DOING "it" WEEKLY: Christine Boyer
This is the third installment of a series of articles that will run each week involving interviews with inspiring artists, musicians, writers and other go-getters. It is a blog post - interview style - about the people doing the things they only previously dreamed about.
This week's interview features part two of my interview with one of the Co-Founders, Christine Boyer, of Aradia Fitness - a company that specializes in pole and lap dancing fitness classes.
Despite the obvious biases surrounding the basic idea of what their company teaches, women are lining up to register for these classes. Aradia Fitness promises a safe, comfortable environment where women can 'get in touch with their sexy side!' The classes are catered to women of all body types, sizes and strengths.
Aradia Fitness started with one studio in January of this year, based in Vancouver. Since then, they have opened up ten franchise-owned studios across the country. The newest one just opened up in Toronto in August and has been booked solid ever since.
PART TWO: DOING IT
Continued from PART ONE: THE DREAM
What happened after that?
The time came when we were pretty confident in what we had done. We had a get-together for some women and we thought this would be a great party idea! So we got groups of women together from all different walks of life. We told friends, and asked them to bring friends.
The experience these women had was amazing! Women were bonding together like they had never bonded before. None of them were judging each other; they were all having a great time, all shapes and sizes. They were bonding, cheering; they were actually teaching each other too!
You knew you were onto something!
That's when we decided that parties would be a big thing. We actually invented the party a couple of years ago and we're very proud of that. The first cards we made up were actually party cards for Stagette and birthday parties.
When did you actual start teaching classes?
We started teaching classes at Fit City for Women in Vancouver. I called them up and it was, at the time, the new, new thing - nobody had done it before! Despite that, they were very interested. Right away they put our classes on at each of their gyms, Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond, and they sold out immediately. So then we had to put on two - two classes at each! They were so packed and it just evolved from there.
What happened next?
We rented a room and we started teaching and people just kept coming and coming; we were selling out. We started to realize that we needed a studio. We needed more poles; we needed to develop these classes. So we developed our own studio. Then we had people that wanted to be instructors, so we started training our own instructors. Then we asked ourselves - what next? Do we franchise? We had a huge meeting in January of this year with a franchise specialist.
Did you have a studio at this time?
We were just opening up our studios. While the renovations were going on we were discussing franchising. We've grown so fast. We broke so many different rules. Right from the very beginning people would say to us 'you can't teach pole dancing; you can't pole dance'. We retorted with 'yes we can, and yes, we are'. It pushed us more; it was like being a young kid again and having your parents say 'no you can't do that' and you're like 'yes I can!'
So how did the franchise meeting go?
It was amazing. The specialist talked us through so many different steps. Basically it came down to yes, we should franchise. We had a great work structure that we were creating. Tracy and I were extremely different in our strengths - we had a good thing there. We also had some really great instructors trained.
The biggest thing was that we needed to be able to duplicate this. The franchise couldn't be based on our personality alone, we needed to hire similar personalities that could project our message and process. Ultimately, an Aradia Instructor is a very special thing. And to make a woman feel like a million bucks, that was our big thing; and to feel comfortable with the movements. We already had a few inquiries about franchising or training instructors. Once we decided to franchise we had so much to work to do then. So much paperwork to do!
What was the real turning point for the company?
Last October, things were going really well. We were eating at The Keg. And we were going to teach one of our classes right after. CTV News called and they wanted to interview us; they wanted to put us on the news. At this point we were so busy with all of the classes we were teaching and everything was going so well. I said to Tracy - you have to quit your job! At this time I was still working part time, I was flexible - I was still a Pilates Instructor.
Tracy was working full time at the Bank of Montreal as the Bank Manager. It was a big thing for her to quit her job. She had a good salary, benefits and everything else; secure. People were like 'you can't quit your job!' We are from the Maritimes as well and people are so conservative there. I told Tracy you have got to quit your job. She nodded her head and agreed right away. It was either go big or go home! We did it and the rest, is history!
PART THREE: LIVING IT will be released later this week where our interview turns to how these women are managing the rapid growth of their company, their newly custom-designed poles, and some of their future plans.
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