Fitness has been a life-long passion for the Our Lady Peace frontman, who recently launched Union, a triple-disciplinary fitness studio (barre, spinning, TRX) that’s a lot more chill than your average GoodLife. We sat down with Maida to discuss his latest venture, the Chavril wedding, and why his hands may or may not be lethal weapons.
The Union press release says you want to change the face of fitness in Canada.
Ha, yeah, I thought so. What’s wrong with it now?
The gym thing has always been kind of intimidating to me. I don’t want to mention specific places, but I’ve gone into these huge rooms with all of these huge machines and weights and seeing all these people grunting and moaning. I grew up doing martial arts, where the vibe is very zen-like, so my preference is to exercise in a more simple environment.
What lead you to martial arts?
My dad’s a second-degree black belt, so it was sort of natural for me to be interested. Even though some of it is very explosive, karate is very peaceful and you’re always using your own body weight. It’s sort of similar to dance in terms of the movement.
What belt did you get to?
I heard somewhere that as a black belt you are legally obliged to identify your hands as a lethal weapon before getting into a fight. Is that true?
I don’t think so. A black belt in traditional karate doesn’t really mean much anymore. Martial arts have come so far with MMA.
Can you give me the Union sales pitch? What makes the place so different?
A lot of what I mentioned before in terms of vibe—it’s a peaceful, simple workout space and there are a lot of really cool classes. The ballet-bar workout was developed with Heather Ogden, who is a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. I’ve done that workout a couple of times and it is definitely a challenge. We have TRX, which is amazing. You use these straps to suspend yourself and then it’s about pulling your own body weight. It’s a Navy Seals workout, so it’s pretty strenuous. And then the third element is spinning, which I hate. It’s a great workout, it’s just not my thing.
How does an alt-music guy become a gym owner?
We had this space, and it just seemed like a good fit and something that wasn’t available elsewhere in the city. This is where Our Lady Peace has been rehearsing for 15 or 16 years, so it’s very special. But the area outgrew us. There are so many condos here now. We’d try to rehearse and some dad would be knocking at the door, saying, “Hey, my kids are trying to sleep. Love the band, but…” We just felt like it was time to get out of here, and then a friend suggested the Union concept.
Have you always been into clean living or did you go through a cigarettes and heroin phase?
I went through phases, for sure. But probably from the way I grew up, it’s always been more about trying to live clean. Now I’ve got three kids. I’ve got to stay in shape.
You’ve been married to Chantal Kreviazuk for a long time now. What’s the best thing about being with another musician?
Well, we get to work together, and the other nice thing about having someone in the same field is that our lives are so crazy she totally gets how it works.
You guys met at a Pearl Jam concert. What do you remember about that night?
I don’t remember the concert. We were both on the Sony label at the time, so we were in the [private] box. She was in front of me and she turned around and we started talking. After the concert, we went to the Rivoli. That was kind of it.
Is there another concert in your life that was most memorable for musical reasons?
I think that would be seeing Itzhak Perlman. He’s an incredible classical violinist. As a musician, you look to people who have come close to mastering their instrument and that’s about the closest I’ve seen.
You’ve also done a ton of songwriting with and for other artists—Avril Lavigne, Pink, Carrie Underwood. How does that differ from writing for the band or for yourself?
It’s totally different. It’s about sitting in a room with an artist and pulling from them. Something needs to come from them first. To be honest, it’s not my favourite thing to do. Sitting in a room with an artist trying to write a hit song…it’s kind of depressing. From a creative standpoint, that’s not a great place to begin.
Speaking of Avril, I guess you heard that she’s with Chad Kroeger.
I did see that. They’re engaged, right?
Right. Are you a Nickelback fan? And please remember, you are under oath.
Ha! I listen to mostly old music. I don’t listen to the radio, really. I’ve heard Nickelback’s stuff, of course, and, obviously, Avril lived at our house for four months when I was writing with her.
Any chance you and Chantal will be invited to the Chavril wedding?
I don’t really think so. I think she and Chantal had a falling out.
Jays or Leafs?
Lady Gaga or Beyoncé?
Person you most admire?
Chinese, Thai, or Indian food?
Most treasured article of clothing?
My 12-year-old pair of black army boots.
Song you wish you’d written?
“Johnny Appleseed,” by Joe Strummer.