June 17, 2024


Travel Adventure

Women’s gym to become social enterprise

3 min read

Community Connections Society of Southeast BC (CCS) has acquired Cranbrook gym, Life Balance Health and Fitness. The Cranbrook-based non-profit will operate the women’s gym as a social enterprise and use the income to offset costs of its Cranbrook Women’s Resource Centre (WRC).

A core member group at Life Balance rallied to keep their wellness community alive and well. A talk with Community Futures East Kootenay (CFEK) inspired them to find a non-profit to take it over.

CFEK Community Economic Development Manager, Robyn Peel says she is pleased that gym member Lynne Williams reached out on behalf of this core group, and that these two groups connected. Peel says, “It’s great to see this type of community-led project getting such a positive outcome. Congratulations to the members of Life Balance Health and Wellness on finding a solution to keep the gym going and to Community Connections on their openness to the project. Keeping this asset in the community as a social enterprise will have great continued impact.”

CCS primarily operates the Women’s Resource Centre with donations and an annual gaming grant. Staff and Board had floated the idea of a social enterprise for a while, and then the perfect opportunity just walked in the door.

The WRC started Community Connections as we know it now, back in 1982. The Centre supports women from all walks of life with advocacy, lay counselling, information and referrals, and various programs. In the past year, the centre has hosted workshops on topics from pelvic floor health and yoga, to postnatal wellness and other personal development.

Nancy Regular, Coordinator at the WRC says, “Supporting women’s wellness is what we do, so we’re excited to work with this community of women who are passionate about wellness and health.”

Kim Roelofs, the gym’s Personal Training Specialist, certified by Canadian Fitness Professionals Inc., has coached the Life Balance community for 17 years. She shares, “These women are like a family and it’s a program unlike anything else. The gym is important to all of us and we are so grateful to Community Connections, and the members who approached them, for helping keep us strong and healthy, physically and mentally.”

Life Balance has an older membership, with 85 of its 109 members being over sixty years of age. Its most popular class, Ageless Now, fits right into CCS’s work to enhance the lives of diverse people, including seniors. The organization already operates the Better at Home program with funding from United Way. CCS hopes the gym might be an added benefit to Better at Home clients who might be seeking a lively wellness community.

CCS will need to increase membership at the gym to maximize revenue for the WRC and hopes to broaden the age range of members to ensure long-term sustainability. Nancy Reid, Executive Director at Community Connections, says she encourages CCS staff to become members at the gym and is offering a discounted rate for them.

She also notes having a few volunteers to increase the gym hours of operation would increase accessibility in the meantime. “We hope to host some fun, themed workouts to bring in some new people. We also plan to use the space to host our women’s wellness workshops, as some of our current groups are outgrowing the space at the WRC.” She reassures current members that CCS wants to retain the strong community feeling by continuing to celebrate member successes and keeping the weekly word-puzzle tradition.

Life Balance Health and Wellness was posed to cease operations at the end of May, so the purchase by Community Connections is a win for the gym, and for CCS. Mal  Paterson, a member of Life Balance said, “I cannot express how delighted and relieved I am about Community Connection’s involvement and rescue of our gym!”

Community Connections Society of Southeast BC is enhancing the well-being of diverse people in the East Kootenay through more than 20 programs, serving those prenatal to senior and in-between.