Aspria welcomes many interesting personalities. Gwen Van Aken is a particularly unusual one who visits the gym at Aspria Brussels Royal La Rasante with a very specific goal: training for his next “IceCross Downhill” race. This ice hockey player has become a celebrity in the sport he’s passionate about – and let’s be honest, he’s a bit of a daredevil too – and he fears neither the speed nor the cold when he’s hurtling down ice “tubes” at speeds of up to 80kmph!
“I feel good when I arrive at the club. First and foremost because I know I’m going to do a productive training session, but also because it’s such a soothing place. I like the atmosphere and the cleanliness of this family club with its very easy-going members. The layout and the general décor are very pleasing: the entrance, the superb reception area, the restaurant, the workout areas. That does it for me! ”
“The thing I like best about the gym is the new functional area, with its special flooring, the music, the coloured lights… It’s stimulating and it’s a particularly interesting way to work all your muscles, something indispensable in my discipline. I try to work more than one muscle at a time, and to exercise the whole muscle chain. The advantage of functional training is being able to do traction and thrusting exercises, so you can work around your whole body. And there’s an added dimension, in that you can gain a muscle reflex. To do “IceCross Downhill”, you need to work the legs to get a good start to the race and to stay stable when you’re bunched up with other racers; you need to work your upper body for stability when you’re in the air; and the shoulders and arms must be powerful enough to protect yourself from potential falls….”
“I may well know my own sport, but when it comes to something very specific, I need someone who can tell me the precise way to train certain muscles. I also like to have someone to motivate me, someone who is there to tell me: “Get moving buddy!” when I haven’t been to the club for a couple of days! Patrick Pindeville, my coach at Aspria, supervises me and recommends the adjustments I need for a challenging workout. What I like about Patrick is that he really dedicates himself to what he’s doing and he’s always in the know. He does training courses to keep up to date with the latest developments and he doesn’t rest on his laurels. Sport evolves. It’s a bit like medicine. The methods are evolving all the time and he’s really interested in that, which means he always has the best approach.”
“The general environment at the club, with the spa, the terrace in summer and the smiles of the staff who I’m getting to know more and more, those things mean that I can spend hours there without noticing the time passing. Once my sports season ends in March, I’ll need to get back into training all over again for the next season. I’ll give myself a few lighter weeks, and then I’ll start again coming here every day! (Laughs) In fact, Aspria is my second home!”
With his humour and his warmth, he’s already made an impact in “Sans chichis” and “Un gars, un chef”. Television viewers continue to see him every day on La Une, presenting “Vis ta mine” and “Le grand cactus”. When he’s not in the studios on boulevard Reyers, Adrien Devyver withdraws far from the airwaves at the club Aspria Brussels Royal La Rasante.
“You switch off the moment you drive into the car park at Aspria: the telephone goes onto silent, the car boot opens, you grab your sports bag and you’re off. You enter another dimension: zen, welcoming, sporting. All your senses are activated.”
“Aspria really is the perfect place to stop rushing around and to put some distance between yourself and the stress of work. I’m a total fan of the pool, for example. Swimming really helps me escape my everyday stress. All the spaces are perfectly laid out, the staff are always smiling and the hygiene is faultless in every area of the club. This world gives you time to refocus and to find the effort, or even the performance, depending on how you feel that day.”
“I pay particular attention to it because it’s a real bonus: the club’s people are its asset, as is the cleanliness. The staff are always ready to listen to you, ready to go the extra mile, and all the spaces are faultless. Not forgetting the friendliness of other members either. Playing sport in a world filled with smiles is extremely motivational. The equipment is well maintained and updated regularly, which makes the club a very modern place. The events organised by the staff are always enjoyable. On a more practical level, the fact that you have the benefit of a car park in the city is obviously a great advantage.”
“It’s difficult to find a single reason to visit the club, because there are so many! First of all, there’s the desire to keep your body healthy so that you’re at the top of your game in any circumstances, whether sporting or professional. The pace of my job means it’s essential to be in flawless physical condition. There’s also the relaxation element at the club, which is incomparable. After the effort, the reward! I always spend some time in the spa area after my daily session. It’s a space which allows me to switch off and refocus.”
“It’s impossible not to achieve your goals at the club! It’s so easy. Three years ago, I set myself the objective of developing my tennis classification. After three years of work, conditioning exercises, muscle chain work, stretching and recovery, I made it. And I’ve gone even further than I hoped. Aspria offers a multitude of possibilities for both physical and mental development.”
Belgian television viewers are on first name terms with her and know her face well: Armelle Gysen is one of RTBF’s star personalities. A host and presenter and mum to two little boys, Armelle juggles her professional and private lives. At Aspria, she’s found a delightful way to unwind as a family.
“I chose Aspria Brussels Royal La Rasante first and foremost because of its closeness to my home. I like the understated elegance of the club, the cosmopolitan membership and, above all, I chose a place for my children where we could all feel completely safe. The pool and garden were very important to me, so that my children would really enjoy coming here with me. Then I discovered the joys of the restaurant and every week we experience some time of pure happiness!”
“I’ve been particularly busy since I took over the ‘Les Ambassadeurs’ show on RTBF, and I’ve sometimes found it difficult to take time out to devote to my wellbeing. That’s why I’ve instituted a ritual with my children: a relaxation day at La Rasante, with a very specific programme. We start off in the little pool where they love to splash about while I relax in the Jacuzzi right beside them. Then we go into the big pool where my eldest, who is five years old, is learning to swim. With empty stomachs after swimming, we make the most of the restaurant: I choose a healthy little lunch and the children love their croque monsieur which has become a weekly treat, together with the fresh fruit juice of the day!”
