Fitness coach Beth Alden said she sometimes looks around and thinks “Is this real?”
Alden now owns one of the biggest gyms in Parksville Qualicum Beach, Kickstart Fitness, which sits at an impressive 5,500 square feet along Springhill Road. She has more than 600 clients, who she affectionately refers to as her “family.” And her gym won the prestigious title of ‘Business of the Year’ at the Glassies in spring.
Alden said she sometimes looks around and thinks “Is this real?”
But business wasn’t always booming.
From humble beginnings, Alden started her fitness career in a “big, red handicapped van packed with weights, balls, steps and bands.”
Alden explains she had a mobile gym, where she would haul work-out equipment around in a van and host classes at different venues each day — such as Parksville Beach, the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre and the Bradley Centre to name a few.
“It took me probably 20 minutes to unpack everything,” she recalls with a chuckle, adding that she looks back on the early memories fondly.
Alden had just 12 clients at the time, who were taking part in a self-designed Biggest Loser Challenge — a program that still exists today and is extremely popular with around half of her clientele participating in it.
The big red van eventually retired as Alden realized she needed a stable location. She opened in Pine Tree Centre and recently moved locations to where Kickstart currently sits along Springhill Road. The new building is equipped with a gym, two studios, a lounge, juice bar and day care centre. And she’s looking at expanding in the new year, yet again.
Alden said weight-loss has always been her primary focus as a fitness trainer — something that’s close to her heart.
You wouldn’t be able to tell by Alden’s slim physique, but she was once 60 pounds heavier.
And she had a personal trainer who taught her everything she didn’t want to be, which may have actually helped shape and define her career more than it ever hurt her.
“I had this trainer who always made me feel like a failure,” she told The NEWS candidly. “I don’t ever want to make anybody feel like that.”
Since then, she’s dedicated her life to helping people lose weight and get their lives back on track.
She said fitness is more about the mental outcome than the physical results.
“Losing weight is secondary, it’s really about finding out what’s going on up here,” she said, pointing to her head. “You don’t just wake up one day hundreds of pounds overweight because life is good.”
Alden’s first step to helping clients lose weight is finding out what isn’t right in their life.
“Food addiction is just like any other addiction, be it alcoholism or crack addiction,” she said. “It’s not about what’s wrong with addictions, it’s about what you aren’t getting on your own.”
She said weight loss can be a tremendously emotional struggle.
“Blood, sweat and tears happen here,” she said. “Weight loss is a personal issue and there’s not one person here (at Kickstart) who hasn’t cried at some point.”
Alden said one of the most rewarding parts of her job is being welcomed into people’s intimate lives.
“I hold a lot of secrets,” she said. “To watch other people transform is life-changing for me.”
Alden calls Kickstart Fitness “a community” rather than a gym. She said it offers many elements of group based fitness and works to create a sense of community within the membership. A daycare centre, she said, is offered to remove barriers to fitness. The lounge, which is dotted with little bistro tables, is there to create a place where people can meet and build relationships. Kickstart offers bootcamp, personal training, small group sessions, boxercise, TRX classes, spin and hot yoga among many others.
Alden is constantly expanding and adding new classes and fitness regimes.
She’s come a long way in less than a decade, but her fitness philosophy has stayed constant.
“I want to give people back their quality of life,” she said. “That’s what makes it all worth it.”
Kickstart Fitness is located at 1530 Springhill Road. For more information, call 250-586-2011 or visit http://kickstartyourfitness.ca/.