Iqaluit Gyms: Atii Fitness Centre vs. the Frobisher Racquet Club


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It's that time of year again, when the cold weather forces many Iqalummiut into pseudo-hibernation. Though outdoor activities can be limited during the winter months, health and fitness buffs can head to one of the Iqaluit gyms for year-round workout access. In town, there are two major public gym options: Atii Fitness Centre and the Frobisher Racquet Club. While there are other health facilities, Atii and the Racquet Club seem to be the most popular standard gyms (there is also a small fitness room at the Frobisher Inn and of course, Saimavik Studio for yoga, pilates, and dance classes). But which one is right for you?

To help you answer this question, we have created a guide to the Iqaluit gyms, comparing price, equipment, facilities, and other features based on our personal experiences at each location (Sara goes to Atii and Anubha is a member of the Racquet Club).

About

Atii Fitness Centre

Atii's mission is "to serve the fitness needs of Iqalummiut and to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles in the community." Despite its diversity of members, which range from sprightly teens to active elders, Atii promotes a sense of social cohesion. As a volunteer-run fitness centre, Atii is involved with community outreach events such as car washes, barbecues, and even outdoor zumba classes.

Atii and Saimavik join forces for Zumba on the Ice (photo by Mark Aspland courtesy of Facebook).
Atii and Saimavik join forces for Zumba on the Ice (photo by Mark Aspland courtesy of Facebook).

Racquet Club

Part gym, part squash courts, part social club, the Frobisher Racquet Club (also called the Squash Club, the Racquet Club, or simply "the club") is a multi-use facility with a host of amenities. The clientele is, like Iqaluit itself, largely made up of public servants, and skews towards a more mature crowd.

Frobisher Racquet Club members watching a squash match.

Frobisher Racquet Club members watching a squash match.

Membership Rates (as of 2014)

Atii Fitness Centre

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If you'd like to circumvent membership fees, you can volunteer at Atii for 10 hours each month and receive free membership (plus good karma for helping out pro bono).

Racquet Club

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Spousal memberships can only be purchased in conjunction with a Full membership. Paying the full year's due in full provides you with a savings of five percent. Like Atii, the Racquet Club offers free gym access to its staff, only the staff at the club are paid. Job availability is limited, but the Racquet Club does regularly hire people to work the bar and the kitchen. Interested applicants can drop off a resume at the front desk.

Equipment and Spaces

Atii Fitness Centre

Typical of most gyms, Atii's main area offers a combination of free weights (e.g. dumbbells, body bars) and cardio machines (e.g. treadmills, ellipticals, upright bike, recumbent bike, stairmaster, etc.). Atii's added bonus, however, would be its spacious fitness room that hosts all sorts of exercise gear (e.g. bosu balls, exercise balls, medicine balls, steps and risers, gliders, body bars, resistance bands, skipping ropes, etc.).

The weight section at Atii Fitness Centre in Iqaluit.

The weight section at Atii Fitness Centre in Iqaluit.

More weight equipment and cardio machines in Atii Fitness Centre's space.

More weight equipment and cardio machines in Atii Fitness Centre's space.

Racquet Club

Main gym area of the Frobisher Racquet Club.

Main gym area of the Frobisher Racquet Club.

The lower floor in the Racquet Club contains all fitness-related space and equipment. The main room (pictured above) houses three treadmills, one elliptical, one row machine, a weight machine, free weights, and a number of other fitness items. In a smaller adjacent room are three stationary bikes and a treadclimber. Not surprisingly, the Squash Club has three squash courts, which serve double-duty as fitness rooms for instructor-led classes.

Ongoing squash match in one of the squash courts.

Ongoing squash match in one of the squash courts.

Classes

Atii Fitness Centre

Atii has fun group fitness classes almost daily that focus on muscle conditioning and cardiovascular activities. The schedule changes each month, but usually includes step classes, circuit training, karate, pilates, tabata workouts, and more. The instructors are knowledgeable, motivating, approachable, and have a great taste in music (with the appropriate beats per minute). The best part is that all classes are free for Atii members. For those looking to really shape up, Atii also offers 12-week challenges.

Racquet Club

Unlike Atii, the Racquet Club does not have a regular fitness class schedule. Instead, the club's instructors offer a variety of programs or drop-in classes at various points throughout the year. Drop-in classes are free, but the fitness programs come at a cost (anywhere from $30-80 for 5-8 weeks of classes). Classes offered by the Racquet Club have included yoga, a bosu ball program, and 5- and 8-week bootcamps. Note that there are at most two courses on at once, meaning there are classes only 2-3 nights per week. While the calibre of instruction is on point, the use of a squash court in lieu of a proper gym or fitness room leads to somewhat crowded, hot classes.

Amenities

Atii Fitness Centre

The added amenities is where Atii is lacking in comparison to the Racquet Club. A pretty strong selling point is that Atii offers fitness training for those looking to get certified and teach classes. We suppose another bonus is the lockers, which can be rented for $15 per month, or $150 per year.

Racquet Club

Racquet Club members can enjoy the facility's spacious change areas, which include lockers ($10.70 per month), showers, toilets, and hot tubs. Members also have full use of the club's upstairs social area, which boasts a large, fully-stocked bar, a restaurant, a pool table, a foosball table, a big-screen TV, various seating areas, and a kids' play zone. As much a hangout spot as it is a gym, the Racquet Club is commonly packed on Fridays (pizza night) or Saturdays (because the bar has some of the cheapest drinks in town). The club also hosts events throughout the year, from costume parties to the ever-popular squash tournaments. Frobisher Bay Racquet Club members also have access to the Yellowknife Racquet Club.

Another busy Friday pizza night at the Squash Club in Iqaluit.

Another busy Friday pizza night at the Squash Club in Iqaluit.

Hours

Atii Fitness Centre

Atii's hours are a bit restrictive, as it is only open after work on weekdays. However, it is open for most of the day during weekends.

Hours:
Monday to Friday: 5:30pm to 10:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am to 6:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am to 5:00pm

Racquet Club

The Racquet Club has more flexible hours, which is great if you want to get in a run or quick squash match at lunch. That being said, access before working hours would be a welcome addition.

Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 10:00am to midnight
Friday and Saturday: 9:00am to 2:00am
Sunday: 10:00am to 9:00pm

Location

Atii Fitness Centre

Atii is located in the Coman Arctic Building (#1127) across from the airport. It is a bit out of the way, but is only a short walk from the downtown core.

Frobisher Racquet Club

The Racquet Club is located inside of what we recently found out is called the "Lounge Building" (#902, between the RBC building and across from the fire station), which also houses the curling rink/skate park.

Verdict

Atii Fitness Centre

If your fitness interests call for a variety of classes, and you're looking for a no-frills place to break a sweat, Atii gives you the best bang for your buck. To learn more about the Atii Fitness Centre, follow them on Facebook.

Racquet Club

If you want more flexible hours, more amenities, and a social scene (and don't mind paying the extra upfront cash), then join the Racquet Club. To get more information, drop in to the club or give them a call at +1 867 979 6766.

Are you a member at any of the Iqaluit gyms? Let us know about your experience in the comments or via Facebook!