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Pumphouse wins Small Business of the Year at Chamber Awards

Recipient has owned and operated athletic club since 2013.
Alicia Simoneau, owner of the Pumphouse Athletic Club, was honoured with the Small Business of the Year Award the Chamber of Commerce's Celebrate Success Awards.

YORKTON – Local fitness centre, Pumphouse Athletic Club, has won the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year Award.

For PAC owner Alicia Simoneau the award came as a surprise, "a wonderful surprise," as she put it in an interview with

Simoneau's business was nominated in several categories for the Celebrate Success Awards held at St. Mary's Cultural Centre April 17. Other nominations included the Women Entrepreneur Award as well as a nomination in the Health and Wellness category.

Simoneau said her entrepreneurship journey started in 2006-2007 when she opened a supplement shop on the west end of the city. She would go on to lease a space at a now defunct downtown gym before opening her own fitness centre in November of 2013, the Pumphouse Athletic Club that we know today.

Now, almost 11 years later, Simoneau said that membership at the PAC has doubled over the past four years, making way for expansions and improvements which include a new location offering new amenities and more space for existing programs.

"I'm honoured and humbled," said Simoneau of receiving the award, adding "when the people you serve recognize you for what you provide and serve to them ... it's a huge honour. I feel so grateful to be able to do what I do."

Simoneau said her passion is health, fitness, wellness and improving people's health.

"Whether it's physical or mental — it is my passion — to be able to do that and do it successfully and to be recognized and rewarded for it just takes it to another level," said Simoneau.

Being her passion, Simoneau said she doesn't feel the daily grind.

"It's never felt like a job. I never ever dread coming here. I never dread coming to my business and it's been over 10 years that I've had the gym," said Simoneau.

And when it comes to entrepreneurship, Simoneau said, "it's all risk."

"If you look at anything it's a ton of risk and so when I talk to people that are thinking of opening their own [business] or they want to work for themselves ... it's a risk every day," said Simoneau.

"You offer something new. You change something about your business. Will customers like it? Will they respond to it the way you think? Everything you do is a risk and if you don't take any risks you're not going to get a reward," said Simoneau of the pressures of operating one's own business.

The next expansion for the PAC will see it move to the site of the former liquor store on Broadway Street.

"We've been looking for somewhere else to grow into for the last couple of years knowing that eventually I'm going to outgrow where I am and I need a space that's a little bit different for my business needs than what this (current location) is," said Simoneau.

Simoneau said parking, natural light and space were just a few of the factors that contributed to decision.

"I realized all of these things are maybe holding my business back," said Simoneau, "jumping into a new location was a definite must."

"We looked at a few different options and explored different areas of the city," said Simoneau, noting the building wasn't originally for sale when she first started looking at new locations.

"When the government decided to list it I jumped on it. It's a great location. It's a solid building. It's perfect," said Simoneau.

"We're just going to expand on what we offer," said Simoneau, adding, "the sports performance training is really grown here in this location over the last few years."

Sports performance training includes hockey teams and football teams among other athletes from different sports that need athletic development type training.

"That's really grown for us," said Simoneau, adding, "you've got your teenage athletes that are really starting to come to the gym and the parents are bringing them wanting them to be trained."

"That's something that wasn't there in the very beginning — it's something that we're growing into," said Simoneau, who is passionate about youth athletics.

"Training kids when they're young to create those healthy habits ...  if you can instill that in them when they're 12 then by the time they're 18, 19 or 20 they've already got these healthy habits of physical activity," said Simoneau.

"The space that we have here for that type of training — it's about triple the size in the new location so we can have more equipment for them — more sports performance specific equipment," said Simoneau.

Simoneau thanked the community for their continued support of her business, even through the hard times.

"My members and all the people that support me and have supported me through everything," said Simoneau, "COVID was a few years of hell for the fitness industry ... it was a huge hit for the fitness industry."

"During the few years when different facilities were shutting down or different gyms were having to pivot into really changing their business in order to survive the PAC just exploded," said Simoneau,  "my business really kicked off right after that."

"The connection between fitness and mental health was really made during the pandemic," said Simoneau, noting the memberships at the PAC doubled since 2020.

"I'm not in an industry where you can draw business from other provinces. For the most part it is Yorkton that supports me," said Simoneau.