On Sanity, Sweatin’ It Out and Early Feline Obsessions with Anna Farrant of All City Athletics

Anna Farant in her element, throwing out a combination | All photos by Kezia Nathe

Midway down the Hastings alleyway between Abbott and Cambie a small circular sign indicates the entrance to All City Athletics, an underground boxing gym. Previously, All City was an exclusively outdoor operation; then they were situated out of Eastside Boxing Club‘s space. The Gastown location is new, but even to a newcomer it exudes a home-y and welcoming feeling that is the antithesis of the stereotypical workout environment. It’s partially the physical space – think low ceilings, dim lighting, and exposed brick and original foundation – but it’s also got a lot to do with co-owner, Anna Farrant, who runs the gym with her boyfriend, Jordan Bowers. As well as being physically strong – someone who I wouldn’t mind being caught in the aforementioned alley alongside (but not on the wrong side of) Farrant is strong in character. My first impression was that of someone warm, genuine and confident…

What neighbourhood do you live in and what makes it home? Gastown. Never a dull moment. Home is a Negroni at Pourhouse, coffee at Milano and lunch at Tacofino (not in that order).

Coffee or tea? All of the above. Currently off coffee but I am easy to fall off that wagon.

The cliché that you overuse? Right? Replaced “eh” maybe a couple years ago. Not sure if thats a cliche.

What keeps you up at night? Tomorrow.

Dogs or cats? Originally cats, so much so that people my whole life have bought me cat stuff. Actually one time I won the lottery when I was 8 and I bought a shit ton of cat stuffies. Then I met a couple dogs and fell in love. Dream life scenario: cat and dog as best friends…

Shoe of choice? York Athletics MFG, straight out of Boston. Fitness cross trainer and casual boxing shoe. We met them on Instagram and soon our love affair took off. You can actually purchase them at our new studio.

Your three role models? My Mom, who has the most realistic approach to life; my best friend, who can tell me when I am full of shit; and a variety of women who own their own studios in Vancouver who are my mentors: Barbie Bent of Lagree West, Ashley Ander of Ride Cycle Club, Jes Busch and Ella Jotie of Barre Fitness, and Keighty Gallager of Tight Club.

Favourite Vancouver building? Christ Church Cathedral on Burrard.

The thing that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? Diet Coke…that’s a food right?

The Vancouver restaurant you wish was open 24 hours? Somewhere that has grilled cheese. I was so devastated when the tiny little grilled cheese shop on Carrall and Cordova closed…even though every time I went there they were sold out.

Which local gym facility do you envy the most? Hmm…none…except any that have steam rooms in their change rooms. #secondlocation

First album that made you love music? Bob Sinclair – “Visions of Paradise”. ***Introduced to me by my Dad. That was when I fell in love with electronic music.

What was the last live concert you saw? JAY Z!! #blessed

“Exercise keeps me sane.”

Your all-time best Halloween costume? Same thing every year…A banana suit. And not like a shitty one. This was handmade for me. It even had a Chaquita Banana sticker on it. I normally wore it on my birthday but it also doubled as a Halloween costume.

What game did you love as a kid? Not sure if building forts in the forest counts as a game but it certainly was a good pastime. My brother forced me for years to play his games, i.e. handball tournaments, but I can’t say I loved it.

What’s the one thing about Vancouver’s boxing/fitness scene that you want to see changed the most? Loose lips sink ships.

The different career path that you could have gone on? Too many…I am just happy the variety of experiences I have translates into running my own business.

Three films you would gladly watch again? Bladerunner 2017. Casino (old fave). Fight Club (cliche fave).

Favourite dishes in YVR? Baked potato poutine – St Lawrence. Buffalo wing pizza – Virtuous Pie.

Under what circumstances would you join the army? If it was the right thing to do.

Favourite rainy day activity? In bed with no plans.

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What was the luckiest moment in your life? When my closest friends had an intervention — opened a door to recovery and I walked through it.

It’s five years ago. You just clocked out. Where to? Possibly have to have a beverage after my short stint as a bartender at The Bottleneck.

What are you the most proud of? Reinventing myself and being accountable for my mistakes.

What are you the least proud of? Ways I treated my parents when my substance abuse was unmanageable.

The best thing about boxing? The way you feel after.

The worst thing about boxing? Getting punched in the head.

