Photos by @Offner
There are many reasons why I’m excited to share this interview today. The first, is that I love sharing stories of young women entrepreneurs that are fearless and creative. I also love when these women are also the nicest people. Keighty Gallagher, the founder of Tight Club in Vancouver is that and so much more. I had the opportunity to work out and spend time with her while I was in Vancouver last month and fell in love with the amazing fitness community she’s created in the city. Everyone that is part of Tight Club, is incredibly friendly and all want to work together towards the same goal: A healthier, happier and fitter life. After holding classes in her garage that she renamed “The Coach House” and at the Juice Truck for a couple of years, Keighty and her crew at Tight Club are finally opening up The Field House this weekend, their first real studio. But as Keighty explains, it will be so much more than that. I hope the interview below will inspire you just as much as it inspired me.
1) What inspired you to start Tight Club and what is it about fitness that you like so much?
I started Tight Club out of the desire to change the way people think about fitness and to allow people to see that being fit, healthy and active doesn’t mean being a jock. So many people, especially artists and creative people, felt that an active or fitness lifestyle meant pumping iron in the gym. That’s where it originally came from. I was working at the Alibi Room, which is a famous spot for craft beer so a lot of people that I worked with were just starting to catch onto the fact that having an active lifestyle was important. We are getting around that age where a night of drinking has a few more consequences than just a hangover. I had just gotten back from the University of Oregon, Portland State University actually, and I still had the fire in my blood to keep moving since I was an athlete out there. So that’s one thing that I could bring to them. They could bring me knowledge about beer and I could bring them knowledge about working out.
As for fitness, when you’re doing it by yourself, I love how you feel afterwards and the intrinsic pleasure that you gain when you’re crushing your own goals and nobody else cares or knows when you’re doing it solely for yourself. When you’re doing it in a group, I just love how the little things you can do, can do so much for somebody else through accountability. Just with a smile on your face, you can change somebody’s day. I see that all the time when I teach my 5pm or 6pm classes at night. We do our daily check-in and half of the class are coming off of having a bad day, they wish they weren’t even there, but they are there. So at the end of the class, having worked them through and gotten them over that mountain and as a group seeing them leave and say “I’m so glad I did this, I feel so much better, thank you so much”, that’s why I do it.
2) The Coach House seemed like a very family-oriented place, now that you’re opening up your own space, how are you going to transfer that vibe over?
The design is a big factor. That was one of my biggest fears, was losing the feel of a non-official place. The Coach House was in a back alley, in Strathcona, it’s not gym-like at all and how do we bring that into the new space. I’ve been working with a designer and architect for the past year now. Her name is Casey and their company is called PLY Architecture, they just moved to Vancouver. She’s been at basically every class, she’s one of the hardest working babes I know. I was lucky enough to have her help me with the vision. Some of the things we brought over was the feeling of being in a house. Without giving too much away, we’re using the house silhouette a lot in the space, we’re also trying to bring in a sense of style, fashion and sport in it. Sport is a big thing. Part of our motto is, you’re never training for the gym, you’re training for life. I come from a track background and Henry loves soccer and basketball, we’re both into sports and through graphic design, you’ll see a lot of elements of abstract sports lines blending the two sports together. Also, Nike plays a big influence in it, so we’ll have a special feature wall. We’ll also be working with a lot of local artists and doing collaborations. We have an artist wall that we’re working on, where we’ll be turning Nike running shoes into white ceramic planters and putting them in a grid on the wall so it’s kind of like a green space made up of the shoes we grew up wearing so like Air Max 90s and Air Jordan’s.
3) There seems to be a big community in Vancouver. People really seem to want to help each other out. What is it like to start a business there?
I’m not from Vancouver and I keep hearing these nightmare stories of people coming to Vancouver and complaining about how unwelcoming, cold and clicky it is. People are going to hate me for this but I didn’t feel that. Maybe I met the right people but I feel like I surrounded myself with people that were secure in what they were doing and didn’t feel insecure to share. A lot of people who helped me out are creatives. I think Vancouver is a small city and everyone knows each other, everyone in the fitness industry, the people that I have chosen to become close with, we’re all doing something different yet we’re all doing the same thing which is bringing fitness to people’s lives and getting people healthier, happier and stronger. When I was growing up I had a mentor, her name was Rian Rhoe and she hired me to be her intern working for a snowboard company in Portland. So I moved to Portland after a terrible year at University of Oregon and running track. She introduced me to everyone, all the most important people in my life and she let me live with her. She was just so open and there was no ego. I feel like that’s my job now, to not feel threatened, to be open and to help other people out.
4) What are some of the services and things that you’ll be offering in the new Tight Club space? What can people expect?
The idea behind our Tight Club class schedule is that we’re going to be providing a really balanced mix of workouts. So I’m really taking into consideration the five elements of fitness which is: Strength, Cardio, Stability, Agility and Flexibility. So what you’ll see in our mix of classes is yoga, high intensity interval training, slow strength that is for everyone – low impact and full body, we’re going to have a run club for our cardio endurance and then for the agility and stability that will be where the heart of Tight Club is, so you’ll be gaining stability and agility in everything. There will be a large sense of sport in a lot of our classes. Classes, personal training and in the front we’ll be expanding our products line – Tight Club running clothing and we’re really excited to roll out our collaborative projects with other artists from the city. We’re working with Beth Richards, who’s a local Vancouver sportswear and swimwear designer and I’m so excited to unveil that. Also, we’re going to be working with Woodlot, who’s a local candle and soap company. We’re going to be doing our own custom soap and candle. Helping create a line of products that will help support local creatives but also help support the modern athlete who is coming to Tight Club and who isn’t using Axe bodywash. There’s a lot more thought into how they’re living their lives and what they’re putting on and in their bodies, so my goal is to help support that, whether it’s through classes or with products.
5) What have you learned from starting Tight Club?
Community is everything. We just recently did an Indiegogo campaign because it costs so much money to do anything in this city. It’s all me, I don’t have an investor, I don’t have rich parents, so in order to take Tight Club to the next level I really needed the help of the community because the banks aren’t doing anything. The community raised $43 000 with over 350 people that donated to the campaign. It was amazing. We had raised half of it in the first two days. One of the coolest things I’ve experienced, is how much people want to help you. That might be a Vancouver thing, I don’t know. The first company that took a chance with us was Lululemon Lab and so within the first year, we were given the opportunity to create an apparel line for this modern athlete and launched it through Lululemon Lab. They gave us a launch party, a video, a photoshoot, a clothing line and a display on Broadway, in Vancouver. It was such an amazing opportunity and they trusted that there was something about us that was special. The collaborations that I’ve been a part of these past three years have been amazing.
Consistency is another one. No one’s ever going to take you seriously if you don’t stay consistent. In the beginning, we were just a once-a-week run club, we would meet up underneath the Cambie Street bridge in December in the pouring rain. Most of the times it was just Henry and I, in the pouring rain but we had to keep doing it because we believed in it. People would never take you seriously if we cancelled because of the rain, it’s Vancouver!
For more information on Tight Club, go here. Don’t miss my special workout post with Keighty Gallagher coming next Tuesday December 8th on the blog!