on the web
◊ WHO THIS IS FOR ◊
those looking for a quick full-bod sweat that will actually make a differnece
WHAT YOU NEED
weights, runners (ideally), treadmill (but not necessary!)
The Forest Hill Village Gym is a new player to the Toronto fitness game and their story is a heart tugger. Aubey Yaphe, the gym’s owner, opened FH Village Gym after two years of looking for the right location and the right fit, and on May 9th he was finally ready to open his doors and train his long built community.
And then COVID-19 happened.
Only six days later on March 15th, they made the heartwrenching decision to put their community above all else and shut their doors, the first gym in that community to close. “That Sunday was incredibly hard for me and my family, but it was the right decision for my clients and my community and I wanted to do whatever I could prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he told me last week. But like many other things happening in the wake of Corona, there have been a number of silver linings (and continued heart tuggers), for Aubey and his team.
Like many other boutique fitness businesses, FH Village gym immediately took to the gram, offering free Livestream classes throughout the day and quickly adapting his programs and classes to account for people working out at home without access to equipment. In fact, Aubey and his team immediately considered the challenges for his clients and they started lending out all of their weights and benches from their new gym for FREE. That’s a theme, but we’ll get to that later.
FH Village Gym considers themselves an elite fitness facility offering a variety of high intensity fitness classes. and specializing in HIIT & weight classes. Their programming is based on proven exercise science, enabling clients to achieve measurable results and get the most out of their time. His most popular programs are Train, a strictly weights class, & Shredmill, originally designed for the treadmill similar to a Barrys class – but their version focuses less on the reps per minute and more on the science behind the movement. Both classes, and more including daily kids classes, can be found on Instagram, and see more below on the other wildly popular, Cutie Bootie class.
What sets FH Village Gym apart though, is the education. Every exercise and sequence has been designed for a reason to maximise your fitness results and challenge your body in the most efficient and effect way possible. And Aubey and his instructors care the most about educating you on how and why to do that so you’re empowered to understand how to keep your body healthy. All classes on Instagram have been adapted for working out at home without equipment and the instructors will guide you through options if you have equipment and options if you don’t, resulting in a fast paced, high intensity full body sweat.
Ready for more feels?
Unlike many in the fitness community that are doing whatever they can to creatively ask for clients to pay for classes online, FH Village Gym is not charging for classes and is not even advertising to donate what-you-can. “I couldn’t wrap my head around asking anyone to pay at this time—people aren’t making money and I feel like I’m helping them get through the day.” Aubey said. “But at the same time, we’re all struggling businesses that need to pay rent and bills and staff….I haven’t moved to that platform yet, but depending on how long this goes on for, I may not have a choice.”
Instead, for now, Aubey and his team are focusing their efforts to those on the front line. On March 17th they started an online donation drive raising money for the North York General Hospital Foundation, which as of this morning has raised $12,295. K, wow.
And there’s more. Because FH Village gym is a brand new operation, Aubey doesn’t qualify for the $40,000 government loans available to business owners, so his thoughtful and committed community took matters into their own hands to help. In a very organized and deliberately impactful gesture, Aubey found a letter in his mailbox with instructions to open after his morning kids class a few weeks ago. As instructed, at the end of the class, Aubey opened the letter to find over 80 of his clients and community rallying together to thank him for his online classes, instigating a flood of e-transfers to his inbox one by one for the next hour or so. “I started to get emotional, it was so so touching” Aubey told me. “This not only warmed my heart but gave me hope that I will one day succeed in my business when that day comes for me to open my doors. I only wish that everyone stays healthy until this is all over.”
So back to that silver lining – I asked Aubey what all of this means for the future of his business and how has COVID-19 changed FH Village Gym? In many ways it’s propelled the brand awareness to a level Aubey wouldn’t have been able to do without our sudden shift to go online. In less than 5 weeks his instagram following went from 0 followers to 2.2k, with some of the classes having more than 150 people tune in. But the most incredible part about that growth is that the community has reached a global audience with many people taking classes in Israel, the UK, Australia, the States and more. “This has completely shifted my focus and prioritised creating virtual classes and a virtual program even after this. I want to ensure I can continue to connect to those clients abroad. Also, we’re limited in class capacity to about 30 in the gym, so how cool would it be after this to have an additional 10+ clients working out from home? This has completely shifted how we can connect and serve our communities through fitness, and I’m trying to focus on that.”
See below for more details on Forest Hill Village Gym.
Forest Hill VIllage – 324 LONSDALE RD, Toronto
This week on IG LIVE:
7:00 AM Shredmill, 9:30 AM Shredmill, 4:30 Kids Class
7:00 AM Train, 9:30 AM Train, 10:35 Cutie Bootie, 4:30 PM Kids Class
7:00 AM Shredmill, 9:30 AM, Shredmill, 4:30 PM Kids Class
9:00 AM Train
9:00 AM Shredmill
Currently FREE but you can donate to the North York General Foundation here.
Instagram LIVE workouts are being broadcasted from Aubey or his instructors homes so the vibe is there vibe, and where you’re working out is your home so it’s your vibe. When Forest Hill Village Gym is able to open again, check back and we’ll tell you more about their actual vibe.
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
CUTIE BOOTIE W/ JENN HITTNER 30 MINUTES
“The simple but killer repetitions woke my body up and shook my sitting game which was much appreciated”T
Jenn was super friendly and started by welcoming us and going through the basic break down of the class. There wasn’t a “warm-up” or “cool down stretch” but that made for a fast workout if you’re tight on time or can’t concentrate for more than 30 min (👋🏼). The workout was also thoughtfully tailored to small spaces as we only used a step the size of a lunge and the rest of the exercises were sitting or standing in relatively one place.
The class was structured in circuits of two exercises each, which were easy to follow but became challenging with the repetition (which kept me active mentally and physically engaged, so win). Some equipment was needed, like weights and bands, but moves were easily done without the items if you didn’t have them at home. There wasn’t any music going on (at least if there was… I couldn’t hear it) but that was fine for me so I could focus on what Jenn was saying.
As mentioned above, Jenn did a killer job talking through what parts of the body each movement was working and how to make sure you were getting the optimal work out of the movement. She was also a killer cheerleader. She said “keep pushing, keep breathing, you got this” just enough times 👌
24 hours has passed and I’m still sore. The simple but killer repetitions woke my body up and shook my sitting game which was much appreciated. 10/10 would do Cutie Bootie again.
Tabs is a freelance Brand Strategist, co-host of The After30 Podcast and creator of Fit-City Guide. You can find her at home like everyone else right now, trying to squeeze in time for a run and sample a fitness class online. When she isn’t writing for Fit-City Guide, Tabs is chasing her toddler son, drinking bubbly (likely at the same time), and eating popcorn.