Tucked away behind the pharmacy, clinics and hair salon on the corner of Broadway and Nelson is Nakusp’s fitness facility, Discipline Fitness. The understated but fully stocked gym is easy to miss, unless you like taking slow, leisurely walks through the town’s alleyways.
Owner Logan Marchischuk pulled up in front of the gym just as I was walking down to the front door on a recent Friday evening. Just done his day of work at Kim’s Kustom Auto Body, he still had lots of energy, and greeted me with a big friendly smile.
Through the glass doors you could see the various machines and free weights available, and once I inside I saw there was even more.
On duty was Kalum Stevens, one of two employees that man the front desk and make it possible for Marchischuk to hold down his full time gig up at Kim’s. Stevens, a very quiet but funny guy, was wrapping up his work for the day.
At the entrance of the gym were two banks of lockers, a couple of change rooms and the bathroom. It was modest, but it worked. The gym looked clean and orderly, and empty.
“Fridays are our slowest days by far,” Marchischuk told me.
As we were standing around chatting, there was a knock, and Marchischuk opened the door to let a 5:30 tanning appointment in.
“You have a tanning bed?” I asked.
“Yep, the only one in town now that Nancy at Evolution’s gone,” he replied.
Even though the peeling sign still says “Alley Health and Fitness” over the door, the gym name changed to Discipline Fitness when Marchischuk took it over from Sheila Seaton. Seaton approached Marchischuk about taking on the gym just as his life was changing in big ways in other areas too.
“Within six months I bought the gym, my house, and my girlfriend got pregnant. A bit of a whirlwind,” he conceded.
Just like that, a new life in Nakusp had begun for him, and Marchischuk embraced it wholeheartedly.
The name-change of the place is important. As Marchischuk told me, he is “obsessed” with discipline.
“I’ve been around successful people in my life,” he said, “and that’s what they all have. Without discipline you’ve got nothing.” Marchischuk works out five days a week himself, more if he can get away with it.
“I’m an avid exercise person,” Marchischuk said, “and I’m dedicated to Nakusp. It’s my home. I grew up here. I love the slowness of Nakusp.”
For him, the point of the whole exercise in taking over the gym has been to give the town access to fitness, something that has clearly had a profound effect in his own life.
“I always wanted to big and strong,” Marchischuk confided. Always a serious golf player, he got a scholarship that took him to Kansas. It was there in the U.S., he discovered weightlifting. Living in residence, he was fortunate to make friends with football players that worked out a lot.
“They took my skinny ass to the gym,” he said, smiling in remembrance. It was the beginning of a life long passion for the gym.
“The reason I’m an exercise fanatic is mental,” Marchischuk said. Working out his frustrations in the gym, he has chosen exercise to exorcise his personal demons, and has seen the positive impact of exercise on body and mind.
“Everything works different,” he said about a day without a workout, “from my brain down to diet.” If anything, over-training is the problem for him, not missing a day.
“It’s a passion,” Marchischuk confirmed, “I’m not getting rich by any means.” Any money that has been made has been funnelled back into equipment and improvements, like new paint, the card lock and security cameras.
This summer a card lock system was installed which gives members 24 hour access.
“It’s great for shift work,” he said, “I haven’t had one person tell me one bad thing about the card lock.” The proof is in the log book. He has seen people sign in at 4 a.m., a testament to the flexibility that some people need and can now take advantage of.
Thanks to the card lock, not only can members go work out at all times of day or night, but the gym is not longer crippled by paying out more wages than it could afford.
“We were getting buried in staff costs,” Marchischuk acknowledged.
Now the gym is fully insured 24 hours a day and employee costs have been cut by two thirds. The two staff, Kalum Stevens and Tosh Brinker, now man the place, which frees Marchischuk up for his full-time job. Working full-time in our beautiful small town is a blessing, one that he never takes for granted.
On the tour I’m shown the different machines and weights, and each new addition to the space. The big expense has been new equipment, something Marchischuk wants to keep bringing in. With the help of a friend in Revelstoke, finding good quality used equipment for a good price has been easy.
“The goal is to change one piece of equipment a year,” he told me as he patted a leg press so old it’s warped from years of use.
Having gone to several different gyms, I am impressed by the balance of enough space and enough equipment. There is enough room to move, but there is also a good variety of machines.
To the left of the free weights and mirror is a small studio with full-size mirrors along one wall and equipment stacked neatly along the walls. This is where Michael Garvey teaches a class, something that sounds like a freestyle boot camp class that gets people sweating and having fun. Sheila Seaton also teaches a circuit training class called “Women On Weights.” For the majority of time, the studio is available for people who want to stretch or may not feel comfortable working out in the open.
But the atmosphere in the gym is always laid-back and relaxed, Marchischuk informed me, with people helping each other out.
“This is our community gym,” he said, “Everybody looks after it, after one another.”
In the cardio area, a new-looking treadmill and spinning bike shares space an older exercise bike as well as two ancient and indestructible stairmasters.
When he took over, Marchischuk moved the cardio equipment away from the door so people wouldn’t have their sweaty red selves be the first thing for people to see when they came to the gym.
Back in the day, when I went to a gym in Montreal, I was very glad that our workout space was on the second floor. About five minutes away there was another gym where people furiously ran, biked and climbed their way toward a giant street-level window. All their eyes looked up, probably fixed on a T.V. screen, making them look like a raging horde going nowhere, captive behind the pane of glass. I don’t think I could do aerobic exercise in front of the eternally changing audience of a downtown city street, but the horde didn’t seem to mind.
In the three times I had stopped by Discipline Fitness, only one was truly busy. Friday evening and an early morning weekday there had been a few disciplined individuals pursuing their exercise path, but 3:30 in the afternoon was another story. Marchischuk confirmed that after school was definitely the peak time in gym, with a lot of the hockey guys coming to work out then.
“We reached out for the hockey kids. If you’re in hockey you get a deal.” The kids are alright, and Marchischuk believes their discipline in the gym is showing in their performance on the ice.
But Marchischuk is convinced that focusing on fitness is good for all youth.
“It’s very important for a young person,” he declared, “They get more confidence, more self-worth.”
The benefits of health and feeling good are great for developing bodies and minds, but they can be experienced by anyone, something Marchischuk sees more and more people catching on to.
“It’s very important to be physically fit,” he said, and the voice of wisdom has echoed his enthusiasm, “I’ve got some incredible senior citizens in here in their seventies saying it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.”
What Marchischuk is aiming for is a space where people can come and feel comfortable while they pursue their fitness goals.
“It’s a process,” he emphasized, “Don’t expect to get a one month membership and lose 40 pounds. It’s like having 40 grand in debt. You’re not going to get rid of that in a month.”
For Marchischuk, it’s been both a very humbling and rewarding experience.
“It’s been humbling being a role model to teen boys,” he answered when asked, “and ever since I was a teenager I thought it would be cool to own a gym.”
Discipline has made it happen; Marchischuk has created a space everyone can come and feel better, inside and out.