◊ THE CLASS: Threshold ◊
WHAT TO BRING
- Indoor shoes
- Water bottle
Propel Performance Institute is less boutique gym like we’d normally review and more giant gym, however we were searching for something that will help us strength train without sending us to the terrifying world of free weights. Propel is a multi-functional athletic hub for all ages, set in what looks like a hanger offering a TON of services like personal training, group classes, postnatal fitness, and sport specific programs. We tried the group Threshold class which teaches the fundamental compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, while mixing in cardio conditioning. This was my first workout after six weeks off from a bone fracture in my leg, so I went in extremely nervous and feeling incredibly un-fit. Fast forward an hour and I felt surprisingly good because I’d had what felt like a personal training session with a trainer that was incredibly knowledgeable and careful about rehabbing my injury. This is not your typical gym or boutique studio at all but they’re doing something right and it’s the only sweat session we’ve done where the whole family can come.
Propel is on the south end of Edmonton, between Gateway Boulevard and 99th Street NW. It’s on the north side of the building, across the Whitemud from the Labatts brewery – which also happens to add a certain yeasty aroma to the area. Public transportation would put you within a few blocks of Propel, however this seems more of a drivers gym being in such an industrial area and with tons of parking in front of the building.
SCHEDULE + PRICE
Propel sets themselves apart with what they offer Edmonton’s athletes. They specialise in rehab, movement and performance so they’re all about moving the body correctly first and foremost to achieve optimal performance. Their offering is very broad but specialised (i.e. golf coaching or dancer strength training) and they have a ton of services beyond just group classes like one-on-one and tandem coaching, nutrition coaching, concussion testing and treatment, courses (like ski club) and more. For group classes, they have about eight to choose from with the Threshold class being one of their most popular and having spin-off versions like Thershold HIIT, and Threshold Vintage. They also offer SISU, Strong, Yoga, Spin Strength, and Acrostrong. Another thing that sets them apart, is they have classes specifically for children and teens, like a Homeschool PE class and Kid/Teen Strong. Classes at Propel are typically 60 minutes and start at 5:30am or 6:00am during the week with the last class around 6:00pm. Weekend class times are lean though with Saturdays starting at 9:00am and finishing at 11:00am, and Sundays only have two classes. It’s ideal to sign up online to reserve your spot in class, and arrive at least 10 minutes prior to give you time to get ready.
It’s hard to get a gauge on the pricing since they have so many options and the pricing varies depending on what service you’re after. The prices for group classes are on the high end in relation to most Edmonton studios, with most of Propel’s drop-in rates at $23. The One Month Unlimited pass is the best value if you’re planning on going 15x/month, otherwise stick to the class cards or the drop-in rate.
- Drop-in: $23
- 5-Class Pass: $100 ($20 per class)
- 10-Class Pass: $180 ($18 per class)
- One Month Unlimited: $220
The studio itself isn’t what we’d usually refer to as a beautiful studio. What it has going for it: it’s clean, industrial, and well loved. From the minute you step into Propel you know this is a place where work gets DONE, it’s not taking itself too seriously, and you can get sweaty without judgment – love that. There’s large front desk when you walk in with the training area to the left, and a physiotherapy clinic to the right. The training area, or “performance centre” is a HUGE open concept gym filled with equipment and an overall industrial feel – like an airport hanger. There’s a sprinting area along the wall, a ton of weights, racks, cycles and rowing machines, and they’re currently under construction to build a dance/yoga studio and a lounge. The change rooms are no fluff and similar to a big box gym, which don’t have a lot of personality, but include the basics like showers, change rooms, cubbies (no lockers, but on the way in the reno), and complimentary products.
This is the one studio we’ve reviewed where literally the whole damn family can come. From grandma to your sassy teenager, Propel has something for every age, experience, and interest which is a cool differentiator from the rest of the fitness centres in Edmonton. The crowd for our class was primarily women, ranging in age from 20s’ to 40+’. There were only six of us in the class, which we’ve learned is the norm, but the atmosphere of a small class is such a bonus to get individualised care. The rest of the gym was filled with adults putting in work with their trainers, other group classes with an older demographic, and a ton of teens. It’s busy, bustling, and full of variety.
- Change rooms include showers, wash rooms, shampoo & conditioner, hair styling tools, q-tips, hair ties, and more
- Towel service
- Physical therapy Clinic
Karl was super cool to take a class with. The class size was small, so we were afforded a lot more attention than we’d usually get which suited me well since it was my first big workout since coming back from a pretty bad leg injury (fractured tibia! OUCH!). At the beginning of class, I explained my injury to Karl, and he rose to the occasion without a beat, giving me an alternative for almost every exercise. It’s clear he thrives on helping people understand their capabilities and strengths and he was quick to point out any improvements we could make – including not taking ourselves too seriously as he threw a few jokes our way. On top of catering to my high-needs injury, he was still very in-tune with how everyone else in the room was doing. This allowed him to push us when he knew we could give more, and helped us dial back when we didn’t need to strain ourselves.
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
Our 60 minute Threshold class wasn’t necessarily a major sweat activator, however we learned a lot and we got a full-body strength training session. Karl started the class at 6:00pm sharp with a warm-up that included creative takes on cardio conditioning like high knees, hip circles, sprints, and various stretches moving across the run track. Following the warm-up, Karl walked us through a series of exercises that were run in a circuit style, and explained each one in detail before letting us get to it. We did three sets in total with each set containing 3-5 exercises of 8-12 reps, with minimal rest in between btw. The first set included forward lunges, hip hinges with resistance bands around our thighs and supermans. The second set we learned a lot more about proper olympic weightlifting technique with front bar squats, standing pull-ups, and single leg TRX squats. The third set was the most cardio heavy with a 300m row, squat jumps, 200m row, ball slams (BEST), and 100m row before finishing the class at 6:59 on the dot. No time wasted at Propel.
To give them a try, see Propel’s info here.