The most challenging thing about opening a new business? That is never stops. It’s like having a giant baby.

The biggest/hardest lesson you learned running a business? That I have to be the best version of myself or everything I touch or interact with is affected. Actually, that’s likely applicable to life in general but I notice it very quickly at work because there are so many variables and opportunities to see how it shows up.

Words of advice for someone looking to change and/or establish new habits? Make manageable goals. Be consistent. Find a way to hold yourself accountable. For me, it was finding the reason that drove me to fall into habits that didn’t serve me. Usually the “habits” are a symptom of something else…

Your worst habit? These days, Instagram or social media. Sometimes I flick between all my apps and then do it all over again. The amount of times I find myself reaching for my phone to check my email only to see I looked at it two minutes ago makes me feel like a robot. I had a full spiritual experience when my phone broke once.

Your feelings about New Years resolutions? I try to not make black and white resolutions anymore. I find they set me up a little.

A resolution you broke? “I am never eating bread…starting Monday,” and repeat.

What/who are you thinking about when you’re training/hitting things? I am actually not thinking, which is why I love it so much. Moving meditation. When I daydream is when I envision punching people in the face.

When I daydream is when I envision punching people in the face.

Three tips for someone looking to ‘get in shape’? 1) Find a sport or exercise that you like. 2) Getting to the gym is literally the hardest part. 3) For me I try to not think of it terms of needing to do something to lose weight or look a certain way. I try to cultivate some compassion for my body and have a desire to be healthy. It seems to be less daunting and makes it easier for me to make healthy choices.

Why should women get in the ring? Hmm…I don’t know if everyone should, really. If you fall in love with boxing then it’s for sure worth a try. Some people hate it (which is totally understandable) but others love it. The one thing I will say is that sparring or fighting teaches you A LOT about yourself and how you handle conflict. It exposes you mentally and physically, which can be an amazing challenge if you’re up for it.

What does ‘strength’ mean to you? Strength to me means being authentic. It means that it’s ok for me to be vulnerable and it’s equally ok for me stand up for things I believe in. Maybe the strength comes from being honest with yourself in those moments.

What is your biggest weakness? Comfort. And mini eggs, so same-same.

The biggest obstacle you’ve encountered as a female boxer? Nothing that feels specific to being female. Mostly just being scared of something and walking through it.

Who inspires you? So many people, in ways they wouldn’t ever know.

The strange talent that you possess? I have cat-like reflexes. One time, I dropped a teapot and it stalled on my toe. Serious – my situational awareness makes me a prime candidate for the army. Maybe that’s why I should sign up.

The strange talent that you wish you possess? Flying. I always dream I can fly.

What is the one animal that scares you the most? Giant squid…terrifying.

If you had a motto what would it be? Good is the enemy of great.

What’s the key to a successful partnership, in your opinion? Clear guidelines on your roles.

What makes your partnership with Jordan Bowers work? We have always shared the same vision on what we want for the studio. The vibe, the program, the brand…everything down to the colours we choose.

The thing about working with Jordan that drives you up the wall? We have different concepts of time.

The best thing about working with Jordan? Sharing in the success. And designing our merch. Oh, and covering each other when we want a day off.

Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? Contracting some random heart disease when I was 18.

Trend that needs to die? People being famous on Instagram; and mini trampolines. Like, come on, how has someone not rolled an ankle yet?

Your favourite curse word? FUCK. But who doesn’t love that word? The amount of times daily I catch myself saying under my breath, “For fuck’s sake” – it just feels good.

Least favourite word? Fiancé. I recently got engaged and I just realized how uncomfortable that word makes me feel.

What object of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? A blanket my Dad gave me the day I was born. If someone tried to fuck with it I would punch them in the throat. #sensitivethug

Describe your boxing/fitness philosophy in ten words or less: Exercise keeps me sane.

The most beautiful place in the world? That I know of: Maui. And the beach near my parents’ place in Deep Cove on the Island.

Your first memory? Something to do with cats for sure.

The song that you could listen to on repeat for an hour? Changes weekly (Geminis, right?)

How would you like to be remembered? For having a generous spirit that helped others.

The best way to go, in the very end? Clear eyes, full heart. Arm tickles and maybe a cat purring in my bed.

There is 1 comment

  1. Wonderful, honest and fun interview, Anna! P.S. have you tried the grilled cheese at the Greedy Pig on Cordova?

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