Beyond Fitness, formerly Planet Fitness, has been Merritt’s primary gym and a staple of the community since September 1999.
Husband and wife duo Marcel and Theresa Ouellet took over in 2002, and have been working to expand and improve the gym’s services ever since.
“I originally started out doing rehabilitation for clients of Dr. Colin Gage, and members of Planet Fitness; ICBC, long term disability, and WCB work in ’99,” said Marcel Ouellet.
“A few years later, an opportunity came to purchase the gym, as it was for sale. My wife and I had just moved to Merritt from Chilliwack a few years prior, and felt this this would be an excellent opportunity. I thought this would be something exciting to do, as it was in the direction of my health rehabilitation training. It made sense for me to buy it. Years later, we purchased a few more gyms in Richmond and also in Squamish, which we sold over the years.”
Today, Beyond Fitness offers something for everyone, and the Ouellets strive to provide well rounded programs in a welcoming environment where your current level of fitness doesn’t matter, only your goals and determination to get where you want to be.
“I feel that we’re bringing a big city gym to a small community, and giving people access to a big city gym in a small community,” said Ouellet.
“It gives people more options for their health and wellness and fitness. We want everyone to have access to living a healthier lifestyle. We have recently partnered up with various Bands and businesses in the community to make it possible for everyone to have access to an affordable membership, especially those that would not have taken the steps of ever setting foot in a gym. We try to make it easy for everyone, and make everyone feel comfortable in a safe environment.”
Between the main Beyond Fitness and the secondary facility, Beyond Fitness Ladies, which is a 24-hour ladies only gym, there are more than 100 pieces of equipment available to members and roughly 15 classes per week. Classes, which are included in memberships, are diverse and include yoga, bootcamps, spin classes, HIIT, Pilates, cardio, stretch and strength, and Zumba.
“We are a facility that caters to the whole population; men, women and kids, and athletes,” Ouellet said.
“We range from having seniors’ classes all the way to having an intense boot camp. We cater to retirees, we cater to the Merritt Centennials which have been part of our facility for 21 years now. We have programs for hockey players, kids, we cover the general population.”
Beyond Fitness is more than just a place to work out, you can come and work up a sweat and then head home, or you can take advantage of the other services available. Even if you aren’t someone who works out in a gym setting, Beyond Fitness is a great place to stock up on supplements, or even hit the tanning beds.
“We have a full supplement store in our gym, we offer tanning, we can cater to any individual’s needs or goals in their health and wellness,” said Ouellet.
“We have a certified kinesiologist who will put you on the right program to make sure that you’re getting the most benefit from working out, and getting results. We also have a smoothie bar, which a lot of members love having after their workout.”
Bringing all of these options to Merrittonians is an important part of the Ouellets’ business, although they never imagined becoming Merrittonians themselves.
“We moved here 22 years ago for a one-month practicum, for my kinesiology program, and then one month turned into 22 years,” explained Ouellet, who has now raised his family in Merritt.
The Ouellets’ son, Connor, was a young Merritt athlete, playing Minor Hockey. He now occasionally works alongside his sister, Breanna, at the gym, making the facility a true family business.
“I’ve been married for 20 years, I have two kids, Connor and Breanna who also happen to work at the gym,” said Ouellet.
“It’s nice having your son and daughter be there as well. It’s a family business.”