The Burn: I’d Probably Swipe Right for TurF
This fitness studio is Kitsilano’s trendiest fever dream—and I’m digging it.
September 4, 2018
If you took all of the kale-crunching, athleisure-rocking, downward-dogging craziness of Kitsilano and bundled it into a tight little package, that package would be Turf. This fitness studio/café/retail space is a one-stop shop for everything that makes Kitsilanonians (if that isn’t the recognized term for a person who lives in Kits, it should be) quiver in their running shoes. As someone who has yet to fully succumb to the avocado-obsessed Kitsilano lifestyle, the idea of a space as trendy as this one made me skeptical. Turf seemed just a little bit too good to be true—like a Tinder match who self-identifies as being stylish, fit, and good in the kitchen. But hey, it was worth a try.
Due to Turf’s multifarious nature, it holds a very unique space on West 4th. When I entered the studio, I stepped into the café section. Long, community-style dining tables stand end-to-end in the centre of the space—as well as a few solo tables at the perimeters, so you don’t necessarily have to sip your coffee touching elbows with strangers. On the menu are avocado toasts, quinoa bowls, kale salads and coconut water smoothies (plus a black bean burger for serious rumblies) including “Turf Dailies” that change day-to-day. The retail space at the rear of the store has workout gear in soft neutrals, as well as crystals, umbrellas, and other classic Kits accessories. And finally, the workout space: the large studio looked ready for anything, with yoga mats stacked along one side, a full-length mirror along the other, speakers mounted on the walls, and straps hanging from the ceiling for heaven knows what kind of exercise (I’m guessing probably not casually hanging out in a burger-related food coma).
Turf offers a variety of different classes, ranging from general fitness to yoga to boxing. I tried the Meta Band class with instructor Angela Hartman, for which you need two resistance bands (provided by Turf), a water bottle, and the will to give the workout your all despite being surrounded by Turf’ers who look like they casually run 10km a day when you get out of breath walking up the stairs. Jokes aside, you do have to be reasonably fit to participate in this class—it’s a high-intensity workout that had me sweating so much, I couldn’t get a grip on the top of my water bottle.
Angela’s voice goes from a yogi-like, soothing tone to full-on bootcamp instructor real quick. The workout itself alternates between cardio-heavy dynamics and more static, tension-related exercises using the bands. Cardio exercises included jumping jacks and mountain climbers, and participants could choose between three levels of difficulty (for example, the full-on jumping jack can be modified by moving only one leg at a time). I’d never used a resistance band for anything besides stretching before, and was more than a little afraid that the deflated-balloon-like material would either break or snap back at me. Turns out, the bands are even stronger than the god- and goddess-like Turf’ers utilizing them. Meta Bands are also incredibly dynamic—we did squats, lunges, twists, arm exercises, and even a pushup-like exercise achieved by placing the band behind your back and under your armpits, holding tension on either end, and pressing the band away from you repeatedly. All exercises were done to the beat of upbeat music, starting out at a swift pace and intensifying with every drop of the bass. The hour-long workout had almost no downtime, and it as up to participants to decide when to sneak a quick sip of water—no designated breaks in this resistance band power hour.
Skeptical as I was before attending Turf, I’m not ashamed to stay I got totally sucked in to their all-natural, high-protein, locally-sourced, community-centred vibe. The workout definitely wasn’t easy, but I found that Angela spent just the right amount of time on each exercise—right when I felt like I couldn’t do one more squat, lunge, or jumping jack, we’d switch to something else. The pacing was good, the instructor was super motivating, and the environment was intense but invigorating. The only downside to the café/retail/fitness trifecta model is that some of the sounds from the other sections float into the workout space, which can be a little distracting during more quiet moments of the workout (for example, the Meta Band workout had a brief meditation session at the end, and the café buzz and clinking of cutlery was definitely audible). All in all, if you’re a Kitsilanonian, Kitsilanonian-minded, or a sucker for smoothies, squats and swag, you’re going to want to check this place out. If fitness studio Tinder was a thing, I’d probably swipe right for Turf.
Classes from $25, membership $175 monthly