“I discovered the joys of the dedicated facilities for children, particularly the childcare for the littlest ones. I leave my two sons there and then I can benefit from different group classes, with a preference for the ‘Body & Mind’ classes: Pilates, tai-chi, stretching and yoga… I adore them! It really is my little treat, my special time! And I must admit, I’m looking forward to the fine weather to let the children play and run around in the garden. This outdoor space is a real added benefit for me.”
“La Rasante is more than a sports club, it’s also a very friendly place. I meet old friends here, and social and professional acquaintances too. Because the club is so close to our home and their school, my children meet their school friends here too. I get to meet their parents, so it works really well.”
“My little two-hour personal programme counts as one of my favourite times at La Rasante: a Pilates or tai-chi class, fifteen minutes of swimming, into the sauna and hammam, an ice shower and then I finish up with a fresh fruit juice. And the children are well cared for the whole time. It’s the most invigorating and soothing thing possible!”
A sports commentator specialising in F1 races and presenter of ‘Le Week-end sportif’ on RTBF, amongst others, sports fans will recognise him from their sofas with their eyes closed. When he’s not at the studio, Gaëtan Vigneron switches from journalism to playing sport himself, and he comes to recharge his batteries at Aspria Brussels Royal La Rasante.
“I knew La Rasante at the time when it was still just a tennis and hockey club. I used to go there now and then, sometimes to play tennis or just to get together with friends. It’s a bonus that it’s not too far from my home. When I saw the facilities of Aspria Brussels Royal La Rasante for the first time, I was delighted by the location, the décor, the ease of parking, the cleanliness and the green setting which really promotes relaxation and wellbeing.”
“I’ve been on the AspriaPro programme for a few months. I started with the assessment test and calculation of my biological age. I wasn’t really convinced, but I have to admit it was a pleasant surprise even if my results weren’t excellent…. It sparked my conscience and motivated me for the next steps. I’ve changed my diet and I come to the club at least twice a week. After 2 or 3 months, I took a blood test with a doctor friend who told me: ‘You’re 55 and your results are superb – I’d sign up without a second thought to have the same!’ I was over the moon! As far as I’m concerned, the AspriaPro programme can only be a positive!”
“I was a biscuit junkie, I ate them all day, as well as waffles, chocolate, desserts. The AspriaPro coach advised me to stop eating them. And that’s what I did! By eating in a more balanced way and becoming more regular in my sports practice, I felt a physical difference very quickly. And the people around me noticed it too, which was great. I’m sure, because I can feel it, that the second assessment as part of the AspriaPro programme will be even better than the first!”
“When the weather’s good, I try to play tennis once a week. But you have to admit that in Belgium, with the rain, it’s not straightforward…. If I’m not overseas following the F1 grand prix, I try to come twice a week for a Milon session and 20 or 30 lengths of the pool.”
“The Milon programme was recommended to me after my AspriaPro assessment. At first I was sceptical because I’m not a fan of gyms and their machines. The Milon is a superb invention! It’s not boring; each circuit takes about 17 minutes with 8 different machines and it’s very well laid out. Each machine adapts itself automatically to my body shape thanks to a magnetic card which stores my biometric information. There’s no need to do any fine-tuning. I usually do two circuits and I really don’t notice those 35 minutes passing. I go on to the pool and I feel in top form!”
She has motorsport in her blood: the daughter of Jacky Ickx, world famous under the name ‘Monsieur Le Mans’, she’s also a former professional driver. Vanina Ickx brought her career to a close in 2012, but she still lives life at 100km/h between the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium and her life as a mum. To keep in shape, she chose Aspria Brussels Royal La Rasante.
“I feel well at La Rasante. I find everything I need there to recharge my batteries and to work out. The setting is beautiful and the surroundings are refined. The welcome is always warm which is essential for me. I’ve also found a family dimension which is relevant to me too.”»
“The AspriaPro programme is completely innovative. It allows everyone who’s concerned about wellbeing and healthy living to benefit from tests which were previously only available to elite athletes. This series of tests helps to draw up a comprehensive profile of your state of health and to determine your biological age… which is 34 years old for me! After the test, I really paid attention to the quality of the fatty acids I’m eating. I try to choose fresh, seasonal food, without preservatives, and preferably cultivated organically. I avoid processed products as far as possible. In terms of sport, I know that I need to increase my cardio activity.”
“My personal trainer, Patrick Pindeville, has really brought me round to coaching. Before, it seemed absurd to do things with someone beside me, when I could do them perfectly well on my own with a little willpower. Patrick showed me that his role can add a completely different dimension. I do exercises with him that I can’t do on my own. We work muscle groups using movements from the circus or gymnastics. We hardly ever do the same thing twice! With him, I have fun. I lose track of time… but I can feel that I’ve moved on!”
“I admit I haven’t made the most of the Milon circuit and the machines in the cardio area… When I can, I prefer to train outdoors to improve my cardio-respiratory capacity. But I discovered the Functional Zone. The first time I went there, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I really asked myself: ‘What can all these instruments be for?’ I admit I was quite reluctant at first, but I followed Patrick and he showed me how to use the apparatus at each session for a functional workout. A different approach, more fun and modern, to strengthen the muscles by using the body’s natural movements. This room will soon become an essential for me, all that’s missing is a trampoline!”
“After a few weeks of the AspriaPro programme, I can say that I feel well. I can even say I feel better. And I want to go further with it and to make even more progress. I have so much more to discover.”
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