East York has a fresh-faced gym with a unique approach for those interested in getting in shape for the summer. Just a short bus ride south of Pape Station, the Anchored Social Club looks to be the new fitness hot spot for the neighborhood. The location has a chiseled, simplistic appearance. Once a messy car garage, the space was renovated from head to toe last year.
The gym equipment is minimal. Instead of running on treadmills, attendees crawl up pegged walls, increase their stability on a broken skateboard, climb ropes to the ceiling and toss around lentil-filled Duffel bags. Here is the real twist; this crossfit gym also doubles as a music venue for punk rock shows.
(Above) True Love, a punk band from Michigan, performing at Anchored Social Club.
Ben Dussault, owner of Anchored Social Club, has a lengthy personal history of music and fitness. Starting in 2004, Dussault was a full-time touring musician in the California-based band Throwdown and New York-based band Madball.The groups toured across North America for several years. Dussault has fond memories of having a fitness tent outsidethe group’s tour bus, where he would practice moving heavy equipment. With time and effort, he started getting in shape. In 2008, he left the group and began working as a personal trainer.
“I’ve always been fascinated with communities… being a part of something, which is the foundation of Anchored Social Club”, said Dussault. “We kept the concept super open so we could have that community feel.”
Several weeks ago, Anchored Social Club hosted Mindset, True Love and several other punk rock acts from across North America for a matinee performance. With high attendance and smooth operation throughout the day, the event was the first of many more concerts to come.
“It’s run by a dude who knows the underground Canadian music scene”, said Tyler Brown, an audience member at the Mindset/True Love matinee show. “It’s all ages. It’s a good space that allows for these shows to happen without crazy rules or security that limit the scene’s creative expression.”
The same can be said for a workout with Dussault. The activities are shaped around your moods and goals. Deep breathes, loud noises and aggression are encouraged during one of Anchored Social Club’s hour-long sessions.
“We don’t all have the same lifestyles and opportunities, but somehow we find ourselves in a room altogether. The accessibility to have a whole bunch of different people in the same place vibing out on the same thing”, Dussault comments. “That’s also my approach to fitness… stripping away all the crap I’ve seen over the years and just bringing myself to it, trying to be as authentic as possible.”
Creativity is the centerpiece at Anchored Social Club. Whether it be a unique workout catered to your skills set, a theatre group’s rehearsal, or a huge mosh pit; the four walls that contain the club are filled with potential.
“Belonging is such a weird thing. It’s an energy. You either want to be a part of it, or you don’t”, said Dussault. “I’m cool with anybody being here as long as they’re bringing something positive to the community. The moment it becomes negative, I’m not having it… it’s not existing in our club.”
“Hardcore is just about being a better you, and a lot of people find that improvement through physical activity”, said Brown.
“Being a fitness spot and an alternative music spot creates that space and closes the gap between punk rock and fitness.”