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Sophie Matis, Fitness Entrepreneur, Training Lane

Photo courtesy of Sophie Matis

Sophie Matis has a lot to be proud of. The Toronto entrepreneur is changing the health and wellness industry with her gym, Training Lane. Nestled in Corktown, Training Lane is set up uniquely with fully equipped individual lanes, an infrared sauna, and a cold plunge shower. Geared towards empowering personal trainers and gym-goers to make the best of their training sessions, Training Lane’s no-hassle, membership-free structure and app allow users to exercise whenever they wished to. 

What I liked about the gym was how malleable and personal it was, which lent a feeling of empowerment and ownership. What was the thought process behind this structure?

I love that that’s coming across! I went to various gyms, and it was all the same: it was all dark, dingy floors, the equipment was kind of thrown in there haphazardly—and not necessarily the most state-of-the-art—and the music was all over the place. 

It was seeing these deficiencies in other gyms that sparked the idea to go out there and find a better solution that fits into my own aesthetic. Coming from the hospitality industry, where you’re looking at all these details and where every single material that you select affects the customer experience, I took that experience and applied it to the design.

The facility rounds out the physical exercise aspect of health and wellness with infrared sauna sessions and cold plunge shower services. For those who are unfamiliar with these practices, how would you describe the importance of both?

I actually went out to LA for about three weeks. LA is kind of the Mecca of fitness; if it’s happening in fitness, it’s happening there. I went to every single gym in West Hollywood and just took from [them] elements that I really enjoyed, that spoke to me. I came back to Toronto, and I started using infrared saunas, and I found it helped so much with my injury. When you open up those blood vessels and let all that blood circulate, [what happens is that blood gets] into all these areas for detoxification as well as helping with your bone density and osteoporosis and arthritis.

Sealing up those blood vessels again is what gives you that elated feeling. I was reading stuff by all the Tony Robinsons [of the world], and what all these great minds and great thinkers and inspirational people do is take a cold plunge. They’ll jump into cold water just to have that clarity of mind […] you’re not thinking about anything except where you are in that cold shower. 

I really wanted to bring that element into Training Lane because it is such an incredible tool for recovery. I think it works so well in tandem with a workout: having that workout, having the heat to help with draining your lymphatic systems so that you don’t have muscle soreness, and then having it end off with a cold plunge. I don’t think there’s a better trio!

What is your advice for those with extremely busy schedules who think they are unable to prioritise their health and wellness in such circumstances?

I think, for a long time, we’ve been in this culture of these membership gyms, where as soon as you sign up, you’re signing a piece of paper that says you can come anytime—it’s unlimited. When you say that to someone, you’re already kind of telling yourself, well, this isn’t very important: “I can come whenever I want,” […]it doesn’t matter [when or how often I come]. When you book a hair appointment, a dental cleaning, a time with your mechanic, it’s a set time and you never miss it.

I think [it’s about] changing the mindset into, no, the gym is not whenever you want. You have to book it and get it on your calendar. That deliberation and commitment to yourself is what’s going to give you consistency and hold you accountable. I think it’s the most important appointment you could make.

Jericho Tadeo | Contributing Writer

Spring 2024

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