After a severe injury crushed her dream of snowboarding with the Canadian Olympic team, Charmaine Ironside founded Ironside Fitness Inc. in 2011 to help others achieve their fitness goals. In 2014, Charmaine opened the doors to her first fitness studio in Silver Springs, Calgary.
Charmaine made the official announcement on Facebook on April 30: “Today I say goodbye to Ironside Fitness after 10 years of building it up,” she wrote. “We could not make it work financially through Covid.”
The small business owner admitted still being in shock at the crushing reality of the gym’s sudden closure. She posted two candid selfies beside her announcement, unable to hold back tears with the empty interior of the gym laid bare behind her.
Today I say goodbye to Ironside Fitness after 10 years of building it up.We could not make it work financially through…
“Know that I will continue to serve in any way I can,” Charmaine continued, adding, “One thing I know for sure, I was put on this earth to help people thrive physically and beyond … I love you all. Today gets to be a grieving day.”
Charmaine assured her followers that she would reach out to all members of the gym after the official closure of the premises. “Lots of details to sort out,” she said.
Charmaine received a plethora of support in the wake of her announcement. To date, the fitness guru’s post has been shared over 10,000 times and received thousands of supportive comments.
“I’m so sorry,” wrote one follower. “When one door closes another always opens. Stay strong girl.”
“This is so upsetting,” another commented, adding, “It makes me sick what this pandemonium has done to people and their businesses.”
The closure of Ironside Fitness represents a devastating reality for small business owners everywhere as the ongoing pandemic starves them of the customers they need to survive. Numerous bars, venues, and services were forced to close after officials imposed lockdowns in March to contain the pandemic.
Many have yet to reopen, and a resurgence of cases nationwide means that many never will.
Researchers at Harvard have estimated that nearly 110,000 small U.S. businesses shut down permanently between early March and early May. Christopher Stanton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, told The New York Times that it could take up to 12 months before government officials have enough data to ascertain the true cost the pandemic has had on small businesses.
For Charmaine, the closure of Ironside was an especially bitter disappointment because of the gym’s role in her personal fitness journey. As a snowboarder on the Canadian National Half pipe team, Charmaine discovered that the workouts she completed in the gym translated into better performance in her sport of choice, and the dream to own a gym was born.
“After retiring from snowboarding I decided to put my love of fitness and rehabilitation to use as a 1-on-1 trainer,” she explained on her blog, “and evolved that passion into a group training business with the same background.”
The former athlete also made space to incorporate mental wellness training into her everyday life at the gym, explaining, “I use daily affirmations and use an app to remind me of my goals each day so they are always front of mind. If I have a lull in energy,” she said, “then seeing my goals helps boost me back up!”
On July 15, Charmaine took to Facebook to acknowledge the closure of yet another privately owned fitness studio, U.S.-based Fast Fitness Boot Camp, Illinois.
“Another amazing fitness business shuts its physical doors because of the financial impacts of Covid,” Charmaine wrote. “Small fitness studios … typically have razor thin margins and it’s challenging to operate and make it in the best of times.”
“I am sad for this loss and feel the pain of my dear friend and fellow fitness studio owner,” the fitness guru shared, “and also know amazing things come out of every storm if we allow them to, which she will.”
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