Trevor Linden’s fitness career renews his workouts
Growing up in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Trevor Linden had just one goal: to play for his hometown Tigers in the Western Hockey League. He never dreamed that he would play in the National Hockey League for almost two decades, and the notion of becoming one of the most popular and recognizable athletes ever to call Vancouver home was far beyond his imagination.
So was the idea of playing a role in creating a burgeoning fitness empire across the Lower Mainland. But with his 19-year NHL career now in his rear-view mirror, Linden has branched out into life beyond the hockey rink. He’s given his name and plenty of his time to charitable endeavours throughout the region; he’s become involved in real-estate projects in both Vancouver and Victoria; and, in the past few years, the 42-year-old has begun to share with the masses his passion for fitness.
Now Linden is the man behind—and often found inside—Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness centres in Coquitlam, Burnaby, and downtown Vancouver, and next month he’ll add a central-Surrey location to the chain.
“I’ve always tried to look at any opportunity that I’ve been presented with—and I’ve been presented with hundreds of opportunities—anything I looked at, I wanted it to be authentic to who I was, what I was interested in, and what I cared about,” Linden tells the Georgia Straight. “And this opportunity really resonated with me because fitness has been a big part of my life, and I know how important it is not only from a physical standpoint but a mental standpoint. It came up kind of quickly. I never thought I’d be going down this path, but I have enjoyed it and I’m really excited about what the future holds for the company.”
Along with partner Chuck Lawson, Linden opened his first gym in January 2011. He says his goal was to create a niche in the competitive fitness business by breaking down barriers that he felt were keeping people from working out: affordability and inclusion.
Linden, revered by fans during his playing days for his low-maintenance, high-work-ethic approach to hockey, has done his best to bring a no-frills, no-nonsense outlook to fitness.
“We’ve tried to do two things: appeal to people from a cost standpoint, and we’ve also tried to appeal to people from an inclusive standpoint by taking the intimidation factor out of fitness,” he explains. “We’ve tried to open it up to people who perhaps didn’t think they were the fitness-club types. I see seniors at our club; I see big people, small people, medium-sized people all feeling comfortable that they can go and do what they need to do. I think there was a perception that I had to look a certain way or be a certain way or wear certain clothes to go to a gym. We’ve really tried to change that. With an aging demographic, we want people that can walk into a club, talk to our staff, get some instruction, and feel comfortable. So far, it’s been really well received.”
A stroll through any of the Club 16 locations on any given day may yield a glimpse of Linden’s recognizable face. Linden, a regular visitor to all of his outlets—but a regular at the downtown location—insists he maintains a presence at his fitness centres to let customers know he truly believes in the business.
“For me, I didn’t want to just be the guy who put his name on the front of the building,” he says. “I wanted to be active. I train at our clubs and I’ve enjoyed that. I’ve worked out all my life, and I’ve worked out in some pretty poor facilities, so to have equipment that works well and is the best available is good for everyone.”
These days, in addition to regular workouts at his fitness centres, Linden bolsters his exercise routine by cross-country skiing and, when the weather allows, road cycling, mountain biking, and hiking.
For years, being active was a job for Linden. Now it’s simply part of who he is at his core.
“When you start playing professional hockey, you work out because you have to,” he says, noting that he trains much differently today than he did when he was lacing up the blades. “Then an interesting thing happened in my late 20s or early 30s. I realized that training and working out became more of a lifestyle, and I started to introduce things that were lifestyle-oriented and not things I had to do. When I looked at my life, when I had any free time, my recreation had to have some sort of fitness component to it. That was important to me.”
Once an avid golfer, Linden says he rarely tees it up any longer and instead prefers to spend those golf-course hours taking full advantage of the fitness opportunities this region presents.
However, for those who aren’t as motivated as Linden, there will always be the gym. And that’s where Club 16 comes in. In fact, don’t be surprised if the number of fitness centres with Linden’s name on them matches the number he made famous in his years with the Canucks.
“We’re constantly looking at locations.…Definitely, we’ve got some ideas to expand into other parts of British Columbia,” he says.
For now, though, Linden is happy taking things one step—on the treadmill—at a time.