Gordon Denison has always looked at exercising a little differently. Not a fan of the traditional gym workout, he began seeking out alternative ways to stay in shape while living in Montreal. After moving back to the Valley and settling in Ormstown several years ago, he began teaching CrossFit-inspired exercise classes. Now known as Phit-G, his “pretty high-intensity training” sessions have grown quite the following.
“I love to work out. I love to exercise,” Denison says; and, as a kidney transplant recipient, “I need to have a healthy lifestyle.” He is accustomed to having to adapt or adjust exercises and workouts to his own needs. He also says he gets bored easily, and learned long ago that the secret to staying fit is keeping things interesting.
“Basically, I create a new playground for each class,” says Denison, who jokingly refers to himself as the “MacGyver of full-body fitness.” He incorporates the elements available in his environment into his workouts. He says childhood memories also inspire some of his exercises, as does watching his seven-year-old daughter dance and play.
Phit-G classes take place indoors during the winter months at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, where he coaches track and field in return for use of the premises. Training sessions take place outside during the summer at the school, which includes cross-country running trails, as well as the exercise modules and apparatuses installed outdoors as part of a 2020 initiative between the municipality of Ormstown and the school. When it rains, the classes move to the arena at the Ormstown fairgrounds.
“My goal is for people to have fun, feel better about themselves, and get into shape while doing it,” Denison says, noting people sometimes hesitate to join his classes out of concern they to be at a certain fitness level to participate. “I try to keep things flexible so it can be enjoyable for everybody,” he notes.
“He makes it fun, and that is the biggest thing right there,” says Glen Tannahill, who has been working out with Denison since before the start of the pandemic. “He has a good knowledge of how exercises can be safely adapted to everyone,” he says, noting how Denison is able to accommodate injuries and individual skill or comfort level.
Tannahill is an avid runner, but he says he appreciates the classes for their creativity. “Every few minutes you are changing exercises, and in a group, it makes it fun,” he says. “It improves my fitness and I miss it if I don’t go.”
Classes are open to everyone, including families with children, and take place on Monday and Thursday evenings at CVR for the time being.