Innovation for long-term success
Entrepreneurship grad’s fitness business continues growing from strength to strength
For Saskatchewan Polytechnic alumnus Rejean Lepage, starting a new year offers the opportunity to help others reach their goals through his business, Wrench Fitness in Martensville, which he has maintained for nearly 15 years.
Opening a gym had been a long-time goal for Lepage, who discovered his love of fitness after moving to Saskatoon in 2001. It wasn’t long before he had built a close group of friends who enjoyed working out just as much.
“Over the years, (my friends and I) started talking about opening our own place but no plans really materialized.” Lepage said. “So, when I was at a turning point in my life, I figured I would just go back to school and try this out.”
Lepage knew it would be difficult to take his idea and turn it into reality, which is why he chose to enroll in the Sask Polytech (then known as SIAST) Entrepreneurship and Small Business program.
“I chose the program because you came out with a business plan,” Lepage said. “There were lots of other business courses around, and books at the library that you can go through to build a business plan. But this program was better because it really walked you through step-by-step … so, by the time you are taking it to the bank to try to get a loan for your business, everything is already vetted.”
Thanks to the business plan developed during his time at Sask Polytech, Lepage officially opened the doors to Wrench Fitness in 2009 – less than a year after his convocation and right off the heels of winning $25,000 at the Venture Forward Business Plan Competition.
“When I ended up winning, it was great because it allowed me to have my first rent and deposit to get our first space because otherwise, where would that money have come from? But once you get into business that $25,000 goes pretty fast,” Lepage laughs.
Since first opening the doors to Wrench Fitness, the business has only continued to grow within the community – expanding its space three times before the addition of the second location, 3126 Athletics, in 2014.
Lepage believes one reason they have remained so successful for more than a decade is the personalized approach he and his staff take when helping their members, alongside his dedication to keeping things fresh and accessible – including staying open 24 hours and the introduction of a new CrossFit area.
“We were the only (gym) around for years, so we definitely grew with the town,” Lepage said. “We are still the biggest place in town with the most options. We also have members that have been with us since the beginning. So, I am always looking for the next thing to make sure people have different options to meet their fitness goals.”
Wrench Fitness also took the unusual step of loaning out the gym’s equipment during the pandemic. While most fitness lovers were participating in online workouts or purchasing equipment for a home gym, the members at Lepage’s gym were bringing home treadmills, weights and more.
“We emptied out our gym, everything that wasn’t bolted down we let people take home to workout with while we were closed,” Lepage explained. “I mean, we weren’t going to be using the equipment … It’s a mental health thing for a lot of people. They need that stress relief so taking that away from them can be detrimental.”
The only requirement Lepage noted was that members maintain their gym membership throughout the closure.
This unusual adaptation to life under lockdown proved to be very successful, the gym even gained a few new members, which was a happy surprise to Lepage.
With the arrival of New Year’s resolution season, Lepage says the best advice he is able to give people working on their fitness goals is to find a gym community where you feel comfortable and just start going.
“There is no magic pill, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I like to tell people when they start personal training, at some point Michelangelo didn’t know how to paint but he started painting and created the Sistine Chapel,” he finished.
“Starting a workout is just like starting a business, you just have to take the first step or you will never achieve your goals. It can be scary, but so was COVID, so just keep taking those steps forward.
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Published Janurary 2023.