By Brittany Tiplady
Tucked away on Union Street, lives a Chinatown workout hub welcoming Vancouver’s community-based sweat seekers and cultural elite.
Every session starts with a check-in question, accompanied by a heart-pumping playlist that fills the chic studio with the right amount of adrenaline. Founder, owner and head coach Keighty Gallagher leads her classes with with precision and ease while creating circuits unfit for the faint of heart.
Sitting across from Beth Richards (no big deal), I took my first class: a mix of Tabata intervals and TRX. And while other regulars to the studio include local celebrities like Erin Ireland, and the Juice Truck co-owners, each class is built on the foundation of camaraderie and familiarity.
“We are different in the sense that from the moment you walk-in, it is our job to make you feel like you are at home. Everyone here is real,” said Gallagher.
After my first Thursday night Tight Sweat hour, I could not sit down for five days without letting out a dramatic yelp.
Welcome to Tight Club.
“Tight club is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle for people who value active bodies and a balanced life. Tight Club is for the person who works hard and likes to play hard. And we endorse that,” said Gallagher.
After returning from the U.S. where Gallagher completed her Bachelor’s of Science from Portland State, Tight Club was born out of a mutual appreciation for after work beers that transpired into after work workouts.
“We started outside in 2012. I was working at the Alibi Room and it was my first fun job out of school. It was an awesome opportunity to be emerged around creative people. Everyone that worked at the Alibi Room were artists or musicians or designers,” she said.
“I felt like ‘man, what do I do that’s interesting?’ And my coworkers would always say, ‘Well, Keighty, you’re super fit, you’re active but you’re not that typical jock.’ They started asking me to start training them. So we started this weekly workout group at Andy Livingston Park.”
In 2013, Gallagher moved Tight Club from various outdoor venues right to her home. She transformed her coach house garage into what would be Tight Club’s first community space.
“The reason we called it the coach house is because it was a coach house, and our coach lived upstairs,” Gallagher laughs.
“We lived in an alley, so people could approach from the back and there was this cool thing that formed. We were Tight Club in the alley and soon, very soon, the same people that were going to [other major studios] were also coming to [us].”
Soon, Gallagher became a pioneer in Vancouver’s fit community, and her entrance into the world of entrepreneurship has helped bridge the gap between feeling the need to exercise and exercising for enjoyment.
“I was a wild animal before I started doing this. I partied a lot. I didn’t take care of myself. I had a lot of ideas and I was very curious but this has helped me create focus in my life and it’s helped me grow up and that’s probably the biggest thing that it has done.”
Gallagher’s social media presence earned a nod from the lululemon lab, generating a collaboration opportunity that put Tight Club on the map.
“The lululemon lab helped support our very first video, a photo shoot, a launch party and a collaborative clothing line. It was the best launch party that lululemon has ever had,” she said. “And the next day, there was a lineup to the buy the clothing.”
After a successful Indiegogo campaign, on December 7, 2015, Tight Club opened its doors on Union street. The studio bares design contributions by Ricky Alvarez, Bowen Island’s GAMLA and Henry Bar, and interior design and architecture done by Vancouver’s PLY architecture.
“This is our community space where we can grow and give our clients what they want. The house frame in the entrance resembles the coach house. It’s supposed to feel like you are walking into my home, and the whole idea behind Tight Club is that we are a friendly, non-intimidating place to exercise.”
As Gallagher knows well, there are tons of excuses not to work out, but for the unmotivated and reluctant she has some parting advice.
“Create a fitness or excursive mantra that you say in your head every time you don’t want to work out. And never under estimate the power of a workout buddy.”
Brittany Tiplady is a part-time poet, and a full-time goat cheese enthusiast. She loves the indoors, fast wifi, collecting maps, and a generous glass of red wine.