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A wheelchair was in her future, Winston’s changed that

“When I started at Winston’s Health and Fitness 12 years ago, I was headed for a wheelchair.” Linda Badger speaks passionately about the difference Winston’s has made in her life, after all, she credits him and his gym with turning things around for her when she was otherwise wheelchair bound. Linda’s story is an inspiring one, and one that she says wouldn’t have happened without Winston’s Health and Fitness.

“I had spent the majority of my life in pain from a bad back, and everything I had heard about Winston’s was really complimentary, so I went and asked if he could keep me out of a wheelchair. Honestly, I would have been satisfied with that, but now, I have virtually no pain. A good five days a week are spent pain free,” says Linda. “When I joined, my body was saying enough is enough, and if I had picked someone else who didn’t give a damn, I’d be in a wheelchair, but Winston plugs away until he gets it right. His knowledge of the human body is amazing, he knows exactly what to do to make something better.” Linda credits the drastic turn around to two things: her own persistence, and Winston’s encouragement. Linda is adamant that there were days she was almost in tears she was hurting so bad, but Winston’s encouragement never faltered, and coupled with her own determination, it was enough to keep her going.

Avoiding being wheelchair bound is obviously a huge feat, but Linda has even more success stories when it comes to her time at Winston’s. “When I started I weighed 172 pounds, now I weigh in at 140 pounds, and it’s all muscle,” says Linda. She’s adamant that she wasn’t trying to lose the weight, but her time at Winston’s translated into an entire lifestyle change.

Linda also speaks passionately about the atmosphere at Winston’s, “if you need help of any kind, Winston will give you a hand, but there’s also members there that are willing to assist you. For example, I have one exercise in particular that I have to have help to do, I can’t do it by myself, and at one point or another almost all of the regulars have helped me with it.”

If Linda had to choose one thing that sets Winston’s apart from other gyms in the area, she doesn’t hesitate to focus on Winston himself, using the age-old saying that he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Nuts, bolts, a blown knee, and a 73 year old workout partner

How long have you been a member at your current gym? If the answer is almost 14 years (since 2002), then you share the same level of commitment that Blaine Stavask has for Winston’s Health and Fitness.

Blaine had just come out of the Worker’s Compensation program after he had blown out his left knee. The program had taught him to compensate for his injury, but at just 25 years old Blaine says he wasn’t satisfied just getting by. He went to Winston’s, where he started what he calls a program of rehabilitation, and within three months he was squatting 300 pounds. “It was phenomenal, never in a million years did I think I’d be doing that,” says Blaine. “I was told within five years I’d have to have my knee replaced but it’s been 14 years and I haven’t had to go back to have that replacement done.” Blaine is a firm believer that Winston has helped many people in situations such as his own that otherwise would have been condemned to other experiences had they tried a different approach.

Other than phenomenal results, the atmosphere is a big factor why he’s remained at Winston’s for so long. “Winston’s has that Cheers atmosphere where everyone seems to know each other, and you’re all friends in the gym, even though you may not know each other outside of that,” says Blaine. “Indirectly, Winston’s attracts a clientele that has a team atmosphere, the camaraderie is just there in the sense that you never feel like you’re imposing on anyone if you have to ask for a hand or advice.”

Blaine also credits Winston with having the ability to push people beyond their short term goals. “Winston will say ‘those short term goals are great, but what do you want to do long term?’ And it becomes this lifestyle that you want to live, as opposed to a short term experience that you just move through.” Blaine says the examples of other members who have adopted the lifestyle are prevalent at Winston’s, and uses his training partner as an example: a 73 year old power lifter. “At Winston’s, you’re surrounded by examples of another lifestyle that’s available, when you’re 70+ years old, wouldn’t you want to be in the gym being active like that?”

The final thing that Blaine says sets Winston’s apart from other gyms in Grande Prairie is how Winston’s has been able to maintain the basis of what a gym is all about. “Winston’s still has that real gym feeling, like what you might experience in the early days of gyms. It has the nuts and bolts and the foundational experiences, all wrapped up in a nice little package — that’s appealing to many people.”

The “battle tested” approach, tailored to you

Have you given much thought to what you might want out of your gym? What type of atmosphere you could excel in? Who you’d benefit seeking advice from? Craig Eustace, a member of Winston’s Health and Fitness for two years, describes the gym as a place that’s “very low key with the attitude. You can go in and do your thing without being picked apart or judged, it’s very comfortable, and better than anywhere else in Grande Prairie.”

When it comes to Winston himself, Craig gives credit where it’s due. “He’s always there, and is super approachable, he’s open about everything,” says Craig. “He knows the body and how to make it grow, make it lose fat, whatever your goal is.” Craig is quick to place importance on Winston’s first hand experience and how valuable his first hand knowledge is. “There’s something to be said about Winston’s real life experience. For example, I play golf, and I’d never take a lesson from someone that I could beat. Winston’s knowledge and experience can’t be beat.”

