Review: Twist Richmond Hill (Fitness in Toronto)

With all the different fitness options available in downtown Toronto, sometimes I like to venture out to the suburbs to see what other programs are available in the city. Today we went out to Richmond Hill to check out the newly opened TWIST (Sports and Conditioning), located inside the WYNN Fitness club.

For those who have never heard of it, TWIST originally started in Vancouver by Peter Twist, a leader in Strength and Conditioning. He is really well known in the Hockey world for being a NHL coach, Sports Conditioning Coach, and has written over 400 papers, 10 books and over 20 DVD on athletes’ development. He has also created some of the best sports and conditioning courses that other trainers use to further their educations.

If you are interested in Sports and Conditioning and learning more about what TWIST is all about I suggest checking them out, they are the world leaders in their field.

So bringing you back to TWIST Richmond Hill, owned by Scott Atkins who owns a number of TWISTs throughout Ontario, including his flagship location in Burlington.

I spoke to Scott on the phone and asked him a few questions about why he became involved with the organisation and what they bring to the table for us Torontians looking for a program to join.

What drew you personally to the Twist brand/concept?

Scott: ‘The Twist Sport Conditioning training paradigm is one that is very forward thinking and progressive which ultimately attracted me to the Twist Brand. Combine that with an awesome team environment and it made perfect sense for me to join the Twist team!’

What can a member of your program expect to get out of it?

Scott: ‘A Twist member can expect to be motivated each workout while also receiving a new and cutting edge workout each time that they attend our classes. The Twist Team also strives to create a family culture that exists to foster the passion for fitness in each athlete we train. The workouts are designed to improve every clients Strength, Balance, and Movement skills making the athlete well rounded and ready for life.’

Is there anything unique to Twist you can’t get somewhere else?

Scott: ‘Yes there many unique attributes to Twist.

1) The Twist training methodology is world class as we have 11 facilities around the world and are presenting at every Major Fitness conference in the world. We are the trainers to the trainers

2) Every Twist Coach MUST possess a post secondary education prior to be employed at Twist. We believe that being a Strength and Conditioning Coach is based in science and the human body should be understood prior to learning how to manipulate the body their Strength and Conditioning.

3) At Twist we never have more than 8 athletes for every 1 coach. We believe in the highest of quality of coaching and to achieve this our coach to athlete ratio is always no more than 1:8.’

I decided to try out their ‘TWIST Complete’ class on a Saturday morning with my reviewer Plain Jane 9- 5. It took us less than 30mins to get there from downtown. They are located inside the WYNN Fitness in their self contained area on the second floor. Now let me say, when I first looked at the studio area I was so excited! A beautifully laid out functional training area, with squats racks, Bosu balls, TRX’s and all the toys, laid out in perfect order. By the far the tidiest and cleanest studio I’ve seen. The photos don’t do it justice. I was actually a little bit jealous it wasn’t my own studio to be honest.

As part of any TWIST program, they like to keep the ratio to 8 clients to 1 trainer, so as it was a Saturday morning and the class was quite busy, there were actually 3 trainers involved in the class. One trainer taught the class and the other two, probably not really needed in my opinion, were there to help participants with their form and to encourage them. The thing I really like about TWIST is that the class is completely structured and I could tell that they were working from a pre-determined set of exercises that were part of an overall plan. The workout you do on a Monday compliments the workout you do on Wednesday and then on Friday/Saturday and so on. The majority of fitness ‘programs’ available throughout Toronto aren’t really structured as a program you work through, most of them are just fitness ‘classes’ with different themes, or focus points, which is something to note here.

The class started off with an interesting series of warm up/ functional movements using a Bosu Ball. I enjoyed it and I was sweating quite a bit after the first 5 mins due to the different variety of exercises I don’t normally do. We then moved into a series of ‘Pre’ exercises using the TRX, and some dumbbells to activate the muscles and tendons we were going to use in the main circuit of the class. From my perspective as a fitness pro I really appreciated this as I know the importance of warming up and activation before attempting some heavier ‘weight lifting’ movements.

The main circuit was 3 exercises: for 4 sets. Squats, Ball Chest Press, Dumbbell Wood Chop. Each exercise was setup with a different tempo, eg the squat was 3 seconds down, hold for 1 sec at the bottom, up for 2 secs then hold standing on tippy toes for 1 sec, then reset. We were allowed to pick our own weights and there was a nice selection of dumbbells to choose from.

I thought the circuit would be quite easy to be honest, but by the time I was in my third set and had stepped up how heavy my weights were, I was really feeling the workout. I was enjoying it a lot as I like more traditional weightlifting workouts, but it was a nice combination of different exercises.

By the end I had a nice sweat on. After the 4 sets we moved into a foam rolling session and stretch to cool down.

Overall I think Twist offers a very well balanced program which is unlike a lot of other programs: they follow a set structure of workouts across their studios, where if you came 3 times a week on each of the required days you would get a complete body workout. I think structure is important to promote commitment to the whole program and I appreciate the thought put into it. However I will note, for myself personally the Richmond Hill location wouldn’t suit me, as it has a more middle age crowd, suburban feel to it. If I was 10 years older, I would consider traveling up there on a regular basis.

Plain Jane 9–5

Set up in a room within a larger Wynn fitness gym, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Twist. The instructor arrived about 5 mins before class started and made sure to introduce himself. We started off the class in a large circle doing lots of exercises on the Bosu ball, some more mentally challenging than others as my co-ordination left a little to be desired on occasion. Interspersed with some sprints, I was definitely hot and a little bothered at the end of the warm up. We moved on to the crux of the class which was centered around the TRX equipment, using some body weight and some free weights to get the maximum results — according to your comfort and strength level.

The instructors made sure to come round and guide your form ensuring you wouldn’t injure yourself and got the most out of each exercise; there is a mandate of 1 instructor per 8 class members so in our case there were 3 instructors in total with one ‘leading’ the class. The exercises were tough but with modifications if you spoke up to request them, and there was plenty of time available to finish the required number of reps; personally, as I was on the slow side, I did feel a little time pressured towards the end rather by the other class members than the instructors. The exercises were well put together and explained clearly for the most part, however there were some exercises which were new to me which I think could have been explained differently or better for newcomers. I have the feeling that most of the attendees are very regular members and so are used to the exercises and descriptions from the instructors which wasn’t quite as easy for someone new to the class.

The class ended with a thorough guided stretch session and recommendations to use the foam roller to make sure we got rid of as much of the soreness as possible.

The crowd was definitely older, late middle aged I’d say and all regulars who had found their friendship groups or cliques, personally this made the Richmond Hill location of Twist not right for me (as someone in their early 30’s). I didn’t find the class as much fun as I’d like to experience when working out in a big group, it was definitely more on the functional side, without the laughter and bonding which I enjoy.

I was definitely sore the next day (despite using the foam roller) but I didn’t leave with an overwhelming desire to go back to Twist.

Jay Quarmby — Personal Trainer, Owner of FitnessTO, Buns of Steel Bootcamp www.bunsofsteelbootcamp.com

Summary


Originally published at www.fitness-to.com on July 7, 2015.

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