October is Small Business Month! To celebrate, we are introducing numerous amazing downtown business owners all month long. We talked to each owner to learn more about their business and individual experiences making downtown a vibrant community.
Meet Steve and Diana from Charge Fitness!
Steve moved back to Victoria five years ago. Originally a trained mechanic, he first came across Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) training while travelling in Mexico. He tried a workout there and was impressed by how effective, fast, and low-impact it was. He saw a lot of value for potential clients in Victoria to bring a low-impact form of exercise to the market. It seemed like a good fit, so he moved here and opened Charge Fitness!
Diana moved to Victoria in 2020. She and Steve got married and she became an EMS trainer as well. Originally an industrial engineer, Diana says she applies some knowledge from her engineering background to their business, like when it comes to costing and designing schedules.
Both Steve and Diana have injuries from their past which inhibited their traditional training regiments. They emphasized the value of EMS training for injuries.
“I have a knee problem, so I really feel the benefit of enjoying a safe workout without putting stress on your joints.” (Diana)
What is EMS?
Diana explained that EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation. For this workout, clients wear a suit that sends electro impulses while exercising. The suit sends involuntary signals to contract the muscles. This allows you to have a deeper and longer contraction than the typical gym workout due to the barrier with the mind’s connection to the body. EMS contracts muscles harder, longer, and more frequently than a regular workout.
“For example, you go to the gym, you spend two hours trying to engage your muscles. You can come to Charge and receive the same amount of contractions in 20 minutes. It’s a very effective workout!” (Diana)
“When you go to a gym you are limited by the amount of weight you can push and the amount you can contract your muscle. But here, because you are contracting your muscle with the assistance of the suit – the suit contracts your muscle involuntarily – you can surpass your potential!” (Steve)
Diana also mentioned that EMS is great because you don’t have to be at any fitness level to begin. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to push, and which muscles you want to improve. It’s very suitable for all different ages and levels. It’s great for people with injuries or those who just don’t have much time.
“It gives you more free time because you are only spending 20 minutes working out. You only need this workout two times a week, maximum three. It’s so effective and you are stimulating so many muscles of your body, you need to rest and give your body time for recovery.” (Diana)
When asked about the downtown community, Steve quickly brought up the couple’s love for their neighbour, Picnic, and their delicious 2% Jazz coffee. He also mentions the Fort Street community as wonderful. Every Christmas, the Fort Street businesses do “Winter Wander.” The businesses stay open later and market it as a night out for locals.
Diana mentioned how their clients are often business professionals from nearby offices who come during their lunch break or in the morning. Charge has showers, so people can work out, change and go to work. She says these clients love it because they go back to their office with more energy!
When asked about the pandemic, Diana said: “We are survivors!” It was a tough time, more people were coming in November 2021, then the government shut down fitness facilities. That timing was especially challenging because everyone wants to go to the gym in January, it’s a really important time in the fitness industry. She reports that people were unmotivated with fitness. Then summer came and everyone wanted to travel and see their families. Now, Diana says business is picking up again as people look to get back into their fitness regime. These people enjoy Charge because they can start from any level and the workouts are so effective. Plus, EMS works out all the muscles at the same time so you burn more calories, meaning you see faster results. That helps motivate people.
Steve says when he first opened Charge in 2018, he was happy with the growth. There were lots of local entrepreneurs coming in and enjoying the workouts. Month over month, business kept picking up. Until February 2020. “It went from lots of momentum, energy, positivity,” he said, “to okay… what’s next?”
Steve went back to his trade as a mechanic. Without knowing how long the pandemic would last, it was a challenging time for the couple’s business. They persevered through the changes, safety plans, protocols, reduced class sizes, added administration and cleaning (which required more time between clients to sanitize everything). Everything was uncertain!
“Small business is a roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of work.”
Make sure to visit Charge Fitness at 1031 Fort Street!
Thank you to Steve and Diana for participating in Small Business Month and sharing your voice as beloved downtown Victoria business owners! View our other blog posts for more incredible local business interviews.