A different kind of personal training offers a no fuss, rough and tough way to get fit


Forget the fancy televisions, towel service, steam rooms and wall to wall mirrors that are included in a typical fitness facility, and take a step into the rugged Curry Barracks for a new take on getting fit.

 Zac Chalmers holds an Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary and has been a personal trainer for the past 15 years. He recently started a personal training-based fitness company he calls SMASH Conditioning, which he operates out of bay five on the old army base.

He says that SMASH is an acronym for “strong mind and strong heart,” and he believes there is a mind-body connection to obtaining fitness goals.

Inside this 90-year-old military building, the walls are bare and concrete with warehouse style trusses staring you down from 30-foot high ceilings.


“It provides a feeling of strength in the ‘built to last’ toughness of it,” Chalmers says.Mount Royal University girl’s basketball team members push tires during a workout at bay five.

Photo courtesy of: Zac Chalmers

There are no mirrors in the gym, “because I don’t want the people who look great to be vain and check themselves out in the mirrors all the time, and I don’t want the people who are overweight, who don’t feel good about their bodies looking in the mirror, and feeling self-conscious all the time.”

Chalmers says he has a couple mirrors he’ll pull out when he wants someone to see that they are doing an exercise wrong, so they can correct their form.

But for Chalmers it’s not about who looks the “prettiest” when they’re working out.

“It’s the rough, tough, army barracks,” he says. “Just come in and workout hard.”

There is no electrical equipment either.

Someone running with a couple of tires tied to them is what Chalmers says is his idea of high performance cardio equipment.

He says he uses old school exercises and functional training, which lets you use your own body weight; forcing you to learn to use your entire body effectively for overall strength and fitness, not just focusing on a single body part.

People from all walks of life can work towards their fitness goals with SMASH Conditioning.


General health and fitness client pulls tires and works her arms during a training session.

Photo courtesy of: Zac ChalmersChalmers has a wide range of clients that include the Mount Royal University’s women’s basketball team, the Canadian Armed forces and working mothers.

Kari Lambden Braun is a professional physical therapist and mother of two who has been working out at SMASH Conditioning for the past three years.

She says she originally began training with Chalmers because she wanted something that didn’t involve getting stuck in a gym. She also says she liked the option provided for training in a group with her friends.

“The atmosphere is great, you really push each other and the competitive nature of some of the drills keeps everyone trying their hardest.”

“It’s like an outside bootcamp, but inside. So when the fall comes and it’s wet and gross outdoors, you can do the same stuff inside,” she says.

With workout equipment that consists of tires, ropes, kettle bells and skipping ropes, there are many options when it comes to workouts.

“I really like the variety of different exercises and the fact that there’s no typical weight machines,” Lambden Braun says.


For example, she says there are 45 different ways to workout your hamstring, so they’re always doing something different and new, which keeps its fresh.A look inside bay five of the old military base.

Photo courtesy of: Zac Chalmers

She says the equipment at SMASH is unique and very effective.

“There is this canvas sac filled with about 40 pounds of sand. You have to pick this thing up, sling it over your shoulder and maybe do a couple of squats — so much better than doing a leg press machine at a gym.”

“Many personal trainers that work at gyms are limited by the equipment they have, and their imaginations,” Lambden Braun says. “With Zac (Chalmers), you could go a year —or 3 in my case — and never get bored because he’s always dreaming up some new way of torturing you or a new way of using the old equipment.”

Chalmers says that for many of his clients, SMASH is about maintaining physical fitness so they are able to be active outside the gym.

“For others, SMASH is about recovering from serious injuries or it is about mental stress relief from hectic schedules, which in turn helps to clear the mind for better focus on life outside bay five. And for some it is about becoming the best athlete one can be,” he says.

“But, for everyone, SMASH is about one thing… working hard.”

For more information visit SMASH Conditioning.


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