Health might be the last thing that comes to mind when entering a dark and sweaty basement room bumping Migos, Rae Sremmurd and Cardi B, but you’d be wrong.
Club Row is the latest fitness concept coming from the mind of Nathan Morris of Driftwood Athletics and Railtown Spikers. A rhythm based full body workout, Morris is all about bringing the many benefits of rowing to the people in a modern way.
“From toenail to fingernail you are going to be working almost every muscle in your body with each stroke,” he explains. “A Club Row workout is a strength workout disguised as a cardio workout where each stroke is a power move that taps into a combination of your strength, stamina and cardio. It’s also low impact […] so you won’t be sore in a bad way the next day.”
We recently sat down with Morris to learn more about the newest club in Chinatown, Club Row.
Why did you first decide to get into fitness as a career in the first place?
After university I worked in finance but probably spent the majority of my professional life looking at sport stats and appearing busy. I missed team sports and looked forward to seeing my friends at the gym after work each day to the point where it started to feel as though I was killing time until my day started at 5 pm. I quickly realized that life behind a desk was not only something I didn’t want to do, but something that I would never be successful at.
I wanted to find a way to do things I liked for work so I wrote a business plan with the help of my friend Elizabeth Sabine and concluded that since no one would hire me, I would start my own business and make a go of it. I got a small business loan, rented a warehouse, leased some gear and open the doors of Driftwood Athletics with little to no fanfare.
Slowly but surely we built up the gym with the support of our great clients and coaches but honestly, I’m still not sure if I would call this a career. I am an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a guy who has ideas and acts on them.
Since all the workouts at Club Row are based around music, how do you go about choosing the songs you use in classes?
The Club Row playlist is really the secret sauce to what makes our classes work. Other studios may pick music with the purpose of entertainment, or branding, or tempo, however, our music is picked to help conduct the class rhythmically. At Club Row you row to the beat of the music and when the whole squad is in sync that’s really where the feeling of connection arises.
I pick music that has a clear snare beat between 50 and 72 BPM because it fits the stroke rates that feel the best on the rowing machine. This is about half [the BPM] of what spin studios typically ride to but with a much larger and more pronounced movement we require slower BPMs in order to achieve the full range of motion and access the full power and purpose of each stroke.
Club Row is one of the first studios of its kind dedicated exclusively to rowing. Where did you first get the inspiration to start this type of studio in Vancouver?
We are not only the first rhythm-based rowing studio in Vancouver, but are the inventors of this genre and the only one that exists in the world. We row exclusively to the beat of the music and do not stop to add in any other movements. This isn’t something we saw in New York or LA and brought to Vancouver; it’s born and bred in an east van garage. 99% of the other gyms in this city are cover bands playing someone else’s tune whereas we are a true Vancouver original.
Aside from the class itself, Club Row is also starting to become well known for the fun and tropical inspired colours associated with the brand. Why did you decide to go this route with the visual design of the brand?
People often ask us about the origins of our branding and colour pallette. We sat down and looked at pretty much every other successful boutique studio in the Vancouver market and noticed that everyone uses dark photography, black and white wordmark logos and messaging that actively hardens their edge. We decide to pursue a tone and campaign in the exact opposite of all that. We chose colours and motifs that were light fun and approachable to actively soften our edge.
What’s next for Club Row?
We are hosting a new idea called a fitness concert at Fortune Sound Club on May 8/9. Our assertion is that fitness can be used as a medium for art and we are going to prove it to everyone who attends. We are filling the room with rowers at a music venue and will be performing our club row class as a concert with some exciting extras. Our aim is to have people leaving this workout with the same feeling of adrenaline and emotion that would come from a great concert. Come join us! Full details HERE.
By Vanessa Tam