You may want to get in shape before you join Hard Candy Fitness. Madonna’s first North American location of her Hard Candy Fitness franchise opened its doors last Thursday in Toronto. The motto behind the club, “No sweat, no candy,” comes from the idea that our bodies are the candy. And this is definitely the place where eye candy will be in sweet abundance. We checked out a special sneak peek of the space on Wednesday and can safely say that, in everything from the reception area to the equipment, it is unlike any other gym (if you can even call it that) we’ve seen.
Toronto’s Hard Candy Fitness, in partnership with Madonna and New Evolution Ventures (NeV), chose 382 Yonge St. as the brand’s first club in North America. Occupying the entire fourth floor of the new Aura building at Yonge and Gerrard (formerly a parking lot and now also the home to the all-new Reds location), it is the largest of all current Hard Candy Fitness gyms, whose current locations include Rome, Sydney, Santiago, Mexico City, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Berlin.
So, why should you care? Here are eight reasons why we predict young professionals (YPs) will flock to Hard Candy…
It’s Perfect for Singles and Master Networkers:
If you’re single and looking to mingle, Hard Candy Fitness is the place to do it. It offers the same social vibe of a nightclub or coffee shop, but without the wasted calories of alcohol (and morning hangover), or the often-unnecessary caffeine buzz. Guests are welcomed to socialize over the central juice bar, located not far from the front entrance, which offers healthy whole foods made in house, including palette-pleasing smoothies named after Madonna’s songs (the “Like a Prayer” is really just like a dream).In addition to the personal connections, come the warmer months we can just picture the professional connections to be made post-workout on the wrap-around outdoor terrace. Not unlike a neighbourhood bar, it is the kind of club where guests are encouraged to stay a while.
There’s Something for Every Type of Gym-Goer:
Don’t let the social aspect take away from the hard work (remember: no sweat, no candy). With the gym a whopping 42,000 square feet, there is definitely something for everyone. This means things like the functional training turf area, which offers a park feel complete with a big window, and will be used for outdoor training and boot camps… even when the weather outside turns frightful. Are you a class person? Not to worry, there is the massive, bright “Energy Room” that promises to feature a variety of classes and a stellar sound system. Madonna’s signature “Addicted to Sweat” class is the highlight, where Madonna and her team handpick all instructors. “Addicted to Sweat” is the workout Madonna does herself, but is (thankfully) broken down for us non-superhuman people.
The abundance of Energy Room classes doesn’t mean there won’t be any yoga classes in prime time slots. Quite the opposite, actually. Soon, a studio dedicated solely to yoga will be ready. It will feature all varieties of yoga, from “Morning After” restorative classes to rigorous flows. A highlight of the yoga studio is a custom yoga wall that has never before been seen in Toronto. “You get to hang off wall in sacks. You walk up the walk-up wall and are tied into these sacks with straps and it’s a neat way to do yoga and stretch your body,” says Justin Elie, the gym’s Operations Manager. Or, if you prefer to work out in the actual outdoors come the warmer months, the club’s back terrace will feature outdoor classes.
Even for the seriously jacked guys (or ladies), the club offers a fully stacked weight room complete with four spot racks and “tons of plates and heavy stuff,” as Elie says, for people into weight training who want a good workout. Of course, there is the traditional circuit equipment and pretty much anything else you can imagine as well. In short, there are few things your current gym has that Hard Candy doesn’t.
Madonna’s gym wouldn’t be complete without an infusion of fashion. The “Candy Shop” is the club’s retail boutique. It will feature Canadian designers who will do exclusive, limited edition lines for the club. Elie tells us that fashion shows will tie it all in. Not to mention, we are going to guess that the attire of the club guests will be an ad in itself for the latest and greatest in fitness lines. This isn’t for everyone, of course, and we can almost anticipate the inevitable backlash from the bitter set… as in, this is a fitness club, not a runway show. Fine, then go back to Curves.
The Top-of-the-Line Experience
Madonna doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to her gym. This means top-of-the-line equipment that allows you to charge your iPhone, plug in iPods and Nike Fuel Bands, watch Netflix, and use fitness apps on the screen. The cycle studio has a club feel, with bikes that light up as you spin and measure your wattage so that you can improve class to class. Furthermore, the change rooms offer deceivingly deep lockers that are accessed by the dual-purpose membership card, which also acts as a lock. The pristine locker rooms also feature a sauna and a Eucalyptus steam room to clear that wild weekend right out of you.
We young professionals want the best of everything, but sometimes we need a little instruction. At Hard Candy, it is easy to mistake the “Personal Trainer Office” for an open business centre – we did at first. The computer-filled nook, located across from the change rooms, is designed to make trainers more accessible to members. Wouldn’t you be more inclined to ask a trainer a question if you didn’t have to awkwardly stick your head inside of an office?
There are countless inspirations for motivation at Hard Candy. Aside from the hot bodies that will surely grace its floors, the views of the hustle and bustle of the city core inevitably inspire one to work harder – whether at class or on one of the super-equipped cardio machines, both of which offer a great view of downtown. That’s so much more inspiring than a blank wall. Another source of inspiration are pictures of the very fit (and much older than most of us, may we add) Madonna that are scattered throughout the entire space. “It was a fun day when I got to look through this big book of murals of her and decide what would go where,” says Elie. “I had to send the design back to her people of how it would look in certain areas; she said yes or no, so she knows how the club looks.”
Music, naturally, is a huge part of Hard Candy. This is reflected in everything from the club-like sound system and the Wi-Fi DJ booth to the music videos that will play in the Spin studio. Every Friday, Elie tells us that different DJs will be brought in. Unlike a club, however, this gym isn’t open into the wee hours, and stays open until 11pm latest.
The Event Possibilities:
One of our first thoughts in taking in the space was, Wow, we are going to be attending quite a few events here. “Already we’ve had people ask to watch the pride parade here,” says Elie. With its wide-open spaces, terraces, lounge spaces and DJ capabilities, we have a feeling we will see a lot of you Toronto YPs there for events in the near future.
The big question, of course, aside from whether Madge has visited the club for herself (she hasn’t, but we’re told she will be coming at some point), is whether it’s the type of club where you need to be overly concerned about your appearance. In short, we would be.