Waterloo’s own Gentle Gym is not your average workout space. The patrons of the gym, instead of being focused on bodybuilding, focus on building up the body.

Gentle Gym is an offshoot of agape therapy, meaning members of the gym are mostly physical therapy patients suffering from chronic pain, geriatric issues or other lasting problems. It’s for anyone who feels they need a little more help.

“Anybody that doesn’t feel comfortable somewhere else and wants a little more personal care so it’s something we always provide,” Riley Bonnstetter, wellness specialist, said.

Before applying for a membership, Gentle Gym gives the customer an assessment from a physical therapist and a 3D body scanner. These help create a program suited specifically for their individual needs. They also do reassessments, to see if the exercise is effective.

The gym includes equipment you’d see at any regular gym, but with some extra bonuses, including a therapy pool with an underwater treadmill, an infrared sauna, to target healing at a cellular level, and a massage chair.

The one thing you won’t see is mirrors. When signing up for the gym each member gets a journal and is encouraged to use it.

“There’s a lot of research behind journaling and writing down our feelings we have cards on our library here that also provoke people here with questions about themselves or how their feeling or even external things so there’s a lot of research thats done especially with chronic pain getting people to think about their pain differently than just I hurt.”

While the gym focuses on the healing of the body it also tackles healing of the mind by trying to create an open community for everyone to join.

“Right now I’m sitting in what we would call our living room,” Bonnstetter said. “It is a specific place in our gym for members to come sit and relax, hopefully to connect with each other when the rest of the development is open to run down grab a coffee grab a juice come here drink it really do promote a camaraderie that people need and the connections for members to realize that they are not the only people going through what they have.

“They can feel very isolated and I think that we are trying to provide a place to make members realize that they are not the only ones there’s a lot of other people in the area with the same things going on and that there’s a lot of people that they can connect with and reflect with.”



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