A fitness nut, Dina McLeod was participating in the Blackwell Dairy Fun Run up in Barnhartvale when she got a call.
It was Oxygen Yoga and Fitness, responding to her inquiry about taking over their closed Kamloops location. A few weeks later, she was officially introduced as the new owner, as the franchise plans to reopen in August in the same Aberdeen location as before.
"It happened really fast and it's always been a dream of mine to own a studio. So it's really exciting for me, at 50 years old to be living the dream," says McLeod.
A longtime member of the service industry, McLeod was most recently manager at the HealthFare restaurant in the Tournament Capital Centre. She was a member of the gym under previous ownership but decided not to renew her membership in the fall for external reasons. However, she says she loved the infrared technology that the gym offered, as it helped her with pain management, having gone though four knee surgeries.
Once she heard the gym closed, she reached out to Oxygen's corporate offices about possibly taking over as owner.
"Wellness is part of who I am," says McLeod. "I looked at buying a gym just before my 30th birthday, but the overhead was incredible and Kamloops was quite saturated at that time as well. I put the dream on the top shelf and let it be. Then this came up and the door flew open and I flew right through it, like a crazy bird that had gotten out."
Having a local take over was a key part of finding a new owner. (The previous ownership group couldn't be around full time as they were based in the Lower Mainland.) McLeod's standing in the local fitness community made her an obvious choice.
"She's so well connected, she's grounded, she's just a truly an amazing lady," says CEO Jen Hamilton. "You can see it in her energy and her spirit."
"I'm 150 per cent in. I think that's one of the things that was lacking a bit before," McLeod tells KamloopsMatters. "There wasn't someone at the counter all the time welcoming you on your way in and saying goodbye on your way out. It means a lot to create a rapport with your members, and they become family, you know when their birthday is, you know when their grandkids are coming to town. It's super important to stay connected to your community."
McLeod's daughter-in-law-to-be is also going to work with her full time at the front desk.
While a new lease for the building hasn't been signed yet, Hamilton says everyone is "on the same page moving forward." In order to reopen, the studio will need to undergo some renovations as well as replace some equipment that was removed. McLeod also needs to get re-certified as a trainer.
"I'm so happy and can't wait for Kamloops to experience Oxygen at its full capability," says Hamilton.
When classes do get underway again, all memberships from before will be honoured, as well as bonuses to "heal the wounds" caused by the gym being closed.
There will be familiar faces leading the classes, too. McLeod says all of the instructors she reached out to expressed an interest in coming back, with many of them remembering her as the "obnoxiously joyful" class member.
"When I exercise, I'm an old-school, '90s, hooting-and-hollering kind of person. So they're all really excited that it's me and its somebody that invested in the community and in health and wellness. I have yet to have somebody say, 'No I won't come back.'
"I'm really excited about that, especially for the members that know these instructors and look forward to being back in their classes. Moving forward, the ripple effect from the community will definitely help us succeed."