It’s been about 20 years since Deanne May started up Bodysculptors Fitness in Qualicum Beach.
From the beginning, it was meant to be a comfortable place where people could get fit or keep fit, May said. But it has grown into its own community where those who work out casually, those working on physical recovery and those doing hardcore training for competitions, including bodybuilding, can use the same space.
Despite that success, May and co-owner Rob Churchill said they were surprised to be nominated for the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Community Awards’ Business of the Year Award, much less win it. The NEWS caught up with them at their gym on Thursday, March 1.
“When we got the nomination, because we didn’t think we’d win it, I was joking that we were going to make this big banner saying ‘Business of the Year, third runner-up,’” May said with a laugh. “But it was really nice,” she said of the award, especially after learning what those who had nominated them for the award had said of their business.
“I think a lot of the reason that we got the award is actually being here 20 years, because that’s a long time,” said Churchill. “Gyms come and go.”
Bodysculptors opened in an area of Qualicum Beach (West Second Avenue near Jones Street) before it had really been developed, said May. “We didn’t even have proper sidewalks up here then.”
Still, neither that, nor May’s lack in experience owning a gym, kept her from opening the business.
“We used to have to drive to the other side of Parksville to go to the gym,” said May. “I said, ‘Why doesn’t somebody open a gym in Qualicum?’… And somebody said, ‘Oh, why don’t you open a gym?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know anything about opening a gym.’ They said, ‘Well, you like going to the gym; you know what you want.’”
May ultimately acted on the suggestion with a focus on creating a friendly, social experience.
“The whole idea was to have sort of a comfortable place, a little bit more ‘Qualicum’ where older people could come, where younger people could come… just a place where everybody would be comfortable,” she said.
For some, the gym was and continues to be their social time, which makes Bodysculptors quite different from other gyms.
“People move over here from the city, especially now, in droves, and they say that they’ve gone to the same gym for years in the city and they’ve actually never spoken to anybody in the gym,” said May. Not so at Bodysculptors.
“Some of our members literally come just to be out of the house and be a little bit more social with people,” she said.
While that remains an important part of the business, May and Churchill have also managed to make their gym a place where serious training, even for national competition, can happen as well.
Churchill himself is an IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) Pro Bodybuilder with three Canadian Championships and several power lifting awards.
He said his presence at the gym, either working out or as a trainer, has helped to teach regulars about gym etiquette, and that there are times when someone who’s training as hard as they can isn’t up for carrying on a conversation at the same time.
While May focuses on functional exercise and rehabilitation, Churchill’s focus is on training competitive athletes.
“I trained for a powerlifting contest in here, and I trained for, what, 11 bodybuilding contests,” he said, which helped to get more casual members of the gym on board with his goals.
Though Churchill said some gym members didn’t think much of his high-intensity training work ethic at first, after he came back with a second-place finish and then a first place, “it was a whole different deal.”
“After that, it was, ‘Oh, do you want this machine? Do you need it?’ They were so nice. They were just totally behind me,” he said.
Now, it’s the same with other gym members who work toward competition: their fellow gym-goers support them however they can.
Keeping that balance of comfortable, casual work-outs next to competitive training continues to be important for May and Churchill.
They’ve been rewarded with gym members who continue to train there since nearly the start of the business. One such member’s 18th anniversary coming to the gym was that same day.
As the interview at the gym continued, May and Churchill paused periodically to say hello to gym members by name as they arrived, exchanging banter. Some members who caught on that there was an interview happening were quick to pass on praise for the gym.
Over the years, May and Churchill have managed to get more and more equipment into their space at 226 West Second Ave. They’ve been happy to support various sports groups and others with donations or sponsorship, adding that the community has been great to them as well.
“The people in here over the years, they’ve just been phenomenal,” said May.
Bodysculptors Fitness is open from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. For info, call 250-752-5553 or visit online at www.bodysculptorsfitness.com.