Kincardine Ladies Fitness
We call it "Our gym"*
Nestled in Bruce County on the shore of Lake Huron is the small Ontario town of Kincardine - a town of diverse businesses and industries including utility, agriculture, real estate, retail, tourism and construction. In 2013 the local Curves Fitness franchise was sold to a new owner, who subsequently threatened to close the gym for good. The gym clients - many nearing retirement or retired - couldn't fathom the thought of not having a place to gather and workout and decided to explore keeping the gym open themselves. So “the gym” became “our gym,” following the route of franchise to private business to co-operative, as the former patrons eventually figured out how to shift from being clients to member-owners through a business-to-co-operative conversion. For the conversion they relied on collective "sweat" equity and were helped along the way by the former owner, The Co-operators, and the Ontario Co-operative Association.
Sometimes big is just big and not better and in this case big did not fit the needs of the new members of the co-op. The conversion to a co-op model has meant better services and better business by responding and adapting more directly and effectively to the health and community needs of members.
*Case study research and writing by Fiona Duguid (2021)