A shout-out to the gentlemen at Template Express

As some of you may know already, I’ve built another site (yay me) to mark the opening of TrainingSpaces — a new personal training and fitness studio at College and Manning in Toronto. (It’s run by my partner Laura. Let’s get that disclosure out of the way right off.)

You’ll pardon me, I hope, if I take a little bit of satisfaction in it. It’s easily the most complex site I’ve ever built, even if there have been hiccups along the way: Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, various plugins, SVGs, open-source gems like Inkscape, and so on. But the biggest part of it has been the theme selection, and that’s where Template Express comes in.

I settled on Gym Express because — surprise — it’s a theme designed specifically for gyms and fitness clubs. From here, I’ll just quote the testimonial I wrote for the developers.

This is a testament to the performance of Steven Gardner and Template Express. Too often phrases like “above and beyond” get thrown around so often, they lose their meaning. Steven, on the other hand, redefines it.

I was drawn to the Gym Express theme when my partner, a personal trainer, asked me to build her new website. After reviewing several free training-, health-, and fitness-centred themes, I settled on Gym Express because of the power and flexibility of its home-page template, and the versatility that offered. None of the other free themes I looked at had anything like it.

While I’d like to think I’m reasonably adept with WordPress, I’m not a developer or programmer, and my comfort with CSS, PHP and so on is rather modest. Most of the time I can work out my own problems given enough time, but I hit my limit when I couldn’t make the site’s main title, which resides in the home-page hero module but is actually pulled from another page, display properly on a smartphone. It was incredibly inflexible, impervious to CSS tweaks, several plugins, and even being hit with a hammer.

In desperation, I emailed Template Express for help; because I was working with the free version, I didn’t really expect a response, but I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. Not only did Steven get back to me — he was willing to take a look at my site and see if he could help. It took several days of back and forth and manoeuvring behind the site’s firewall (I hadn’t officially gone live yet); I created a user account for him so he could log in and look for himself, and followed his advice regarding disabling and re-enabling plug-ins and snippets. All of this was taking place via e-mail across multiple time zones.

Eventually Steven forwarded a couple of lines of code related to the mobile styles media query. Even now, I have very little idea what that even is, and at the time, I had no idea at all. Steven, patient man that he is, emailed me again telling me where to put it (and no, it’s not what it sounds like. Get your minds out of the gutter. Jeez.), and after a few different approaches, I found the right place for it in the site’s custom CSS. The site’s main title now appears on smartphones without running off the side of the display.

Keep in mind: Steven, according to his website, is part of a two-man team of developers in Scotland. The site makes it clear that they reserve support for their paid themes, and given that there are only two of them, it’s easy to understand why. And yet despite that, Steven was willing to go back and forth for weeks with some guy in Canada whose knowledge of CSS was rudimentary, whose experience building websites was limited, and most of all, who wasn’t even a paying customer! He helped me with so many aspects of site building, I know that if the site looks any good, it’s thanks to him.

In sum, Steven has shown incredible generosity. He went out of his way to help me, several times. He and Template Express extended a level of support and commitment that I really had no right to expect. Google and Facebook could learn from their example.

Sol Chrom
Toronto, Ontario


Res ipsa loquitur.

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