From the outside, the long, boxy trailer sitting at the back of a non-descript gravel parking lot appears no more exotic than any container you’d see behind any semi truck on any highway on the continent.
This one, sitting just across the border in Surrey, is smooth and white — clearly brand new — and has the words “Reel Workouts” painted on the side in black and white lettering, accompanied by an image of a movie camera to drive home the play on words.
The trailer’s owner, Mike Sturgeon, hops up the small flight of metal stairs on one side, opens a panel and pushes a button. Slowly the right side of the trailer slides out. He pushes another button and the left side follows suit. At the same time — though the movement is imperceptible — the trailer is leveling itself.
“Climb in,” he invites.
Viewed from the inside, this trailer is far from ordinary.
Lining the two long walls are 11 weight machines, a treadmill and elliptical trainer — each row divided by a decorative wood floor.
At the far end, stacked in front of a large mirror, is a full set of free weights. At the other end, a flat screen television is tucked into European mahogany cabinets, which will soon also house a small fridge and a stereo set.
The trailer is, in fact, a mobile gym for A-list celebrities to use while they’re on set filming the next Hollywood blockbuster.
From floors to cabinets to fitness equipment, Sturgeon has spared no expense in outfitting the massive unit.
“I want them to feel like they’re in a room, not a trailer,” he said of the big name clients he hopes to entice with the nearly 900 square feet of air-conditioned workout space he is offering.
Reel Workouts has been in business for the past 10 years and this is the third, and by far the largest, mobile gym Sturgeon has had built for the Langley-based company.
At 53 feet (16 metres) it is the longest load permitted on the road, Sturgeon’s research told him.
Closed, it fits neatly into its own lane of traffic; open, it’s a full 16 feet (five metres) wide.
His is not the only trailer offering mobile workout service to the stars, but as far as he knows, it’s the biggest and the only one to offer a full 11-piece circuit.
After seeing a 36-foot-long (11-metre) mobile gym in the U.S. Sturgeon was determined to build something even grander.
“Size is everything,” quips the 6’5” personal trainer.
Bigger may be better, but drawing A-list actors to his mobile gym means pulling out all the stops. And Sturgeon has equipped it the way he believes his biggest clients want it.
“I had five actors in mind when I designed it,” he said. “Will Smith, Vin Diesel, John Cusack, Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman.”
In fact, he’s already sent an info package to Jackman’s people, with the idea the actor may want to rent it while he’s filming The Wolverine — another X-Men spinoff — due to be released in 2013.
“I geared a lot of the machines around him,” Sturgeon said.
“In this industry, they like nice stuff. I wanted there to be no compromise with this.”
That meant installing top-of-the-line equipment. The only way to get more expensive machines would be to plate these ones in gold, he quipped.
After all, he reasons, what good is having the biggest trailer if the equipment is only so-so?
Sturgeon declined to say how much the unit cost to build, but revealed that the figure was roughly twice what his first house — a bungalow in Richmond — cost. And, he added, it’s bigger.
It was during the time he lived in the tiny bungalow that Sturgeon started his first , similar, business — Have Gym, Will Travel — in which he and his wife Anne, both personal trainers, bring the gym to the client. They’re still doing that, but as their training days wind down, Sturgeon wanted to branch into other areas of the fitness industry.
“It’s a business we know, it was a natural progression. I wasn’t going to be splitting atoms in my spare time,” he laughed.
So when work began, a little over a year ago, he left the complex engineering to the experts at ITV, a Surrey trailer company.
The manufacturing process alone took eight months, he said.
The trailer is designed so that all 13 machines fit snugly into the compressible space, coming within centimetres of each other when it is closed.
Each weighs between 500 and 1,100 pounds (225-500 kgs). Because they support all the equipment, with the exception of the free weights, each slide-out side panel had to be able to safely bear the equivalent weight of an SUV.
Sturgeon expects the trailer will be used in the U.S. and Toronto as well as on sets throughout greater Vancouver.
“When it can close to the size of a standard semi trailer,” he said, “it can be shipped anywhere.”