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Unique Estevan gym featured in Mutant on a Mission series

"This is one of my favourite types of gyms that I find in my Mutant on a Mission journey – the small-town gym that has a great ownership of hardcore bodybuilders. And the people in this town, you've got it, you are so lucky," says Big Ron Partlow in the show.

ESTEVAN — Estevan's Studio C 24 Hour Fitness gym was featured in Episode 1 of Season 9 of the popular Mutant on a Mission YouTube show recently.

The 23-minute video went live on March 12 and had over 12,000 views in under two weeks.

In the series, one of the 'Mutants' Ron Partlow – aka Big Ron Partlow, an International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation (IFBB) pro, who has a vast knowledge of training methods and principles – travels the world in search of some of the best bodybuilding and hardcore gyms. He made it to Estevan earlier this year and praised the local fitness gem.

"This is one of my favourite types of gyms that I find in my Mutant on a Mission journey – the small-town gym that has a great ownership of hardcore bodybuilders. And the people in this town, you've got it, you are so lucky," Partlow said in the show.

Chad and Cea Anna Kerr, the owners of the fitness destination in Estevan, said it was "quite an honour to be asked and recognized as one of the premier gyms in the world, especially being in a small community like Estevan." 

Both professional bodybuilders and athletes who have travelled and competed at a high level for years and have been judging lately, Chad and Cea Anna have known Partlow for a while but didn't know he'd actually come to Estevan to feature their business, which they've put years of their expertise and passion into.

"In January, he messaged and said, 'Are you guys going to be around mid-February?' And we're like, 'Yeah, We'll make sure we're around,'" Chad recalled.  "They came February 16, they flew in the night before and then they filmed for four hours."

Cea Anna, who used to live and train in large communities, said she always wanted to bring a big-city gym to Chad's hometown of Estevan, which became her home as well and which she really enjoys.

"I've been training since 1989. I've been doing this for 35 years, I worked in gyms, and we have so many friends that own gyms. And when you're in the fitness industry you have more knowledge of equipment, and you have knowledge of what works your body. Travelling to different gyms, you just see so much. So that's why he and I were wishing we could get something bigger here, make it more of a big-city gym in Estevan," said Cea Anna, who is the only Saskatchewan Ms. Olympia, which is professional bodybuilding's most prestigious competition-winner title in female bodybuilding.

"She is a professional athlete and she's done so many shows, and we've travelled all over the United States and Canada and we always went to the gyms, the best gyms when we went to these places. So, we got all these ideas and we had a vision of what we wanted to do, but whether it was going to happen or not, we didn't know at that point," Chad shared.

They made their vision come true in 2017, opening the 10,000-square-foot Studio C 24 Hour Fitness at what's now the Estevan Market Mall.

Right off the start, they knew they wanted their gym to offer a wide range of equipment to allow for training every muscle, but they also knew they wanted their gym to be inclusive.

"Gyms like this, they got real bodybuilders owning them, and all this experience with equipment and stuff, but they also have to make sure, especially in a town this size, that they can cater to everyone," Partlow pointed out in the show, adding that the Kerrs did a good job finding this balance.

"This gym is spotless, it's immaculate. It's one of the cleanest gyms I've been in a long time. And that really helps with the general population feeling comfortable in a gym. And then they sneak in all this good equipment, and they got good music playing. So, they've got a real good balance here, and that's hard to find," Partlow said.

A lot of work was put into finding this balance. The Kerrs made their gym available 24/7, so it would work for many Estevan shift workers. When they were rebuilding the space at the mall, which used to be occupied by five tenants, they invited a friend, who owned and built gyms before, to come over and help. Another friend out of Los Angeles helped with accessing the right equipment for their goals.

"Some of the equipment that we have is very rare," Chad said.

"And there's so much variety, so there's no way you can't get in shape," Cea Anna added. "Because when you have a huge variety, you're going to train and shape your body better."

They also wanted to ensure people didn't feel intimidated when coming to the gym.

"Once people come in here, they see the atmosphere in here. The people here are great, so friendly. And that's what we want. It's for everybody," Chad said. "With the whole design of the gym, we wanted it to be welcoming to everybody."

To achieve that goal, they put a wall separating the entrance from the workout area, built individual change- and washrooms, ensured that there were enough machines of all kinds so that people didn't have to wait, and also organized the equipment in a way that people don't group in particular areas.

"The way we laid out our gym is from our experience, and from a woman's experience and how women feel," Cea Anna noted. "We made it so that everything flows. … But we dispersed stuff everywhere so that you don't have a group of 20 guys doing arms because it's arms night. We put stuff differently all over, little pieces, and that keeps people spread out so that when a woman comes in, and if there's guys all doing arms, it spreads them out. … And it does make women feel more comfortable, from my perspective."

Brainstorming, knowledge, expertise and passion for what they do helped the Kerrs to put Studio C together. It has been evolving, with owners adding other elements such as tanning and supplements. The unique big-city feel has been appreciated by the Estevan public for the past seven years, they said, and now has been put on a broader fitness map.

"It's been really good," Chad said. "The memberships right now are crazy. People come in here and people are moving here from different provinces, especially Ontario, it's crazy. … And quite a lot of them come to the gym and they're like, 'Wow.'"

"It's nice when you have the big city people that come here, … and they just love it," Cea Anna said.

"Him and I, we've never been business owners, so to jump in and do that was a huge endeavour, and very stressful, but we pulled it off. And now to get recognized by one of the coolest shows in the fitness industry that goes around worldwide, it's really cool of them to come here and put us on the map," she added. "Not every day you get contacted; they have to want to come to your place."

Check out the Mutant on a Mission featuring Estevan's Studio C 24 Fitness.