In sweetness and in health: Is there a conspiracy between Edmonton fitness clubs and bakeries?

It was a sweet tip: a CBC listener wondered if there was a conspiracy between her gym and the bakery next door.

The two 118th Street businesses — Custom Fit Personal Training Studio and The Art of Cake — seem to exist harmoniously while simultaneously presenting an apparent conundrum to customers. 

That tip launched a tongue-in-cheek investigation in which Edmonton AM found multiple instances of workout locales within sniffing distance of an edible guilty pleasure. 

It was a delicious job, but someone had to do it.

In short order, we found an Anytime Fitness location in Old Strathcona which is across the road from Crave Cupcakes and Ohana Donuterie. Downtown, an Orangetheory Fitness is around the corner from both La Carraia Gelateria and District Café & Bakery on 109th Street. Further west, the Glenora location of World Health Club occupies the same strip mall as Bliss Baked Goods.

Conspiracy? Collusion? We set off to find out.

An Edmonton AM investigation hints at a whiff of suspicion when it comes to teamwork between Edmonton’s fitness studios and bakeries. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

A sweet scheme in the city

Our news tipper suggested that smells from the bakery drift toward the fitness establishment during working hours, acting as a “lure” that attract gym-goers to pick up a sweet treat after their calories are expended.

Custom Fit owner Jeff Woods said there is a whiff of truth to the statement.

“The aroma, this wafting aroma of cinnamon that just came out of The Art of Cake, it’s not uncommon,” Woods said.

“We get these beautiful little hints every day in the gym.”

Jeff Woods, owner of Custom Fit Personal Training Studio, says odours from the neighbouring bakery often wafts into the gym. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

The gym has been at its location for 17 years, while The Art of Cake just opened its doors in the strip mall in March.

Since opening, both businesses report seeing benefits.

“From a business perspective, it’s nice to have other businesses that are well-run because it attracts people to the area,” says Woods.

Gloria Bednarz, owner of the Art of Cake, says the bakery’s proximity to the gym was unintentional.

“We just wanted to belong to a really nice area, and it just so happened that Custom Fit was next door,” she said.

The distance between gyms and bakeries… sometimes mere steps away from each other. Coincidence or collusion? 5:19

A strong customer connection

But there is definitely clientele crossover.

Bednarz sees bakery customers in workout gear almost constantly throughout the day.

Adds Woods: “After they’ve worked out really hard, they can do something nice for themselves.” 

As for the customers, they are happy with the arrangement.

“We integrate treats into our activity,” said Donna Eggleston, who had participated in a pilates class then joined friends for coffee at The Art of Cake. 

She is clear that they would be doing the activity regardless, but added: “I suppose to a certain degree we think we’re allowed to have a few extra calories since we’ve burned a few.”

The Art of Cake, owned by Gloria Bednarz, sees many customers in varying styles of workout gear since opening in March. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

Saving citizen’s waists, weights and wallets

Ward 8 councillor Ben Henderson was asked if a zoning bylaw might be appropriate to spare citizens from the potential smell-traps.

“We tend to only put separation distances through things like say a liquor store and where kids might be, something where there might be a detriment to a certain part of the population,” he said.

“Let’s face it — if you exercise and have a doughnut afterwards, there’s a sort of balance to that.”

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