When Trevor Linden walks through a shopping mall, people tend to notice.
"I've already taken six pictures today (of people wanting their photograph with the retired Vancouver Canuck), let's put it that way," said Chuck Lawson, a business partner with Linden in the world of fitness.
Their latest Club 16-Trevor Linden Fitness/She's Fit location is due open next February at Central City Shopping Centre, in 20,000 square feet of sky-lit space.
Lawson, the South Surrey-based CEO and president of the fitness company, sought a business partnership with Linden a few years ago, drawing on Lawson's 25-plus years in the industry and Linden's marketability and passion for fitness.
"I've never done things if I didn't feel authentically connected to them," Linden said during a tour of the Central City facility, still taking shape, "but the fitness side of things is something I believe in, no matter the age, shape or size of a person."
The Whalley/Central City area is already home to a Steve Nash Fitness World club nearly 48,000 square feet in size, a Fit For Women gym, North Surrey rec centre and other fitness facilities.
The "average person" is a target market for the Linden-Lawson enterprise, launched in February 2011 with a Club 16 in Coquitlam and since expanded to include facilities in Vancouver and Burnaby.
The Club 16/She's Fit at Central City, first for the company to be built in an indoor mall setting, is cleverly designed to include an escalator from a rooftop parkade.
"We like Surrey," said Linden, "especially what's happening here with SFU and the new city hall and revitalization of the area. It's an up-and-coming spot. And our business model really fits the demographic, at a great price point people can identify with."
Added Lawson: "We'll put another one of these somewhere else in Surrey, too."
The arrival of Trevor Linden Fitness at Central City will compete with fitness facilities as distant as 108th Avenue in Guildford, at the Curves club operated by Angela McLaughlin.
"We have a slightly different clientele, demographic," McLaughlin told the Now. "Our philosophy is no men, no mirrors, no makeup."
These days, Linden says he keeps fit by cycling, including some long-distance races in Europe and elsewhere.
"I'm a different fit now than when I played hockey - more aerobically fit," Linden said.
"I don't push as much weight as I used to, and I'm probably 20 pounds lighter than when I played. Back then, I had the big butt and big legs, but when I retired from hockey I said that's it, no more squats, because they hurt. I just do vanity workouts to look good now," he added, laughing.