Breaking a sweat before dawn

Nicolas Raymond-Nunes hits the gym to get a good workout early morning

Person lifting weights at the gym in front of mirror.
Nicolas Raymond-Nunes lifting weights at the Goodlife Fitness gym on Select Avenue in Scarborough. Russul Sahib/Toronto Observer

Nicolas Raymond-Nunes, 28, was born at 4:56 a.m. It comes as no surprise that he has always been an early riser. The GoodLife Fitness gym on Select Avenue in Scarborough is almost entirely empty, with one other woman working out in the far corner from him. 

This is not the usual gym atmosphere Raymond-Nunes would have if he had come at any other time of day. Right now, all equipment and weights are open for him to use and there is a certain quietness to a place that is normally packed with energetic spirits.

“The real grinders are up at 4. Period,” Raymond-Nunes said.

In Toronto, there are 14 Goodlife gyms that are open 24 hours a day. Raymond-Nunes does not usually go so early ⁠— he’s usually meditating at home. But he’s here today, and he believes in the importance of rising early to get a head start. 

Raymond-Nunes is an entrepreneur working on a nutritional smoothie business, Mama’s Moss. He also gives speeches on how to transition one’s eating habits. It comes as no surprise that he values productivity.

Raymond-Nunes’ typical gym routine consists of weight training followed by cardio. He also focuses on one body part every day of the week, such as his chest, back, arms or legs.  

Aside from the physical strength and ability needed for a good workout, Raymond-Nunes has always had his focus on being in the right state of mind to accomplish his goals.

“If you’re mentally strong, then everything will follow,” he says.

Being at the gym at 4 a.m. also helps him stay focused, but it also lacks the communal atmosphere that it has during regular daytime hours, he says.

“One of the reasons I love the gym atmosphere is the camaraderie within the other members,” Raymond-Nunes said.

The real grinders are up at 4. Period.

-Nicolas Raymond-Nunes

Shauna Brail, an associate professor in urban studies at the University of Toronto, says that there is no longer a single expectation for how people organize their schedules and that if there is a need for a particular service in the city, such as gyms or restaurants, then those businesses will remain open.

“The way people organize their lives are structured in different ways,” she said. “We no longer have the expectation that everybody who works or is a student completes their kind of regular daily activities during daylight hours,” Brail said. 

The demographics of Scarborough impact the flexibility and available time that the city’s residents have to accomplish different activities, she added. 

According to the City of Toronto’s 2016 census, Scarborough’s population is comprised of 57 per cent immigrants, as well as 73 per cent of the population being visible minorities.

“It might be that they’re up late speaking to family overseas, and then begin to go and do some of their other kinds of activities, Brail said. “Many activities take place on a clock that’s not necessarily based on Toronto time.”

As Toronto’s nightlife continues to adapt and change with its residents, Raymond-Nunes serves as a reminder Toronto never sleeps.

About this article

Posted: Oct 18 2019 2:35 pm
Filed under: Features Profiles Toronto at 4 a.m.