Madonna-themed Hard Candy Fitness opens in Toronto

From “Like a Prayer” smoothies to lipstick-coloured dumbbells, new Toronto club is a Madge mecca.

An MDNA-era Madonna is depicted on a mural near a workout cage.

If you visit Hard Candy Fitness, Toronto’s newest gym, you may notice a theme.

Eight Vogue-era Madonna faces, plastered Andy Warhol-style on the wall, watch as you enter the airy fitness club. Madge’s greatest hits blare on the speakers as you curl a candy apple-red dumbbell, inspired by her bright makeup.

After the workout, you can recharge with a Like a Prayer almond butter and banana smoothie, blended fresh at the juice bar by a square-jawed male barista.

“We wanted to make you feel like you’re in Madonna’s home,” said the gym’s president and CEO, Annick Marcoux, whose cropped blond hair resembles an early ’90s Madonna.

Hard Candy Fitness Toronto opens its doors Thursday, becoming the eighth club in Madonna’s high-end fitness franchise. Others have opened in Mexico City, Berlin, St. Petersburg and Rome.

The $6-million facility, in the new Aura building at Yonge and Gerrard Sts., is filled with state-of-the-art fitness equipment, floor-to-ceiling windows and huge pictures of the star around every corner.

While the gym-cum-shrine may seem a little Madge-saturated, Marcoux said it’s just trying to make going to the gym fun.

“We want to create a community and we want to make fitness fun. Those are our two mandates,” she said.

The gym meets that goal with a slew of non-traditional classes. One cardio class uses dance moves from Madonna’s music videos, while “Off the Wall” yoga has participants dangling off the ground on cords.

Possibly the most unique class is “Strength & Heels,” a cardio workout that has both men and women dancing in pumps and platforms. The gym even sells custom-made heels for men for the class.

“You literally get to learn to walk and dance in heels, which requires amazing core muscles. It’s very, very demanding,” Marcoux said.

The gym is just minutes from Toronto’s gay village, a proximity that will equal members, Marcoux said.

“I think Madonna has a great following with the gay community after the Vogue trend and Vogue dancing competitions,” she said. “There’s a big appeal for us being close to the gay community.”

As for nearby Ryerson University students, the $99 monthly membership may not fit every student’s budget, Marcoux said.

“I remember being a student, I didn’t have $99 a month,” Marcoux said. “They’re welcome absolutely, but I think we cater more to young professionals, 25- to 60-year-olds. And that’s who Madonna appeals to.”

Despite all the Madonna references, the gym knows when to stop the music; Marcoux compared the gym’s approach to that of an iPod playlist.

“If you keep listening to the same playlist you’ll be bored with it, so we want to make sure that for the key moments Madonna is there. But Madonna actually listens to other music too, and she welcomes other music,” she said.

Thursday’s grand opening will give visitors a taste of what to expect. An electric yoga class will invite participants to don Halloween costumes and perform traditional Vinyasa moves to electric house music.

“The vibe is really energy and fun,” said Lori Kirwan, the gym’s fitness director.









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