If you flex in Vancouver, you probably know Keighty Gallagher. A former collegiate track and field star, Keighty left the sport frustrated, overworked, and tired, only to return to her hometown of Vancouver to start Tight Club, a lifestyle and fitness studio for individuals who value active bodies, creative minds, and balanced lives. We first met Keighty a year or so ago, and reunited when Team OV headed to Vancouver for a series of IRL events, including an OV Joggers Club with Keighty and the Tight Club community. We recently caught up with Keighty about life after competitive sports, how exercise helped her overcome depression, and why it's OK to take some time off to surf and smooch your lover.
You grew up a competitive track athlete. You even competed in college. How has your perspective on exercise changed since then?
I left my sport during a very jaded time in my life. My experience competing in Division 1 Athletics sterilized my love of movement. The coaching was riddled with fear and I didn't feel like my needs were being met from a developmental standpoint.
I grew up on Vancouver Island working with coach with a very unique style - my coach wanted me to know my body, the physics of the movement, and enough education to be able to coach myself based on feel, if he wasn't around.
I lifted heavy weights over my head and I felt like a boss. I defined myself as a speed and power athlete. I found my wings jumping backwards over bars, passing batons to my team mates, and socializing in the community ice baths.
Someone once called the sport of track and field "professional exercising". It's kinda true. Now that I'm in a position where I get to lead movement classes, I make it my goal to incorporate some of the functional elements from my past track and field training. It allows my clients to believe they are back on a team. It's fun! And thats how it should always be.
How did your perspective from your collegiate days inspire Tight Club?
By the end of my collegiate athletic days, injury and depression got the best of me. I moved back to Vancouver hungry for an active community to challenge and support me in my pursuit of living that "Tight Life".
The truth is... I wasn't able to find this community, so I took it into my own hands to create it. The people I was surrounding myself with were artists, servers... basically, non-identifying exercise type. I wanted to change the way they felt about fitness. I wanted to take away the stigma of being a jock, and to teach them to become students of movement. I started developing theme-based workouts to transport my buds away from the concept of exercise, and to make it as playful, educational and unintimidating as possible.
Fast forward 6 years, I'm about to celebrate our third birthday in the Tight Club Field House (which is a block away from the field we started in) and I can honestly say our TIGHT VIBES have never been stronger. On the daily we make exercise more accessible, friendly, safe, supportive and challenging to all bodies who walk through our doors.
After you made the leap to go full throttle with Tight Club, were there moments where you doubted your decision? Also, what moments helped validate your decision?
I really rode the "ignorance is bliss" train as long as I could. I had this voice in the back of my head that kept tell me to get more legit, every day. But that's not to say I went from zero-to-hero. I took things slow. I invested my own money to grow our programs, and each month I chipped away at the pursuit of being more legit. Hearing the community speak about how Tight Club has changed their lives is the ultimate validation.
I once heard you say you dreaded running long distance! What is your daily routine like and how does running figure into it?
Hah! It's so true, running is not my thing. Running to me is such a nice fantasy. I dream of the day where my body and mind will unite in a dreamy run along the seawall, but in reality, I get my kicks lifting weights and ripping through Vancouver on my road bicycle.
You just took your first break since you started Tight Club three years ago. Has a sabbatical inspired you? What do you have on the horizon?
I put a lot of expectations on myself for this sabbatical. I envisioned myself landing in California and diving head first into the projects I kept on pushing aside. I was hungry for inspiration and thought that meant signing up for a million classes and packing my days to the brim.
But to be honest, what really happened was the opposite. I slept 10 hours a night, I smooched my lover, I surfed most days, I spent my time doing things outside, and it really made me appreciate the training I do inside. It made me aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and allowed me time to think about designing better programs at Tight Club to support the activities we like to do outside more. My break was truly a break, and my body and mind thanked me for it.