The Guest List speaks with Dr. Sheldon Levy about his boutique CrossFit YKV gym and the importance of balance in your life
Physician and entrepreneur Dr. Sheldon Levy has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to business and medicine, and it comes as no surprise he took his passion for both to help people lead healthier fuller lives through exercise.
We spoke with Sheldon about his newest venture – CrossFit YKV, a CrossFit gym located in the heart of Yorkville, that opened its doors April 1. Unlike the warehouse-style settings of most CrossFit gyms, CrossFit YKV is a boutique-style fitness facility complete with high-end equipment and upscale amenities that has been designed specifically for the Yorkville clientele.
A true CrossFit-aficionado, Sheldon competes in the CrossFit Open and local CrossFit competitions. He opened CrossFit YKV to serve as an exclusive fitness retreat for its members and to create the luxurious CrossFit gym in Toronto.
Follow CrossfitYKV on Instagram: @CrossFitYKV
1. You’re a doctor and entrepreneur – how did that come about?
I always knew I wanted to combine medicine with business so when I finished medical school, I decided to practice emergency medicine as it allowed for the most flexible time management. An opportunity presented itself in the mid-‘90s when a group of professionals (lawyers) started an exporting company sending used North American medical equipment to China.
They felt having a North American trained doctor as the lead spokesperson would be most appropriate and they asked me to join. Shortly after we grew the business to include Cuba, North Africa and the Middle East, and did work for a United Nations agency based out of Vienna. Early in 2003, another opportunity presented itself to buy a Canadian company that specialized in providing medical assessments to the insurance industry – I ran that company for eight years, selling it in November 2011. Since then my business partner and I have focused our investment portfolio in the financial services industry, real estate and various tech start-ups. A long answer to a short question – basically I got lucky!
2. How did your passion for CrossFit begin?
Sometime in 2007, I began to feel ‘bad’ about myself. I was working crazy hours, eating poorly and just felt terrible. I decided to do something about it and I started with a personal trainer a couple of times a week, fixed my diet somewhat and discovered spinning (my favorite spin place is Spynga). As my obsession for fitness and results grew, I found I had plateaued and was in need of a greater challenge – that is when I found my current trainer Blair Lyon, who of course is now my partner at CrossFit YKV. I began training with Blair in March 2011 and it was Blair who introduced me to CrossFit. Slowly at first, always focusing on technique and safety, Blair has taken me to a level of fitness I could never have imagined. My obsession with spinning and a never ending refinement of my diet closes the circle.
3. You launched CrossFit YKV on April 1 – What makes this gym different than other CrossFit gyms?
So many things…
First of all there’s the old real estate adage – Location, Location, Location! Situated in Yorkville, at the corner of Avenue and Davenport, we are centrally located for those that live in Yorkville, Rosedale, Forest Hill and the Annex – in addition to being a convenient location for those that commute along Avenue Road.
Next is our head coach Blair Lyon. Simply put no, one else has him. Blair understands programming, scalability and customizing exercise routines to fit group and individual needs, capabilities and goals better than anyone else I have come across. And his philosophy extends directly to the other instructors he has brought on board, a collection of extremely fit, personable and highly motivated individuals.
Our facility. We are creating something that simply does not exist anywhere else. Boutique in style, the best equipment, fully equipped change rooms, a multitude of classes, personal training, open gym, powerlifting, an Olympic weight lifting school, rehabilitation services, retail space – all combine to make us much more than a gym, we intend to be a destination for a community within a community.
4. What can members expect to see at CrossFit YKV? And Are walk-ins passes available?
They can expect to walk into a beautiful environment – flush with natural light, five-star hotel-like standards for cleanliness and amenities, the best of equipment, a friendly and engaged staff and a strong ownership presence. Blair and/or I will be there every day of the week, 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day only) to engage with and be a part of the lives of our members and community.
In addition to selling 12-month and six-month class packs, we have a month to month option, 10 class packs and a drop-in fee for one-off classes.
5. What are your tips for people who want to try CrossFit for the first time?
First and foremost is not to be afraid or intimidated by the word CrossFit. CrossFit exists at the intersection of gymnastics, endurance training and weight lifting – as such there are a number of skills that one can only develop with time and practice and of course patience. CrossFit, when properly instructed, is a slow and gradual process of scaling your effort, skills and weights in accordance with your abilities and goals. Understand this. Have confidence in the ‘box’ you choose and the people who are there to help you. Ask questions. Know your goals. Be consistent. Get involved. Be a part of the community. Be encouraged and encourage others. I could go on and on!
6. What is your advice to people experiencing a slump in their fitness/wellness routines?
As an athlete and a physician, the first thing you have to think of is overtraining. Are you taking sufficient rest days, are you sleeping, what is your diet. The concept of overtraining is first and foremost and requires immediate correcting to avoid burn-out and/or injury.
Beyond that (and speaking from personal experience), a ‘slump’ in any aspect of our lives, be it fitness, or otherwise, is often related to boredom from a particular routine. When I am ‘slumping’ for whatever reason (other than overtraining) I try to change things up. I alter my workouts, meals, daily routine, what have you, in an effort to reinvigorate myself.
Again, putting on my stethoscope, I can’t stress enough the concept of ‘balance’ in one’s life to avoid if not minimize negative influences, be that altered mood or injury. Eat, work and play all in balance with each other, with a view toward having a long, healthy and fit life (that of course revolves around CrossFit!)
In January 2000, Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski launched rock-it promotions, a full-service public relations firm. She’s had the opportunity to work with Helen Mirren, James Brown and more, while rock-it promotions clients include World MasterCard Fashion Week, Taste of Toronto and Arts & Crafts’ Festival Music House, among others. Visit www.rockitpromo.com, www.onthefourthfloor.com or at @rockitpromo