running a business together look like NBFD.
Raeanne’s former dance training and knowledge as a pilates, barre, and spin instructor allowed her to dream up The Sweat Lab with her group of biz frienners (business friend partners). She has such a strong energy, and when you see her bouncing around talking to what feels like every single student in the building, you know she makes her clients wellness happiness her business. Raeanna introduced herself to us immediately when she didn’t recognize us as regulars in her 9:15am Barre class the first time we were at TSL. She introduced us to the rest of the class also which was super cute and highlighted how much of a community class it usually is. Raeanna’s teaching style is positive, bubbly, and high-energy while being effortlessly fit. She blasted pop/top 40/hip-hop, sometimes even a little too much as it made it hard to hear her and we had to follow other students, but she challenged us for the full 50-minutes and had a close eye on every student to ensure their form was on point. Finally, this woman has three kids, and she looks so damn incredible we can’t even deal. If going to TSL everyday after having my little bub will help me look like Rae Rae, than sign me up – I’ll fly in from thesix.
This former hockey player, co-founder, and one of the two male instructors in the joint makes up for it bc he is a dudes dude. He’s really big on form and he mentioned a squillion times about us properly engaging our core, keeping our neck long, head up and shoulders back. This stood out in the best way bc we so often see spin instructors focus so much on the beat of the music that they loose the air time to instruct people on technique. So, clapping emoji. Matt rode the entire class with us, which is part of his MO, because he “wants to go through it with us” which we also super appreciate. The only downside – Matt’s a bit of a mumbler. It could be attributed to the sound system or the early morning class also, but funny enough the chatter in the change room was about how notoriously difficult he is to understand so regulars were warning their newbie friends just to follow each other. However his great form, high energy, and killer classes make-up for it so the ppl don’t mind and seek his class out anyway.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
We’re rating this one Hard. It didn’t push us to crazy sweaty fatigue way hard status, but we were challenged the whole class and felt the burn for the following three days. We started the pilates, yoga and ballet melded class in the center of the room with a warm-up, and after five minutes we were at the barre. The barre portion of the class utilized a tension ball and focused on glute and leg work with tendus, battements and pulsing in various versions of squats. The exercises worked our inner and outer thighs, our whole ass, elongated our quads and strengthened our calves. One of the best parts about Raeanne is her love for the shakes. On multiple occasions she would reference how goal worthy and bad ass it is to actually get the shakes and that if you DON’T shake during the leg exercises, you were being a puss and not working hard enough (paraphrasing). The second half of the class was spent on the floor using a ton of different props like 1-3 lb weights, ankle weights (ala our mums in the 80’s), resistance bands and tension balls. The floor section focused on abs, more glute and legwork, and arms. To wrap the class during our final stretching time, scented cold towelettes magically appeared at the end of our mats by the little TSL towelette ninja. Points. Overall, it was a full body workout that required us to concentrate on articulating the movements properly to get the most out of the class. We have no doubt if we did this class on the regular, our legs would be lean as hell but strong AF.
Spin | Core:
This was the first class we’ve ever taken of this kind, and by kind I mean the genius combination of two very different fitness styles smooshed into one giant full-body blast. We started the 60 minute class in the dark spin room for 40 minutes of spin, and then headed over to the barre/yoga studio for 20 minutes of core and stretching. First off, before we entered the room we were all waiting in the hallway for the doors to open in our socks with our clip-in shoes, water bottles and sweat towels in hand (see One Cycle’s review for why the shoes thing is a thing for us). When we entered the room five minutes before class there was a slight sense of panic as everyone rushed to get all their ducks in order. These are the steps;
1) Find bike that corresponds with the one you would have chosen at the front desk map
2) Put on shoes
3) Grab weights that live in crates by the entrance
4) Adjust bikes settings to your needs
See, many steps. The good news is both Matt and Raeanne were around to help everyone adjust their bikes and/or clip-in. Once that was all sorted, we started the class with a simple ride to warm things up with enough resistance to “feel the road” and reassurance from Matt that if we wanted to ride to the beat we could, if we wanted to bow out of the choreography we could, and if we wanted to stay seated when he led us out of the saddle we could. A very non-threatening spin class in that regard, which would make it nice for beginners. That said, Raeanne was in the front row, riding like a boss and showing everyone exactly how it’s done, so if you wanted to try to keep up with her, you could have a Way Hard class too. Matt’s playlist was top 40 heavy with jams from JT and Maroon 5. We didn’t do a ton of choreography, some dips, pumps, tap backs, and one song reserved for arms. The 40 minutes went by quickly, and we did hill climbs right until the end since the next 20 minutes were reserved for more core and stretching.
Then came the switch over to Studio A. There were a handful of people that bowed out for part 2 but not many, we kind of expected more tbh. Considering I’d pushed myself pretty hard for the spin half, thinking “oh it’s only 40 minutes, do that extra turn”, by the core portion, I was kind of exhausted. BUT by the time we dropped the weights in the crates, took off our spin shoes, and found a place in the room that was pre-set with a mat for every person in the spin class, we were glad we came. At this point, Raeanne took over and led us through a solid ten minutes of straight abs, winding down with a great five minute stretching sequence that was a welcoming change from the typical four stretches at the end of a regular spin class. Overall, I love love loved the mix of cardio, strength training, and recovery. Watch this space, more classes like this are on the horizon – I’m sure of it.
To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see The Sweat Lab’s schedule here.