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Working out: Digby fitness studio going strong after first year

<p>Vanessa Pulley opened the fitness studio in the VP Centre in Conway a year ago.</p>
<p>Vanessa Pulley opened the fitness studio in the VP Centre in Conway a year ago.</p>

DIGBY –Vanessa Pulley already has one full time job – and a demanding one, as an elementary school teacher in Barton. And for most of us, two or three, maybe four exercise workouts a week would be enough – but Pulley sometimes leads seven fitness classes. And when she started having trouble finding space to rent for all those classes, she took on the job of landlord too.

Just over a year ago, in May 2014, she opened the VP Centre in the former Venture Centre in Conway.

She renovated one end of the building to hold her fitness studio and rents out space to a hair salon, a foot care specialist, and the Digby Area Theatre Society.

“This first year has been extremely busy,” says Pulley. “Being a landlord means renting out space, taking care of any issues for the tenants, looking after the building and like any business, I have to stay on top of the bills. It’s a lot to organize and manage on top of a full-time job.”

Pulley was renting school gyms and other halls around town but school activities had priority and often bumped her classes, which made scheduling difficult and unpredictable for her students.

And she was lugging a car full of gear – mats, dumbbells, kettlebells and changes of clothing – all over town.

“It was always a dream of mine to own a gym,” she said. “And I figured if I could offer a few more classes, then I could make it work.”

Not only has it made her life as a fitness instructor leader much easier, but now the students have a place where they feel at home – Pulley has lockers on offer for them, a children’s playroom and a lot of the participants, mostly ladies, often show up early and stay late to socialize with their classmates.

Not everything happens inside the VP Centre – Pulley holds boot camp in her parking lot and she is taking a batch of runners to the streets of Digby to help them prepare for the Scallop Day 5k.

She is also working with minor hockey players on power skating and dry land training and conditioning.

But most of her work is group fitness classes – Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Bellyfit and variations.

“It’s motivating – there’s definitely more energy exercising in a group,” said Pulley. “And it’s social. It provides accountability too – if someone doesn’t show up, the others will ask where you were.”

Pulley enjoys helping people reach their fitness goals.

“I’m happy to keep this place open, to pay the bills,” she said. “It’s not my full time job and I don’t need to do it. But it’s really rewarding. It’s nice to see people make goals and reach them and set new ones.”

Pulley is proud of coming through the first year in good financial shape.

“The first year of any business is the hardest because of all the extra start up costs and getting it off the ground,” she said. “It’s been busy and it’s been a pretty steep learning curve but definitely nothing I regret. I’ve enjoyed the learning experience, setting goals for myself and looking to the future.”

What does she see for the VP Centre down the road?

“I’d like to make it a true health and wellness centre,” she said. “So maybe tenants would offer massage, maybe a chiropractor, reflexology. It’d be great to have an equipment room for weight lifting.”

jriley@digbycourier.ca

Just over a year ago, in May 2014, she opened the VP Centre in the former Venture Centre in Conway.

She renovated one end of the building to hold her fitness studio and rents out space to a hair salon, a foot care specialist, and the Digby Area Theatre Society.

“This first year has been extremely busy,” says Pulley. “Being a landlord means renting out space, taking care of any issues for the tenants, looking after the building and like any business, I have to stay on top of the bills. It’s a lot to organize and manage on top of a full-time job.”

Pulley was renting school gyms and other halls around town but school activities had priority and often bumped her classes, which made scheduling difficult and unpredictable for her students.

And she was lugging a car full of gear – mats, dumbbells, kettlebells and changes of clothing – all over town.

“It was always a dream of mine to own a gym,” she said. “And I figured if I could offer a few more classes, then I could make it work.”

Not only has it made her life as a fitness instructor leader much easier, but now the students have a place where they feel at home – Pulley has lockers on offer for them, a children’s playroom and a lot of the participants, mostly ladies, often show up early and stay late to socialize with their classmates.

Not everything happens inside the VP Centre – Pulley holds boot camp in her parking lot and she is taking a batch of runners to the streets of Digby to help them prepare for the Scallop Day 5k.

She is also working with minor hockey players on power skating and dry land training and conditioning.

But most of her work is group fitness classes – Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Bellyfit and variations.

“It’s motivating – there’s definitely more energy exercising in a group,” said Pulley. “And it’s social. It provides accountability too – if someone doesn’t show up, the others will ask where you were.”

Pulley enjoys helping people reach their fitness goals.

“I’m happy to keep this place open, to pay the bills,” she said. “It’s not my full time job and I don’t need to do it. But it’s really rewarding. It’s nice to see people make goals and reach them and set new ones.”

Pulley is proud of coming through the first year in good financial shape.

“The first year of any business is the hardest because of all the extra start up costs and getting it off the ground,” she said. “It’s been busy and it’s been a pretty steep learning curve but definitely nothing I regret. I’ve enjoyed the learning experience, setting goals for myself and looking to the future.”

What does she see for the VP Centre down the road?

“I’d like to make it a true health and wellness centre,” she said. “So maybe tenants would offer massage, maybe a chiropractor, reflexology. It’d be great to have an equipment room for weight lifting.”

jriley@digbycourier.ca

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