Aimée Savard, the powerhouse behind Aim PR, recently had the chance to speak with Sarah Ferris, owner of midtown’s Ferris360, about her first-hand experience of the dynamic, high-intensity program that has her going back for more. Keep reading for the interview, where they talk Ferris360, community and so much more…
The first time I walked into the below-ground studio at Ferris360 (Yonge & Davisville) there was a ton of equipment I didn’t recognize, and a big chalk board with the hashtag #StayStrong plastered across it.
I took a deep breath as the clients started to roll in, these men and women seemed really fit and I’m no marathon runner. In fact “strong” is not how I would describe myself, so panic set in. Thankfully by the time class started, the super fit patrons had been watered down with a few like me in the “every body type” category, and relief set in.
My highly qualified, energetic instructor proceeded to take us through the typical Ferris360 class called The Full 360, a 60 minute “no muss, no fuss” full body work out. The high intensity interval training (HIIT) involves a wide array of equipment such as the versa climber, rower, ski erg, treadmill, ladder or skipping ropes for the cardio component; and weights, bars, kettle bells, trx and therabands on the floor for strength training. The diversity and quick changes from cardio to floor made the work out fun and interesting, time flew by and so did sweat.
Different levels of intensity were offered at each exercise, with the ability to focus on various muscle groups at once. By the time your muscles fatigued of one move (and boy did that happen), the next would focus on something completely different. This unique, group fitness concept, along with its incredible roster of trainer talent, is what sets Ferris apart from other gyms. Instructors come with varied expert backgrounds (and taste in music) which means you get a different work out each time.
“We offer one style of workout and we do it right” says Owner Sarah Ferris, referring to the flow from warm up, to cardio, to strength and back. “Clients often say, it’s like having a personal trainer for a fraction of the price.” Sarah gave me the latest on the studio:
Well TO Do: What was your inspiration to open Ferris360?
Sarah Ferris: I started Ferris360 because I was living in California and became accustomed to the variety of workouts available there. When I moved back to Toronto I was frustrated with the gym climate. So I took what I liked, the best elements from my own workouts and the workouts I loved and created Ferris360. I have worked out since I was a teenager in a fashion very similar to what we have created at Ferris. Of course I didn’t have all the fancy equipment; for example, before track season in high school I would go to my basement with a skipping rope, one set of dumbbells, a stop watch, a clip board to track my progress and circuit train. My friends would come over and get a good laugh watching me. That was the 70’s! Fast forward to Ferris360, it is a very refined and current version of what I have always done because I know it works!
WTD: What is your fitness philosophy?
Ferris: Stay strong, keep your workouts fun and explore. I really believe that to stay strong you have to keep moving, it is a lifestyle. That you need to push your body yet understand your limits and listen to your body. I think sometimes people want to get super fit but they don’t listen to their bodies and they end up with stress injuries which could have been easily avoided. The body is remarkable, it was meant to be physically functional and no matter your age you can always find ways to make it stronger. Keeping your workouts fun (don’t do the same thing day in and day out) and exploring new fitness challenges is not only stimulating and positive but also keeps your body on its toes so it can’t plateau.
WTD: Can you walk me through the typical Ferris360 class?
Ferris: Ferris360’s FULL360 classes are challenging and motivating. Guided by a highly qualified Ferris360 Instructor, we start with a great full body, dynamic warmup. We then use a unique combination of cardio, strength, power, core and flexibility exercises to help you train like a true athlete. Attention to form is key and the Instructor takes time to correct and teach proper form. The result is a very dynamic, high-intensity program that helps you burn maximum body fat while increasing your strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility and agility. And we end our workout with an essential stretch/cool down session to allow clients to reset their body and stretch areas that have been worked. These workouts really work!
WTD: What’s the biggest draw for your clients?
Ferris: At first it is the amazing workout they have heard about. Then once they have spent time at Ferris360 clients start to see remarkable changes in their bodies and spirit. And our community embraces them, our team embrace clients, our clients embrace clients, and friendships are made every day. Ferris360 is like a sports team where everyone encourages each other and values individual goals and needs.
WTD: Where do you see Ferris360 in 5 years?
Ferris: I am focused on fine tuning our concept so that we can open other locations. We offer one style workout and we do it right. We have designed a group fitness floor that in my opinion is like no other and we will mirror exactly what we have created here at new locations. We stuck to our guns with our concept. When we first opened we were very quiet (few clients) and we got a lot of unsolicited advice to help bring in clients. Such as you should add yoga or spinning or you need to cut the number of classes you offer……etc. However, we believed in our concept and kept it pure and we now have strong traction (people understand what we are about) and we are not going to slow down.
WTD: Do your clients get outside at all in spring/summer?
Ferris: I sure hope so! The spring season is our busiest at the gym because I think clients are coming out of the winter blues and wanting to wear fun summer clothes and feel good. But the cool thing is we start seeing clients riding their bikes or running to the gym for their workout. So yes, I think they get outside!!!
That first work out nearly killed me, but I’ve since learned how to pace myself and I’m still at it. I’ve gained strength in areas I never thought possible. These workouts really work because the classes are about real people achieving real results. The raw, in-it-together vibe makes Ferris360 an easy environment to try new things and push yourself hard, two critical elements of getting fit and staying strong.