Disclaimer: This post is long. Thank you in advance if you make it to the end!
(click a photo to enlarge)
Last month we sent out one of our weekly newsletters with a link to an article called “The History of TORQUE”. That article was written a few years ago, in 2016. It explained where the gym started (10 years ago, before we moved in to our current location), and how I (Dan Petkovsek) got started as a trainer.
I’ll give a quick recap of that article, then move on to where we’re at today, our current staff and happenings, and some of the events that have taken place since we opened in 2013.
TORQUE BARBELL originally started as “Powerful Athlete Training”, and it was an outdoor bootcamp that I ran out of the back of my truck in 2009.
At the same time, I was splitting rent on an automotive garage with another guy, that we turned into a small gym, and had 3 other trainers operating their businesses. I brought equipment from my parents basement (from when I started competing in powerlifting years earlier), and over the years we accumulated more stuff.
While building a client base and getting people very good results and gaining a reputation, I had a lot of other opportunities like CBC Hockey Night in Canada, CFL Scouting Combines, LFL Women’s Football, coaching highschool football, dryland and off season trainer for various sports teams, and a few other athlete programs.
Over the course of 3 and a half to 4 years in the first gym, we built up over 100 clients between the 5 of us.
Myself and one of the other guys decided to partner at the end of 2012, and we opened TORQUE BARBELL in May/June 2013. We were partners for about a year and half, and decided to go our separate ways. I bought him out, and carried on with building and growing TORQUE.
Along with the help from friends and family, countless pizzas, and a few cases of beer, we turned an empty space into a gym within 33 days. I worked in the mornings with clients at the old gym (6am-10/11am), then from mid morning till between 10pm-12 midnight at the new location.
We had scheduled our time so that our old lease ended on May 31, meaning we had to move all our equipment out, and into the new location on that day. We ran workouts right up to the last day, while we were loading our trailers and taking equipment to the new gym.
It was absolutely the craziest month of my life getting this place built. I worked every single day from the day I got the key, to the day we opened (plumbing, electrical, building offices/changerooms, dry wall, hanging mirrors, tiling, washing the floors, painting the walls, pulling old wire from the ceilings, buying equipment, organizing deliveries, bins..etc).
If I was to do it again, I wouldn’t change anything. It was an amazing experience and a very exciting time.
Now to today. From the day we opened on June 3rd, 2013 – TORQUE has become a second home for more people than just myself. At one point we had 18 staff and trainers working and earning a living. We currently have 16.
We have over 400+ members, and even more in the summer when the students are home. We’ve had over 5500+ people come through our doors and sign a waiver. We’ve had people drop in for a workout while visiting Toronto – from all over the world. We have one member who’s been to TORQUE more than anyone else in the gym. 1500+ check ins for Paul Kraus (our most active member). I’ve seen him progress over the years and watched him the other day hit a 340lb bench press personal best.
We’ve had members who started with us young (before they could even sign their own waiver) who have gone on to set world records and win world championships. We’ve had members meet their husband or wife at the gym. Members who have started single, and a couple years later are bringing their kids to our BBQ’s. There are still a few who have been with us since the old gym, close to 10 years ago (Tyler Vellend, Chris Hoskins, Jenny Talik, Greg Flagler, David Creighton).
We’ve had people go through some of the hardest times of their life, and while everything around them was changing, we stayed consistent for them.
We’ve opened our doors to numerous companies and groups who have filmed documentaries (Vice Sports), road trips (Animal/Universal Road Trip), and world tours (Gym Shark “We Lift Tour”).
We’ve hosted competitions, and events like family day, mothers day, and thanksgiving. We even brought in a boxing coach to teach our junior hockey players how to fight and defend themselves (find me another gym that does that?).
We’ve had incredible transformations.
And people go from average to ripped.
And although the success of the gym makes me very proud – more importantly, the family and community we’ve built is what stands out the most. As with anything in life, people come and go – but to the people who have been loyal members and friends from the beginning, I thank you with everything I have.
For everyone who has joined us recently, or been here just a few years, I also thank you for your support and I value you, your time at the gym, and your friendship – and I look forward to another 7 years of personal bests with you.
Every single person at TORQUE contributes to what we’ve built. Something as small as saying “hello” or “good morning” to a new member goes a long way in making them feel welcome and at ease (remember your first time in a new gym?).
We’ve done a lot of great things not only in the gym, but in the community as well. We sponsor various events, fund raise for charities, collect for food drives and winter coat drives, as well as donate to various organizations like Sick Kids Hospital, Etobicoke Humane Society, the TD Miracle Network, as well as others. These things would not be possible without all of you.
And now I want to take a minute to acknowledge all of our current staff and trainers. We lead from the front, and these are the people who make the wheels spin smoothly.
And leave you with my sincere gratitude for an amazing 7 years in business as TORQUE BARBELL – which also marks my 10th year as a self employed trainer/ gym owner. Our growth from the back of my truck, to what we have now has been slow, but steady. Year after year we’ve grown, and we just wrapped up our best year ever in March. As with any business, there were definitely hard times and times where I wasn’t sure what our next step would be.
I can say that if I’ve learned anything – it’s that no matter what’s going on in your life, or how futile your efforts may seem – sometimes you just have to show up.
I’m excited for the future, I’m excited to grow, and I’m excited to meet the new people who will walk through our doors for the first time tomorrow.
Thank you for reading, and see you in the gym.