Craig joined Winston’s with the goal of losing weight and becoming stronger. Over his two years as a member, Craig has lost an impressive 29 pounds, and credits Winston’s approach as playing a big role in that success. “Winston is able to offer nutrition advice based on experience. It’s not just about calorie counting because he focuses on quality food and is able to offer tips, like how to get your metabolism going,” says Craig.

If you’re looking for an approach that Craig calls “battle tested” look no further than Winston’s Health and Fitness. “Winston understands that not everyone is the same. He looks at you as an individual, at your body type, and then tailors something for you. It’s not a generic, run of the mill thing,” says Craig.

There’s no gym like it, and he admits he knows

Matthew Barre readily admits he’s tried almost every gym in Grande Prairie, and always felt like there was something missing.  When a friend who was already a member of Winston’s Health and Fitness told Matthew how much he liked it, he decided to give it a try and see if it would fit what he was looking for.  It’s been three months and Matthew hasn’t looked back.

“Winston’s is a place where I feel like I’m treated like a person, not just another member who’s giving the gym their money,” says Matthew.  “You go in, he knows everyone, and he’ll always say hi.  It makes you feel like a person who’s valued and not just a number.”  Matthew says he’s been to other gyms where he got the vibe that the owners and workers just didn’t care.  He was tired of feeling like he was handing over his money, going and working out, and that was it.  “I’m constantly blown away by how much Winston will help you.  There’s even times he’s been with a client, but has still taken the time to help me out or give me a tip,” says Matthew.

Matthew, now 33, has been going to gyms since he was 16.  He was looking for a place that would renew his passion for working out and motivate him.  He credits Winston’s with having the ideal gym atmosphere to do so, and says that Winston himself just adds to the appeal.  “The difference is that Winston cares, he’s able to fire you up and get you ready to go.  It’s just a great gym with an owner that really cares.”

The feel of a smaller gym, with tons of choices

Winston’s Health and Fitness appeals to different people for different reasons.  Karen wanted a smaller, more unique experience, but didn’t want to miss out on a choice of equipment.  “I was looking for more equipment, but not such a packed gym,” says Karen.  This is a balance that’s often hard to find — bigger gyms can often offer a better choice of equipment, but tend to be crowded, while smaller gyms that might not be as busy typically aren’t able to offer a wide variety of equipment. Winston’s, however, delivered exactly what Karen was looking for: the feel of a smaller gym, with tons of choices.

Winston’s Health and Fitness also has something that other gyms don’t — Winston.  Karen says Winston is the number one reason she keeps going back.  “Winston is always there if you have questions, he doesn’t mind helping you out, and he’s always friendly,” she says.  A relatively new member of only three months, Karen is adamant that Winston is the biggest draw.

When asked what the biggest change she’s noticed in her three months as a member at Winston’s, Karen says she’s noticed a higher level of commitment from herself, and that she now constantly keeps to her schedule.  The main reason why?  Having a gym that has met and exceeded her needs and wants.

20 years of driving by works out to friendly welcomes

Bernice Ouellette describes herself as a new convert of Winston’s Health & Fitness having only joined mid-October, but that hasn’t stopped her from singing Winston’s praises.

Ouellette says she drove by a million times and having seen the gym for the past 20 years admits she knew of Winston’s great reputation.  It was one day, however, that Ouellette thought to herself, “something’s gotta give” and decided to walk through the door and take a look for herself.  Ouellette says, “I thought I may as well go with the guy with the best reputation.”

Ouellette describes herself as a fairly determined person, but admits determination only goes so far.  That’s where she believes Winston’s makes the difference.  “You start recognizing faces and you get to know people really quickly, which means you have a support system.  You can see people in approximately the same shape as you, doing the same things, and you almost become workout buddies.”  Winston also plays a huge part in the support system Ouellette describes at the gym, “he’s always there, always willing to come over and correct you, provide guidance, and up the reps — whether you like it or not.”

When asked to pick the top aspect of Winston’s that keeps her going back, she says it’s the comfort level.  “I feel like I fit in.  Yes, there are serious weightlifters in there, yet every one of them is polite and explain what they’re doing if you ask.  When I walk through the door, they’ll say ‘You’re back again! Good for you!’ You really don’t get that anywhere else.”

For those who haven’t had a Winston’s experience yet, Ouellette says it’s a matter of walking through the door to find out what it’s all about, “it’s hard to explain because everyone has their impression of what a gym should be.  We’ve all had that experience of waiting for machines, people playing on their phones while working out, but Winston’s isn’t that.”

Ouellette promised herself that she would reevaluate her weight and body measurements at the end of the year, but she already knows she’s getting results.  “I already know I’m quite a bit smaller because I wear different sized clothes.  I went from doing nothing to going everyday and it has definitely changed the way I feel.”