Workout with Monika: Getting fit with rice bags and skateboards at Anchored Social Club
An unusual style of exercise that leaves no room for excuses
Monika does squats with a rice bag on her forearms
Image: CJ Baek
Anchored Social Club is located in a cool, industrial space. After eyeing the rice bags, skateboards and rings, I know this is not going to be a typical workout.
Owner Ben Dussault manipulates my body into positions it has never been in before and often there is a squash ball in the most uncomfortable of places (like my underarm or my hip).
He then asks, “Does that suck?”
“Yes,” I respond.
“Good. It should suck,” he says matter of factly.
Quebec-born Dussault is a musician. While touring, he came up with a technique using whatever he could find — people, equipment, furniture and personal body weight — to exercise, because he never knew what facilities would be available.
“It didn’t matter what kind of excuses I came up with. There was a workout waiting to happen anywhere I was,” Dussault says.
The workout he is taking me through is the second phase. Usually on the initial one-hour visit, he prefers to do a complete physical assessment; recognizing your strengths, weaknesses and injuries.
The second phase is generally 30 minutes and is there to see if you’ve been practicing and doing your homework from the initial visit, and to monitor if changes have occurred.
Today’s session is a combination of FMS (Functional Movement Systems) and FRC (Functional Range Conditioning) as well as what he calls the most important parts of working with the human body: “Creativity, passion, trust, intuition, play and patience.”
Dussault has me balancing on a skateboard, boxing with an exercise ball and lifting a wooden plank that he is balancing on.
The classes typically have six to eight people in them. He says small groups allow for each person to take away a bit of self-knowledge and get some solid attention.
Bigger groups happen on Saturdays, when the focus is on fun and connection with others. Monthly memberships are $70.
“We treat the workout as a stepping stone to the next phase and avoid pushing individuals to the point of complete failure,” he says.
The program is completely based on the individual, no cookie-cutter workouts. Dussault trains a client who surfboards professionally, and his workout involves a lot of corrective and strengthening work.
They have a diverse group of clients and Dussault maintains that this style of exercise is suitable for anyone aiming to be healthier.
“I like the idea of people becoming more patient with themselves and life, loving themselves a little more and comparing themselves to others less. Love more, compare less,” he says.
Dussault is motivated to keep workouts very real, raw, challenging and fun.
My body five days later still feels the effects of the workout (in a good way), especially the range of motion in my arms as they had become stiff carrying around my 40-pound toddler, Bode, every day. This experience changed me and the way I look at workouts. No more excuses.