‘Certainly there are concerns’: Centretown fitness entrepreneur ponders the future after the latest shutdown

After getting her Centertown fitness center into the best financial shape of her life for the holidays, Jenna Ladd now faces the grim prospect of losing those profits amid another COVID-driven shutdown.

The county’s move to close gyms for at least three weeks effective Wednesday as part of new restrictions to contain the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant isn’t news that Iron North Studio owner told Somerset. Street hoped for the new year.

“As disheartening as[a closure]would have been before the holidays, it would have been better than leaving it on the day when many businesses chose to reopen and started to get a little hope that they could move forward,” he said. Load earlier. this week.

Nearly two years after the pandemic, measures like those imposed by the county on Monday have become a frustrating fact for Ladd and other gym owners.

But she said she’s feeling the sting of the latest shutdown even more than usual, as it comes just as her facility relocated to a new location and is in financial shape.

Moving from Hintonburg

After income had slowed to a trickle earlier in the COVID crisis, Iron North posted record sales in November. The gym, which moved to its current home in Centertown in August after spending six years in Hintonburg, is in the midst of a full renovation, and Ladd felt the company had finally turned the corner toward 2022.

“We realized we had made the right choice and it was going in the direction we expected, without even really marketing it,” she said.

At 5,500 square feet, Iron North’s new facility is four times the size of its old home, located just over a mile to the west on Somerset. Ladd had been mulling over moving to larger digs for years, she said, adding that she felt good about her choice to move last summer.

“We put a lot of our eggs in this basket. It’s a risk we decided to take.”

“We put a lot of our eggs in this basket,” she admitted. “It’s a risk we decided to take. We just didn’t expect two years (after the pandemic hit in early 2020) to be in a different lockdown scenario.”

Since the renovation began, labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks have pushed projected project costs from $80,000 to nearly $250,000.

The soaring price tag had already made Ladd wary of her balance sheet even before she knew she would have to close her doors for at least another 21 days. As with previous shutdowns, the veteran entrepreneur said she will switch to virtual classes and training sessions in an effort to recoup at least some of the income she expects to lose in the coming weeks.

But Ladd said the novelty of online fitness has worn off for many customers and she isn’t expecting much.

“We are now well-versed in hitting (the financial) red line,” said Ladd, who took out a loan with the Business Development Bank of Canada in 2020 and organized a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $15,000 to help her overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. financial storm.

“That’s probably going to happen unless we find people who are really interested in virtual membership options, which usually isn’t the case. Everyone is a bit over it. There are certainly concerns there.”

Ladd is also concerned about the financial and mental wellbeing of the more than 20 instructors, trainers and office workers she usually employs at Iron North, many of whom are now temporarily out of jobs.

She said that, like many small business owners in the past two years, she has become accustomed to bottling up her emotions as a coping mechanism.

“It allows me to move things forward,” Ladd said. “However, it does cost something.

“That is the sacrifice you make as an entrepreneur. It’s this weird balance of sacrificing your own mental health for the betterment of your business.”

Still, she remains hopeful that better days are ahead, adding that she believes her sweat and tears will pay off in the long run.

“It’s a real shame that (growth) is stagnating again and we have to start over,” said Ladd. “But (the rebound) happened (before), so I think it will happen again.”

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