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Stephenson brothers creating new gym in Outlook

A new workout facility is expected to open up in town later this year.
There's only a cement pad and some wood now, but later this year, the plan is for a new gym to call Outlook home. Photo: Derek Ruttle/The Outlook

OUTLOOK - The people of Outlook and the surrounding area who might be looking for a new place to enjoy a work-out won't have to wait much longer.

A new gym will be opening its doors in the riverside community, spearheaded by local residents Logan and Shay Stephenson.

People may remember a gym that used to operate in town called Riverside Fitness, and Logan says that after it closed its doors, there was an absence being felt in the community for something athletic of that nature to be offered to residents.

Stephenson says the idea to establish a new gym was something he and his brother had thought about for some time.

"My brother and I have been wanting to do it for a long time," said Logan, sitting down with this reporter. "When the Derdalls used to have theirs where the SARCAN is now (Riverside Fitness), we used to go to that one and it was just nice having an option in town. After it closed, we didn't see anything start to pop up, but this has always been a lane that Shay and I wanted to stay in; both doing some on-ice stuff with people, but especially doing some off-ice things with people. It's always been something that, during our playing days, was interesting to both of us. Carrying that forward into later life is just doing something you love."

Logan and Shay are namely the two key people involved in this venture, but Logan is also quick to give his dad Bob credit, since the gym will be located on the same lot where the Irrigation Centre Motel is located along Outlook's McKenzie Street.

"Well, Bobby's in there too, since we're slapping it right in the middle of his lot there," he said with a grin. "It's a family affair, for sure. I wouldn't say it's an expansion of the motel, but it's just an expansion to that space and we're utilizing the area that we have."

As far as the amenities of the new gym, Stephenson says that outside of the typical wares, people can expect a space where everyone of every skill level is welcome, whether you're an avid gym-goer or someone who might be beginning on Day One.

"We'll have bathrooms, obviously, and a shower to be able to accommodate the out-of-town people that might work in town," he said. "There will be a small-ish studio; we're not going to go overly big with the studio so that once we get it going, we can keep the group sizes smaller. You get more out of intimate than you do anything else. Equipment-wise, we're not going to overload it with machines, though we'll have a fair amount of free weights and that kind of stuff, but in lieu of all that heavy stuff, we want to make sure that there are structures in place. If you come in and you're not exactly sure what you should be doing or what you'll benefit the most from, we can expedite and solve those issues for you."

The idea of trying to cater to people of all manner of athletic or skill level is trying to encourage people who might not see working out as something that's now an option for them. The hope is to minimize someone's nerves and show them where a good place to begin might be for them.

"That's kind of the whole thing," said Logan. "The most daunting thing about working out is where to start. It's 'What do you start with?', 'What's going to benefit me right now in my current form as opposed to how you progress and how that changes?'. We really want to take that edge off when people come in as it relates to any confusion over where they start or how they get the most out of whatever they have. Some people might only have 30-40 minutes a day, and how do you get the most out of that?"

Logan says that if things continue to run smoothly, he and Shay expect the new gym to open its doors in a few months.

"Honestly, this is probably 3-4 weeks ago and a lot has happened since then, but we were hopeful for the start of November or end of October," he said. "That might be looking more like the end of November now, but who knows? Good things happen too. I don't think there's any chance that it's not done before the new year arrives, and that would be the worst case scenario."

The lack of a local gym facility was something that the Stephenson brothers noticed right away, and the two of them had been working on their idea for quite some time before the momentum on their idea started to roll clearly.

"We noticed it right away," said Logan. "I'd say for Shay and I, it's probably been in the works for three or four years. We've spent two years kind of actively pursuing it, going through the town just as far as the bylaws were concerned as to what we have to zone the property that we're on, and we had to get a fitness facility actually added in to the C2 commercial availability. Those zones aren't allotted for fitness centers, and we actually had to get that tucked into the language. That first year, it seemed like we inched no closer to actually building a gym, as we spent a year just talking to people and putting out fires."

Knowing that there was an avenue not being pursued at the time, the idea of a new gym in Outlook naturally clicked for the two brothers, as Stephenson sees gym facilities as something that most communities should have for their residents.

"Honestly, as soon as that one in town closed, I just started thinking to myself," he said. "I don't really deem gyms as an ammenity, I deem them as a necessity, even in towns as small as ours. You've got to have somewhere to go if that's where you want to spend your energy."

Logan was hesitant to share potential names for the upcoming facility, but did say it could possibly lean in to the hockey initiatives that he and Shay have going, Headstart Hockey. As small towns typically go, the idea of a new gym has already been permeating around the community.

"We get approached a fair amount around town," he said. "I feel like we've talked to enough people that the word has spread a bit. And of course, if this article spreads it further, that'd be great, and we're going to build on social media once we get a little more of a foundation on what we're going to call everything. I'm starting to find, especially through the theatre, word of mouth is kind of King around here! It seems to be the driving factor behind most things. I think in the first month or two that we're operational, if we're putting a good product forward, it'll kind of do what it has to do on its own."

In a town such as Outlook, where word of mouth can sometimes be your most powerful ally, Logan says he's happy to see that most people see the idea as a great one for the community.

"Everything I've heard is extremely positive," he said. "I mean, there's a certain amount of people who might go, 'Do we have the population to support that?', and whether we do or don't, you need to give the people of this population an option. That's where we're at with it. It's overwhelmingly positive to see that people are excited to get a chance to get in and do their thing again. We saw in Covid times that people were starting home gyms, and most people only have a certain amount of space for that. I think the excitement is far out-weighing anyone who might be naysaying how it'll go over."

The notable hockey careers of both Logan and Shay were direct influences on this business idea, as working out and having that kind of physical outlet is something that Logan loved during his days out on the ice. Establishing a gym facility in Outlook is a way to help him not only stay in shape, but also maintain a connection to his storied career.

"Entirely," he said. "When I was playing, it was something that I loved. I loved my gym time, and I loved the fact that my sport and earning a living that way allotted me as much freedom to do just that, and as much as I could possibly want. So, you get thinking when you're done playing hockey, 'How do I get that back?' because it's such a huge part of my life; being in the gym and learning through experience. It seems like owning a gym is a pretty good way to get back to that way of life. It shaped my life and I know it shaped Shay's. We both have gone through the physical side of things where there are injuries and you have to use the weight room to recover. But also, what it does to you mentally, in general. You always feel like you've accomplished something. If you go and get a workout done during the day, you always feel accomplished by the end of the day, despite how the rest of the day may have gone. It's always been a huge part of my life, and I think we've always been thinking in the back of our heads that it's something that we want to pursue, and the time seems as right as it's going to be."